Exhortation to the Elders: 1 Peter 5:1-4.
Peter has a special exhortation for spiritual leadership in the local churches. He identifies himself as an elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ. This gives him authority to instruct church leaders. Elders were divinely appointed by the Lord and by the apostles in the early church (Acts 14: 23; Titus 1:5). Christians were going through suffering at that time and the church was in need of godly leadership. They are interchangeably called elders, overseers and bishops in the New Testament (Act 20:17, 28; Philippians 1:2). This speaks of their responsibility, maturity and authority. It is a shared responsibility to feed, lead and protect believers from error. The qualifications of the elder are given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Peter was a fellow elder, serving the church along with other elders. Elders are entrusted with the flock of God to watch over them by feeding, leading and protecting them from the enemy. There is no hierarchy or autocracy or democracy in the structure of the church but theocracy. But the priesthood of all believers does not set aside the structure of the church. Elders should serve believers not under compulsion but willingly. They should not lord over the believers but lead them by good example (Acts 20:19, 20; Luke 22:26). Elders must do everything for the spiritual edification of believers and for the glory of God. Peter reminds Elders of their reward (5:4). When the chief shepherd returns he gives the crown of glory to those who serve faithfully. The crowns may be the capacity of believers to enjoy God and worship him eternally in heaven. The ability to obey the chief shepherd comes from looking back to Jesus' sacrificial death and looking forward to his return. God's grace enables them to live, serve and lead God's people.
Exhortation to the Church: 1 Peter 5:5-11.
Likewise younger people should submit to elders and serve each other in humility. Elders are divinely appointed to have authority over the church and they are accountable to God. So believers must accept their authority in the church. Humility is assuming the proper role in relationship to one another in the church. It does not mean lack of confidence or low self-image. Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 to prove his point here. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. There is no greater blessing than receiving God’s grace and serving Christ (James 4:6, 7). So we are exhorted to remain humble under the mighty hand of God to receive His grace. God will exalt you at the right time. No one can snatch us away from the hand of Christ (John 10:28). We should cast all our cares and worries on Christ because he cares for us. Those who are humble will receive grace for every situation from the Lord. Be sober minded and watchful because your adversary, the devil, is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Satan is our enemy, deceiver and accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:11;
2 Corinthians 11:3). He can counterfeit himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan cannot torment us without God’s permission (Job 1:12). We are no match for Satan. Resist the devil and stand firm because you are not alone. Your Christians brothers throughout the world share the same struggle with you (5:9). Submit to God and resist the Devil, he will flee from you (James 4:7; Ephesians 6: 11). Satan is a defeated enemy. We should not be afraid of this roaring lion. At that time Christians were enduring severe persecution throughout the world. Peter encourages them to look to God for His sustaining grace. God of all grace is able to restore, support, strengthen and establish them. His exceedingly great power that works in us is able to make us perfect in His sight (Ephesians 1:19; 3:20). Suffering is the steppingstone to heavenly glory.
Final Greetings and Conclusion: 1 Peter 5:12-14.
Peter wrote this letter with the help of Silas, a faithful brother in Christ (Acts 15:22). The purpose of writing this letter was to encourage and testify to believers that they are sustained by the grace of God. Since they have received God’s grace and truth they should stand firm in the faith in the midst of suffering. The Lord is able to restore and secure us to himself by His power. Peter sends greetings from the sister church in Rome and from fellow servant Mark (Acts 12:25). Peter concludes the letter by encouraging believers to greet each other with Christian love. He wishes them peace from Christ. May God bless my readers. Amen!