1 Peter 5:2
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;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Feed the flock of God which is among you.—By the word “feed” here is meant, not merely the giving of pasture, but the whole government. It is the verb used in John 21:16, not that in the 15th and 17th verses. There can be hardly any doubt that St. Peter was thinking of that scene when he issued these directions. Our Lord had committed into his hands all His sheep and lambs, without restriction of age or country, to be fed and shepherded; and now the time was approaching when he would have to “put off this tabernacle” (2Peter 1:14), and he here takes order that “after his decease” the charge committed to him. may be fulfilled. He still shepherds the flock by proxy. Two other points must be mentioned, which bring this passage into connection with the charge given by St. Paul to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:28), which was very probably known to St. Peter. (1) St. Peter calls it “the flock of God.” Textual critics are much divided on the reading in Acts 20:28, but, on the whole, the Received reading seems the best supported: “the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood.” At the same time, St. Peter is in remembrance how Christ had said, “Feed My sheep.” It may be fairly thought, therefore, when we see St. Peter’s own theology in 1Peter 1:25; 1Peter 2:3; 1Peter 3:15, that when he writes, “Feed the flock of God,” his thoughts turn to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity rather than to the First. (2) Hooker well points out, on Acts 20:28, the unity of the flock. Though there were many elders in Ephesus, there was but one flock they fed between them. So now, all over Asia Minor, it was but one flock. St. Peter, to whom the flock throughout the whole world was committed, saw it as a whole, but the elders to whom he writes had only to look to that part of the one flock which was “among them.” The marginal rendering is against the order of the Greek words, and does not suit the context so well when the context is rightly understood.

Taking the oversight thereof.—It is exceedingly doubtful whether these words form part of the original text or not. If they do, the translation unduly limits the meaning, which would be better expressed by “maintaining (or, exercising) the oversight,” or “performing the duties of bishops,” for he is addressing men who were already ordained. By this time the word “bishop” had not become a fixed title of one special office, though the office itself was in existence.

Not by constraint, but willingly.—Why should this exhortation be given so prominently? It is hardly to be thought that St. Peter had in view the humility which led men to adopt such strange methods of avoiding the responsibility of the priesthood as we find resorted to by Chrysostom and Ambrose. Much more probably he is thinking of the actual danger to life and property of being “ringleaders of the sect” (Acts 24:5), which would lead cowardly bishops to throw up their office. He is not treating of the motives which should lead a man to accept the position. He speaks to persons who already hold the office, and urges them not to leave the flock, like hirelings, when they see the persecution coming on. Several of the best authorities add,” but willingly, according to God.” It was God, that is, who put them in that station, and they must not need the compulsion of their laity, or of the rest of the episcopate, or of the Apostles, to keep them at their post.

Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.—The opposite vice to that on which he has just passed sentence. Some, who had no fears, might be tempted to retain the office by the good salary which the Church gave, or might threaten to resign if their salaries were not raised in proportion to their risk. The “ready mind,” of which the Apostle speaks, means the love of the work itself, which should be the sole motive in seeking, or performing, the gospel ministry.

1 Peter 5:2. Feed the flock of God — Both by doctrine and discipline; which is among you — Namely, the churches of Christ, which you are called to preside over; taking the oversight thereof — Greek, επισκοπουντες, discharging the episcopal office. By this it appears that those who are styled bishops, from their having the oversight of others, and also presbyters, or elders, are spoken of as the same persons. Not by constraint — Unwillingly, as if it were a burden; but willingly — “In the first age, when the profession of the gospel exposed men to persecution, and when the persecutions fell more especially on the bishops, it may easily be imagined that some who were appointed to that office would undertake it unwillingly; not only because they were not disposed to do the duties thereof diligently, but because they were not willing to suffer.” Not for filthy lucre — Which, if it be the motive of acting, is filthy beyond expression. The apostle means also, not for a maintenance; for the sake of which merely, or chiefly, no one should undertake the pastoral office. They that preach the gospel may live by the gospel, but no one ought to engage in such a work merely that he may live by it. “O consider this, ye that leave one flock and go to another, merely ‘because there is more gain, a larger salary!’ Is it not astonishing that men ‘can see no harm in this?’ That it is not only practised, but avowed, all over the nation?” — Wesley. But of a ready mind — With a sincere desire to glorify God, and to save the souls of men. In the Syriac version, the word προθυμως, here used, is translated toto corde, with the whole heart. Dr. Benson’s observation on this verse is, “How severely are they here condemned, who feed themselves and not the flock; who take the patrimony of the church, and commit the care of souls to others, to whom they allow a very small share of that plenty which they have for doing little.”5:1-4 The apostle Peter does not command, but exhorts. He does not claim power to rule over all pastors and churches. It was the peculiar honour of Peter and a few more, to be witnesses of Christ's sufferings; but it is the privilege of all true Christians to partake of the glory that shall be revealed. These poor, dispersed, suffering Christians, were the flock of God, redeemed to God by the great Shepherd, living in holy love and communion, according to the will of God. They are also dignified with the title of God's heritage or clergy; his peculiar lot, chosen for his own people, to enjoy his special favour, and to do him special service. Christ is the chief Shepherd of the whole flock and heritage of God. And all faithful ministers will receive a crown of unfading glory, infinitely better and more honourable than all the authority, wealth, and pleasure of the world.Feed the flock of God - Discharge the duties of a shepherd toward the flock. On the word "feed," see the notes at John 21:15. It is a word which Peter would be likely to remember, from the solemn manner in which the injunction to perform the duty was laid on him by the Saviour. The direction means to take such an oversight of the church as a shepherd is accustomed to take of his flock. See the notes at John 10:1-16.

Which is among you - Margin, as much as in you is. The translation in the text is the more correct. It means the churches which were among them, or over which they were called to preside.

Taking the oversight thereof - ἐπισκοποῦντες episkopountes. The fair translation of this word is, "discharging the episcopal office"; and the word implies all that is always implied by the word "bishop" in the New Testament. This idea should have been expressed in the translation. The meaning is not merely to take the oversight - for that might be done in a subordinate sense by anyone in office; but it is to take such an oversight as is implied in the episcopate, or by the word "bishop." The words "episcopate," "episcopal," and "episcopacy," are merely the Greek word used here and its correlatives transferred to our language. The sense is that of overseeing; taking the oversight of; looking after, as of a flock; and the word has originally no reference to what is now spoken of as especially the episcopal office. It is a word strictly applicable to any minister of religion, or officer of a church. In the passage before us this duty was to be performed by those who, in 1 Peter 5:1, are called presbyters, or elders; and this is one of the numerous passages in the New Testament which prove that all that is properly implied in the performance of the episcopal functions pertained to those who were called presbyters, or elders. If so, there was no higher grade of ministers to which the special duties of the episcopate were to be entrusted; that is, there was no class of officers corresponding to those who are now called "bishops." Compare the notes at Acts 20:28.

Not by constraint, but willingly - Not as if you felt that a heavy yoke was imposed on you, or a burden from which you would gladly be discharged. Go cheerfully to your duty as a work which you love, and act like a freeman in it, and not as a slave. Arduous as are the labors of the ministry, yet there is no work on earth in which a man can and should labor more cheerfully.

Not for filthy lucre - Shameful or dishonorable gain. See the notes at 1 Timothy 3:3.

But of a ready mind - Cheerfully, promptly. We are to labor in this work, not under the influence of the desire of gain, but from the promptings of love. There is all the difference conceivable between one who does a thing because he is paid for it, and one who does it from love - between, for example, the manner in which one attends on us when we are sick who loves us, and one who is merely hired to do it. Such a difference is there in the spirit with which one who is actuated by mercenary motives, and one whose heart is in the work, will engage in the ministry.

2. Feed—Greek, "Tend as a shepherd," by discipline and doctrine. Lead, feed, heed: by prayer, exhortation, government, and example. The dignity is marked by the term "elder"; the duties of the office, to tend or oversee, by "bishop." Peter has in mind Christ's injunction to him, "Feed (tend) My sheep … Feed (pasture) My lambs" (Joh 21:16). He invites the elders to share with him the same duty (compare Ac 20:28). The flock is Christ's.

which is among you—While having a concern for all the Church, your special duty is to feed that portion of it "which is among you."

oversight—Greek, "bishopric," or duty of bishops, that is, overseer.

not by constraint—Necessity is laid upon them, but willingness prevents it being felt, both in undertaking and in fulfilling the duty [Bengel]. "He is a true presbyter and minister of the counsel of God who doeth and teacheth the things of the Lord, being not accounted righteous merely because he is a presbyter, but because righteous, chosen into the presbytery" [Clement of Alexandria].

willingly—One oldest manuscript, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic, add, "as God would have it to be done" (Ro 8:27).

not for filthy lucre—(Isa 56:11; Tit 1:7).

of a ready mind—promptly and heartily, without selfish motive of gain-seeking, as the Israelites gave their services willing-heartedly to the sanctuary.

Feed; teach and rule, Matthew 2:6 John 21:15-17 Acts 20:28.

The flock of God; the church.

Which is among you; which is with you, or committed to your charge; intimating that the flock not being their own, they were to give an account of it to him that had set them over it.

Taking the oversight thereof; or, being bishops, or acting as bishops over it, i.e. superintending, inspecting, and watching over it with all care, Acts 20:28,29.

Not by constraint; not merely because ye must: what men do out of compulsion, they do more slightly and perfunctorily, as those that would not do it if they could help it: see the like expression, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

But willingly; cheerfully and freely, as Exodus 36:2 Psalm 54:6: compare 1 Corinthians 9:17.

Not for filthy lucre; not out of covetousness, or a design of making a gain of the work; it being a shameful thing for a shepherd to feed the sheep out of love to the fleece: see Titus 1:7 1 Timothy 3:3,8.

But of a ready mind; out of a good affection to the welfare of the flock, in opposition to the private gain before mentioned. He doth not do his work freely, and of a ready mind, who is either driven to it by necessity, or drawn by covetousness. Feed the flock of God which is among you,.... Some read, "as much as in you is"; that is, to the utmost of your power, according to your abilities, referring to the manner of feeding the flock, doing it in the best way they are capable of; but the phrase is rather descriptive of the flock to be fed, which points it out, and distinguishes it from all others, and for which they should have a particular regard; it being the flock, as the Syriac version renders it, which "is delivered unto you"; which was committed to their care, and they were made overseers of, and stood in a special relation to; wherefore it was incumbent on them to regard them, so as they did not, and were not obliged to regard, any other distinct flock: by "the flock of God"; or, "of Christ", as some copies read, is meant, not the whole world, which Philo the Jew (r) calls the greatest and most perfect, , "flock of the true God"; but the church of God, over which they were elders or pastors, consisting of Christ's sheep and lambs, he ordered Peter to feed, as he now does his fellow elders; and because they are the flock of God, which he has chosen, distinguished, and separated from the rest of the world, and has made the care and charge of Christ; put them into his hands, whence they are called the sheep of his hand; which he has purchased with his blood, and effectually called by his grace, and returned them to himself, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, who before were as sheep going astray, and folded them together in a Gospel church state; all this is a reason, and a strong one, why they should be fed; not with every wind of doctrine, which blows up the pride of human nature, and swells men with vain conceits of themselves; nor with the chaff of human doctrines; nor with trifling and speculative notions; but with knowledge and understanding of divine and evangelical truths, with the words of faith and sound doctrine, with the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ; with the Gospel of the grace of God, which contains milk for babes, and meat for strong men; and with a crucified Christ himself, who is the bread of life, and whose flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; by directing them to his person, blood, and righteousness, to live by faith on; by preaching the doctrines of peace and pardon by his blood, atonement and satisfaction by his sacrifice, and justification by his righteousness, and complete salvation by his obedience and death: in short, feeding includes the whole of the pastor's work, the ministry of the word, the administration of ordinances, and the rule and government of the church, in the several branches of it; for the same word signifies to rule as to feed; and which work is further expressed by

taking the oversight thereof; that is, of the flock; or "take the care of it", as the Syriac version renders it, and adds, "spiritually"; in a spiritual manner; which is an interpretation of the phrase: an acting the part of a bishop or overseer of it, as the word signifies; looking diligently to it, inspecting into the various cases of the members of the church; using diligence to know the state of the flock, and performing all the offices of a careful shepherd; as feeding the flock; and not themselves; strengthening the diseased; healing the sick; binding up that which was broken; bringing again that which was driven away, and seeking that which was lost; watching over them that they go not astray; and restoring of them in the spirit of meekness, when they are gone out of the way; and overlooking both their practices and their principles; admonishing, reproving them for sin, as the case requires; and preserving them, as much as in them lies, from wolves, and beasts of prey; from false teachers, and from all errors and heresies: all which is to be done,

not by constraint; or with force, in a rigorous and severe manner; for this may be understood actively of pastors not forcing their flock, over driving them, or ruling them with force and cruelty, complained of in Ezekiel 34:4 or passively, of their being forced to feed the flock, and superintend it; as such may be said to be, who enter into the ministry, and continue in it, because obliged to it for want of a livelihood, and not knowing how to get one any other way; or through the pressing instances of relations, acquaintance, and friends; this ought not to be a matter of necessity, but of choice; they should be induced to it by no other necessity than what Christ has laid upon them, by calling them to the work, and furnishing them for it with the gifts of his Spirit; and should engage and continue in it by no other constraint than that of his love; wherefore it follows,

but willingly. The Vulgate Latin version adds, "according to God", and so some copies; according to the will of God, and agreeably to his word; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "with equity for God"; with all uprightness and integrity, for the sake of the honour and glory of God; this should be done with all a man's heart and soul, and should spring from pure love to Christ; for no man is fit to feed Christ's lambs and sheep but those who sincerely love him; see John 21:15, and from a cordial and affectionate concern for the good of souls; and from, an hearty desire unto, and delight in, the work itself; otherwise all he does will be as a task and burden; he will do it grudgingly, and with negligence, and will murmur under it, at least secretly. The Arabic version renders it, "watching, not forced watches, but willing ones". This contrast of phrases seems to be Jewish, or Rabbinical (s); it is a tradition of the Rabbans;

"blood which is defiled, and they sprinkle it ignorantly, it is accepted; presumptuously, not accepted; of what things are these said? of a private person; but of a congregation, whether ignorantly or presumptuously, it is accepted; and of a stranger, whether ignorantly or presumptuously, , "whether by constraint or willingly", it is not accepted:''

it follows here,

not for filthy lucre; not from a covetous disposition, which is a filthy one; and for the sake of gaining money, and amassing wealth and riches, as the false prophets in Isaiah's time, who were never satisfied; and the false teachers in the apostle's time, who, through covetousness, made merchandise of men, and supposed that gain was godliness; whereas there is no such thing as serving God and mammon; and as the work of the ministry should not be entered upon, and continued in, with any such sordid view; so neither for the sake of gaining glory and applause, a presidency, and chief place in the churches, and a name among the ministers of the Gospel, and credit and esteem among men:

but of a ready mind; or, "from the whole heart", as the Syriac version renders it; and in a cheerful view of reproaches and persecutions, of the loss of credit and reputation, of worldly substance, and of life itself; and with a sincere concern for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls; being ready to do everything with cheerfulness, that may contribute to either of these. The Ethiopic version renders it, "in the fulness of your heart with joy".

(r) De Agricultura, p. 195. (s) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 25. 1. Vid. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 54. 1. & Maimon. Hilch. Issure Mizbeach, c. 4. sect. 5, 6.

{3} {a} Feed the {4} flock of God which is {5} among you, {6} taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

(3) The first rule: he that is a shepherd let him feed the flock.

(a)

(4) The second: Let not shepherd consider, that the flock is not his, but Gods.

(5) The third: Let not shepherds invade other men's flocks, but let them feed that which God hath committed unto them.

(6) Let the shepherds govern the Church with the word and example of godly and unblamable life, not by force but willingly, not for greedy gain, but with a ready mind, not as lords over God's portion and heritage, but as his ministers.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Peter 5:2. ποιμάνατε τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίμνιον τοῦ Θεοῦ] The work of directing the church is often in the N. and O. T. represented by the figure of pasturing (cf. Acts 20:28; John 21:16; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2 ff.), and the church by that of a flock (Luke 12:32). τοῦ Θεοῦ is added here very significantly. By it the flock is designated as belonging, not to the elders who tend it, but to God as His peculiar property. Luther takes a too narrow view of the idea of tending,—he limits it to the preaching of the gospel. It applies rather to all and everything that is done by the elders, for the welfare of the individual as well as for that of the entire congregation. τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν must not be separated from ποίμνιον, as if it were equal to quantum in vobis est (cf. Romans 1:15), i. e. intendite omnes nervos (Calvin); it rather forms one idea with ποίμνιον. The greater number of commentators understand ἐν in a local sense, either: in vestris regionibus (Pott), or: “with you, within your reach” (Luther, in the commentary, Hensler, de Wette, Besser, Schott,[266] etc.). Since ἐν ὑμῖν, as a more precise local definition, stands somewhat significantly, and “the churches only are the place where the elders are, and not vice versa” (Hofmann), ἐν ὑμῖν must, according to the analogy of κεῖσθαι ἔν τινι, be interpreted: “that which is committed to you” (Luther’s translation, Bengel, Steiger), or: “that which is placed under your care (hand).” ἐν ὑμῖν then serves to give point to the exhortation.

ἐπισκοποῦντες, cf. the critical notes. It must be observed that ἐπισκοπ. is here placed in conjunction with ποιμάνατε, as in chap. 1 Peter 2:25 : ποιμήν and ἐπίσκοπος. This participle, with the adverbs belonging to it, states what should be the character of the ποιμαίνειν.[267] The verb (which, except here, occurs only in Hebrews 12:15), equivalent to: “to give heed,” denotes the labours of the elders in caring for the congregation, but with the implied meaning of oversight. The still closer definition follows in three adjuncts, each of which consists of a negative and a positive member. The thought is aptly given by Calvin: Dum Pastores ad officium hortari vult, tria potissimum vitia notat, quae plurimum obesse solent, pigritiam scilicet, lucri captandi cupiditatem et licentiam dominandi; primo vitio opponit alacritatem aut voluntarium studium, secundo liberalem affectum, tertio moderationem ac modestiam.

ἀναγκαστῶς (an expression foreign to Greek usage, and occurring only here, which Hofmann erroneously denies) and ἙΚΟΥΣΊΩς (this adverb occurs in the N. T., besides in this passage, only in Hebrews 10:26; the adjective in Philemon 1:14) are opposed to each other, in such a way that the former characterizes the work as undertaken from outward motives only, the latter as from inward. The same antithesis occurs in Philemon 1:14 : ΚΑΤᾺ ἈΝΆΓΚΗΝΚΑΤᾺ ἙΚΟΎΣΙΟΝ (similarly the antithesis of ἌΚΩΝ and ἙΚΏΝ, 1 Corinthians 9:17); with ἙΚΟΥΣΊΩς, cf. Exodus 36:2. The position, etc., must be regarded as the outwardly inciting or compelling motive. Bengel is incorrect: id valet et in suscipiendo et in gerendo munere; to the former there is in this case no allusion.

According to the Rec., ἑκουσίως is yet further strengthened by ΚΑΤᾺ ΘΕΌΝ (cf. chap. 1 Peter 4:6; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10), equal to ΚΑΤᾺ ΤῸ ΘΈΛΗΜΑ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ.

ΑἸΣΧΡΟΚΕΡΔῶς
(the adverb occurs here only, the adjective 1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7; Titus 1:11 : ΑἸΣΧΡΟῦ ΚΈΡΔΟΥς ΧΆΡΙΝ); “the apostle places the impure motive side by side with the unwillingness of ἈΝΑΓΚ.” (Wiesinger).

ΠΡΟΘΎΜΩς (in the N. T. the adverb occurs here only; more frequently the adjective and substantive) as antithesis to ΑἸΣΧΡΟΚΕΡΔῶς: “out of love to the thing itself;” Luther: “from the bottom of the heart.”[268]

[266] Schott’s opinion, that in ἐν ὑμῖν this antithesis to τοῦ Θεοῦ is expressed, “that the church, belonging to heaven, is yet at present in the bodily and visible vicinity of the elders, and surrounded by them,” must be rejected as purely arbitrary.—Gerhard’s interpretation: qui vobiscum est, videlicet cum quo unum corpus, una ecclesia estis, brings out an idea which is in no way indicated by the apostle.

[267] It is doubtless correct that the adverbs do not simply define more nearly the term ἐπισκοποῦντες, in and for itself considered; but it is wrong to make them co-ordinate with this idea (as against Hofmann); closely joined with ἐπισκοποῦντες, they, with this participle, are connected with ποιμάνετε.

[268] Hofmann: “With a joyous devotion—which excludes all secondary considerations—to the work which has to be done.”1 Peter 5:2. The command laid upon St. Peter, shepherd my sheep (John 21:19) became the charge delivered to succeeding elders (v. Acts 20:28) and a familiar description of the Christian pastor (e.g., 1 Corinthians 9:7) who must copy the good Shepherd who obeyed where His predecessors fell short (Ezekiel 34).—τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίνιον τοῦ θεοῦ. Christendom is God’s flock among you—not yours but God’s.—ἀναγκαστῶς. As a matter of constraint contrasted with ἑκουσίως, willingly—not as pressed men but as volunteers. In times of persecution lukewarm elders might well regret their prominence; hence the need for the aphorism if any aspire to oversight he desireth a noble work (1 Timothy 3:1). So of gifts of money St. Paul requires that they be μὴ ἐξ ἀνάγκης (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is possible that St. Paul’s words, ἀνάγκη μοι ἐπικεῖται (1 Corinthians 9:16) had been wrested.—αἰσχροκερδῶς. If the work be voluntarily undertaken, the worker has a reward according to St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:16 f.). Base gainers are those who wish to make gain whence they ought not (Aristotle, Nic. Eth., ver 1, 43).—προθύμως. The adverb occurs in 2 Chronicles 29:34, LXX, where the Levites eagerly purified themselves; Heb. the Levites upright of heart to … The verb προθυμεῖν is used in Chron. to render נדב offer freewill offerings.

1 Peter 5:3. Application of the saying, the reputed rulers of the nations lord it (κατακυριεύουσιν) over them … not so among you; but whosoever would be great among you he shall be your servant … for the Son of Man came … to serve (Mark 10:42 f.).—τῶν κλήρων, the lots, i.e., the portions of the new Israel who fall to your care as Israel fell to that of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 9:29, οὗτοι λαός σου καὶ κλῆρός σου). The meaning is determined by the corresponding τοῦ ποιμνίου. and supported by the use of προσεκληρώθησαν were made an additional portion in Acts 17:4. So it is said of God’s servant that He κληρονομήσει πολλούς. (Isaiah 13:12). The Vulgate has dominantes in cleris, and Oecumenius following the usage of his time explains the phrase likewise as equivalent to τὸ ἱερὸν σύστημα, i.e., the inferior clergy.—τύποι γεινόμενοι, i.e., as servants according to Mark l.c.; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:12.2. feed the flock of God] The word for “feed,” here as elsewhere, implies the whole work of the shepherd—guiding, directing, protecting, as well as supplying food (comp. Luke 17:7; John 21:16; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 9:7). The shepherd’s work had been from a very early period a parable of that of rulers and of teachers. Kings were to Homer the “shepherds of the people” (ποίμενες λαῶν). David was taken from the sheepfold to feed Israel as the flock of Jehovah (Psalm 78:70-71). The sin of the kings and rulers of Judah had been that they did not feed the flock, but scattered and destroyed it (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-31). In St Peter’s use of the word we note a reproduction of the words that had fallen on his ears with a three-fold, yet varied, iteration, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:16). The comprehensiveness of the word must not be lost sight of. It includes more than preaching or teaching, and takes in the varied duties of what we rightly call the pastoral office. In the words “the flock of God” men are tacitly reminded who is the Chief Shepherd whom they serve, and to whom they will have to render an account (comp. Acts 20:28). It may be noted as a characteristic difference that in the Old Testament the shepherds of the people are always the civil rulers of the nation (e.g. Psalm 78:71; Ezekiel 34:2), while in the New that thought falls into the background, and the shepherd of the flock is its spiritual guide and teacher.

taking the oversight thereof] The first three words are the English equivalent of the Greek participle of the verb formed from Episcopos, the “bishop,” or “overseer” of the Church. In its being thus used to describe the office of the elders of the Church we have a close parallel to St Paul’s addressing the “elders” of the Church as being also “overseers” (Acts 20:28). The two terms were in fact interchangeable, and what is now the higher office of the Bishop in relation to the Presbyters was discharged by the Apostle or his personal representative.

not by constraint, but willingly] The words that follow indicate the three great conditions of true pastoral work. (1) It must not be entered on reluctantly and as under pressure. In one sense indeed the truest and best work may be done by one who feels, as St Paul felt, that a “necessity is laid” upon him (1 Corinthians 9:16), but there the necessity was that of a motive essentially spiritual. What St Peter deprecates is the drawing back from the labour and responsibility of the care of souls. The Nolo episcopari, which has been so often the formula of the pride or the sloth that apes humility, would have been in his eyes the sign of cowardice and weakness. Here, as in other things, the true temper is that of cheerful and willing service. The history of the Church presents, it is true, not a few instances, among which Chrysostom and Ambrose are preeminent, of the pastoral and episcopal office being forced upon a reluctant acceptance, but in such cases the reluctance left no trace in the after life. The work once entered on was done “willingly,” not as a forced and constrained service. It may be noted that the memorable treatise of Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, is in its form an apologia for his unwillingness to enter on the priestly office on the ground of its infinite dangers and responsibilities. Some of the better MSS. add the words “according to God,” to “willingly,” the phrase having the same meaning (“according to the will of God,”) as in chap. 1 Peter 4:6, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.

not for filthy lucre] The adverb is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. The corresponding adjective meets us in 1 Timothy 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:8, Titus 1:7. The words are interesting as shewing that even in the troubled times in which St Peter wrote there was enough wealth in the Church to make the position of a Bishop-presbyter a lucrative one. There was the double stipend for those who were both pastors and preachers (1 Timothy 5:17). There was, for baser natures, the temptation of using spiritual influence for secular ends, “devouring widows’ houses,” as the Pharisees did in Judæa (Matthew 23:14), “leading captive silly women,” as did the false teachers at Ephesus (2 Timothy 3:6) and Crete (Titus 1:11). It may be noted that the term which both the Apostles use of the man who enters on the work of the ministry of souls from such a motive, is one which Greek writers commonly use of one who seeks gain in base and sordid ways. In their eyes the calling of a presbyter might be made, so followed, as disreputable an occupation as that of the usurer, or the pander, or the slave-dealer. In contrast with this temper, eagerly catching at emoluments, the Apostle points to the cheerful readiness that seeks eagerly for work.1 Peter 5:2. Ποιμάνατε, feed) by discipline and doctrine.—τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν) entrusted to you for your part.—μὴ ἀναγκαστῶς, not by constraint) Necessity is laid upon them, 1 Corinthians 9:16, but willingness prevents it from being felt. This is efficacious both in undertaking and in discharging the office. Those pastors are not undeserving of censure, who, if it were in their power, would prefer to be anything else.—[ἀλλʼἀλλὰ, butbut) The motive and scope ought to be free from fault.—V. g.]—μηδὲ αἰσχροκερδῶς, nor for the sake of dishonourable gain) The receiving of pay is not forbidden, 1 Corinthians 9:14; but there ought to be the absence of all that is dishonourable, and the presence of a noble promptness.—προθύμως, willingly) So that the enjoyment consists in feeding the flock, and not in the pay.Verse 2. - Feed the flock of God which is among you; rather, tend, as a shepherd tends his flock. The verb ποιμάνατε is aorist, as if St. Peter wished to concentrate into one point of view all the labors of the ministerial life. He is echoing the word so solemnly addressed to himself by the risen Lord, "Feed my sheep ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου." The word covers all the various duties of the pastoral office: "Pasce mente, pasce ore, pasce operc, pasce animi oratione, verbi exhortatione, exempli exhibitione" (St. Bernard, quoted by Alford). St. Peter lays stress upon the solemn fact that the flock belongs to God, not to the shepherds (comp. Acts 20:28). Some understand the words rendered "which is among you τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν " as meaning" quantum in vobis est," "as far as lies in your power." Others as "that which is committed to you," or "that which is placed under your care." But the simple local meaning seems the best. Taking the oversight thereof. This word ἐπισκοποῦντες is not found in the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts. Alford thinks that "it has, perhaps, been removed for ecclesiastical reasons, for fear πρεσβύτεροι should be supposed to be, as they really were, ἐπίσκοποι It is in the Alexandrine and most other ancient manuscripts and versions, and there seems to be no sufficient reason for omitting it. It shows that when this Epistle was written, the words πρεσβύτερος and ἐπίσκοπος, presbyter and bishop, were still synonymous (comp. Acts 20:17 and 28 in the Greek; also Titus 1:5 and 7). Not by constraint, but willingly. The word ἀναγκαστῶς, by constraint, occurs only here. St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 9:16), "Necessity is laid upon me;" but that was an inward necessity, the constraining love of Christ. Bede, quoted by Alford, says, "Coacte pascit gregem, qui propter rerum temporalium penurium non habens unde vivat, idcirco praedicat evangelium ut de evangelio vivere possit." Some good manuscripts add, after "willingly," the words κατὰ Θεόν, "according to God," i.e. according to his will (comp. Romans 8:27). Not for filthy lucre. The adverb αἰσχροκερδῶς occurs only here (for the thought, comp. 1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7). It would seem that, even in the apostolic age, there were sometimes such opportunities of gain (see Titus 1:11; 2 Timothy 3:6) as to be a temptation to enter the ministry for the sake of money. St. Peter uses a strong word in condemnation of such a motive. But of a ready mind. This adverb προθύμως occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; it has a stronger meaning than the preceding word ἑκουσίως, willingly; it implies zeal and enthusiasm. Feed (ποιμάνατε)

Better, Rev., tend, since the verb denotes all that is included in the office of a shepherd - guiding, guarding, folding, no less than feeding, which latter is expressed by βόσκω. There is, doubtless, a reminiscence in the word of Christ's charge to Peter (John 21:15-17). Both words are used there: "Feed (Βόσκε) my lambs" (John 21:15); "tend (ποίμαινε) my sheep" (John 21:16); "feed (βόσκε) my sheep" (John 21:17). The A. V. obliterates the distinction by rendering all three feed. Bengel rightly remarks, "Feeding is part of tending." See on Matthew 2:6.

Taking the oversight

The best texts omit. Rev. retains.

By constraint (ἀναγκαστῶς)

Only here in New Testament.

Willingly (ἑκουσίως)

Only here and Hebrews 10:26.

For filthy lucre (αἰσχροκερδῶς)

From αἰσχρός, disgraceful, and κέρδος, gain. Only here in New Testament. The word filthy is intended to convey the idea which lies in αἰσχρός, base or dishonorable; becoming such if it is made the motive of the minister's service. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:14.

Willingly (προδύμως)

Not strong enough. The word is compounded of πρό, forward, and θυμός, heart or spirit. Hence Rev., with a ready mind; a forward spirit; denoting not mere willingness, but zeal. Only here in New Testament. Compare the kindred adjective πρόθυμος, ready (Romans 1:15; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38), and the kindred noun προθυμία, readiness (2 Corinthians 8:11, 2 Corinthians 8:12, 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 9:2).

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