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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Peter 5

Verse 1

7. Exhortations to the elders, and also to the Church, 1 Peter 5:1-9.

1. The elders Officially so, having pastoral charge in the local churches. In times of persecution, much depended on their prudence and fidelity. Tregelles and Alford insert here a therefore.

Also an elder Better, a fellow elder, holding a common office with them.

Witness To testify to the sufferings of Christ, as in 1 Peter 4:1. The word does not mean eye-witness, as Alford puts it, although St. Peter doubtless did see his suffering Lord on the cross. Luke 23:49.

A partaker of the glory By virtue of the condition of his joint-heirship with Christ, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17.

Be revealed In heaven. Thus solemnly and tenderly does the apostle prepare the way for his exhortation.

Verse 2

2. Feed the flock Rather, Tend the flock. The flock is the Church, and belongs to God; the work of the elders is to tend it as shepherds, guiding, teaching, watching, feeding. It can hardly be that there was not present in St. Peter’s mind the memorable scene on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, (John 21:15-17,) in which Jesus used to him nearly the same words: “Tend my sheep.” All that it meant as addressed to him, it means here as addressed to the elders.

Taking… thereof Overseeing, superintending, doing the work of bishops. The time had not then come when, as in a more complete organization of the Church, the designation of Bishop was specially given to the president of the presbyters. How this oversight should be exercised, is specified in three particulars, negatively and positively: (1) As to the spirit, not by constraint, as if under compulsion or necessity, and against the will, as might naturally be the case in view of the weightier burdens or the greater exposure to the malice of persecutors; but willingly, freely, and with the fulness of consecrated souls. (2) The motive.

Not for filthy lucre Base gain. It is, indeed, the Lord’s ordinance that “they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” (1 Corinthians 9:14,) but base is the minister who makes the money gained his motive.

Ready mind With alacrity and zeal, from love of the Church and of souls.

Verse 3

3. As (3) to manner.

Neither… lords over Not as lording it. History furnishes a sad commentary on this injunction in the pretended successors of St. Peter in the papal chair claiming to be apostolic lords, vicegerents of Christ, with supreme authority over all kings, kingdoms, and people, and addressed as Most Holy Lord, and, Our Lord God the Pope.

Heritage The word means a portion assigned by lot; and thence an assignment by any means. It here is the portions of the Church committed to the charge of the elders severally.

But… ensamples Patterns of holy living instead of lordly tyrants.

Verse 4

4. The chief Shepherd ”Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,” (Hebrews 13:20,) whose is the flock, and to whom all pastors must give account.

A crown Rather, the crown; the amaranthine crown of glory, a crown as if made of glory, and, like the amaranth, or everlasting flower, unfading. Such bliss will the faithful pastor receive when Christ shall appear at his second advent.

Verse 5

5. Ye younger Not simply younger in years, as opposed to elder, which must here mean, as in 1 Peter 5:1, elders in office. Many understand the laity, the rest of the congregation, to be meant, upon whom obedience to their ministers is enjoined, as in Hebrews 13:17; others, the deacons, or at least a class of ministers inferior and subordinate to the presbyters. The clear distinction made, and a comparison with Luke 22:26-27, where the “greater” and “younger” are similarly opposed, would seem to confirm this view.

All… clothed with humility Both pastors and people are to use their relative positions for the service and benefit of one another, as belonging to a common brotherhood. The Greek for clothed is very significant. It refers to a long, coarse apron, or garment, that was worn by servants as a badge of service. As a servant girded himself with it for his work, so are Christians to put on humility, both in spirit and demeanour, that they may serve one another. Alford suggests that the allusion is to our Lord’s girding himself with a towel and washing his disciples’ feet. John 13:4-5.

God resisteth Sets himself in battle array against the proud, as they, in their arrogance, are set against him or his people. See Proverbs 3:34.

Verse 6

6. Humble yourselves therefore Because God thus resists the proud and gives grace to the lowly-minded, enabling them to endure, and lifting them up in times of trouble and persecution, they are exhorted to receive with perfect submission all things that befall them under the government of the Lord, in the full assurance that soon or late, in his own way and time, he will exalt them in the removal of the trouble, or in taking them to himself.

Verse 7

7. Casting Aorist: Casting off upon, once for all: casting off from yourselves the whole of your care and anxiety, and reposing it upon him. This does not mean every care as it arises, but it goes further back, to the laying of ourselves, with all that pertains to us, in God’s hands, in the fulness of a surrendering faith. If then some new subject of care arises, faith at once recognises it as belonging not to us but to him. So does most blessed, heavenly peace, reign within, under the knowledge that God careth for us, which is the reason for our not bearing the burden ourselves.

Verse 8

8. Be sober Circumspect, watchful.

Be vigilant Wide awake: and with good reason for both precepts.

Your adversary The adversary of you, in particular. The word means the adverse party in a suit; an accuser in a court of law.

The devil Satan, prince of the devils; not, now, as the subtle serpent or an angel of light, but as a terrible lion, roaring through hunger, and raging to destroy.

Walketh about Up and down in the earth, as in Job 2:7; but just now, in particular, in Pontus and the adjacent countries. That Satan’s proper dwelling-place is in the abyss does not prevent his appearing on the earth. His errand at this time was, as chief persecutor, to rouse persecutors, and use them as his instruments to frighten Christians from their faith, or, in case of failure, to destroy them. The apostle well knew the value of his warning, for he had once himself, from not heeding it as given by Christ, denied his Lord.

Verse 9

9. Whom resist Stand against him to the very last. Never surrender or compromise.

Steadfast Solid and immovable in faith in Christ, the sure means of victory. Nor must they think their case an exception, for they knew that the same persecutions were carried on among their brethren throughout the world. The Christian name was everywhere hated.

Verse 10

8. Benedictions, salutations, and conclusion, 1 Peter 5:10-14.

10. Over against the fearful picture just drawn is the brighter one of eternal glory.

The God… grace The fountain and giver of grace, all needed grace, and grace for every occasion. That he called us is proof of his grace, while both the grace and the call are through the merit of Christ Jesus, and the ultimate purpose of both is, to bring all who obediently accept the call, and faithfully use the grace, unto his eternal glory. But the road to that glory lies through tribulations; and in the fire of suffering, grace often does its most perfect work.

Suffered awhile Suffered a little, either in time or in amount. If the former, how short the suffering prelude to the eternity of glow; if the latter, how light the affliction in view of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Make you perfect So that in your religious life will remain no defect. In the best texts, these verbs are future. Will himself make you perfect.

Stablish Make you firm in all duty.

Strengthen By giving inward power.

Settle Ground you, making you immovable.

Verse 11

11. To him The God of all grace.

Be glory For this abundant grace.

Dominion The might shown in performing what is thus promised.

Verse 12

12. Silvanus Doubtless the companion of St. Paul named in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, and elsewhere, and the Silas of the Acts. He accompanied St. Paul (Acts 15:40) on his second missionary tour through Asia Minor, becoming personally known to many of the Churches.

As I suppose As I judge him to be. St. Peter’s want of personal knowledge of Silvanus’s relation to the Asiatic Churches, explains this modest yet full endorsement of him as unto you the faithful brother.

Written briefly St. Paul’s longer epistle to the Hebrews was “in few words.” Hebrews 13:22.

Exhorting In which the epistle largely abounds.

Testifying And he was competent to give the testimony, that this grace in which they had been instructed, and in which they were then standing, is the true grace of God.

Verse 13

13. The Church… with you Literally, The co-elect at Babylon. Some, as Alford, understand Peter’s wife. 1 Corinthians 9:5. Most expositors understand the Church, which, indeed, the Sinaitic MS. inserts. Wordsworth would read the co-elect dispersion at Babylon, as the epistle is addressed to the elect dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia. This seems the most reasonable.

Babylon See Introduction.

Marcus my son Literally so, if the previous clause refers to the apostle’s wife. Otherwise, John Mark the evangelist, the follower and disciple of St. Peter.

Verse 14

14. A kiss of charity In token of Christian love, exchanged only between persons of the same sex. See note on Romans 16:16.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Peter 5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.