1 Peter 5
In which the apostle gives particular directions, first to the elders,
how to behave themselves towards their flock
(1 Peter 5:1-4);
then to the younger, to be obedient and humble, and to cast their care
1 Peter 5:5-7.
He then exhorts all to sobriety, watchfulness against temptations, and
stedfastness in the faith, praying earnestly for them; and so concludes
his epistle with a solemn doxology, mutual salutations, and his
|Advice to Elders.
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1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an
elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a
partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the
oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for
filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being
ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a
crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Here we may observe,
I. The persons to whom this exhortation is given--to the presbyters,
pastors, and spiritual guides of the church, elders by office, rather
than by age, ministers of those churches to whom he wrote this
II. The person who gives this exhortation--the apostle Peter: I
exhort; and, to give force to this exhortation, he tells them he
was their brother-presbyter or fellow-elder, and so puts nothing upon
them but what he was ready to perform himself. He was also a
witness of the sufferings of Christ, being with him in the garden,
attending him to the palace of the high-priest, and very likely being a
spectator of his suffering upon the cross, at a distance among the
He adds that he was also a partaker of the glory that was in
some degree revealed at the transfiguration
and shall be completely enjoyed at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
1. Those whose office it is to teach others ought carefully to study
their own duty, as well as teach the people theirs.
2. How different the spirit and behaviour of Peter were from that of
his pretended successors! He does not command and domineer, but exhort.
He does not claim sovereignty over all pastors and churches, nor style
himself prince of the apostles, vicar of Christ, or head of
the church, but values himself upon being an elder. All the
apostles were elders, though every elder was not an apostle.
3. It was the peculiar honour of Peter, and a few more, to be the
witnesses of Christ's sufferings; but it is the privilege of all true
Christians to be partakers of the glory that shall be revealed.
III. The pastor's duty described, and the manner in which that duty
ought to be performed. The pastoral duty is three-fold:--
1. To feed the flock, by preaching to them the sincere word of
God, and ruling them according to such directions and discipline as the
word of God prescribes, both which are implied in this expression,
Feed the flock.
2. The pastors of the church must take the oversight thereof.
The elders are exhorted to do the office of bishops (as the word
signifies), by personal care and vigilance over all the flock committed
to their charge.
3. They must be examples to the flock, and practise the
holiness, self-denial, mortification, and all other Christian duties,
which they preach and recommend to their people. These duties must be
performed, not by constraint, not because you must do them, not
from compulsion of the civil power, or the constraint of fear or shame,
but from a willing mind that takes pleasure in the work: not for
filthy lucre, or any emoluments and profits attending the place
where you reside, or any perquisite belonging to the office, but of
a ready mind, regarding the flock more than the fleece, sincerely
and cheerfully endeavouring to serve the church of God; neither as
being lords over God's heritage, tyrannizing over them by
compulsion and coercive force, or imposing unscriptural and human
inventions upon them instead of necessary duty,
(1.) The eminent dignity of the church of God, and all the true members
of it. These poor, dispersed, suffering Christians were the flock of
God. The rest of the world is a brutal herd. These are an orderly
flock, redeemed to God by the great Shepherd, living in holy love and
communion one with another, according to the will of God. They
are also dignified with the title of God's heritage or
clergy, his peculiar lot, chosen out of the common multitude for
his own people, to enjoy his special favour and to do him special
service. The word is never restricted in the New Testament to the
ministers of religion.
(2.) The pastors of the church ought to consider their people as the
flock of God, as God's heritage, and treat them accordingly. They
are not theirs, to be lorded over at pleasure; but they are God's
people, and should be treated with love, meekness, and tenderness, for
the sake of him to whom they belong.
(3.) Those ministers who are either driven to the work by necessity or
drawn to it by filthy lucre can never perform their duty as they ought,
because they do not do it willingly, and with a ready mind.
(4.) The best way a minister can take to engage the respect of a people
is to discharge his own duty among them in the best manner that he can,
and to be a constant example to them of all that is good.
IV. In opposition to that filthy lucre which many propose to themselves
as their principal motive in undertaking and discharging the pastoral
office, the apostle sets before them the crown of glory designed by the
great shepherd, Jesus Christ, for all his faithful ministers. Learn,
1. Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd of the whole flock and
heritage of God. He bought them, and rules them; he defends and saves
them for ever. He is also the chief shepherd over all inferior
shepherds; they derive their authority from him, act in his name, and
are accountable to him at last.
2. This chief shepherd will appear, to judge all ministers and
under-shepherds, to call them to account, whether they have faithfully
discharged their duty both publicly and privately according to the
3. Those that are found to have done their duty shall have what is
infinitely better than temporal gain; they shall receive from the grand
shepherd a high degree of everlasting glory, a crown of glory that
fadeth not away.
||A. D. 66.|
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea,
all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with
humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Having settled and explained the duty of the pastors or spiritual
guides of the church, the apostle comes now to instruct the flock,
I. How to behave themselves to their ministers and to one another. He
calls them the younger, as being generally younger than their
grave pastors, and to put them in mind of their inferiority, the term
younger being used by our Saviour to signify an inferior,
He exhorts those that are younger and inferior to submit themselves
to the elder, to give due respect and reverence to their persons,
and to yield to their admonitions, reproof, and authority, enjoining
and commanding what the word of God requires,
As to one another, the rule is that they should all be subject one
to another, so far as to receive the reproofs and counsels one of
another, and be ready to bear one another's burdens, and perform
all the offices of friendship and charity one to another; and
particular persons should submit to the directions of the whole
These duties of submission to superiors in age or office, and
subjection to one another, being contrary to the proud nature and
selfish interests of men, he advises them to be clothed with
humility. "Let your minds, behaviour, garb, and whole frame, be
adorned with humility, as the most beautiful habit you can wear; this
will render obedience and duty easy and pleasant; but, if you be
disobedient and proud, God will set himself to oppose and crush you;
for he resisteth the proud, when he giveth grace to the
1. Humility is the great preserver of peace and order in all Christian
churches and societies, consequently pride is the great disturber of
them, and the cause of most dissensions and breaches in the church.
2. There is a mutual opposition between God and the proud, so the word
signifies; they war against him, and he scorns them; he resisteth
the proud, because they are like the devil, enemies to himself and
to his kingdom among men,
3. Where God giveth grace to be humble, he will give more grace, more
wisdom, faith, holiness, and humility. Hence the apostle adds:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he
may exalt you in due time,
1 Peter 5:6.
"Since God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble,
therefore humble yourselves, not only one to another, but to the great
God, whose judgments are coming upon the world, and must begin at the
house of God
(1 Peter 4:17);
his hand is almighty, and can easily pull you down if you be proud, or
exalt you if you be humble; and it will certainly do it, either in this
life, if he sees it best for you, or at the day of general
(1.) The consideration of the omnipotent hand of God should make us
humble and submissive to him in all that he brings upon us.
(2.) Humbling ourselves to God under his hand is the next way to
deliverance and exaltation; patience under his chastisements, and
submission to his pleasure, repentance, prayer, and hope in his mercy,
will engage his help and release in due time,
II. The apostle, knowing that these Christians were already under very
hard circumstances, rightly supposes that what he had foretold of
greater hardships yet a coming might excite in them abundance of care
and fear about the event of these difficulties, what the issue of them
would be to themselves, their families, and the church of God;
foreseeing this anxious care would be a heavy burden, and a sore
temptation, he gives them the best advice, and supports it with a
strong argument. His advice is to cast all their care, or all
care of themselves, upon God. "Throw your cares, which are so
cutting and distracting, which wound your souls and pierce your hearts,
upon the wise and gracious providence of God; trust in him with a firm
composed mind, for he careth for you. He is willing to release
you of your care, and take the care of you upon himself. He will either
avert what you fear, or support you under it. He will order all events
to you so as shall convince you of his paternal love and tenderness
towards you; and all shall be so ordered that no hurt, but good, shall
come unto you,"
Ps. lxxxiv. 11; Rom. viii. 28.
1. The best of Christians are apt to labour under the burden of anxious
and excessive care; the apostle calls it, all your care,
intimating that the cares of Christians are various and of more sorts
than one: personal cares, family cares, cares for the present, cares
for the future, cares for themselves, for others, and for the church.
2. The cares even of good people are very burdensome, and too often
very sinful; when they arise from unbelief and diffidence, when they
torture and distract the mind, unfit us for the duties of our place and
hinder our delightful service of God, they are very criminal.
3. The best remedy against immoderate care is to cast our care upon
God, and resign every event to the wise and gracious determination.
A firm belief of the rectitude of the divine will and counsels calms
the spirit of man. We ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be
|Sobriety and Vigilance Enjoined.
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8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same
afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the
Here the apostle does three things:--
I. He shows them their danger from an enemy more cruel and restless
than even the worst of men, whom he describes,
1. By his characters and names.
(1.) He is an adversary: "That adversary of yours; not a common
adversary, but an enemy that impleads you, and litigates against you in
your grand depending cause, and aims at your very souls."
(2.) The devil, the grand accuser of all the brethren; this
title is derived from a word which signifies to strike through, or to
stab. He would strike malignity into our natures and poison into our
souls. If he could have struck these people with passion and murmuring
in their sufferings, perhaps he might have drawn them to apostasy and
(3.) He is a roaring lion, hungry, fierce, strong, and cruel,
the fierce and greedy pursuer of souls.
2. By his business: He walks about, seeking whom he may devour;
his whole design is to devour and destroy souls. To this end he is
unwearied and restless in his malicious endeavours; for he always,
night and day, goes about studying and contriving whom he may ensnare
to their eternal ruin.
II. Hence he infers that it is their duty,
1. To be sober, and to govern both the outward and the inward
man by the rules of temperance, modesty, and mortification.
2. To be vigilant; not secure or careless, but rather suspicious
of constant danger from this spiritual enemy, and, under that
apprehension, to be watchful and diligent to prevent his designs and
save our souls.
3. To resist him stedfast in the faith. It was the faith of
these people that Satan aimed at; if he could overturn their faith, and
draw them into apostasy, then he knew he should gain his point, and
ruin their souls; therefore, to destroy their faith, he raises bitter
persecutions, and sets the grand potentates of the world against them.
This strong trial and temptation they must resist, by being
well-grounded, resolute, and stedfast in the faith: to encourage them
III. He tells them that their care was not singular, for they knew that
the like afflictions befel their brethren in all parts of the world,
and that all the people of God were their fellow-soldiers in this
1. All the great persecutions that ever were in the world were raised,
spirited up, and conducted, by the devil; he is the grand persecutor,
as well as the deceiver and accuser, of the brethren; men are
his willing spiteful instruments, but he is the chief adversary that
wars against Christ and his people,
2. The design of Satan in raising persecutions against the faithful
servants of God is to bring them to apostasy, by reason of their
sufferings, and so to destroy their souls.
3. Sobriety and watchfulness are necessary virtues at all times, but
especially in times of suffering and persecution. "You must moderate
your affection to worldly things, or else Satan will soon overcome
4. "If you would overcome Satan, as a tempter, an accuser, or a
persecutor, you must resist him stedfast in the faith; if your faith
give way, you are gone; therefore, above all, take the shield of
5. The consideration of what others suffer is proper to encourage us
to bear our own share in any affliction: The same afflictions are
accomplished in your brethren.
|The Apostle's Prayer.
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10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his
eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a
while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I
have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the
true grace of God wherein ye stand.
13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with
you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
14 Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with
you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
We come now to the conclusion of this epistle, which,
I. The apostle begins with a most weighty prayer, which he addresses to
God as the God of all grace, the author and finisher of every
heavenly gift and quality, acknowledging, on their behalf, that God had
already called them to be partakers of that eternal glory, which, being
his own, he had promised and settled upon them, through the merit and
intercession of Jesus Christ. Observe,
1. What he prays for on their account; not that they might be excused
from sufferings, but that their sufferings might be moderate and short,
and, after they had suffered awhile, that God would restore them
to a settled and peaceable condition, and perfect his work in them--that
he would establish them against wavering, either in faith or duty, that
he would strengthen those who were weak, and settle them upon Christ
the foundation, so firmly that their union with him might be
indissoluble and everlasting. Learn,
(1.) All grace is from God; it is he who restrains, converts, comforts,
and saves men by his grace.
(2.) All who are called into a state of grace are called to partake of
eternal glory and happiness.
(3.) Those who are called to be heirs of eternal life through Jesus
Christ must, nevertheless, suffer in this world, but their sufferings
will be but for a little while.
(4.) The perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and settling, of good
people in grace, and their perseverance therein, is so difficult a
work, that only the God of all grace can accomplish it; and therefore
he is earnestly to be sought unto by continual prayer, and dependence
upon his promises.
2. His doxology,
1 Peter 5:11.
From this doxology we may learn that those who have obtained grace from
the God of all grace should and will ascribe glory, dominion, and
power, to him for ever and ever.
II. He recapitulates the design of his writing this epistle to them
(1 Peter 5:12),
1. To testify, and in the strongest terms to assure them, that the
doctrine of salvation, which he had explained and they had embraced,
was the true account of the grace of God, foretold by the prophets and
published by Jesus Christ.
2. To exhort them earnestly that, as they had embraced the gospel, they
would continue stedfast in it, notwithstanding the arts of seducers, or
the persecutions of enemies.
(1.) The main thing that ministers ought to aim at in their labours is
to convince their people of the certainty and excellency of the
Christian religion; this the apostles did exhort and testify
with all their might.
(2.) A firm persuasion that we are in the true way to heaven will be
the best motive to stand fast, and persevere therein.
III. He recommends Silvanus, the person by whom he sent them
this brief epistle, as a brother whom he esteemed faithful and friendly
to them, and hoped they would account him so, though he was a ministers
of the uncircumcision. Observe, An honourable esteem of the ministers
of religion tends much to the success of their labours. When we are
convinced they are faithful, we shall profit more by their ministerial
services. The prejudices that some of these Jews might have against
Silvanus, as a minister of the Gentiles, would soon wear off when they
were once convinced that he was a faithful brother.
IV. He closes with salutations and a solemn benediction. Observe,
1. Peter, being at Babylon in Assyria, when he wrote this epistle
(whither he travelled, as the apostle of the circumcision, to visit
that church, which was the chief of the dispersion), sends the
salutation of that church to the other churches to whom he wrote
(1 Peter 5:13),
telling them that God had elected or chosen the Christians at
Babylon out of the world, to be his church, and to partake of eternal
salvation through Christ Jesus, together with them and all other
1 Peter 1:2.
In this salutation he particularly joins Mark the evangelist, who was
then with him, and who was his son in a spiritual sense, being begotten
by him to Christianity. Observe, All the churches of Jesus Christ ought
to have a most affectionate concern one for another; they should love
and pray for one another, and be as helpful one to another as they
2. He exhorts them to fervent love and charity one towards another, and
to express this by giving the kiss of peace
(1 Peter 5:14),
according to the common custom of those times and countries, and so
concludes with a benediction, which he confines to those that are in
Christ Jesus, united to him by faith and sound members of his
mystical body. The blessing he pronounces upon them is peace, by
which he means all necessary good, all manner of prosperity; to this he
adds his amen, in token of his earnest desire and undoubted
expectation that the blessing of peace would be the portion of all the