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1 Peter 5

Caring For The Flock

Read 1 Peter 5

This last chapter of Peter’s first letter has advice to the elders who are the men charged with the leadership of the local churches. Their work is compared to looking after sheep. Peter’s words of wisdom to the elders in the first section is followed by more words of wisdom to the “flock” of believers in their group and it's a very practical chapter.

VERSES 1-3. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3: Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."

In verse 1 he explains that he, too, is an elder, and an eye witness of the suffering of Christ. He's referring to the physical sufferings of Christ as well as the suffering that he personally endured because he was a witness for Christ.

If we actively witness for Christ in this world, we can expect to be used by the world the same way the Believers were at the time of this writing. More on this later.

But, along with serving Christ comes the promise of being included in the glory of Christ when He is revealed to the world. This is God's own promise.

He starts out with this in verse 1: ”The elders who are among you I exhort.” Peter specifically addresses the elders who were “among” the churches. Each church had a group of elders as recognized leaders. The faithfulness and character of these leaders was vital, especially in times of persecution. This sets a pattern for the churches today.

There's a connection between Peter’s exhortation to the elders that refers back to the judgment which begins in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17. " For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?").

When God purifies His church He begins with the leaders, so Peter begins with advice to the elders. Peter still has in mind the Old Testament passage already referred to in 1 Peter 4:17 which is from Ezekiel 9:6. Another translation reads; “So they began with the elders which were before the temple." If correction is necessary, it begins with the leadership.

Peter actually calls himself a “fellow-elder." He doesn't put himself above them or claim any special office. People who would make Peter the head of the church find no support here. Peter is an example to them before he asks them to be examples to others (verse 3).

As “a witness of the sufferings of Christ” (verse 1), we might expect Peter to claim some importance from being included in the transfiguration scene of Christ or of the resurrection of Christ. But during the sufferings of Christ, Peter had failed miserably. In Gethsemane he fell asleep while Jesus was in agony. At the trials of Jesus he denied being a disciple of Jesus. At the crucifixion, he had run away. He had failed under pressure. His life is living proof that there can be restoration after we fail and have been disciplined. He's writing to elders who might fail. Even though he had actually witnessed the sufferings of Christ and failed, he was restored and was serving God.

In verse 1, as “a partaker of the glory that will be revealed,” Peter was sure that the Lord Jesus who suffered for him on the cross would share His glory with him. Peter was only a witness of the sufferings, and a poor one at that. But Peter is to be a partaker of the glory of Christ when it is unveiled before the world.

He can “exhort” the elders to continue steadfast because they too will share in that glory.

This is the third time in the letter that the suffering and the glory of Christ have been mentioned together. Notice that the suffering and glory of Christ was the great theme of the Old Testament prophets (1 Peter 1:11 "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.")

It was cause for rejoicing for believers who were sharing the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13 "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.")

Verse 1 gives elders encouragement to faithfully shepherd the flock.

Their duty is simply stated. “Feed the flock of God." They need to remember that the flock is not theirs. It belongs to God and they are caretakers of His flock—a solemn responsibility. The Lord Jesus Himself commanded Peter to “feed My sheep” [John 21:16]. Feeding includes leading, restoring, and disciplining as well as teaching. Paul gave the same instructions to the elders in Ephesus to “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

In verse 2 it says "the flock which is among you." The leadership wasn't to come from some headquarters as some main line churches do today. It was to be from "among you." The motives of the leaders were to be pure, not for earthly gain of any kind. It was to be done willingly.

VERSE 4. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

It's fitting that Christ is called the Chief Shepherd here in relation to the elders who are shepherds of the local churches. He's also called the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).

He's the Great Shepherd working out His purposes in all the sheep (Hebrews 13:20). In our passage He's the Chief Shepherd that will reward the work of the undershepherds when He appears at His second coming. The faithful elders will receive a crown of glory. [Psalm 22 He is the Good Shepherd, Psalm 23 He is the Great Shepherd, Psalm 24 He is the Chief Shepherd.]

VERSES 5-9. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Now we go from the shepherding of the elders to the following of the flock. He addresses the “younger people” and then the whole assembly with the same advice, "obey the leadership."

“Likewise you younger people submit yourselves to your elders” (verse 5). Just as citizens are to submit to government (1 Peter 2:13 " Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;"), employees to employers (1 Peter 2:18 "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward."), and wives to husbands (1 Peter 3:1 " Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands"), the younger are to submit to the elders. Spiritual experience and knowledge of the Scriptures should qualify them to be leaders.

The attitude of everyone in the church toward everyone else should come from a humble heart and mind. We should enjoy thinking of others first and in serving them gladly. It is the opposite of the self-serving attitude that is so prevalent and is so encouraged in the world.

We're to have the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ who took “the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:") When He washed the feet of the disciples, doing a servant’s work, He told them, “I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). Humility is the rarest of all virtues.

In verse 5, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” is a quote from Proverbs 3:34. Being humble includes our humility before God. God opposes the proud so we should humble ourselves before Him.

Verse 6. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"

To humble ourselves before God is to accept our circumstances as being His will, even though they include the “fiery trials” of 1 Peter 4:12. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:" Think about Job and his trials, yet he remained faithful.

Verse 7. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” This is a favorite verse of many believers and is linked with the command to humble ourselves. Notice that verse 6 and 7 are one sentence. Worry is sin because it leaves God out of the situation. Casting it on God brings us back to trust in Him. “Casting” is the act of totally giving something up. Keeping our cares is self trust.

Here is a quote I like. "When you go to bed at night, give your troubles to God, He's going to be awake all night anyway." I added, "and just let Him keep them the next day, too."

In verse 8, our enemy is “our adversary, the devil.” Job 1 tells about Satan walking to and fro on the earth searching for someone to tempt away from God. God suggested he try Job, and the story of Job's faith ensued.

Satan is described here as a “roaring lion.” Lions are predators and they pursue their prey until it's caught. The Christian shouldn't be caught off guard. Nor should we fear when the devil roars.

We should “resist him” by taking a solid stance against him “steadfast in the faith" with a firm personal confidence that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

We're indwelt by the third member of the God Head who has all the power of God, the Holy Spirit. There's encouragement for those who are resisting the devil when we understand that our suffering is not unique.

In verse 9, the one we are to resist is Satan. Resist Satan's temptations. He tempts the Christian with the same temptations that he lures the world and controls the unsaved. Last part of verse 9 tells us "the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

Suffering is a part of the Christian life while we are in this world that rejects Christ. Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

VERSES 10-11 "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11: To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

Believers can rest in the fact that the God with the “mighty hand” in verse 6 is “the God of all grace” in verse 10. He proved His grace in our salvation, and does so now in our trials.

He provides grace for every need. But God’s plan hasn't been completed yet. He's called us to “His eternal glory.” If God has “called us to His eternal glory,” He will bring us there.

“After you have suffered awhile” in verse 10 is the final reference to a major theme of this letter. The believer’s temporary suffering is in pale contrast to our eternal glory.

God uses this suffering time to train us for the coming glory. Peter lists four things that God does for us in the training process. Trials will "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle" the Christian. They shape Christian character.

First, in suffering we're “perfected,” made fully complete or mature Christians.
Second, in suffering we're "established," made firm or stable so that we won’t falter in our faith.
Third, we're “strengthened” by the persecution instead of weakened. The strength we get is spiritual and comes from outside ourselves.
Finally, we're “settled,” that means to have a solid foundation. Absolute faith in God.

VERSES 12-13 "By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. 13: The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son."

Silvanus was the one Peter dictated the letter to. This is probably Silas who had previously gone with Paul on the second missionary journey.

Peter mentions “exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.” He wants us to earnestly trust God at all times and particularly during the times of persecution or trouble.

“The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you salutes you.” Babylon is most likely the literal city on the Euphrates River where a church had been planted. All the other geographical references in 1 Peter are actual places. It may also be a reference to Rome. The reference to “Mark my son” is probably to John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark.

VERSE 14. "Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen." This a wonderful thought with which to close this book. "Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus."