AN EXPOSITION OF 1 PETER 5:1-14
1 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:
Since the passing of the apostles, the highest ruling authority in the local assemble are elders, not deacons, and not auxiliary boards. The usurpation of pastoral authority has brought shame and division to the body of Christ and broken the biblical pattern. The Lord has a right to organize the church as He sees fit, and He has decreed that elders (pastors) have ultimate oversight, and shall rule the assembly according to gracious gospel terms.
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;
God has called individuals to feed, not fleece the flock which means that no pastor has a right to be in the ministry for inordinate financial profit, or to lord it over God’s people. Pastoral accountability comes from the biblical pattern of having a plurality of elders in leadership position.
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Ten Basic Statements about Ministry
Warren and David Wiersbe
- The foundation of ministry is character.
- The nature of ministry is service.
- The motive for ministry is love.
- The measure of ministry is sacrifice.
- The authority of ministry is submission.
- The purpose of ministry is the glory of God.
- The tools of ministry are the Word and prayer.
- The privilege of ministry is growth.
- The power of ministry is the Holy Spirit.
- The model for ministry is Jesus Christ
The Perfect Pastor
After hundreds of years the perfect pastor’s been found. He is the church elder who’ll please everyone. He preaches exactly 20 minutes and then sits down. He condemns sin, but never steps on anybody’s toes. He works from 8 in the morning to 10 at night, doing everything from preaching sermons to sweeping. He makes $400 per week, gives $100 a week to the church, drives a late model car, buys lots of books, wears fine clothes, and has a nice family. He always stands ready to contribute to every other good cause, too, and to help panhandlers who drop by the church on their way to somewhere. He is 36 years old, and has been preaching 40 years. He is tall on the short side, heavy-set in a thin sort of way, and handsome. He has eyes of blue or brown, (to fit the occasion) and wears his hair parted in the middle – left side, dark and straight, right side, brown and wavy. He has a burning desire to work with the youth, and spends all his time with the senior citizens. He smiles all the time while keeping a straight face, because he has a keen sense of humor that finds him seriously dedicated. He makes 15 calls a day on church members, spends all his time evangelizing non-members, and is always found in his study if he is needed. Unfortunately he burnt himself out and died at the age of 32.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The Crown of Incorruption. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (1 Cor. 9:24)
The Crown of Righteousness. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a ‘Crown of righteousness’, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8)
The Crown of Life. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the ‘Crown of life,’ which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12)
The Crown of Rejoicing. “For what is our hope, or joy, or ‘Crown of rejoicing?’ Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thess. 2:19)
The Crown of Glory. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a ‘Crown of glory’ that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:4)
The Crown of Gold. “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” (Rev. 4:4)
5 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.
“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or the other at all” (William Temple, “Christ in His Church”).
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady. The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. “It’s perfectly all right, Madam,” he replied. “Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.” She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute (Our Daily Bread).
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
“Does Jesus care
When my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?
Oh yes, He cares,
I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades
Into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care
When I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care
When I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches
Till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him?
Does He see?”
Oh yes, He cares,
I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.”
Frank E. Graeff, 1901
8 Be sober [discreet], be vigilant [on guard]; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour [swallow up]:
The devil is a real person, and not just an evil force. “That there is a devil is a thing doubted by none but such as are under the influence of the Devil” (Cotton Mather). The main objective of the devil is to devour souls, which he does in many ways, including addictions. Addiction is characterized by an obsessive indulgence of any substance, or thought. Some people are swallowed up by the lust for power in that they must have their own way in any given situation. Others are swallowed up by coveting money or indulging in sensual pleasure, by way of pornography. Still others are swallowed up with food, drugs, or alcohol.
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Resistance to the devil is to take place in the sphere of faith. This means that no confidence is to be placed in the flesh to conquer sin in the soul. Rom 8:13 “if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
10 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.
Six Works of Divine Grace
The believer is called to salvation, sanctification and service.
The believer is to suffer in order to be like Christ.
The believer will be perfected or made complete. What was broken in the Garden of Eden has been repaired by the work of Christ at Calvary.
The believer will be established in the sphere of faith. The child of God will stand firm in the faith.
The believer will be strengthened in the inner man.
The believer will be able to function under pressure, and will be stabilized in every situation in life. Bible doctrine, stored in the soul, will be the defense erected against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
12 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.
Silvanus is another form of Silas (person of the woods), who was an honored leader in the early church at Jerusalem. Because Silas was willing to go on a missionary journey with Paul, the two ventured to Antioch of Syria. There they shared the decision of the Jerusalem Council to receive Gentile Christians into the church (Acts 15:22, 27, 32), with only limited conditions. On a second missionary journey, Paul as a traveling companion chose Silas. It was during this period that Paul and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi (Acts 16:19, 25, 29). Silas and Paul were also together when a riot broke out in the city of Thessalonica (Acts 17:4).
Following that incident, they were sent to Berea, where Silas remained with Timothy; both Silas and Timothy soon followed Paul to Athens (Acts 17:14-15), although they may not have caught up with him until reaching Corinth (Acts 18:5). Silas played a vital part in promoting the gospel in Corinth. In his letters, Paul referred to Silas as Silvanus (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1). The time, place, and manner of his death are not known, and it does not matter. The message is more important than the man.
13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus [John Mark] my son.
Babylon is used in Scripture as a symbol of tyranny, and evil, and worthy of destruction. Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Here, the cryptic reference may be to the Church of Rome, or it may refer to the ancient city of Babylon on the Euphrates, as the Nestorian (Persian) church maintains. Many Jews had been deported to Babylon over the centuries. When the gospel went into all the world (Rom. 1:8), some came to faith, and Peter ministered to them. There is a third possibility. The Coptic Church of Egypt believed Babylon referred to a new Babylon in Egypt, near the present city of Cairo.
Note. The Nestorians. The Nestorians held that there were two separate persons in Christ–one divine, the other human. Its members venerate Nestorius as a saint, deny the Virgin, the title Mother of God, while otherwise honoring her highly, and reject the ecumenical councils after the second council was held. The ancient Persian church was the only one to espouse the cause of Nestorius; as a result it lost communion with the rest of Christendom.
Note. The Coptic Church. For two thousand years, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt has maintained a faithful witness for Christ. Her sons and daughters pride themselves on being the unyielding defendants of the Christian faith. The Nicene Creed, which is recited in many churches throughout the world, has been authored by one of her favorite sons, Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria in 325 AD. Egypt was the place of refuge the Holy Family sought in its flight from Judea (Mat.2:12-23).
14 Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
It is the custom in some countries for there to be no physical contact between the opposite sexes in public. The gospel comes to change not only hearts, but also lives, and customs. Long established traditions must give way to biblical commands and practices. A display of affection among brothers and sisters in the body of Christ is appropriate, and needed. The only expression of love some people get is the touch they receive by members of the Royal Family of God.
Concerning church leaders, God can use the most unlikely of candidates. The following imaginary letter captures this point.
Rev. Saul Paul Independent, Missionary Corinth, Greece
Dear Mr. Paul:
We recently received an application from you for service under our Board.
It is our policy to be as frank and open-minded as possible with all our applicants. We have made an exhaustive survey of your case. To be plain, we are surprised that you have been able to pass as a bonified missionary.
We are told that you are afflicted with a severe eye trouble. This is certain to be an insuperable handicap to an effective ministry. Our Board requires 20-20 vision.
At Antioch, we learn, you opposed Dr. Simon Peter, an esteemed denominational secretary, and actually rebuked him openly and publicly. You stirred up so much trouble at Antioch that a special Board meeting had to be convened at Jerusalem. We cannot condone such actions.
Do you think it seemly for a missionary to do part-time secular work? We hear that you are making tents on the side. In a letter to the church at Philippi, you admitted that they are the only church supporting you. We wonder why.
Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren reported that you did two years time at Caesarea, and were imprisoned at Rome.
You made such trouble for the businessmen at Ephesus that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.” Sensationalism in missions is uncalled for. We also deplore the lurid “over-the-wall-in-a-basket” episode at Damascus.
We are appalled at your obvious lack of conciliatory behavior. Diplomatic men are not stoned, and dragged out of the city gate, or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever suspected that gentler words might gain you more friends? I enclose a copy of the book by Dailus Carnagus, “How to Win Jews and Influence Greeks.”
In one of your letters you refer to yourself as “Paul the Aged.” Our new mission policies do not envisage a surplus of super-annulated recipients.
We understand that you are given to fancies and dreams. At Troas, you saw “a man of Macedonia”, and at another time “were caught up into the third heaven”, and even claimed the “Lord stood by you.” We reckon that more realistic and practical minds are needed in the task of world evangelism.
You have caused much trouble wherever you have gone. You opposed the honorable women at Berea, and the leaders of your own nationality in Jerusalem. If a man cannot get along with his own people, how can he serve foreigners?
We learn that you are a snake handler? At Malta, you picked up a poisonous serpent which is said to have bitten you, but you did not suffer harm. Tsk, tsk.
You admit that while serving time at Rome that “all forsook you.” Good men are not left friendless. Three fine brothers by the names of Demas, and Alexander the coppersmith, have notarized affidavits to the effect that it is impossible for them to cooperate with either you or your program.
We know that you had a bitter quarrel with a fellow missionary, Barnabas. Harsh words do not further God’s work.
You have written many letters to churches where you have formerly been pastor. In one of these letters, you accused a church member of living with his father’s wife, and you caused the whole church to feel badly; and the poor fellow was expelled.
You spend too much time talking about the “second coming of Christ.” Your letters to the people of Thessalonica are devoted almost entirely to this theme. Put first things first from now on.
Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking about a wild goose chase to Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one’s powers. You cannot win the whole world by yourself. You are just one little Paul.
In a recent sermon you said, “God forbid that I should glory in anything save the cross of Christ.” It seems to us that you ought also to glory in our heritage, our denominationalism, and program, the unified budget, and the World Federation of Churches.
Your sermons are much too long at times. At one place, you talked until after midnight, and a young man was so asleep that he fell out of the window and broke his neck. Nobody is saved after the first twenty minutes. “Stand up, speak up, and then shut up” is our advice.
Dr. Luke reports that you are a thin, little man, bald, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your churches, that you sleep very poorly. He reports that you pad around the house praying half the night. A healthy mind in a robust body is our ideal for all applicants. A good night’s sleep will give you zest and zip, so that you wake up full of zing.
We find it best to send only married men into Foreign Service. We deplore your policy of persistent celibacy; Simon Magus has set up a matrimonial bureau at Samaria, where the names of some very fine widows are available.
It hurts me to tell you this, Brother Paul, but in all of my twenty-five years experience, I have never met a man so opposite to the requirements of our Foreign Mission Board. If we accepted you, we would break every rule of modern missionary practice.
Most sincerely yours,
J. Flavius Fluffyhead
Foreign Mission Board Secretary
Harold Smith, “Your Good Neighbor,” November 1952