1 So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. 2 Tend the flock of God in your midst, (overseeing) not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

5 Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: "God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble." 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

8 Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. 10 The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. 11 To him be dominion forever. Amen.

12 I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it.

13 The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.  Version: New American Bible


COMMENTS

General:

  • In this final chapter, the apostle exhorts the older men (church leaders) to lead well, the younger men to follow well, and all to be endure well.
  • Making his appeal to the leaders, Peter reminds them that he himself is an elder (v.1).
    • Recall that elder, shepherd, and overseer all refer to the same person: the leader of the church.
    • Notice that Peter again cites Christ's sufferings. Jesus is our example. Paradoxically, although he calls us upward, he calls us downward! Humble service is the way to glory.
    • Elders must not be reluctant, mercenary, or overbearing. Rather, they must be willing, eager, and models of service (vv.2-3).
    • Jesus himself, after all, was a shepherd (v.4). He will glorify those who seek his glory.
  • An posture of submission is enjoined on all.
    • The younger men (Greek: neoteroi, younger persons), are to submit to those who are older (v.5) -- or to the elders, depending on the translation. (The Greek is ambiguous.)
    • Humility must characterize our one-another relationships, since God opposes the proud (vv.5-6).
    • Closely connected with this is the command to pray (v.7), giving our anxiety to the Lord. How many persons, through failure to pray, allow their anxieties to result in an uncooperative and self-focused spirit?
  • Not only must we live humbly towards our leaders, and all fellow Christians, but we must be on our guard against the true enemy (vv.8-9).
    • Prayer enables us to remain spiritually sober and watchful.
    • The devil is predatory. We pray; he preys. For an excellent series of illustrations developing the warning of v.8, be sure to read The Lion Never Sleeps.
    • It will help us to endure to know that we are not alone in our sufferings. We have company; our fellow believers also suffer (esp. those in the regions mentioned in 1:1). Moreover, God is with us and will strengthen us (v.9).
  • Suffering is part of God's plan.
    • He will restore us in due time -- in his time, not on our schedule (v.10)!
    • Suffering will last only "a little while." This should be interpreted in the light of eternity (v.10). See 2 Corinthians 4:17. God's grace is sufficient; see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
    • Ultimately, the Lord is in control (v.11).
  • As he concludes this brief letter (v.12), Peter bids the churches farewell (vv.13-14).
    • He sends greetings from the church in Rome (v.13), from which he is writing this letter. Mark, closely associated with Peter according to early and strong traditions, also sends his own greeting.
    • He asks the believers to greet one another with a loving kiss (v.14). Our greetings are to be warm and heartfelt (v.14).
    • Last, he wishes them all shalom, peace (v.14). Though we wish all men well, true shalom can only be granted by God to those who are in Christ.

Advanced:

  • Presbyter (v.1) is a transliteration of presbyteros, elder. In my opinion, this word, like "pastor," should be removed from the vocabulary of religious terminology.
  • There is an interesting verb in v.3, katakurieuein. It has direct implications for leadership.
  • About the meaning of "older" in v.5, click here.
  • The citation from Proverbs 3:34 in verse 5 follows the LXX. This proverb is also quoted in James 4:6. The Hebrew (MT) reads literally: "If scorning, He scorns [them], and to the humble he gives grace."
  • Re: v.12, the epistle has been written with the help of Silas (Silvanus). Four times in the NT he is called by his longer name, Silvanus, and 12 times by his shorter name, Silas. Silas is normally the colleague of Paul, so this verse indicates the cooperation between those in Peter's circle and those in Paul's. To those who object the Galilean fisherman couldn't have penned such an epistle as 1 Peter, Silvanus' function must be taken into account, esp. as it is unclear how much of the document Peter himself wrote (in terms of the literal words).
  • Babylon (v.13) is Rome, as it is also called in Revelation 14:8; 16:9; 17:5; 18:2 etc.
    • The Babylon in Mesopotamia was hardly inhabited at the time 1 Peter was written, so it is unlikely to be the literal Babylon to which Peter refers.
    • In Jewish writing from after 70 AD the term often appears (4 Ezra 3:1-2, 28-31; 2 Baruch 10:1-3; 11:1; 67:7; Sib. Or. 5.143, 159).

Thought questions:

  • Am I a cooperative Christian, willing to be led? Does my own anxiety, exacerbated by lack of prayer, make me less submissive?
  • Do I trust God to be the one to decide when I have suffered enough?
  • What other N.T. books address suffering? Which O.T. books? Have I understood how vital it is that I have the right attitude towards suffering?

 

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