Prior to specific exhortations to slaves, husbands and wives, those caught in the midst of increasing persecution, and Christian leaders, this passage outlines the general principles of obedience to Christ.
Readers are urged to practice good conduct in their lives in society so that even unbelievers will see their good deeds and one day be moved to glorify God. They are to bear even unjust social structures, practices, and governments “for the Lord’s sake,” because by doing right they will put to silence false charges by foolish opponents. Finally, they are called servants (“slaves,” literally) of God; because of that, they now live as free people (free from living only for themselves and free to live for others, not using their ultimate freedom as a pretext for evil). It should come as no surprise that this passage and others like it were drawn upon by Christians serving under the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe in the latter half of the twentieth century.