1Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
In light of the fact that we will be judged for how we served Christ, the role of the shepherd in the local church becomes extremely important because he is responsible for how many are serving Christ, not merely himself. Peter, as an elder who had witnessed the shepherding of Christ firsthand, exhorts the elders to oversee, care for, and watch over those whom God has entrusted to them. They are not to lead because they have to or against their will. They are to fulfill their calling as shepherds willingly from the heart. They are to do it because God has called them to do so, and they are to shepherd in a way honoring to God. This includes not shepherding for what they might get out of it from a selfish, earthly perspective such as money, fame, notoriety, or power. These things are powerful motivators for carnal men. But Peter is saying to have the same level of passion, eagerness, and drive but for the honor of Christ and for the sake of His kingdom. A godly shepherd will not abuse his authority and suppress those who are “below” them by elevating their position in Christ over theirs. Peter makes it clear that all believers are fellow partakers of the grace to come. Peter understands the importance of believers understanding their priesthood and the fact that they can understand the Scriptures and approach God individually for prayer. Some religious leaders want to make others dependent upon them as if they have some unique gift that sets them apart from the rest. We are all gifted uniquely but not so that any one is better than another. Shepherds should enable and empower their sheep rather than trying to prove their worth or by becoming micromanaging. A shepherd needs to be a godly example, otherwise he will lead many astray and certainly not be respected as he ought to be. Some are so worried about success and appearances that they lose their testimony and place their focus on themselves rather than upon God or the welfare of others. Peter reminds elders to simply focus on the Lord and the calling to shepherd. The only evaluation that will matter will be Christ’s.
4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Those who serve willingly and for the honor of God, not becoming self-consumed or seeking selfish gain, will be rewarded at the coming of Christ. The Chief Shepherd, Christ, will give faithful shepherds a crown of glory that will never fade. This is further reason not to chase earthly glory that is fading but to seek the approval only of the Lord.
5You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
Sometimes it is tempting for a young man to want to prove himself or take charge in an improper fashion. Young men must show proper respect and submission to the authorities that God has sovereignly placed in their lives. Yet the fact that the older men are to be respected does not give them the right to be above confrontation or correction. It all comes down to how it is done. Peter emphasizes that both young and old must be of a humble spirit toward one another, always being teachable and correctable, never thinking that they have “arrived.” Such an attitude is prideful which God resists, but He promises to honor and strengthen the humble. We are beings who are dependent upon grace which alone can make us sufficient. This is why pride is opposed by God because it is refusing His grace, a very offensive thing to God.
6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
If we want to receive the honor of God by grace, we must make the choice by faith to humble ourselves, bowing the knee in submission to Christ and His Word. A shepherd is in a dangerous position when he thinks that he could never be wrong. If we want to grow, increase in our usability before God, and enjoy the blessing of God, we need to remain humble. It is God’s hand that will exalt at the proper time, not our own or anyone else’s. Those who try to build a ministry on their own power will only get so far. As Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” The worst part is that they will have built up their pride in the process, drawing all attention to themselves and their ability. God will build and exalt, and we must wait for Him, yield to Him, and let Him carry out His good and perfect work in and through us. We may have to wait, we may be criticized, and we may suffer. But we must wait for the proper time, whether in this life or the next. God will honor those who honor Him; we can count on this fact. As 1 Samuel 2:30 says, “Far be it from Me--for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.” There might be worry and stress that will be felt in light of surrendering control to the Lord, but we have the opportunity to go before the Lord in prayer. We can cast our cares and worries before the throne of God, knowing that He understands, sympathizes, and cares for us. Thus, we can have joy at all times, knowing that God is in control, working on our behalf, and promising to honor us in due time. When we have burdens, it makes no sense to carry them on our own. We are not able to do so. We need Christ, Who will gladly carry our burdens to the Father Who is never over-burdened.
8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Peter again returns to one of his main emphases that we must be sober in spirit. He is calling us to stand fast to sound doctrine, to keep praying, and to stay alert. We are not to let suffering, waiting, or any kind of hurt or temptation keep us from being faithful, patient, and persevering. Satan is hunting and seeking his prey. He tries to intimidate us with his roar, feigning the authority and power that only belongs to the Lion of Judah, Christ Himself. He wants to make us stop in our tracks and cease laboring for the Lord. He wants us to become doubtful and unstable. He wants us to mistrust God. If he can get us to turn our back on God or not draw our strength from Him, then we will be vulnerable and able to be devoured by the power of sin. He wants us to say that, when it comes to suffering and hardship, enough is enough so that we give into sin and quit serving the Lord.
9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
Our adversary can intimidate us, tempt us, and harm us as God allows, but He cannot force us to sin. We are only devoured if we are first led away by our own lusts. Thus, we have the power in Christ to resist his intimidation and draw. We can resist him, standing firm in our faith. Ephesians 6:16 reminds us to put up our shield of faith to resist the flaming missiles of the evil one. This is why doubt and the mistrust of God are so dangerous. It lowers our defenses and makes us vulnerable to the devil’s attacks. If we stand firm despite our suffering and hardship, knowing that it is totally normal for believers to suffer, we can resist him. Believers suffer everyday throughout the world. Satan buffets us, tormenting us physically and mentally, but God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God may allow us to go through some dark valleys, even valleys that make us think we are near to death and despair, but He will always be there with us guiding us with His rod and staff to comfort us (Psalm 23:4). This is what shepherds must do. They must stand firm themselves, being rock solid in their faith, trusting God, and resisting the devil. This example, then, will enable them to faithfully lead and instruct their sheep to do the same. If the sheep see the shepherd waffle and falter, then they might become afraid and wander to their own destruction. But if the shepherd can stand strong, then he can keep the sheep heading in the right direction of faith and firmness. This is why it is so important for the shepherd to be able to teach and to refute those who contradict sound doctrine. If he is able to do this, Satan will be hard-pressed to deceive the sheep and make them fall away.
10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We must remember that suffering will only last as long as we are on this earth, a mere 70 or 80 years for most (Psalm 90:10). Not all will be full of suffering, and each of us will suffer to different degrees. But suffering is a part of a cursed world with a body that must die. Our hope comes in the fact that this is only a little while in light of eternity. Furthermore, we have the promise that God Who called us to be His children and be glorified with Him in eternity will perfect us in holiness and confirm our sonship. We can have strength for today and stand firm for tomorrow if we remember that God will finish the good work that He started in each of us. He is the author of faith and the finisher of it. We have great hope in these truths which will encourage us by God’s grace to stand firm through life’s trials. Christ will have dominion forever, and we will rule with Him. This should bring us great joy and hope.
12Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God Stand firm in it!
Paul writes through Silvanus, who many believe is Silas, who along with Paul, understood suffering, having been imprisoned with him. Paul affirms his faithfulness, giving him credibility before the saints. The true grace of God is grace that sustains us during trials so that we can remain faithful, if even unto death. Grace does not mean freedom from difficulty and persecution but the ability by God’s grace to have joy through it. Furthermore, we can count on God’s grace to bring us home. It is this in which we must stand firm.
13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.
Babylon likely refers to Rome. Many think that Peter may have used it as a “code word” to keep believers from being identified and sought out during times of persecution. The church there also sends on greetings to these believers along with Mark (John Mark who likely wrote the gospel according to Mark). Mark had abandoned Paul in Acts 13:13, but he later served faithfully in ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
14Greet one another with a kiss of love Peace be to you all who are in Christ.
It was common practice for those in the Middle East region to greet one another with a kiss. We in the western world use hugs or handshakes. Thus, we need to warmly show our love for our brothers and sisters with appropriate cultural means such as huge or handshakes. It should be clear that we are family who really cares for one another. Peter ends by asking God to give peace to all the believers, which is a fitting end to this dictated letter in light of their circumstances and difficulties.