Bible Commentaries

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

1 Peter 5

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Verses 1-14

Consistently with Peter's subject of governmental order, he now address elders in v.1, and those younger in v.5. Proper balance in this relationship is always deeply important, for on either side friction can too easily arise, and the elder lose the valuable help of the younger, and the young lose the wisdom and counsel of the elder. To the elder Peter speaks as being himself an elder, not only experienced, but also an actual witness of the sufferings of Christ. And he adds to this the future certainty of his being a partaker of the coming glory at the revelation of Christ. Experience, observation, and participation are the three matters Peter stresses concerning himself. His actual observation of the suffering of Christ would have permanent, deep effect upon his soul, to which other elders should pay serious attention. But suffering and glory are again put together, and the anticipation of such full participation in Christ's coming glory is another powerful influence over the soul.

"Feed the flock of God," he tells them, or more correctly, "be shepherds over the flock of God." It involves a character of consistent care and watchfulness, preserving the flock from harm and danger, as well as feeding them. But it is God's flock, not theirs: they are only under shepherds. Yet they are to take the oversight, not to allow things to drift, but to maintain godly order. Nor let them do so merely because they are virtually forced into it, but willingly, expecting nothing in return except the approval of God. Nor are they to do this as lording over their own possessions. How much better than such an authoritative attitude is the lowly grace of being examples to the flock.

In this respect Christ Is spoken of as the Chief Shepherd; for the Church of God is His flock, and He will fully reward all true shepherd work done for love to His Name and in genuine care for the sheep. The reward of the crown of glory is connected with His appearing: at his manifestation His saints too will be manifested. Now the younger are told to submit themselves to the elder. Today such instruction is not only ignored, but by many greatly resisted. But it is the word of God. Of course this is not to be a mere servile obedience without spiritual exercise, but a healthy, vital appreciation of the experience and counsel of elders, a recognition that in governmental matters their judgment should be fully respected.

But this principle is widened to include the subjection of every believer to each other, a most striking and instructive admonition. This is the spirit of honest service one to another, the willingness to forego personal preferences for the sake of unity and spiritual prosperity. The elder may well be an example to the younger in this gracious virtue. "And be clothed with humility" Is a precious complement of this, in contrast to the pride that God resists, and which cannot therefore prosper. To the humble however He gives grace, for humility is actually only facing the. truth as it is .

What are we in comparison to the mighty hand of God? Under that hand we should be thankful to utterly humble ourselves: it Is the right place for us. And eventually God Himself will exalt, us. Marvelous grace indeed!

If we feel this place of humiliation will increase our problems, this is fully provided for. We need only cast our care upon Him, instead of ourselves bearing the burden of it. "For He careth for you. "This is true whether or not we cast our care on Him, He cares anyway: therefore we might as well take advantage of His unfailing kindness.

Being sober is not being gloomy, but using wise discretion. And vigilance is watchful awareness. These things are of vital importance, for the devil, a determined adversary, As constantly on the move, ready to attack the unwary, and as a roaring lion to frighten them into a state of helpless paralysis. Let us not be caught. It is Satan's devouring character here seen, not his subtlety as a serpent. He was using persecution with the object of intimidating souls, and they needed the courage of firm faith to protect themselves from this.

Facing the enemy with the steadfast resistance of faith is here necessary. David's resistance of Goliath is a pointed example in this matter. And it is a real encouragement to know that others of God's saints are daily facing the same afflictions in a hostile world, and finding grace from God to overcome.

And God is "the God of all grace," calling us "unto His eternal glory." The sufferings then are only brief, and not unwelcome, for the Object of that glory is "Christ Jesus." And meanwhile the sufferings accomplish the precious ends of perfecting establishing, strengthening, and settling the saints, that is, bringing permanent, valuable results. Well does He deserve "glory and dominion."

In closing Peter speaks of Silvanus as his penman, a brother known to his readers, though evidently not so well known to Peter as to speak more positively of his faithfulness. He calls his epistle brief, and as emphasizing exhortation and testimony rather than teaching. But he has presented the true grace of God, grace which is able to produce suited response: in such grace believers stand.

V.13 is unusual: "She that is elected with you in Babylon salutes you, and Marcus my son." (JND Trans.) Whether this was Peter's wife, or another sister well known, we do not know. But Mark had evidently been converted through Peter. He writes evidently from the literal Babylon. And He ends with encouraging the affections of saints one for another, wishing them peace in Christ Jesus.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Peter 5". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.