This Tuesday, we are discussing 1 Peter 5. In this chapter, we have Peter’s final instructions to his congregations and his salutations.
Church Leadership: (vv.1-5)
The congregations Peter is writing to are undergoing suffering and persecution, and Peter seeks to give them encouragement and hope. As Peter wraps up his letter, Peter speaks directly to the leadership of the congregations. It is this leadership and the congregations’ submission to this leadership which will see these congregations through this time of turmoil.
In the early church, most congregations were led by elders. See, Acts 14:23. These elders (Gk: presbuteros from where we get our word priest) were the recognized or appointed leaders of their respective congregations probably more like our vestry than our clergy. Peter first instructs these elders as to their duties and then instructs them in the appropriate character to carry out those duties. In both cases, the elders are to be Jesus’s representatives in their congregations. (We have previously looked at Paul’s understanding of congregational leadership in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.)
First, the elders are to tend or provide oversight (Gk: episkopeo from where we get our word bishop and episcopal) of God’s flock as a shepherd tends his sheep. Jesus is the chief Shepherd, and the elders are to emulate him. v.4, John 10. To be good shepherds of their respective congregations is the duty of all leadership. But, most importantly, the elders must recognize that the flock belongs to God and not them.
Second, Peter tells the elders how they must exercise their leadership. Jesus taught his disciples that they were not to lord their authority over others, but instead, they must be servants as Jesus demonstrated his servanthood. Mk. 10:42-45. The elders must exercise authority not by compulsion but eagerly, not for personal gain but wholeheartedly, and not by domineering but by being Christ’s own servant example.
The congregation, therefore, should submit themselves to the elders, just as the elders have submitted themselves to the congregation and to Jesus. Peter’s vision of congregational leadership is truly one of mutual submission and servanthood.
The Apocalyptic Exhortation: (vv. 6-11)
In this final exhortation, Peter reminds his audience that they living on a spiritual battlefield. Their suffering and persecution do not simply arise from worldly governing authorities but they are undergoing trials because of a greater spiritual warfare taking place. This apocalyptic theme we see throughout the New Testament in the gospels (Mark 1:24), Paul (Gal. 1:4), John (1 John 3:8b), and Revelation. As Peter tells us, however, this battle is not one for us to fight, but for God to fight on our behalf. Our duty is merely to be humble and cast our cares upon God. We should be watchful and resist the evil that comes upon us through our faith in God’s goodness and protection. Our victory over the devil comes through Christ, not ourselves.
The outcome of this spiritual battle is the final restoration. This is Revelation’s vision of the New Jerusalem or Paul’s vision of the Resurrection. Rev. 21, 1 Cor. 15. Death is defeated and eternal glory awaits all the saints for it “is Christ who will himself restore, establish and strengthen you.” v.10.
SCHEDULE: We are NOT meeting Tuesday, June 27 or July 4.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken mole. Discussion at 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here!
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:42-45