Peter concludes his letter by returning to his main theme: Stand firm in the gospel.
Peter wrote his first letter give his readers perspective. Our “big picture” –what we believe is true — changes how we think, what we say, and what we do. Peter’s primary concern is to ensure we have the right big picture which I would summarize like this:
Jesus Christ came to call His people. He paid the price for our sins so that God could forgive us and adopt us as His children. He will return to fulfill the promises God made through this gospel. This foundation gives us great hope. Meanwhile, as aliens and strangers in this world, we must deal with three primary relationships: 1) our relationship with God; 2) our relationship with other believers; and 3) our relationship to nonbelievers. The gospel (the big picture) has implications for each of those relationships.
Final words to the Elders
1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. – 1Peter 5:1-4 ESV
- The Bible study question here is: Who did Peter think he was addressing?
- Elders are people from those are more mature in the faith (typically older) who have accepted responsibility for the life of the congregation.
- The elders’ job is to encourage the community to persevere in the faith.
- Peter gives 3 reasons why they should heed his advice: 1) he is an elder like them; 2) he is an eye-witness to how Jesus handled suffering; and 3) he shares the same hope.
- He pictures their job as shepherding a flock of sheep where the shepherd was to serve and even give his life for the sheep in his care.
- Peter gives three warnings to the elders: 1) serve willingly, not under compulsion; 2) serve with eagerness, not for personal gain; and 3) be an example of self-sacrifice, not a dictator.
- He reminds them that they have a chief Shepherd who will hold them accountable.
- All leaders face the temptation to use their position for personal gain.
Final words to the rest
5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1Peter 5:5-11
- By younger, he means the rest of the community, i.e. those not in leadership.
- The authority of elders is limited to matters of congregational life.
- Humility is not self-deprecation. Humility is letting go of self-promotion and trusting God to promote you in His timing and His way instead.
- To lack humility is to be self-promoting, making sure my worth is recognized and my needs and desires get met first.
- To be humble toward each other is to recognize the importance of the needs and desires of others, and to wait for God to raise me in his timing.
- Peter is speaking to those who are being persecuted by their government, but his advice applies to all kinds of suffering.
- We are called to resist and stand firm, knowing that God is working in us through His Spirit to make us able to resist and stand firm in the faith.
12By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. – 1Peter 5:12-14 ESV
- Silvanus is also called Silas.
- Babylon is a way to refer to the church at Rome.
- Mark is John Mark, the author of the gospel.