The ancient world saw several times of persecution against Christians, when Roman government arrested or killed people for their faith.
Peter seems to know of this in his first letter, writing to Christians about honoring government by obeying just laws. That is not the only way in which people could be persecuted, however.
The second kind of persecution Peter addresses in 1 Peter 2 relates to our economic life. Peter addresses slaves, telling them they should obey their masters. Slavery in Peter’s day was different than the brutal slavery of our own history. Slaves were often educated and held high positions in their masters’ homes. Even so, they were thought of as less than human and were believed to have no ability to make moral choices. Peter tells slaves they do have choices – and the God honoring choice is to honor their masters.
Thankfully we have outlawed slavery – although it still exists in our world. The closest parallel in our world is how we make a living.
Many of us have employers or bosses we are supposed to listen to. Following Peter’s instructions means we should honor those bosses. That means no grumbling, complaining or sarcasm. It also means following company rules, giving a full day’s work for a full day’s pay and doing your job to the best of your ability.
In bad situations we can try to find a remedy or find another job. But while in that bad job we still show respect.
Many of us ‘work for ourselves.’ Even in those cases we have clients and customers who should be treated well. Probably if we don’t we won’t keep their business. Farmers have elevators and suppliers to work with. Everyone should be treated respectfully. Our economic lives depend on it.