Peter’s instruction to the elders of the churches.
A. An exhortation, v. 1.
1. Peter calls himself a “fellow elder” — even though he is the apostle Peter.
2. His qualifications: (a) he has witnessed the sufferings of Christ; (b) he hopes for glory.
B. The instruction to the elders, vv. 2-4
1. The general rule: Shepherd
a. It is God’s flock, not yours (cf. Acts 20:28).
b. He gives three pairs of contrasts which demonstrate the nature of the work
i. not compulsion, rather willingly
ii. not for gain (extracted from the flock), but eagerly
iii. not domineering (lording over), but rather by providing an example.
2. Look for a reward from Christ. (The elder’s orientation must be toward the return of Christ. 1 Peter 1:13).
C. Application and development
1. The danger for the elder is pride
a. It is God’s flock: implication, don’t think of it as your flock.
b. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd; elders are just undershepherds.
i. Example: One time someone called CBC and spoke to Jack. The caller insisted on speaking to The Pastor. Jack kept saying, “I’m a shepherd. If you want to speak to The Pastor, you’ll need to speak with Jesus.”
ii. Example: Mike P told him of his life as a shepherd growing up in Greece. His father was the shepherd of a flock which he loved and cared for. His father was the shepherd. But to help him in his work he had dogs who also took care of the sheep. The elder is in the end, a dog to help the shepherd.
c. The shepherd is warned to not lord over the flock. It is a butcher who drives the sheep about and demands from them. It is a shepherd who leads the sheep through dangerous places, walking ahead, driving off wolves, finding a place to rest. The example of the shepherd must thus be an example of humility.
2. The elder must shepherd God’s flock through suffering to glory.
a. That has been the theme of this letter.
b. Peter grounds his eldership in his witness of suffering and his hope for glory.
3. The elder must be remarkable for his humility.
a. Note that Peter warns the elder against
i. Thinking of the flock as the elder’s flock. The sheep belong to Jesus.
ii. His three warnings against exercising power over the flock. A three-fold warning means that this must not be overlooked. It also speaks to the constant danger of leadership.
b. 1 Peter 5:5, “all of you” are instructed to humble. Thus, the example of the elder must be in accord with the command.
c. 1 Peter 5:6, there is a universal command to humility.
d. The previous commands of entrusting oneself to God’s design, not taking personal revenge or control, blessing in the face of trials all flow from and require humility.
e. Accordingly, humility — a patient hope for the Lord’s rescue from present trials — is the great strength of elder’s shepherding. Implication: if an elder is not example of humility, then he is a usurper and enemy of the flock.
4. Consider the matter more broadly.
a. Jesus on leadership. Mark 9:33-37; 10:42-45.
b. The elder’s authority is one of instructing in the Scripture. 1 Tim. 1:3-2 Tim.4:2. The elder is a steward of Christ’s authority. 1 Cor. 4:1.
c. The distinguishing mark of an overseer is not merely a godly character, it is in particular, the use of Scripture in instruction. 1 Tim. 3:2 “able to teach”; Titus 1:9.
d. The respect due an elder is dependent wholly upon their example of a godly character & their ability to instruct others in Scripture. Hebrews 13:;7 & 17.
e. Elders who fail to make disciples after Christ [by (a) providing a example of godliness and humility; (b) instructing faithfully in the Scripture] after called savage wolves. They are not blessings but dangers to the flock. Acts 20:29-31a. Note that merely holding an office does not mean the man is rightly an elder. (See, e.g., Hosea 8:4a, “they made kings, but not through me”.) You are nowhere commanded to be subject to ungodly men. Consider the example of a wife’s submission. The husband has no plenary control of a wife, but only a charge to care for her. A wife is to submit only “as is fitting in the Lord” (Col. 4:18).
f. The OT example of the priest. The priest had the duty of instructing the people in God’s law. Leviticus 10:11. In Hosea 4:4-6 & Malachi 2:1-9 God condemns priests for failing to provide instruction to the people. See, ESV study Bible notes on Hosea 4: The priests had the responsibility of teaching the people God’s laws (cf. Lev. 10:11; Mal. 2:6–7), but they had failed miserably, and as a result, the people lacked knowledge of God’s laws and his ways. Therefore God says, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. But he puts the blame squarely on the priests: because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. On “knowledge,” see notes on Hos. 2:8 and 4:1–2. The statements have the air of a judicial decision and sentence. The kind of knowledge the priests had rejected is further specified: since you have forgotten the law of your God. The consequences of this neglect of God’s Word would be seen in the lives of what was most precious to the priests: I also will forget your children (cf. 2:4). The future tense still may indicate a warning, hinting that repentance might avert this judgment. But the great privilege of knowing God was in danger of being forfeited, even for the next generation.
g. There is a special warning for those who are teachers. James 3:1