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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

1 Peter 5

Verse 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:

Elders - alike in office and age (1 Peter 5:5).

I ... also an elder. To put one's self on a level with those we exhort gives weight to exhortations (cf. 2 John). Peter, in humility, for the Gospel's sake, does not put forward his apostleship, wherein he presided over the elders. In this the apostles have no successors, for 'the signs of an apostle' have not been transmitted. The presidents over the presbyters and deacons, by whatever name designated, angel, bishop, or moderator, etc., though of the same ORDER as the presbyters, yet have virtually succeeded to a superintendency analogous to that exercised by the apostles (this priority existed from the earliest times after the apostles) (Tertullian); just as the Jewish synagogue (the model which the Church followed) was governed by a council of presbyters, presided over by one of themselves, "the chief ruler of the synagogue," (cf. Vitringa, 'Synagogue,' part 2:, chs. 3: and 7:)

Witness - an eye-witness of Christ's sufferings; so qualified to exhort you to believing patience in suffering for well doing after His example (1 Peter 2:20). This explains the 'therefore' in 'Aleph (') A B, 'I therefore exhort,' resuming 1 Peter 4:19. His higher dignity as an apostle is delicately implied, as eye-witnessing was a necessary qualification for apostleship (cf. Peter's own speeches, Acts 1:21-22; Acts 2:32; Acts 10:39).

Also - the righteous recompense corresponding to the sufferings.

Partaker of the glory - according to Christ's promise; an earnest was given in the transfiguration.

Verse 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;

Feed, [ Poimanate (G4165)] - 'Tend as a shepherd,' by discipline and doctrine. Lead, feed, heed; by prayer, exhortation, government, example. The dignity is marked by "elder;" the duties, to tend or oversee, by "bishop." Peter has in mind Christ's injunction [ Poimaine (G4165) ... boske (G1006)]: "Feed (tend) my sheep ... Feed (pasture) my lambs" (John 21:16-17). He invites the alders to share the same duty (cf. Acts 20:28). The flock is Christ's.

Which is among you. While having a concern for all, your special duty is to feed that portion which is among you.

Oversight - `bishopric;' duty of overseer.

Not by constraint. Necessity is laid upon them; but willingness prevents it being felt, both in undertaking and fulfilling the duty (Bengel). 'He is a true minister of the counsel of God who doeth and teacheth the things of the Lord; not accounted righteous because he is a presbyter, but, because righteous, chosen into the presbytery' (Clemens Alexandrinus).

Willingly. 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic, add [ Kata (G2596) Theon (G2316)], 'as God would have it done' (Romans 8:27).

Not for filthy lucre - (Isaiah 56:11; Titus 1:7.)

Of a ready mind - promptly, heartily, without selfish gain-seeking, as the Israelites gave their services willing-heartedly to the sanctuary (Exodus 35:5; Exodus 35:21-22; Exodus 35:29).

Verse 3

Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Being lords, [ katakurieuontes (G2634)] - 'lording it' with despotic pride (2 Corinthians 1:24).

God's heritage, [ ton (G3588) kleeron (G2819)] - 'the inheritances;' i:e., the portions of the Church committed severally to your charge (Bengel); explained by "the flock." However, in 1 Peter 5:2, "flock of God which is among you," answers to "(God's) heritages" (the sheep which are God's portion and inheritance, Deuteronomy 32:9). Your assuming lordship would be to usurp God's. The Church, as one whole, is God's heritage or flock (singular). Regarded as to its component parts, divided among several pastors, it is plural, 'heritages.' Compare Acts 1:17; Acts 1:25. Greek, the 'parts' are still God's heritages. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote to Pope Eugene, 'Peter could not give thee what he had not: what he had he gave: the care over the Church, not dominion.' "Lot" for "inheritance" came from the division of Canaan into allotments. The whole land was God's: each one's portion was from God.

Being, [ ginomenoi (G1096)] - 'becoming.'

Ensamples - the most effective recommendation of precept (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7). 'A monstrosity it is to see the highest rank joined with the lowest life, a grandiloquent tongue with a lazy life, much talking with no fruit' (Bernard).

Verse 4

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

And - And so: as the result of "being ensamples" (1 Peter 5:3).

Chief Shepherd - Christ's special title, not Peter's or the pope's.

When ... shall appear - `be manifested' (Colossians 3:4). Faith serves the Lord while still unseen.

Crown, [ stefanos (G4735)] - a garland of victory; in the Grecian games woven of ivy, parsley, myrtle, olive, or oak. Our crown is distinguished from theirs in that it "fadeth not away," as their soon did. "The crown of life." Not a kingly "crown" [ diadeema (G1238)], exclusively attributed to the Lord Jesus (Revelation 19:12).

Glory, [ tees (G3588)] - 'THE glory,' namely, to be then revealed (1 Peter 5:1; 1 Peter 4:13).

That fadeth not away - Greek, 'amarantine' (cf. 1 Peter 1:4).

Verse 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.

Ye younger. The deacons were originally younger men, the presbyters older: subsequently, as presbyter expressed the office of church ruler or teacher, so neoteros means not young men in age, but subordiante ministers of the Church. So Christ uses "younger" (Luke 22:26); for He explains it by "he that doth serve" [ ho (G3588) diakonon (G1249)], he that ministereth as a deacon; as He explains "the greatest" by "he that is chief" [ ho (G3588) heegoumenos (G2233)]. 'He that ruleth' applied to the bishops or presbyters (Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17; Hebrews 13:24). So "the young men" (Acts 5:6; Acts 5:10) are the deacons of the church of Jerusalem, of whom, as all Hebrews, the Hellenistic Christians subsequently complained as neglecting their Grecian widows, whence arose the appointment of seven others, Hellenistic deacons. So Peter, having exhorted the presbyters not to lord it over those committed to them, adds, 'Likewise, ye younger' - i:e., subordinate ministers-`submit cheerfully to the elders' (Mosheim). There is no Scripture sanction for "younger" meaning laymen (as Alford explains): this sense is probably of later date. The "all of you" that follows refers to the congregation generally; it is likely that, like Paul (Ephesians 4:11-13), Peter notices, previous to the general congregation, the subordinate ministers as well as the presbyters, writing as he did to the same region (Ephesus), to confirm the teaching or the apostle of the Gentiles.

Yea - to sum up all my exhortations. Be subject. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate; but Tischendorf quotes B for it. Then 'gird (1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:1) fast on humility (lowliness of mind) to one another.' [ Engkomboosasthe (G1463)], 'Tie on with a fast knot,' (Wahl). Or, 'gird on humility as the slave dress' [engkomboma]: as the Lord girded Himself with a towel to perform a servile office of humble love, washing His disciples' feet-a scene in which Peter played an important part, so that he would naturally have it before his mind. Compare similarly 1 Peter 5:2, with John 21:15-17. Clothing was the original badge of man's sin and shame. Pride caused the need of clothing, and pride still reigns in dress; the Christian clothes himself in humility (1 Peter 3:3-4). God provides the robe of Christ's righteousness, to receive which man must strip off pride.

God resisteth the proud - quoted, as James 4:6, from Proverbs 3:34. Peter gives James' letter inspired sanction. Compare 1 Peter 5:9, with James 4:6-7. Other sins flee from God: pride alone opposeth itself to God; therefore God also in turn opposes Himself to the proud (Gerhard in Alford). Humility is the vessel of all graces (Augustine).

Verse 6

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Under the mighty hand - afflicting you (1 Peter 3:15): 'accept' His chastisements; turn to Him that smiteth you (Isaiah 9:13). He depresses the proud and exalts the humble.

In due time - wait patiently His own fit time. So 'Aleph (') B; but A, Vulgate, read 'In the season of (His) visitation' in mercy.

Verse 7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Casting - once for all [ epiripsantes (G1977), aorist].

Care, [ merimnan (G3308)] - 'anxiety;' advantage from humbling ourselves under God's hand (1 Peter 5:6), confident reliance on His goodness, and exemption from care.

Careth for you, [ peri (G4012)] - 'respecting you.' Care is a burden which faith casts off the man on his God. Compare Psalms 22:10; Psalms 37:5; Psalms 55:22; Philippians 4:6. "Careth" [ melei (G3199)] - not so strong as the previous 'anxiety.'

Verse 8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Peter has in mind Christ's warning to watch against Satan, from forgetting which he fell (Luke 22:31).

Be sober. "Care" will intoxicate the soul; therefore be sober - i:e., self-restrained. Yet, lest this freedom from care should lead to false security,

Be vigilant - against "your adversary." Let this be your "care." God provides, therefore be not anxious. The devil seeks, therefore watch (Bengel).

Because. So C, Vulgate; omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate. The broken sentences are fervid and forcible.

Adversary, [ antidikos (G476)] - opponent in a court of justice (Zechariah 3:1). "Satan" mean opponent. "Devil," accuser (Revelation 12:10). "The enemy" (Matthew 13:30). "A murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). He counteracts the Gospel. "The tempter."

Roaring lion - implying his insatiable hunger for prey. Through man's sin he got God's justice on his side against us; but Christ, our Advocate, by fulfilling all the demands of justice for us, has made our redemption altogether consistent with justice.

Walketh about - (Job 1:7; Job 2:2.) So his children cannot rest (Isaiah 57:20). Evil spirits are (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6) already "in chains of darkness" - i:e., this is their doom finally: a doom already begun in part; though for a time they are permitted to roam in the world (of which Satan is prince), especially in the dark air that surrounds the earth (Ephesians 2:2). Hence, perhaps, arises miasma of the air, as physical and moral evil are closely connected.

Devour - with worldly "care" (1 Peter 5:7), so as finally to destroy. Compare Revelation 12:15-16.

Verse 9

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

- (Luke 4:13; Ephesians 6:11-17; James 4:7.)

Stedfast - (cf. 2 Peter 1:12, end.) Satan's power exists only against the unbelieving: the faithful he cannot touch (1 John 5:18). Faith gives strength to prayer, the instrument against the foe, (James 1:6, etc.) Knowing ... - `encouragement not to faint in afflictions:' your brethren have the same common lot of Christians (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is a sign of God's favour, rather than displeasure, that Satan is allowed to harass you, as he did Job.

Are - are being accomplished according to God's appointment.

In the world - lying in the wicked one, therefore the scene of "tribulation" (John 16:33).

Verse 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.

Assurance that God will "perfect" His work of "grace" in them, after they have under-gone the preliminary suffering.

But - only do you watch and resist the foe: God will perform the rest (Bengel).

Of all grace - (cf. 1 Peter 4:10). To God, as it source, all grace is to be referred: He in grace completes what in grace He began. He from the first, 'called YOU (so 'Aleph (') A B) unto (with a view to) glory.' He will not let His purpose fall short of completion (1 Samuel 3:12). If He does so in punishing, much more in grace. The four are fitly conjoined: the call; the glory to which we are called; the way (suffering); the ground of the calling, namely, the grace of God in [ en (G1722)] Christ. Christ is He in virtue of, and in union with, whom believers are called to glory. The opposite is "in the world" (1 Peter 5:9).

After that ye have suffered. Suffering, as a preliminary to glory, was contemplated in God's calling.

A while - short and inconsiderable, as compared with the glory.

Perfect ... 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate; Coptic versions read 'Shall Himself perfect (so that there shall be nothing defective in you), stablish, strengthen.'

Settle. So 'Aleph ('); but A B omit "settle" [ themelioosei (G2311)]: fix on a foundation. The climax requires rather a verb of completing the work of grace, than founding it. Though you are called on to watch and resist the foe, God Himself [ autos (G846)] must do all in and through you. The same God who begins must Himself complete the work. [ Steerixei (G4741)] "Stablish" (so as to be "stedfast in the faith," 1 Peter 5:9) is the same as "strengthen," Luke 22:32. Peter has in mind Christ's charge. His exhortation accords with his name (Matthew 16:18). "Stablish," not to waver. "Strengthen" with might in the inner man by His Spirit, against the foe (Ephesians 3:16).

Verse 11

To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

To him - alone: not to ourselves. Compare "Himself," note, 1 Peter 5:10.

Glory and. So 'Aleph ('); omitted in A B, Vulgate.

Dominion, [ to (G3588) kratos (G2904)] - 'the might' shown in 'perfecting,' etc., you, 1 Peter 5:10.

Verse 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 - Silas, the companion of Paul and Timothy: a suitable messenger by whom to confirm Paul's doctrine of the true grace of God' in the same churches (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). We never meet with Silvanus as Paul's companion after Paul's last journey to Jerusalem. His connection with Peter was subsequent.

As I suppose. Silvanus, perhaps, stood in a close relation to the churches in Asia, having taken the oversight of them after Paul's departure, and afterward went to Peter, by whom he is now sent back to them with this letter. He did not know, by observation, Silvanus' faithfulness to them; he therefore says, 'faithful to you, as I suppose,' from the accounts I hear: not expressing doubt. But Birks, 'The seeming uncertainty is not as to Silvanus' faithfulness, which is strongly marked by the article [ tou (G3588) in 'Aleph (') A; B omits], but as to whether he or some other would prove to be the bearer of the letter, addressed as it was to five provinces, all of which Silvanus might not reach: 'By Silvanus, that faithful brother, as I expect, I have written to you.'

Briefly - Greek, 'in few (words),' as compared with the importance of the subject (Hebrews 13:22).

Exhorting - not so much formally teaching, which could not be done in so 'few words.'

Testifying - in confirmation [so epimarturoon (G1957)] of that truth which ye have already heard from Paul and Silas (1 John 2:27).

That this - of which I have just written, and Paul before testified (whose testimony, now that he was no longer in those regions, was called in question by some: cf. 2 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 3:15-16); 'the present truth'-namely, the grace formerly promised by the prophets, and now manifested to you. "Grace" is the key-note of Paul's doctrine, which Peter confirms (Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8). Their sufferings for the Gospel made them to need some confirmation of the truth, that they should not fall back from it.

Wherein ye stand 'Aleph (') A B read imperatively 'stand ye' [ eis (G1519) heen (G3739)] 'into which Wherein ye stand. 'Aleph (') A B read imperatively 'stand ye' [ eis (G1519) heen (G3739)] - 'into which (having been already admitted, 1 Peter 1:8; 1 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 2:7; 1 Peter 2:9-10) stand (therein).' Peter has in mind Paul (Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1). 'The grace wherein we stand must be true, and our standing in it true also' (Bengel). Compare Steiger, 'He began with grace (1 Peter 1:2), he finishes with grace, he has besprinkled the middle with grace, that in every part he might teach that the Church is saved only by grace.'

Verse 13

The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.

The ... at Babylon. Alford and Bengel, 'She that is elected together with you in Babylon;' namely, Peter's wife, whom he led about in his missionary journeys (cf. 1 Peter 3:7). But why she should be called 'elected together with you in Babylon,' as if there were no Christian woman in Babylon besides, is inexplicable. The sense is clear: 'that portion of the whole dispersion (1 Peter 1:1, Greek), the church of Christianized Jews, with Gentile converts, which resides in Babylon.' Since Peter and John were closely associated, Peter addresses the church in John's province, Asia, and closes with 'your co-elect sister church at Babylon saluteth you.' John similarly addresses the "elect lady" - i:e., the church in Babylon-and closes with 'the children of thine elect sister (the Asiatic church) greet thee' (cf. 'Introduction,' 2 John). 'Mark, who is in the place of a son to me' (cf. Acts 12:12 on Peter's connection with Mark); whence the mention of him with the church at Babylon, in which he laboured under Peter before he went to Alexandria, is natural.

Papias reports from the presbyter John (b. 3:, 39), that Mark was interpreter of Peter, recording in his gospel the facts related to him by Peter. Silvanus or Silas had been substituted for John Mark, as Paul's companion, because of Mark's temporary unfaithfulness (Acts 15:37-40). But now Mark restored is associated with Silvanus, Paul's companion, in Peter's esteem, as Mark was already reinstated in Paul's esteem. That Mark had a spiritual connection with the Asiatic churches which Peter addresses, and so naturally salutes them, appears from Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11, "Babylon" - the Chaldean Babylon on the Euphrates. See 'Introduction,' ON THE PLACE OF WRITING, in proof that Rome is not meant. How unlikely that in a friendly salutation the enigmatical title of Rome given in prophecy (John, Revelation 17:5) should be need! Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter addresses was derived.

Philo. 'Legat. ad Caium,' sec. 36, and Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 15:, 22; 23: 12, inform us that Babylon contained many Jews in the apostolic age, whereas those at Rome were comparatively few-about 8,000 (Josephus, 17:11) - so it would naturally be visited by the apostle of the circumcision. It was the headquarters of those whom he had so successfully addressed on Pentecost (Acts 2:9) - Jewish 'Parthians, dwellers in Mesopotamia' (the Parthians were then masters of Mesopotamian Babylon); these he ministered to in person. His other hearers-the Jewish 'dwellers in Cappadocia, Pontes, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia'-he now ministers to by letter. The earliest authority for Peter's martyrdom at Rome is Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, in the latter half of the second century. The desirableness of representing Peter and Paul, the two leading apostles, as together founding the church of the metropolis probably originated the tradition. Clement of Rome ('1 Epistola ad Corinthios,' secs. 4, 5), often quoted for, is really against it. He mentions Paul and Peter together, but makes it as a distinguishing circumstance of Paul that he reached both in the East and West, implying that Peter never was in the West. 2 Peter 1:14, "I must shortly put off this tabernacle," implies his martyrdom was near; yet he makes no allusion to Rome, or to any intention of visiting it.

Verse 14

Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are

Kiss of charity (Romans 16:16, "an holy kiss") - token of love to God and the brethren. Love and holiness are inseparable (cf. Acts 20:37).

Peace - Peter's closing salutation; as Paul's is, "Grace be with you," accompanied with "peace be to the brethren." "Peace" (flowing from salvation) was Christ's own salutation after the resurrection: from Him Peter derives it.

Be with you all that are in Christ. ['Aleph (') adds, A B omit, "Jesus."] In Ephesians 6:24, addressed to the same region, the same limitation. of the salutation occurs, whence Peter adopts it. Contrast "be with you all," Romans 16:24; 1 Corinthians 16:23.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Peter 5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.