1 Peter 5:3
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
(3) Neither as being lords.—Rather, nor yet as lording it. The English version is somewhat too strict for the Greek and for the sense. There is a sense in which the heads of the Church are, and ought to be, lords and princes over the rest; but this is very different from “lording it,” acting tyrannically, forgetting the constitutional rights of their subjects.

Over God’s heritage.—Quite literally, Over the lots. The word first of all means (as in Matthew 27:35 or Acts 1:26) the actual scrap of paper or wood that was tossed. Then it comes to mean (like the word “lot” in the language of auctions) the piece of property that falls by lot to any one’s share. Then all notion of chance disappears, and it comes to mean the portion assigned to any one. So St. Peter says that Simon Magus has “no share nor lot in this thing” (Acts 8:21). In Acts 26:18, Colossians 1:12, the same word is rendered “inheritance.” In Acts 17:4, our version endeavours, not very successfully, through the Latin word “consorted,” to keep up the underlying notion of the Greek, which literally is “were allotted to Paul and Silas.” Here, therefore, we must understand “the lots,” over which the clergy are not to lord it, to be the different congregations, districts, parishes, dioceses, which had been allotted to them. At the same time it does not at all imply that any process like drawing of lots had been resorted to in their appointment, as is seen from Acts 17:4, just cited. It will be seen that our version is misleading in substituting singular for plural, and in inserting the word “God’s.” The whole flock is God’s (1Peter 5:2), purchased with His own blood; but the “allotments” are the portions assigned by Him to the different clergy. It is some consolation to see, when we groan under the lives and characters of some church officers now, that even in the Apostles’ days cowardice, greed, and self-assertion were not unknown.

Ensamples to the flock.—The best way of becoming a real prince and lord over men is to show them by example what they ought to do, like Chaucer’s Parson, who—

“Cristes lore and hys Apostlis twelve

He taught, but fyrst hee practys’d it himselve.”

Leighton well quotes from Nazianzen: “Either teach not, or teach by living.”

1 Peter 5:3-4. Neither as being lords, or lording it, over God’s heritage — Behaving in a haughty, domineering manner, as though you had dominion over their consciences. From this prohibition it would seem that, in the apostle’s days, the bishops or elders were beginning to assume that dominion over their flocks, which in after times they carried to the greatest height of tyranny. Or St. Peter, by inspiration, foreseeing what would happen, condemned in this prohibition the tyranny which in after times the clergy exercised. But being ensamples to the flock — Setting them an example worthy of their imitation; and therefore, being of a meek and lowly, kind and condescending mind, and be having toward them with such gentle, tender solicitude for their salvation, and such an entire freedom from the very appearance either of avarice or ambition, that you may gain their confidence, and win their affections. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear — To judge the world; ye — Who have discharged your duty to your flocks faithfully; shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away — A crown which shall bloom in immortal beauty and vigour, when all the transitory glories of this world are withered, like a fading flower. In the original expression, αμαραντινον, amaranthine, there is an allusion to the crowns of green leaves and herbs bestowed by the ancients as the rewards of military prowess, or of victory in the games. These, together with the honours of which they were the symbols, soon faded away; but the crown of glory, the reward to be given to faithful shepherds, will never fade, being a crown of righteousness, 2 Timothy 4:8, and a crown of life, James 1:12. The word rendered heritage in the singular number, properly signifies a lot. But because the land of Canaan was divided among the Israelites by lot, the word came to signify, a heritage. Wherefore, believers being God’s people, or portion, the different churches or congregations are called here God’s heritages. In process of time, the name κληρος, clergy, was appropriated to the ministers of the gospel, because, being considered as the successors of the Levitical priests, they were regarded as God’s lot or portion.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.Neither as being lords - Margin, "overruling." The word here used (κατακυριεύω katakurieuō) is rendered "exercise dominion over," in Matthew 20:25; exercise lordship over, in Mark 10:42; and overcame, in Acts 19:16. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It refers properly to that kind of jurisdiction which civil rulers or magistrates exercise. This is an exercise of authority, as contradistinguished from the influence of reason, persuasion, and example. The latter pertains to the ministers of religion; the former is forbidden to them. Their dominion is not to be that of temporal lordship; it is to be that of love and truth. This command would prohibit all assumption of temporal power by the ministers of religion, and all conferring of titles of nobility on those who are preachers of the gospel. It needs scarcely to be said that it has been very little regarded in the church.

Over God's heritage - των κλήρων tōn klērōn. Vulgate: "in cleris" - over the clergy. The Greek word here (κλῆρος klēros) is that from which the word "clergy" has been derived; and some have interpreted it here as referring to the clergy, that is, to priests and deacons who are under the authority of a bishop. Such an interpretation, I however, would hardly be adopted now. The word means properly:

(a) a lot, die, anything used in determining chances;

(b) a part or portion, such as is assigned by lot; hence,

(c) an office to which one is designated or appointed, by lot or otherwise; and,

(d) in general any possession or heritage, Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12.

The meaning here is, "not lording it over the possessions or the heritage of God." The reference is, undoubtedly, to the church, as that which is especially his property; his own in the world. Whitby and others suppose that it refers to the possessions or property of the church; Doddridge explains it - "not assuming dominion over those who fall to your lot," supposing it to mean that they were not to domineer over the particular congregations committed by Providence to their care. But the other interpretation is most in accordance with the usual meaning of the word.

But being ensamples to the flock - Examples. See the notes at 1 Timothy 4:12. Peter has drawn here with great beauty, the appropriate character of the ministers of the gospel, and described the spirit with which they should be actuated in the discharge of the duties of their office. But how different it is from the character of many who have claimed to be ministers of religion; and especially how different from that corrupt communion which professes in a special manner to recognize Peter as the head, and the vicegerent of Christ. It is well remarked by Benson on this passage, that "the church of Rome could not well have acted more directly contrary to this injunction of Peter's if she had studied to disobey it, and to form herself upon a rule that should be the reverse of this."

3. being lords—Greek, "lording it": implying pride and oppression. "Not that we have dominion over your faith."

God's heritage—Greek, "the inheritances," that is, the portions of the Church committed severally to your pastoral charge [Bengel]. It is explained by "the flock" in the next clause. However, in 1Pe 5:2, "flock of God which is among you," answering to "(God's) heritages" (plural to express the sheep who are God's portion and inheritance, De 32:9) committed to you, favors English Version. The flock, as one whole, is God's heritage, or flock in the singular. Regarded in relation to its component sheep, divided among several pastors, it is in the plural "heritages." Compare Ac 1:17, 25, "part" (the same Greek). Bernard of Clairvaux, wrote to Pope Eugene, "Peter could not give thee what he had not: what he had he gave: the care over the Church, not dominion."

being—Greek, "becoming."

ensamples—the most effective recommendation of precept (1Ti 4:12). Tit 2:7, "patterns." So Jesus. "A monstrosity it is to see the highest rank joined with the meanest mind, the first seat with the lowest life, a grandiloquent tongue with a lazy life, much talking with no fruit" [Bernard].

Neither as being lords; not exercising any such lordship or dominion over the people, as temporal lords and magistrates exercise over their subjects, Matthew 20:25,26, &c.; Luke 22:25: compare 2 Corinthians 1:24.

Over God’s heritage; the Lord’s clergy, the same as flock before; the Greek word is plural, and so it signifies the several churches or flocks which were under the charge of the several elders or pastors. The church of Israel is often called God’s inheritance, which as it were fell to him by lot, (as the Greek word signifies), and which was as dear to him as men’s inheritances are to them: see Deu 4:20 9:29 32:9 Psalm 33:12 74:2 78:71. Accordingly now the Christian church, succeeding it, is called God’s inheritance, and the word clerus is no where in the New Testament peculiarly ascribed to ministers of the gospel. This title given here to the Lord’s people, implies a reason why the elders should not lord it over them, viz. because they are still the Lord’s inheritance, and not their own; God having not given them a kingdom but a care, and still retaining his right to his people.

But being ensamples to the flock; in holiness of life, practising before their eyes what you preach to their ears, Philippians 3:17 2 Thessalonians 3:9 Titus 2:7. Neither as being lords over God's heritage,.... Or "clergy"; meaning not ecclesiastical persons, as presbyters, and deacons, who are supposed to be under the government of bishops, though not to be governed with tyranny, and in a haughty, imperious, and arrogant manner; to which sense the Arabic version inclines, rendering the words thus; "not as those who domineer over such that are appointed in the dignities of the priesthood"; but such cannot be designed, because they are presbyters, or elders, which are here exhorted not to use such tyrannical power and authority; wherefore the flock, or church of God, the people of Christ, and members of churches, in common, are here intended: the Ethiopic version renders it, "his own people"; who are the lot, portion, and inheritance of God, and Christ; and moreover, the several churches are the parts, portions, and heritages, for the word is in the plural number, which are assigned to the care of their respective pastors, and elders, in allusion to the land of Canaan, which was distributed by lot: the word "clergy" is common to all the saints, and not to be appropriated to a particular order of men, or to officers of churches; and these are not to be lorded over by their elders, in a domineering and arbitrary way; for though they are set over them in the Lord, and have the rule over them, and should be submitted to, and obeyed in their right and lawful ministrations of the word and ordinances, and are worthy of double honour when they rule well; yet they are not to take upon them an absolute authority over the consciences of men; they are not to teach for doctrines the commandments of men; nor to have the dominion over the faith of men, but to be helpers of their joy; and are not to coin new articles of faith, or enact new laws, and impose them on the churches; but are to teach the doctrines of Christ, and rule according to the laws he has given:

but being ensamples to the flock. The Ethiopic version reads, "to his own flock"; that is, the flock of God; and the Vulgate Latin version adds, "heartily"; the meaning is, that they should go before the flock, and set an example to believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity; and be patterns of good works to them, and recommend the doctrines they preach, and the duties they urge, by their own lives and conversations; and particularly should be ensamples to the saints, in liberality and beneficence, in lenity and gentleness, in meekness and humility, in opposition to the vices before warned against.

Neither as being lords over God's {b} heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

(b) Which is the Christian people.

1 Peter 5:3. μηδʼ ὡς κατακυριεύοντες τῶν κλήρων] i.e. “not as those, who,” etc. With κατακυρ. cf. for meaning and exprestion Matthew 20:25-28; 2 Corinthians 1:24; it is not equal to κυριεύειν (Steiger), but the prefixed κατα intensifies the idea of κυριεύειν: “to exercise a sway, by which violence is offered to those who are under it.”[269]

κλῆρος, properly speaking, the lot, then that which is apportioned by lot, then generally, that which is allotted or assigned to any one, whether it be an office, a possession, or anything else. Here it is the congregation (τὸ ποίμνιον) that is to be understood; not as though κλῆρος in itself meant the congregation, but the churches are thus designated, because they are assigned to the elders as a possession, in which to exercise their official duties. The plural is put, because different elders filled offices in different congregations (Calov, Steiger, de Wette, Wiesinger, Schott, etc.). Compare the passage in Acts 17:4, where it is said of those converted by Paul and Silas: προσεκληρώθησαν τῷ Παύλῳ καὶ τῷ Σίλᾳ. It is incorrect to supply τοῦ Θεοῦ, as is done by Beza, etc., and to derive the expression from the O. T., where the congregation of Israel is termed the κλῆρος (נַחֲלָה) of God, Deuteronomy 9:29, LXX. But it is equally incorrect when Hofmann applies κατακυριεύοντες, not to the πρεσβύτεροι, but to others, and, taking ὡς as instituting a comparison, understands κλῆροι to signify “the estates belonging to some one himself,” translating accordingly: “not as those who exercise rule over estates belonging to themselves.” The apostle’s idea thus would be: “the elders are not to treat the church as an object over which they exercise right of possession, and do with as they please.”

How should the apostle have thought of bringing forward a comparison so far-fetched?—and how arbitrary it appears to interpret ὡς differently in this passage from in chap. 1 Peter 1:14, 1 Peter 2:2; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:11-13, etc.; to allow the article τῶν to take the place of the possessive pronoun, and to attribute a meaning to κλῆροι which it often has in profane Greek, but never either in the O. or in the N. T.![270]

ἀλλὰ τύποι γινόμενοι τοῦ ποιμνίου] The antithesis here is a different one from that in the passage quoted from Matt. The elders, as the leaders of the church, necessarily possess a kind of κυριότης over it; but they are not to exercise this in a manner opposed to the character of Christian life in the church (which would be a κατακυριεύειν), but by being examples to the congregations, shining before them in every Christian virtue (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7); cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Php 3:17.

[269] Thus Hofmann interprets, correctly. He is mistaken, however, in maintaining that κατα here does not imply an hostile antithesis, since a violent rule is one by which he who is ruled over is injured in his rights.

[270] The opinion of Oecumenius: κλῆρον τὸ ἱερὸν σύστημα καλεῖ, ὥσπερ καὶ νῦν ἡμεῖς (i.e. the priesthood), which many Catholic commentators have followed, requires no refutation; and as little does that of Dodwell, who understands κλῆροι to mean church property.3. neither as being lords over God’s heritage] Better, not lording it over the heritages. There is no word in the Greek answering to “God’s,” and it is not wanted to complete the sense. The word for “lording” implies an authority exercised both wrongfully and oppressively. Ambition, the love of power for the sake of power, is, from the Apostle’s standpoint, as great a hindrance to true pastoral work as avarice. The whole history of the Church, in particular the history of the papacy, as e.g. in the history of Gregory VII., shews how fatally it has worked on souls that had conquered, or had never known, the baser temptation. Warnings against such ambition we find again and again in our Lord’s teaching (Matthew 20:25-28; Luke 22:24-26; Mark 9:34-35). A memorable picture of the working of such a temper in St Paul’s rivals at Corinth meets us in 2 Corinthians 12:20.

The word for “heritages” (the Greek noun (κλῆρος) is in the plural) means primarily a “lot;” then, as in Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 12:12, the “portion assigned by lot.” So Jehovah is said to be the “portion” or “heritage” of the Levites (Deuteronomy 10:9). Here the idea would seem to be that each separate Ecclesia was thought of as the “portion” of the presbyter who watched over it. The later history of the word presents a curious series of transitions. (1) From the congregations it was transferred to the presbyters, as being, it was supposed, in a special sense, the “portion” or “heritage” of God. They accordingly were described as the clerus, the clerici, of the Church, and hence we get the common words, “clergy,” and “clerical.” (2) From the educational superiority of the clerical order in the Middle Ages, the word came to be applied to any person of a higher than average culture. So Chaucer speaks of Homer as a “great clerke,” and the legal phrase “benefit of clergy” retains a trace of the same meaning. (3) From this elevation it has come to be applied, as by a facilis descensus, to the lower forms of culture, and the “parish clerk” and the copying “clerk” at his desk, present the fallen greatness of the word that was once so noble.

but being ensamples to the flock] Comp. the word and the thought in 2 Thessalonians 3:9 and Php 3:17. It is obvious that the teaching of the verse does not condemn the exercise of all spiritual authority as such, but only its excesses and abuses; but in doing this, it points out also that the influence of example is more powerful than any authority, and to seek after that influence is the best safeguard against the abuse of power.1 Peter 5:3. Ὡς κατακυριεύοντες, as being lords over) who only give orders with a proud mind, and not with humility, and who oppress. In later times the presbyters took upon themselves to bear rule; whence the title Signore, especially in Italy, from Senior.—τῶν κληρων, inheritances) In the plural: of the flock, in the singular The flock is one, under one Chief Shepherd, Christ; but the portions (κλῆροι) are many, according to the number of places or overseers. But the style closely resembles a Mimesis:[39] for the congregation is not the peculiar property of the elder, but he who lords it, treats it as though it were his lot or property. Κλῆρος signifies a lot; then a portion of the Church which falls to an elder as his pastoral charge; then the pastor’s office; then the pastors; then the other clergy. How great an alteration[40] is there, and a falling off in the meaning at the last! Comp. Note on Chrysostom de Sacerd., p. 504.—ΤΎΠΟΙ, examples) The purest obedience is obtained by example, [such as you will hardly see rendered by the most keen of pastors “for filthy lucre,” or “lords.”—V. g.] Such frank intercourse subdues the itching desire for rule.

[39] See Append. on MIMESIS.—E.

[40] See Append. on METALEPSIS.—E.Verse 3. - Neither as being lords over God's heritage; rather, as in the Revised Version, neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you. The κατά ιν τηε verb κατακυριέω is not only intensive, it implies something of scorn and tyranny or even of hostility, as also in καταδυναστεύω (James 2:6); comp. Matthew 20:25. The literal rendering of the clause is, "lording it over the lots." The Authorized Version, following Beza, supplies τοῦ Θεοῦ, "God's heritage." But if this were the apostle's meaning, he would surely have used the singular, κλῆρος, "the lot or portion of God;" and it is very unlikely that he would have left the most important word to be supplied. Some commentators take κλῆροι in its modern sense, of the clergy, as if St. Peter was commanding the bishops not to tyrannize over the inferior clergy. But this view involves an anachronism; the word had not acquired this meaning in St. Peter's time. It is clearly best to understand it of the lots or portions assigned to individual presbyters. The word κλῆρος originally meant a "lot" (Matthew 27:35; Acts 1:26), then portions assigned by casting lots, as the possessions of the tribes of Israel (Joshua 18 and 19), then any portion or inheritance however obtained; thus in Deuteronomy 10:9 the Lord is said to be the Inheritance κλῆρος of the Levites. In later times the word was applied to the clergy, who were regarded as, in a special sense, the Lord's portion or inheritance, perhaps because God was pleased to take the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn, saying, the Levites shall be mine (Numbers 3:12). But being ensamples to the flock; literally, becoming examples. They must imitate the great Example, the Lord Jesus, and, by gradual imitation of his blessed character, become examples themselves. Thus they will acquire a more salutary influence and a truer authority. "The life should command, and the tongue persuade" (Athanasius, quoted by Fronmuller). As lording it (κατακυριεύοντες)

See Matthew 20:25; Acts 19:16. Other words are used for the exercise of legitimate authority in the church: προΐ́σταμαι, to be over (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17); ποιμαίνω, as 1 Peter 5:2, tend. But this carries the idea of high-handed rule.

Heritage (κλήρων)

Plural. Κλἤρος means a lot. See on inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4. Froth the kindred adjective κληρικός comes the English cleric, contracted into clerk, which in ecclesiastical writings originally signified a minister; either as being chosen by lot like Matthias, or as being the lot or inheritance of God. Hence Wycliffe translates the passage, "neither as having lordship in the clergie." As in the Middle Ages the clergy were almost the only persons who could write, the word clerk came to have one of its common modern meanings. The word here, though its interpretation is somewhat disputed, seems to refer to the several congregations - the lots or charges assigned to the elders. Compare προσεκληρώθησαν, were added as disciples; A. V., consorted with (Acts 17:4). Rev. renders charge. Why not charges?

Examples (τύποι)

Peter uses three different terms for a pattern or model: ὑπογραμμός, a writing-copy (1 Peter 2:21); ὑπόδειγμα, for which classical writers prefer παράδειγμα, an architect's plan or a sculptor's or painter's model (2 Peter 2:6); τύπος (see on 1 Peter 3:21), of which our word type is nearly a transcript. The word primarily means the impression left by a stroke (τύπτω, to strike). Thus John 20:25, "the print of the nails." Used of the stamp on coin; the impression of any engraving or hewn work of art; a monument or statue; the figures of the tabernacle of Moloch and of the star Remphan (Acts 7:43). Generally, an image or form, always with a statement of the object; and hence the kindred meaning of a pattern or model. See Acts 23:25; Romans 5:14; Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 8:5.

1 Peter 5:3 Interlinear
1 Peter 5:3 Parallel Texts

1 Peter 5:3 NIV
1 Peter 5:3 NLT
1 Peter 5:3 ESV
1 Peter 5:3 NASB
1 Peter 5:3 KJV

1 Peter 5:3 Bible Apps
1 Peter 5:3 Parallel
1 Peter 5:3 Biblia Paralela
1 Peter 5:3 Chinese Bible
1 Peter 5:3 French Bible
1 Peter 5:3 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Peter 5:2
Top of Page
Top of Page