The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Peter

1 2 3 4 5

1 Peter 5

1Pe 5:1

ELDERS: The leaders of the local congregations. The institution of a group of older and wiser men providing direction and rule goes back to the early days of Israel as a people. This was done both nationally and locally. Thus there were "elders" of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem as well as "elders" of local synagogues. The institution of eldership was adopted by the Jerusalem church (Act 11:30; 21:18), and Paul and Barnabas applied it to the local congregations they founded on their missionary journeys (Act 14:23; 1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-7). Peter, therefore, addresses the elders because of their vital role in the life of the congregation. Because of suffering and persecution, the need of pastoral leadership was important for the local churches. According to Tit 1:5,7, the words "presbyteros" ("elder") and "episkopos" (“bishop,” or "overseer"; cp v 2 here) are interchangeable.

FELLOW ELDER: As appointed by Jesus (Joh 21:15-19). Cp 2Jo 1:1; 3Jo 1:1.

"Partakers" / "sharers": of root and fatness of olive tree (Rom 11:17), of spiritual things (Rom 15:27), of one bread (1Co 10:17), of sufferings and consolation (2Co 1:7), of God's promise in Christ (Eph 3:6), of inheritance of sts (Col 1:12), of heavenly calling (Heb 3:1), of Christ (Heb 3:14), of the benefit (1Ti 6:2), of the glory (1Pe 5:1), and of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4).


1Pe 5:2

BE SHEPHERDS OF GOD'S FLOCK: Peter's command is to "shepherd" (poimanate) God's "flock" (poimnion). The comparison of God's people to a flock of sheep and the Lord to a shepherd is prominent in Scripture. See, for example, Jacob's words: "The God who has been my Shepherd all my life" (Gen 48:15); David's Shepherd Psalm (Psa 23); Psa 100:3; Isa 53:6,7; Luke 15:3-7; John 10:1-16. The verb "poimaino" ("to shepherd") occurs in Christ's command to Peter (Joh 21:16) and Paul's charge to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:28). Its meaning embraces protecting, leading, guiding, and feeding.

GOD'S FLOCK: Peter reminds the elders that the flock is God's and that they are responsible for its loving care. "Serving as overseers" ("episkopountes") reveals the interchangeability of the terms "overseer" and "bishop." Elder ("presbyteros") denotes the dignity of the office; "bishop" ("episkopos") denotes its function -- "to oversee".

NOT BECAUSE YOU MUST: Since the responsibilities of the office of elder are great and since elders will be required to give account of their work (Heb 13:17), no one should be forced into this position.

NOT GREEDY FOR MONEY: Not money -- but enthusiasm and zeal for God and his work will motivate elders.

EAGER TO SERVE: These words remind us of what Paul wrote to Timothy: "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task" (1Ti 3:1).

1Pe 5:3

EXAMPLES: Gr "tupos": a stamp or impression or model. See 1Th 1:7; 2Th 3:7-9.

FLOCK: Gr "kleros": a lot, or an inheritance or portion received by lot.

1Pe 5:4

WHEN THE CHIEF SHEPHERD APPEARS: The glorification will take place at the manifestation of the True Shepherd (Joh 10:11) or Chief Shepherd (Rom 8:17-22; 1Jo 3:2).

THE CROWN OF GLORY: The "crown" could be a "garland" or "wreath" made of leaves or of gold -- the victor's wreath (Rev 3:11; 2Ti 4:8). (In Christ’s suffering it was ironically made of thorns: Mat 27:29.) The unfading "crown of glory" makes a striking contrast to the "use of withered parsley for the crown at the Isthmian games" (NIDNTT).

See Lesson, Olympics -- ancient, modern, and "Christian".

There is a crown of pride (Isa 28:3), which no one should wear. A crown of thorns (Mat 27:29), which no one can wear. And a crown of life (Jam 1:12), which everyone may wear. Also, an incorruptible crown (1Co 9:25), a crown of rejoicing (1Th 2:19), a crown of glory (1Pe 5:4), and a crown to be kept until Christ's coming (Rev 3:11).

1Pe 5:5

BE SUBMISSIVE: Gr "hupotasso": lit to be under military rule or order (used in 1Pe 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5).

CLOTHE YOURSELVES: Gr "egkombosasthe" is a rare word that refers to a slave putting on an apron before serving. So Christians are to imitate their Lord, who girded himself and served (John 13:4-17). This implies that humility is not a mere passive quality -- but is a calling to DO something. It includes performing selflessly any task God assigns, and bringing forth spiritual fruit.

WITH HUMILITY: The reason for humility is based on Pro 3:34 (cf Jam 4:6): God's provision of grace to the submissive and God's opposition to the proud.

GOD OPPOSES THE PROUD: Quoting from Pro 3:34. "Pride desires to do great things publicly: love is happy to do little things privately. Man can only do little things. Only God can do great things. Even Christ said, 'I can of mine own self do nothing.' Man, if he is wise and faithful, and humbles himself truly (not just pridefully), may be used as an instrument for God's great things" (GVG).

THE HUMBLE: The humble or "lowly" in the proverb (Pro 3:34) -- in this context -- is the "son" (Pro 3:1) who does not 'despise the chastening ...' (Pro 3:11). Thus the "humbling" of this verse is a willingness to accept the chastening hand of the Father in our lives.

"In speaking of humility, it might be helpful to say what humility is not. It is not a false valuation of your talents or abilities. You need not say you are dumb when you are smart or ugly when you are handsome. It is understanding those gifts are from God and therefore cannot be a source of arrogance. Meekness does not mean deferring to everyone on everything. Different people are suited to different tasks. Some do things better than others. Humility allows for an accurate self-assessment and the adeptness to carry out those duties without self-aggrandizement to the benefit of God and others. Humility is also not rejecting all praise. We must accept praise and criticism equally well. If we are humble, we will not love 'the praise of men more than the praise of God' (Joh 12:43). We cannot accept the praise of men and also attain the praise of God unless we do so humbly and with a sincere recognition of the source of our abilities" (KT).

1Pe 5:6

HUMBLE YOURSELVES: "Be humble, and then God will not need to humble you. Having to be humbled is very unpleasant (though wholesome). With wisdom, it can largely be avoided, by getting there first voluntarily. Of course, if you are not God's, He may not bother to humble you, He may just let you run out your animal course in your pride. But if you are His, humbling must come, one way or the other. Christ was humble -- 'Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.' He towered infinitely above everyone on earth. How then could he be sincerely humble? Because he realized that he was nothing, and God was everything. He did not (like so many) compare himself with those around him, but with God. He knew that all he ever did or was or understood was of God: the gift of God, the love of God. He had no illusions of his own innate strength or goodness or wisdom. He emptied himself -- his own natural, fleshly self -- and filled himself totally with God: or, rather, he submitted to God totally filling him, to perfectly direct every thought, word and deed. He was the perfect vessel for the Divine use. Let us try to follow him.

"A word of caution: we are not to sit supinely waiting for this to happen to us -- and then assume our own fleshly thoughts are God's. We are expected to strain to the limit to prepare ourselves for divine use by study of the Word and meditation and prayer and constant self-searching. We can be sure that that is the wise and scriptural course that Christ followed. Psa 119, and other psalms, tell us that" (GVG).

UNDER GOD'S MIGHTY HAND: In the OT, God's hand sym discipline (Exo 3:19; 6:1; Job 30:21; Psa 32:4) and deliverance (Deu 9:26; Eze 20:34). Both meanings are appropriate here.

1Pe 5:7

// Mat 6:25-34.

CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM: "When trouble comes, do not think it is not from God, because it is natural. It may not differ from the trouble of other men in apparent origin and form, but it differs from theirs in being under an invisible supervision which aims at a result, and will say, at a certain point, 'Thus far and no farther.' Truth, like the prism, has many sides -- all beautiful and consistent one with another. Childlike docility in its study will open up her treasures which are hid from the eyes of the proud. Our affairs are small in the measureless universe; but they are of great consequence, for good or evil, to worms like ourselves, consequently not insignificant in the eyes of Him who invites us to 'cast all our care upon Him,' with the assurance that 'He careth for us' " (WP 40).

1Pe 5:8

BE SELF-CONTROLLED AND ALERT: Belief in the sovereignty of God and in his fatherly concern for us (vv 6,7) does not permit us to sit back and do nothing. We are to "work out [our] salvation" because "it is God who works in [us]" (Phi 2:12,13). So here Peter warns his flock of the danger of making the fact of God's sovereign care an excuse for inactivity. This exhortation reflects Peter's own experience in which he failed to "watch" (Mat 26:38,40,41 -- sw 'alert'; Mar 14:34). God's sovereignty does not preclude peril to the Christian life.

ENEMY: "Antidikos" means the adversary in a court case. Hence, in the parable, "agree with thine adversary quickly, lest the judge..." (Mat 5:25; Luk 12:58). And, in another parable, the widow appeals persistently to the unprincipled judge: "Avenge me of mine adversary" (Luk 18:3). But now what about 1Pe 5:8? JWs must explain what court-case the devil might want to prosecute. The word suggests very pointedly the activities of malicious accusers (Jews?) laying information against Christians, hoping to get them thrown to the lions in Nero's persecution. Read in this way, the word "antidikos" makes sense; otherwise, not.

DEVIL: "Diabolos" = false accuser; the term is applied to men who oppose God: Joh 6:70; 1Ti 3:11; 2Ti 3:3. Peter means human evil-speaking: 1Pe 2;1,12,14; 4:2-4. See Lesson, Devil, who is the?

ROARING: Evil rulers "roar": Pro 28:15; Act 19:34; Rev 13:11,15; Eze 22:25.

LION: Sym wicked nations (Dan 7:3,4,17; Jer 4:7; 50:17), and/or men speaking lies (Psa 57:4; Psa 22:12,13; Pro 28:15).

SOMEONE TO DEVOUR: Or something! One's character, property, life, etc. See Mat 23:14; Hab 1:13; Psa 37:12.

1Pe 5:9

RESIST HIM: The same exh is found in Eph 6:11-13 and Jam 4:7.

THE SAME KIND OF SUFFERINGS: All who are in union with Christ may expect suffering (Joh 15:18-20; 16:33), and the whole body is joined together in suffering (1Co 12:26).

1Pe 5:10

Four "callings" in 1Pe: "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1Pe 2:9); "to suffering for well-doing" (1Pe 2:20,21); "to render blessing for evil" (1Pe 3:9); "to his eternal glory" (1Pe 5:10).

WHO CALLED YOU TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY: To share in Christ's glory with his Father (Psa 73:23,24; Joh 17:22,24; Rom 8:30 -- "called" and "glorified" together).

AFTER YOU HAVE SUFFERED A LITTLE WHILE: The eternal glory contrasts with the temporal trials Christians suffer (2Co 4:16-18).

RESTORE: Gr "katartisei" = "make complete" or "put in order." The idea of being thoroughly equipped for future work.

MAKE YOU STRONG: Gr "sterixei" = "strengthen one so he can stand fast in persecution."

FIRM: Gr "sthenosei" is found only once in the NT. The exact difference between "sterixei" and "sthenosei" is difficult to determine.

STEADFAST: Gr "themeliosei" is "to put on a firm foundation".

1Pe 5:12

SILAS: Silas, or "Silvanus", is the same person as the one mentioned in Act 15:22-33; 15:40--18:5; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1. One of the leading men in the early ecclesia. What help he gave Peter in writing this letter is uncertain. If he was the amanuensis, it would have been normal for him to have a significant part in writing. Sometimes the amanuensis took shorthand and at other times he used his own words to convey his employer's message.

1Pe 5:13

SHE WHO IS IN BABYLON: Prob ref to the church, or ecclesia, at that particular place. "Babylon" could be (1) in Mesopotamia, (2) a town in Egypt, or (3) a cryptic reference to Rome. The last view is best because: (a) according to early church tradition Peter was in Rome; (b) there is no evidence for Peter's having been in Egypt or Mesopotamia; and (c) the reference may be cryptic because of persecution, or it may be an allusion to the "exile" of God's people on the pattern of the exile of ancient Israel in Babylon (EBC).

Furthermore, the ref to "Babylon" may be intended to recall the experiences of Daniel, who endured "fiery trials" and persecutions in the literal Babylon -- and is a pattern, in some measure, for the whole letter.

MY SON: Could be a spiritual designation: my younger bro, my protege: 1Ti 1:2,18; 2Ti 1:2; 2:1; Tit 1:4.

MARK: John Mark (Act 12:12,25; 15:36-39; 2Jo 1:1,13). Strong early tradition links John Mark with Peter and his Gospel.

1Pe 5:14

KISS OF LOVE: The normal form of greeting between friends in apostolic times. Cp the "holy kiss" in Rom 16:16; 1Co 16:20; 2Co 13:13; 1Th 5:26.
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