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Bible Commentaries

Caton's Commentary on the Minor Epistles

1 Peter 5


Herein the elders are charged to feed the flock under their super-vision without arrogance, and to do so willingly and not for gain, and, by being examples for them to follow and as a reward for the faithful discharge of duty, a crown of glory that will not fade will be given them by the chief Shepherd when he comes. The younger brethren are advised to submit to the elders in all their instructions and to be submissive to one another, showing humble dispositions. The reason is given that God opposes the proud spirit, and shows grace to those that are humble. You must humble yourselves before God, and he will exalt you. God cares for you, and you can cast all cares on him. You must be sober and watchful, for you have an enemy who is no less than the devil. He walks around seeking to destroy the good. Resist his every approach. This you can do by closely adhering to your faith. In suffering you are not alone. Your brethren everywhere suffer affliction. I pray God he will make you perfect, and fully settle you in the faith of the gospel. I write this letter of exhortation by Sylvanus, and therein testify the gospel of Christ, which you have all obeyed and are striving to follow its precepts as the only true and God-given course to pursue. Salutations are offered to you from the church at Babylon, and also from Mark. All that are in the kingdom and patience of Christ should greet one another with the kiss of charity.

Verse 1

Verse 1. The elders which are among you.

These elders were the bishops or overseers of the churches situated in the provinces named in the first chap-ter. This is evident from the duties imposed upon this office, as the same appears in second verse. Paul sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of that church to meet him at Miletus, and, among other things, he said to them: "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood" ( Act_20:28 ). These officers were of like kind. Peter says he was one also ; that is, he was both an elder and an apostle. I can not here avoid remarking that no pre-eminent claim is here by the apostle asserted, such as is claimed for him by some in the religious world. It was an opportune time to so claim if any such pre-eminence existed. He simply says he was an elder and witness.

Verse 2

Verse 2. Feed the flock of God.

I, a fellow-elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, am apostle chosen by him, exhort you to feed the flock. In doing this you are exercising the bishop's office by teaching and exhorting them, and praying with and for them, and watching for their souls, not because you are overpersuaded by men to do so, but willingly and not for gain for the money to be given you for your services, but because of your love for God and his cause, and the salvation of your fellows.

Verse 3

Verse 3. Neither as lords over God's heritage.

In your service be not arrogant and despotic. Macknight says: "This is a strong word, denoting tyranny, which the men of this world often exercise when they have obtained offices of power."

But being ensamples to the flock.

If the elder must not be despotic, but the reverse, then they must show a kindly, humble and charitable disposition. Their unselfish devotion becomes then easy of imitation. They are then proper ensamples, patterns, models to be followed by the flock.

Verse 4

Verse 4. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear.

You elders, you shepherds, for thus faithfully perform-ing the duties of your office, when the chief Shepherd shall come, will receive your reward. It will be a crown, but not such as is worn by the victor in races run by men in their human sports ; such a crown will fade, but your crown will be one of glory that shall never wither.

Verse 5

Verse 5. Likewise, ye younger.

Younger in years, and later inducted into the kingdom of Christ. To you, and to all such as you, I say be governed by the Christian advice, exhortations and instructions of the elders, for in this regard submission is proper and necessary to your well-being.

Yea, all of you be subject to one another.

The exhortation of submission to the younger applies to you all: Be clothed with humility, no matter what your relations to one another may be. This grace is necessary.

For God resisteth the proud.

The reason for the exhibition of humility is now made to appear. God resists the proud, but gives grace to those who are humble.

Verse 6

Verse 6. Humble yourselves, therefore.

Since it is a fact that the humble only receive grace from God, humble yourselves. Take his corrections patiently. Show thereby your entire submission to his will, and in time he will exalt you to the possession of a home in heaven. This he will do in his own time.

Verse 7

Verse 7. Casting all of your care upon him.

In any distress that comes upon you, submit to God. He will sustain you. The Psalmist says : "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" ( Psa_55:22 ).

For he careth for you.

How consolatory is this declaration to the oppressed Christian heart ; God cares for him.

Verse 8

Verse 8. Be sober, be vigilant.

Observe temperance in all things. Rule with vigor all passions of the mind and passions of the body. Be vigilant ; that is, careful, watchful, always on the guard. The occasion for this is that a conflict is before you, and the enemy whom I have disclosed is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Your adversary, the devil.

Knowing now with whom you come in conflict, you at once discover the necessity for the close observance of the admonitions given. Your adversary is the devil, the enemy of all righteousness and the author of all wrong. Like the lion, his approaches are stealthy, and, as the lion is powerful among the beasts of the field, so your adversary is exceed-ingly powerful and unscrupulous.

Verse 9

Verse 9. Whom resist, steadfast in the faith.

When the devil is resisted he flees away. Oppose him, therefore, and be steadfast ; that is, firm and unshaken in your faith.

Knowing that the same afflictions.

You are not alone in this warfare and in these suffer-ings. Your brethren in the Lord everywhere in the world are also visited in the same manner.

Verse 10

Verse 10. But the God of all grace.

He is the God of all grace, for he alone can bestow the grace the suffering of earth need.

Who hath called us unto his eternal glory.

God is the author and provider of the great reward, and he it is who has called us by Christ Jesus. This reward will be bestowed after we have suffered a little while.

Make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Make you complete in all the virtues. Support you in all Christian exercises. Add to your power to resist temptation, and settle you firmly in your belief of the gospel and its divine origin and inestimable rewards.

Verse 11

Verse 11. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Another doxology. To him, that is, God, the glory is ascribed and dominion forever, for none else in the universe has the right to control, and so, acknowledging God's supreme right, solemnly we say Amen.

Verse 12

Verse 12. By Silvanus, a faithful brother.

This is the Silas who traveled and suffered with cour-ageous Paul, and preached to the jailer at Philippi. By him Peter sends this letter, exhorting the brethren and testify-ing as an apostle that the faith of the gospel embraced by the brethren is the true grace of God. It came from God, and is worthy, therefore, of acceptance. All other religions in the world are false.

Verse 13

Verse 13. The church at Babylon, elected together with you.

The brethren forming the church at Babylon, becoming members of the body of Christ as you also did, salute you. And so does Mark. This is the same Mark who wrote the Gospel bearing that name. I see no good reason for thinking that spiritual Babylon that is, Rome is here meant. The thought is therefore rejected. In passing I desire to say, I hesitate not to use the word "church," notwithstanding it does not appear in the Revised Version. It appears in the Syriac and Vulgate Versions which I have, and, besides, I can hardly believe that Peter refers to his wife, as some suppose, when I consider that the Scriptures fail even to give her name. She would therefore be almost wholly unknown to the brotherhood anywhere, and hence her salu-tation would be out of place.

Verse 14

Verse 14. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.

This was a testimony of affection common in those countries and those times.

Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Serenity and happiness to all you brethren, members of the body of Christ Jesus, and, in testimony that I sin-cerely mean this, I say amen to the utterance.

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Bibliographical Information
Caton, Nathan Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Peter 5". Caton's Commentary on the Minor Epistles. 1916.