The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 5:1-5

Study No.17: (1 Peter 5:1-5)

The persecution was intensifying and many New Covenant believers had already suffered imprisonment and martyrdom. It was a fiery trial that they faced every day and they were tempted to think it strange that they should be singled out. However, Peter encourages them to rejoice in their suffering because they were sharing in the same kind of suffering the Lord Jesus had suffered when he was on earth and that at the hands of apostates and secular pagan government.

They were to keep their eyes fixed on the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus when they would be overjoyed beyond anything they could even imagine when the Messiah’s glory will be revealed to the whole world. They were suffering insults as the Lord Jesus himself had experienced and Peter wanted then to know that suffering for their adherence to and confession of the name of the Lord Jesus that they were to consider themselves blessed, and that when the time came for their martyrdom if it was God’s will for them then the Spirit and glory of God would be resting upon them.

Many were already suffering for their faith and others were to suffer for their faith and many would have been to a greater or lesser degree fearful of what was coming. Peter also addresses the fact that God was allowing this suffering to purify those whom He had redeemed with his own blood so that they would be prepared for His Second Coming and their glorification with Him. They were not to be ashamed of bearing and confessing the name of the Lord Jesus and that what was happening to them was purifying the motives and desires of their hearts.

God was using the Word of God as the instrument in empowering them to be set apart to God by the blessed Holy Spirit. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Therefore, beloved, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that defiles body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Through their time of suffering for the Lord Jesus they were being prepared for their eternal reward And inheritance kept in heaven for them where it would never fade or perish. If God judges His people and disciplines them, and that often through suffering, what judgement would come upon those who do not obey the gospel message?

Indeed Peter writes “If it is hard for the righteous ones God has set apart to Himself to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and those enslaved to sin? Suffering is permitted by God for His people, and even though Satan engineers it against those who walk uprightly by faith in God, it is permitted within the wise and providential grace of God, and at the end resulting in joy unspeakable and full of glory for those who have suffered. Consider what happened to Job at the end of his suffering. The apostle James writes; “Brothers, as an example of patience in affliction, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. See how blessed we consider those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy…. So the Lord blessed Job’s latter days more than his first.” (James 5:10-11) (Job 42:12). Suffering for the Lord Jesus is God’s will for us as New Covenant believers and when it comes we are to commit ourselves to our faithful creator and continue to do good.

In the midst of his suffering, and that at the hands of Satan, Job was able to say; “When He is at work in the north, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the south, I cannot see Him. Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:9-10). The resurrection to life at the end of the age was uppermost in the mind and heart of Job and deposited there by the Holy Spirit, and we read what Job also said; “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I will see Him for myself; my eyes will behold Him, and not as a stranger. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

Even though we do not like times of suffering and this is normal, It takes suffering at times in our walk with the Lord to magnify and to make our resurrection a firm reality deep down on the inside of us. We should not seek suffering, but if we follow the Lord Jesus then the time will come when we will suffer, especially at the end of this present age, if we are still alive down here, when the beast governmental system of the antichrist is fully unleashed on the faithful Body of the Messiah in every nation on earth within the antichrist’s vast empire (Revelation 13:5-10).

Whatever is destined to happen to us, and it has already been foreseen and known to God from all of eternity, we can be sure that He will already have prepared in abundance what we need to persevere to the end and to inherit all that He has promised us for our eternal blessings beyond anything we can think or imagine because He has been at work in us throughout our life. As Rabbi the apostle Paul also writes; “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the corporate assembly and in Messiah Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). With these matters in view let’s now look at our text…

Exposition: (1 Peter 5:1-5)

(Vs.1) “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:”

Now Peter addresses the elders. The word in the Greek text also designates an elder as “a bishop” “a shepherd” “an overseer” or as “a presbyter” or “a pastor.” The titles are interchangeable with each other. Peter does not place himself above his fellow shepherds but identifies with them as being one with them even though he was an apostle. Peter had witnessed the sufferings of the Messiah our Lord Jesus and was soon to be crucified as His Lord had been (2 Peter 1:14). He also encourages them by reminding them they, like him, will share in the splendour of the Messiah’s glory to be revealed at His Second Coming. Peter is telling us in both his letters not to hope in this world or in anything it offers by way of pleasure, material wealth, prominence in society, money and possessions and striving to have things good in this world, because the whole world is a “Titanic” heading for the great “iceberg” of God’s judgement.

This is why we must be clothed with God’s “lifejacket” being the garment of salvation, being also the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, and even though it may be cold sitting in the “lifeboat” of our salvation in anticipation of the rescue to come, while the unsaved and apostates are partying into the night unaware of “the deluge” to come and “the watery grave” of hell that awaits them, we have the assurance that we will be saved to the uttermost, and that by faith, and rescued out of this wicked and perverse generation. Now let’s continue…

(Vs.2-3) “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

Those whom the Holy Spirit has made shepherds or overseers are to shepherd God’s flock. They are to guide, to feed, to protect and to defend the sheep even at the cost of their life. This is the heart of a true shepherd God has placed within the wider Body of Messiah. The good and faithful shepherd will always be willing to give up his life for the welfare of the sheep as the Lord Jesus did (John 10:11). God’s shepherds encourage and exhort the sheep under their care, but also warn and even rebuke, yet when one goes astray they leave the ninety and nine safely in the sheepfold and go out to seek and rescue the one that has gone astray.

As our Lord Jesus said; ““What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:12-14). Now Peter goes on to list the characteristics of a true shepherd.

“Serving as overseers” not out of compulsion but willingly because this is what God requires of all who would shepherd His flock. The word “serving” implies one who “inspects, oversees, or one to look after, to care for and to be aware and careful to know the needs of their sheep.” They are to do this willingly and with good intent for the spiritual welfare of the sheep. Even though the office of a shepherd is not easy and at times will be very difficult to maintain, especially when you have straying and disobedient sheep to deal with, or when the shepherd needs to warn the sheep about “the wolves” and to deal with “those wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing” that are stalking the sheep.

“Not greedy for money” as there are multitudes of so called “shepherds” today that are in fact fleecing the sheep of their hard-earned dollars. Many are hirelings who will run the other way when wolves are encircling the flock. They are in the ministry for money or for a career because they could not make it in the secular world.  They have an insatiable eagerness for money. Multitudes in the hyper faith prosperity camp are like this having greedy appetites for wealth, prominence and power, “an accursed breed!”

Now there are the three G’s that every pastor or leader needs to be aware of. These are “the girls, the gold and the glory.” Many a prophet, priest, king, shepherd and church leader have been waylaid spiritually by these three works of the flesh underpinned by Satan. Having said this, we can say scripturally that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Have you ever wondered what really goes on in the deep minds of the hyper faith money preachers, being those connivers of doctrinal error and spiritual deception who are in love with money, when “the show” is over and the stage lights are shut, and they go home or to their five star hotel to lay their head upon their pillows to slumber, that If they should die in their sleep where will they end up? Peter also writes about these in his second letter in relation to money describing them as “experts in greed, an accursed breed” (2 Peter 212b).

Jude also writes; “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 1:11-13). The tragedy is that many of these money preachers is that they may have started out well, but the love of money took root in their hearts and the deception for them is that they end up believing their own publicity and ultimately making shipwreck of their faith and the faith of others who trusted them!

“Eager to serve” not with reluctance but willingly and wholeheartedly accompanied by an eagerness to please God and to serve with humility one’s fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah in the local assembly. It is to serve others with a cheerful willingness or eagerness, to be quick to act and to serve with a joyful disposition.” A shepherd serves the interests of his sheep and does what is necessary to maintain their health and wellbeing. Serving is putting the interests of others in the fellowship before one’s own interests. Eagerness and enthusiasm in God’s work accompanied by the Holy Spirit will be catching. This eagerness to serve is a mark of a true shepherd. Our Lord Jesus set the perfect example when He said on one occasion; “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). And then we read…

“Not lording it over those entrusted to you (the flock) but being examples to the flock.” As a shepherd, raised up by the Holy Spirit for that office, he must always watch his attitude towards the sheep over which he has spiritual oversight. One of Satan’s strategies is to put a leader into a situation where that leader starts to manipulate, dominate and control others in the local assembly.  This can express itself in “heavy shepherding,” by controlling the everyday decisions that fellowship members make in their lives or even manipulating worship and pronouncing personal prophecies of one sort or another.

If a pastor prophecies over a member in the fellowship that pastor is accountable to God for what he utters. If a pastor or shepherd is secure in his relationship with the Lord, and has his priorities for ministry in line with the Word of God, then the Holy Spirit will empower that shepherd to handle the flock with God’s wisdom and with discretion and whose wife will also be discreet if he is married.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes to Timothy; “A shepherd must be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? (1 Timothy 3:2-5).

He also writes to Timothy his young protégé and pastor. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:12-16). These will be the marks of a true shepherd the Holy Spirit has ordained and gifted for his ministry in the local assembly of the Body of Messiah. Peter continues…

(Vs.4) “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

For the true shepherd, who genuinely cares for the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made him an overseer, and is not in the ministry for his own aggrandisement or for the love of money, prestige and power over others, will receive from the true shepherd our Lord Jesus the glory of God sitting upon them as a crown that will never fade away because they have faithfully guided, defended and protected the sheep. They have cared for them and spiritually nurtured them by feeding them the nutritious grain of God’s Word. They have served willingly and eagerly and without grumbling or complaining and by exercising great perseverance in the ministry entrusted to them by God.

Firstly it is “a crown” a mark of royalty, the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games and symbolically the eternal blessed ness, which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God and the Messiah our Lord Jesus and which is the reward of the righteous made so through faith and which is an ornament of honour.” Secondly it is “unfading” like a certain flower that never withers or fades, and when plucked off revives if moistened with water, being also a symbol of perpetuity and immortality. Thirdly it is “the unfading crown of glory” which speaks of splendour, brightness, magnificence, excellence, majesty, pre-eminence, dignity and grace. It is a most glorious condition, most exalted state and the glorious condition of perpetual blessedness for eternity which will be bestowed by the chief shepherd on all of His sheep redeemed by His blood! What a reward for those shepherds who remain faithful to their flock in a time of persecution. And then Peter mentions the young men…

(Vs.5) “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

The young men are those who do not hold the office of a pastor or are not called or gifted for the ministry of shepherding. Many of them would face martyrdom under Nero and undoubtedly some had already been transferred into glory through martyrdom. These young men would need to stand firm and resolute and overcome Satan.

The apostle John writes about these young men, not necessarily concerning their physical age as such, but referring to their spiritual standing with God. John writes; “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one…because you are strong and the Word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one“ (1 John 2:13b,14b). Peter tells them to be submissive to those who are older, not only in age but in spiritual matters and those, for whom the passions of youth have been subdued by the Spirit, and by the experiences of life.  The idea of submission is “to be subordinate and to subject oneself to obey, to submit to one’s control and to yield to one’s admonition or advice.” These “older” men in the local assembly are the fathers in Messiah who have known Him who is from the beginning and are seasoned veterans in spiritual warfare and aware of Satan’s devices and strategies (1 John 2:13b, 14b).

As for the whole local assembly of all believers regardless of their gifting or calling they are to clothe themselves with humility towards each other. This clothing of humility was the white scarf or apron of slaves, which was fastened to the belt of the vest and distinguished slaves from freemen. Therefore, this verse can be rendered to “gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb” and this encourages us as New Covenant believers and members of the wider Body of Messiah to show one’s subjection of one to another by putting on humility. This could also refer to the overalls which slaves wore to keep clean while working and it was an exceedingly humble garment to be worn.

Now while Peter does not mention women they are to be included as in the Messiah there is neither male or female but both men and women have equal rights as God’s children and are completely one in Messiah even though their distinctive roles in the local assembly is clearly defined in the Word of God (a separate subject in itself). Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist in the local assembly, there will always be disorder and every evil practice (James 3:16). Pride was Satan’s downfall and has been the downfall of many servants of God that He once used mightily, but because of pride He had to lay them aside. We see this in the Word of God and down through the history of the wider Body of Messiah.

God will always resist pride but impart His undeserved, unmerited favour to those who are humble. This is why a new convert must not be propelled into a leadership role even if he is well gifted as he will be susceptible to Satan’s wiles because of his lack of experience in spiritual matters. Many a young man or woman whom have had a dramatic conversion experience have been prematurely thrust into the lime light by well-intentioned leaders but end up on skid row spiritually and mainly due to pride. In writing to Timothy about this matter of ordaining an elder Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

 Go to Study No. 18