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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Peter 5

Verse 1

1Pe 5:1. Elders which are among you. This phrase harmonizes with the form of government that was established for the church by the apostles. To be among the brethren means to be in their midst and a part of the same community. Elders have no authority over disciples among whom they are not residing. That is why we read that they "ordained them elders in every church" (Act 14:23; Tit 1:5). Also an elder is defined "a fellow-elder" by Thayer. As an apostle Peter would have more authority than an elder, but he humbly leaves out that dignity and makes his exhortation as one of them. His experience as a witness of the sufferings of Christ would add weight to his plea. Partaker of the glory. As Peter not only witnessed the sufferings of Jesus, but also endured much of the same kind of persecution, he expected to share in the glory that will come at the last day.

Verse 2

1Pe 5:2. Feed is from POIMAINO which Thayer defines, "To feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep; to rule, govern." This is all logical, for if a shepherd is to attend to the proper feeding and keeping of a flock, he should have the right to rule or govern it. Which is among you. The same word among is used that is used in the preceding verse in relation to the elders and the members. In other words, both the elders and the members under their rule must be among or in the midst of each other. These fundamental principles disprove a popular notion that a person can be a member of a congregation even though he is too far away to be among the elders and the other members. The idea that a person can live in one community and "have his membership" in another has no scriptural authority. If he is so far away or is otherwise so situated that he cannot attend the services of a congregation, then he cannot be considered a member of it, and the elders can have no jurisdiction over him. Taking the oversight is from a Greek word that means "To look upon, inspect, oversee, look after, care for"--Thayer. It should be understood that the phrase applies to men who have been placed into the eldership according to the scriptural procedure that is shown in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Not by constraint. They should not have to be forced into the office but should accept it willingly. Not for filthy lucre is translated "not for base gain" by The Englishman's Greek New Testament. This refers to the temporal support that was given to elders who devoted their time to the care of the congregation. See the comments at 1Ti 5:17 1Ti 1:8 where it is evidently-shown that it. is right to support an elder so lie can give his entire attention to the flock in spiritual matters. But our verse warns that a man should not use the office for the sake of his personal support. He should have a ready mind which means he accepts the work because his mind is concerned for the spiritual welfare of the flock.

Verse 3

1Pe 5:3. Neither as being lords over God's heritage. There have been elders dealt with on the charge that they "lorded it over God's heritage," using this statement as the basis for the action. Such an action is a misuse of the passage even though it had been properly translated, which it had not, and further because it entirely leaves out the very point the writer is making. One meaning of lord is "ruler," and 1 Timothy 3:5:5:17; Heb 13:7 Heb 13:17 shows that elders are to rule. Therefore the elders are to be lords over God's heritage. Peter is not objecting to the manner of anyone's rule itself, but to the motive some might have who rule. The men who wrote the Authorized Version knew there was no original word in this passage for the name of God, hence they put it in italics. And because they misunderstood the main point the apostle was making they erred in the rendering of the original. Heritage is possessive and in the 2nd person as the inflection denotes. The passage, therefore, should have been rendered as follows: "Not as being lords over your own heritage." The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders it, "Not as exercising lordship over your possessions." The manner of the ruling is not the subject, but the motive or attitude of the rulers. If a man considers the church as his own, then he is indeed likely to rule in an improper manner. And so if an elder will keep in mind that the heritage or church is not his own, he will not have the incentive to bear the wrong kind of rule, which is the point the apostle is making. The wording of the passage as we have it in the King James Version not only inserts a word (the name of God) not authorized by the original, and also erroneously renders the word for heritage, but gives a thought that is positively contrary to that of the apostle. Being examples to the flock. If an elder will back up his instructions with his own example of right living his word will have more weight with the members of the flock. Such elders will win the respect of the members so that they will be led "to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" (1Th 5:13).

Verse 4

1Pe 5:4. The writer continues the subject of a shepherd and his flock. Chief Shepherd is Christ who calls himself the "good shepherd" in Joh 10:11. When He is included in the parable it represents the elders of congregations as shepherds who are acting on behalf of the Chief who owns all of the groups of sheep where-ever they may he in the world. If these under shepherds perform their work faithfully they will be rewarded when the chief Shepherd appears. Fadeth not away. The phrase is used in contrast with the crowns bestowed by men; being composed of material substances they soon fade and lose their glory or beauty.

Verse 5

1Pe 5:5. The duties and authority of elders have been considered, now the younger or other members of the flock are to submit themselves to the elders. All of you be subject one to another. This instruction is not based upon any definite authority that one has for another, but rather pertains to the respect that each member should have for the others. Since the Bible does not contradict itself, we know this does not mean to ignore the rule of the elders which the other members are to observe. But every member of the body of Christ should wish to please his fellow-member in whatever is right, and should be willing to grant such requests that he might make. This will show the true spirit of humility and will receive the grace or favor of God who resists the proud.

Verse 6

1Pe 5:6. Humble yourselves. When it is said that God gives grace to the humble (preceding verse), it means those who become such of their own accord. The proud will finally be made humble by the Lord (Mat 23:12), but such humility will bring only shame to the victim. The exaltation that is promised to the ones who willingly become humble is to come in due time, which means at the judgment day.

Verse 7

1Pe 5:7. Casting all your care upon him means upon God, for the preceding verse says He is the one who will exalt the humble. Not that we are to be thoughtless about the stern realities of life, for the next verse will contradict that. It means that we should believe that our interests are His interests and that we should not always be fretting about the future. Jesus taught that we should not be overanxious about the morrow (Mat 6:25-34), and our present verse declares that he careth for you. Then let us go on our pilgrim journey with abiding faith in Him who holds the universe in the hollow of his hand.

Verse 8

1Pe 5:8. To be sober means to be serious minded and vigilant denotes that the one is watchful--is on his guard, and the reason for this exhortation is next stated. The English word devil in the King James Version comes from the Greek words which are DIABOLOS and DAIMONION. The first refers to Satan the chief of devils, the second is a name for the evil spirits in Hades or the unseen world. The reader should see the extended description of these evil spirits or demons, at Mat 8:28-29 in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. The word in our verse is from the first Greek word and means Satan or the devil. We know that Satan does not literally walk about among men, for he does not have a material or visible body and hence could not be seen by human eyes. Yet Peter exhorts the disciples to be vigilant which means watchful. But it would be useless to be on the lookout for a being whom no one can see. Mat 25:41 speaks of the devil and his angels. The last word means messengers of any kind, so that any being who carries messages or has communication on behalf of Satan may be said to be one of his angels. We know the Bible teaches that he has various agencies among mankind who are working for him. Roaring lion is said because a lion roars when he is hungry and prowling around looking for food.

Verse 9

1Pe 5:9. This verse will throw more light on the preceding one. The pronoun whom refers to the devil, and Christians are exhorted to resist Then in direct connection with the subject they are told that their brethren have been experiencing the same afflictions. This makes it plain that when Christians are tempted and persecuted by evil men, as these disciples had been, the apostle would say it is the work of the devil, and in that way he goes about like a roaring (ravenous) lion. The reference to your brethren is for the purpose of encouraging them in their conflicts with the enemy. When they know that these afflictions are accomplished (endured to the end) by their brethren in Christ elsewhere, they may conclude they can do the same since what one can do (under Christ) another can accomplish by endurance.

Verse 10

1Pe 5:10. God of all grace. Since grace means the unmerited favor of God, it is fitting that all such favors should be attributed to Him. This is especially true since it pertains to the favor of saving mankind from his sins, when strict justice would demand that he be condemned. God alone through his Son has the power to bestow such a favor• on human beings. An item of this unmerited favor• is the calling of man into the eternal glory of serving God in this world and of enjoying His presence in the world to come. This call is made by Christ Jesus and the instrument with which it is accomplished is the Gosnel. After that ye have suffered a while. The last word is used in a comparative sense, and has the same thought as Paul's remarks in 2Co 4:17 and Rom 8:18. The last part of the verse is a wish on behalf of the brethren for certain blessings to be given to them by the God of all grace. Perfect means to be complete in Christ; stablish denotes being confirmed in the faith; strengthen is general and means to enable them to be strong in the Lord; to settle signifies giving one a firm and definite position in the service of Christ.

Verse 11

1Pe 5:11. The antecedent of him is the "God of all grace" in the preceding verse. Glory means honor and respect, and dominion has the idea of authority and rulership. Peter ascribes these qualities to God and declares they are to belong to Him for ever. For the meaning of amen see the comments at Rom 16:24 in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary.

Verse 12

1Pe 5:12. Both Thayer and Robinson say that Silvanus is another form for Silas. It was by him that Peter sent this epistle to the brethren designated in chapter 1:1. As I suppose is not an expression of doubt, but as Peter had only lately become acquainted with Silvanus, he concluded (one meaning of suppose) that he was a faithful brother, basing his conclusion on commendations of the brethren from whom he had recently come. Written briefly is another comparative phrase, considering the vast amount of subject matter covered in the epistle. Exhorting pertains to the urging that the writer does for the brethren to discharge their duties, and testifying refers to the evidences he had as proof of his declarations. The conclusion that is reached from the truths set forth in the epistle, is that the brethren were standing in the true grace of God.

Verse 13

1Pe 5:13. Church that is at Babylon. There is so much uncertainty in the discussions to be found in the histories, lexicons and commentaries on this phrase, that I shall be careful to avoid speculation. The word church is not the original at all but has been supplied by the translators. The Greek words at this place are as follows in the composition; HE EN BABULONI, and the literal rendering of them by the Englishman's Greek New Testament is, "she in Babylon." A number of other translations render it in the same way, which seems reasonable since the other salutations are from individuals also. As to what person is meant the matter is equally indefinite, except that it is some Christian woman who had been elected or chosen by the Lord the same as the ones to whom the epistle is written. (See the word explained at chapter 1:1.) We know that ancient Babylon was completely destroyed never to be rebuilt, according to both prophecy and history, hence the term is used figuratively and that also is subject to some uncertainty. Marcus my son refers to John Mark, and Peter calls him his son because he had converted him, hence he was his "son in the faith" as Paul called the evangelist (1Ti 1:2).

Verse 14

1Pe 5:14. Kiss of charity or love refers to the salutation of the kiss as was customary in old times. The custom as it is related to Christians is explained at 1Co 16:20. The peace that Peter wishes for the brethren is on condition that they are in Christ Jesus. That is equivalent to the peace that is "first pure" set forth in Jas 3:17.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Peter 5". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-peter-5.html. 1952.