1 Peter 5:5
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 humble.
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(5) Likewise, ye younger.—Self-submission has been, at least tacitly, inculcated upon the pastors in 1Peter 5:3; so the writer can say “likewise” in turning to the rest. In comparison with the presbyters or elders, the lay people are styled “younger,” or “juniors;” although in point of natural age, or of baptismal seniority, they might be the older. So our Lord addresses His disciples (according to the rabbinical fashion) as “children,” though there is good reason to suppose that several were older than Himself; and St. Paul, in the same way, called all the Corinthian Christians his “sons.” This seems to be the most natural interpretation of the word; for it was undoubtedly in respect of the supposed juniority of the whole of the lay people that their rulers received the name of “presbyters.” Otherwise there is nothing against the interpretation which makes “ye younger to be an address to those who held inferior offices in the Church, such as deacons, catechists, readers, and the like (Acts 5:6; Acts 5:10). The danger of any insubordination of the laity or inferior clergy against the priesthood at such a crisis was very obvious.

Yea, all of you.—Here the true text strikes out the words “be subject and,” so that the clause will run, Yea, all of you be clothed with humility one to another. Not only mutual complaisance between rulers on the one hand and ruled on the other, but clergy to clergy and laity to laity are to behave with the same self-suppression.

Be clothed with humility.—The Greek verb is a rare and curious one. It means properly, “tie yourselves up in humility.” Humility is to be gathered tight round about us like a cloak, and tied up so that the wind may not blow it back, nor the rain beat inside it. But there is a still further and more delicate shade of meaning in the word. There was a peculiar kind of cape, well known by a name taken from this verb (we might call it a “tie-up”), and this kind of cape was worn by slaves, and by no others. It was a badge of servitude. Thus St. Peter bids them all gird themselves for one another in a slave’s “tie-up” of humility. None are to be masters in the Church of Christ. And the humility is to be the very first thing noticed about them, their outward mark and sign.

For God resisteth the proud.—The exhortation to mutual self-submission is reinforced by a quotation of a well-known proverb. The proverb is based on the LXX. translation of Proverbs 3:34; but as it differs somewhat from both the Hebrew and the Greek of that passage, and is found word for word in James 4:6, we may probably give the same account of it as of the other proverb quoted in 1Peter 4:8, where see Note. A sad calamity for Christians under persecution, suddenly to find God Himself in array on the enemy’s side! (such is the meaning of “resisteth”); and this is what they would find, if they went against discipline. On the other hand, if they were submissive, He would bestow “grace” upon them; here again, perhaps, not in the strict theological sense, but in that of “favour.”

1 Peter


1 Peter 5:5.

The Apostle uses here an expression of a remarkable kind, and which never occurs again in Scripture. The word rendered in the Authorised Version ‘be clothed,’ or better in the Revised Version, ‘gird yourselves with,’ really implies a little more than either of those renderings suggests. It describes a kind of garment as well as the act of putting it on, and the sort of garment which it describes was a remarkable one. It was a part of a slave’s uniform. Some scholars think that it was a kind of white apron, or overall, or something of that sort; others think that it was simply a scarf or girdle; but, at all events, it was a distinguishing mark of a slave, and he put it on when he meant work. And, says Peter, ‘Do you strap round you the slave’s apron, and do it for the same reason that He did it, to serve.’

So, then, there are three points in my text, and the first is what we have to wear; second, what we have to wear it for; and, third, why we should wear it.

I. What we have to wear.

‘Gird yourselves with the slave’s apron of humility.’ Humility does not consist in being, or pretending to be, blind to one’s strong points. There is no humility in a man denying that he can do certain things if he can do them, or even refusing to believe he can do them well, if God has given him special faculties in any given direction. That is not humility at all. But to know whence all my strength comes, and to know what a little thing it is, after all; not to estimate myself highly, and, still further, not to be always insisting upon other people estimating me highly, and to think a great deal more about their claims on me than fretfully to insist upon my due modicum of respect and attention from others, that is the sort of temper that Peter means here.

Now, that temper which may recognise fully any gift that God has given me, its sweep and degree, but that nevertheless takes a true, because a lowly, measure of myself, and does not always demand from other people their regard and assistance, that temper is a thing that we can cultivate. We can increase it, and we are all bound to try specifically and directly to do so. Now, I believe that a great part of the feeble and unprogressive character of so many Christian people amongst us is due to this, that they do not definitely steady their thoughts and focus them on the purpose of finding out the weak points to which special attention and discipline should be directed. It is a very easy thing to say, ‘Oh, I am a poor, weak, sinful creature!’ It would do you a great deal more good to say, ‘I am a very passionate one, and my business is to control that quick temper of mine,’ or, ‘I am a great deal too much disposed to run after worldly advantage, and my business is to subdue that,’ or, ‘I am afraid I am rather too close-fisted, and I ought to crucify myself into liberality.’ It would be a great deal better, I say, to apply the general confession to specific cases, and to set ourselves to cultivate individual types of goodness, as well as to seek to be filled with the all-comprehensive root of it all, which lies in union with Jesus Christ. We have often to preach, dear brethren, that the way of self-improvement is not by hammering at ourselves, but by letting God mould us, and to keep the balance right. We have also to insist upon the other side of the truth, and to press the complementary thought that specific efforts after the cultivation of specific virtues and all the more if they are virtues that are not natural to us, for the gospel is given to us to mend our natural tempers--is the duty of all Christian people that would seek to live as Christ would have them.

And how is this to be done? How am I to gird upon myself and to keep--if I may transpose the metaphor into the key of modern English--tightly buckled around me this belt which may hold in place a number of fine articles of clothing?

Well, there are three things, I think, that we may profitably do. Go down deep enough into yourself if you want to cure a lofty estimate of yourself. The top storeys may be beautifully furnished, but there are some ugly things and rubbish down in the cellar. There is not one of us but, if we honestly let the dredge down into the depths, as far down as the Challenger’s went, miles and miles down, will bring up a pretty collection of wriggling monstrosities that never have been in the daylight before, and are ugly enough to be always shrouded in their native darkness. Down in us all, if we will go deep enough, and take with us a light bright enough, we shall discover enough to make anything but humility ridiculous, if it were not wicked. And the only right place and attitude for a man who knows himself down to the roots of his being is the publican’s when ‘he stood afar off, and would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, and said, God be merciful to me a sinner.’ Ah, dear friends, it will put an end to any undue exaltation of ourselves if we know ourselves as we are.

Further, let us try to cultivate this temper, by looking at God, and having communion with Him. Think of Him as the Giver of anything in us that is good, and that annihilates our pride. Think of Jesus as our pattern; how that kills our satisfaction in little excellences! If you get high enough up the mountainside, the undulating country which when you were down amongst the knolls showed all variations of level, and where he who lived on the top of one little mound thought himself in a fine, airy situation as compared with his neighbour down in the close valley, is smoothed down, and brought to one uniform level; and from the hilltop the rolling land is a plateau.

I have heard of a child who, when she was told that the sun was ninety-five millions of miles off, asked if that was from the top or the bottom storey of the house! There is about as much difference between the great men and the little, between heroes and the unknown men, as measured against the distance to God, as there is difference in the distance to the sun from the slates and from the cellar. Let us live near God, and so aspiration will come in the place of satisfaction, and the unattained will gleam before us, and beckon us not in vain, and the man that sees what an infinite stretch there is before him will be delivered from the temptations of self-conceit, and will say, ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfected, but I follow after.’

But there is another advice to be given--cultivate the habit of thinking about other people, their excellences, their claims on you. To be always trying to get a footing in a social grade above our own is a poor effort, but there is a sense in which it is good advice--live with your betters. We can all do that. A man writes a bit of a book, preaches a sermon, makes a speech--all the newspapers pat him on the back, and say what a clever fellow he is. But let him steep his mind and his heart in the great works of the great men, and he finds out what a poor little dwarf he is by the side of them. And so all round the circle. Live with bigger men, not with little ones. And learn to discount--and you may take a very liberal discount off--either the praises or the censures of the people round you. Let us rather say, ‘With me it is a very small matter to be judged of man’s judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord.’

There are plenty of hands, foremost among them a black one that is not

so much a hand as a claw, ready to snatch the girdle of humility off

you! Buckle it tight about you, brother; and in an immovable temper of

lowly estimate of yourself live and work.

II. The second thought here is, What we are to wear the apron or girdle for?

The Revised Version makes a little alteration in the reading as well as in the translation of our text, the previous words to which, in the Authorised Version stand, ‘Yea, all of you be subject one to another.’ There is another reading which strikes out that clause, and adds a portion of it to the first part of my text, which then runs thus: ‘Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility to serve one another.’ That is what Christian humility is for. The slave put on his garment, whatever it was, when he had work to do.

But perhaps there is a deeper thought here. I wonder if it is fanciful to see in the text one of the very numerous allusions in this epistle to the events in our Lord’s Passion. You remember that Jesus laid aside His garments, and took a towel, and girded Himself, and washed the disciples’ feet, and then said, ‘The servant is not above His master. I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.’ Probably, I think, there floated before the memory of the man who had said, ‘Lord, Thou shalt never wash my feet,’ and then, with the swift recoil to the opposite pole which makes us love Him so much, hurried to say, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head’--some reminiscence of that upper chamber, and of how the Master had girded Himself with the slave’s apron, or towel, in order that He might serve the disciples; and then had told them that that was the pattern for all Christian men, and for all Christian living till the very end.

Service coming from humility, and humility manifested in service, are the requirements laid down in the text. Humility is the preparation for service; and service is the test of humility. If a man does not feel himself to be needy and low, he will never be able, and he will never be willing, to help those that are. You must go down if you would lift up. Laces and velvets and the fine feathers that the peacocks of self-conceit in this world strut about in are terribly in the way of Christian work. Rough work needs rough dress; and the only garb in which we shall be able to do the deeds of self-sacrifice that are needed in order to help our brethren is humility, the preparation for all service.

But, further, service is the test of humility. Plenty of people will say, ‘I know that I have nothing to boast of,’ and so forth; but they never do any work. And there is a still more spurious kind of humility, that of a great many professing Christians {I wonder of how many of us} who, when we ask them for any kind of Christian service, say, ‘I do not feel myself at all competent. I am sure I could not take a class in the Sunday School. I do not feel sufficiently master of the subject. I cannot talk. I have no facilities for influencing other people,’ and so on. Too many of us are very humble when there is anything to be done, and never at any other time as far as anybody can see; and that sort of humility the Apostle does not commend. It is unfortunately very frequent amongst professing Christians. Christian humility is not particular about the sort of work it does for Jesus. Never mind whether you are on the quarter-deck, with gold lace on your coat and epaulettes on your shoulders as an officer, or whether you are a cabin-boy doing the humblest duties, or a stoker working away down fifty feet below daylight. As long as the work is done for the great Admiral, that is enough; and whoever does any work for Him will never want for a reward. There are some of us who like to be officers, but do not like carrying a musket in the ranks. Humility is the preparation for service, and service is the test of humility.

III. Lastly, why we should wear this girdle.

There is one reason given in my text, which Peter quotes from the Old Testament. ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.’ That is often true even in regard to outward life. Providence and man often seem to be in league together to lift up the lowly ones and thwart the proud. If a man walks with his head very high, in this low-roofed world, he is pretty sure to get it knocked against the rafters before he has done. But it is the spiritual region that the Apostle is thinking about, in which the one condition of receiving God’s grace is a lowly sense of my own character and nature, which is conscious of sin and weakness, and waits before Him. And the one condition of not receiving any of that grace is to keep a stiff upper lip and a high head. If I think that I am rich, ‘and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,’ that ‘nothing’ is exactly what I shall get from God, and if I have need of everything, and know that I have, that ‘everything’ is what I shall get from Him. ‘He resisteth the proud, and He giveth grace to the humble.’ On the high barren mountain-tops the dew and the rain slide off and find their way down to the lowly valleys, where they run as fertilising rivers. And the man that is humble and of a contrite heart, ‘with that man will I dwell, saith the Lord.’ If we gird ourselves with the slave’s dress of humility, then we shall one day have to say, ‘My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; and He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a bridegroom decketh himself with his ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.’

1 Peter 5:5-7. Likewise, ye younger — Namely, in years, whether ministers or people; submit yourselves unto the elder — To those who are more advanced in years; give them all due respect, and be ready to take their counsel; yea, all of you — Elder or younger; be subject one to another — Endeavour, by mutual condescension, to make each other as easy and comfortable as possible. Perhaps, as in the preceding part of this chapter, the apostle, by elders, means persons holding sacred offices, such as pastors or teachers, he may here use the word in the same sense. If so, the word νεωτεροι, rendered younger, which signifies inferiors of any kind, (Luke 22:26,) and which is opposed to it here, may denote the laity, or people of the churches of Pontus, &c., whom the apostle further exhorts to be subject to one another. And be clothed all over with humility — The word εγκομβωσασθε, here used, is derived from the noun εγκομβωμα, which, Whitby says, was a frock put over the rest of the clothes; and that the apostle’s meaning is, that humility should be visible over all the other Christian graces and virtues in our whole behaviour. For God resisteth — Greek, αντιτασσεται, is set in battle array against the proud — See on James 4:6; and giveth grace to the humble — As humility is the fruit of God’s grace, so it prepares us for receiving larger measures thereof. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God — Which is in all your troubles; that is, receive his corrections with reverence and patient submission, even though wicked men should be made the instruments of them; that he may exalt you — Raise you above your trials, and from that state of depression in which you are; or exalt you to the glory and felicity of heaven; in due time — The time which he knows will be most proper for your exaltation. Casting all your care — Your anxious care, as the word μεριμναν means, in all your wants and pressures; upon him; for he careth for you — With the care which a father exercises toward his children. That is, whatsoever difficulties you meet with, be not solicitous about them, but refer yourselves to God’s providence, either for the removal of them, or support under them.

5:5-9 Humility preserves peace and order in all Christian churches and societies; pride disturbs them. Where God gives grace to be humble, he will give wisdom, faith, and holiness. To be humble, and subject to our reconciled God, will bring greater comfort to the soul than the gratification of pride and ambition. But it is to be in due time; not in thy fancied time, but God's own wisely appointed time. Does he wait, and wilt not thou? What difficulties will not the firm belief of his wisdom, power, and goodness get over! Then be humble under his hand. Cast all you care; personal cares, family cares, cares for the present, and cares for the future, for yourselves, for others, for the church, on God. These are burdensome, and often very sinful, when they arise from unbelief and distrust, when they torture and distract the mind, unfit us for duties, and hinder our delight in the service of God. The remedy is, to cast our care upon God, and leave every event to his wise and gracious disposal. Firm belief that the Divine will and counsels are right, calms the spirit of a man. Truly the godly too often forget this, and fret themselves to no purpose. Refer all to God's disposal. The golden mines of all spiritual comfort and good are wholly his, and the Spirit itself. Then, will he not furnish what is fit for us, if we humbly attend on him, and lay the care of providing for us, upon his wisdom and love? The whole design of Satan is to devour and destroy souls. He always is contriving whom he may insnare to eternal ruin. Our duty plainly is, to be sober; to govern both the outward and the inward man by the rules of temperance. To be vigilant; suspicious of constant danger from this spiritual enemy, watchful and diligent to prevent his designs. Be stedfast, or solid, by faith. A man cannot fight upon a quagmire, there is no standing without firm ground to tread upon; this faith alone furnishes. It lifts the soul to the firm advanced ground of the promises, and fixes it there. The consideration of what others suffer, is proper to encourage us to bear our share in any affliction; and in whatever form Satan assaults us, or by whatever means, we may know that our brethren experience the same.Likewise, ye younger - All younger persons of either sex.

Submit yourselves unto the elder - That is, with the respect due to their age, and to the offices which they sustain. There is here, probably, a particular reference to those who sustained the office of elders or teachers, as the same word is used here which occurs in 1 Peter 5:1. As there was an allusion in that verse, by the use of the word, to age, so there is in this verse to the fact that they sustained an office in the church. The general duty, however, is here implied, as it is everywhere in the Bible, that all suitable respect is to be shown to the aged. Compare Leviticus 19:32; 1 Timothy 5:1; Acts 23:4; 2 Peter 2:9.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another - In your proper ranks and relations. You are not to attempt to lord it over one another, but are to treat each other with deference and respect. See the Ephesians 5:21 note; Philippians 2:3 note.

And be clothed with humility - The word here rendered "be clothed" (ἐγκομβώμαι egkombōmai) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is derived from κόμβος kombos - a strip, string, or loop to fasten a garment; and then the word refers to a garment that was fastened with strings. The word ἐγκόμβωμα engkombōma refers particularly to a long white apron, or outer garment, that was commonly worn by slaves. See Robinson, Lexicon; Passow, Lexicon. There is, therefore, special force in the use of this word here, as denoting an humble mind. They were to be willing to take any place, and to perform any office, however humble, in order to serve and benefit others. They were not to assume a style and dignity of state and authority, as if they would lord it over others, or as if they were better than others; but they were to be willing to occupy any station, however humble, by which they might honor God. It is known that not a few of the early Christians actually sold themselves as slaves, in order that they might preach the gospel to those who were in bondage. The sense here is, they were to put on humility as a garment bound fast to them, as a servant bound fast to him the apron that was significant of his station. Compare Colossians 3:13. It is not unusual in the Scriptures, as well as in other writings, to compare the virtues with articles of apparel; as that with which we are clothed, or in which we are seen by others. Compare Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 59:17.

For God resisteth the proud ... - This passage is quoted from the Greek translation in Proverbs 3:34. See it explained in the notes at James 4:6, where it is also quoted.

5. ye younger—The deacons were originally the younger men, the presbyters older; but subsequently as presbyter expressed the office of Church ruler or teacher, so Greek "neoteros" means not (as literally) young men in age, but subordinate ministers and servants of the Church. So Christ uses the term "younger." For He explains it by "he that doth serve," literally, "he that ministereth as a deacon"; just as He explains "the greatness" by "he that is chief," literally, "he that ruleth," the very word applied to the bishops or presbyters. So "the young men" are undoubtedly the deacons of the Church of Jerusalem, of whom, as being all Hebrews, the Hellenistic Christians subsequently complained as neglecting their Grecian widows, whence arose the appointment of the seven others, Hellenistic deacons. So here, Peter, having exhorted the presbyters, or elders, not to lord it over those committed to them, adds, Likewise ye neoters or younger, that is, subordinate ministers and deacons, submit cheerfully to the command of the elders [Mosheim]. There is no Scripture sanction for "younger" meaning laymen in general (as Alford explains): its use in this sense is probably of later date. The "all of you" that follows, refers to the congregation generally; and it is likely that, like Paul, Peter should notice, previous to the general congregation, the subordinate ministers as well as the presbyters, writing as he did to the same region (Ephesus), and to confirm the teaching of the apostle of the Gentiles.

Yea—to sum up all my exhortations in one.

be subject—omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions, but Tischendorf quotes the Vatican manuscript for it. Then translate, "Gird (1Pe 1:13; 4:1) fast on humility (lowliness of mind) to one another." The verb is literally, "tie on with a fast knot" [Wahl]. Or, "gird on humility as the slave dress (encomboma)": as the Lord girded Himself with a towel to perform a servile office of humility and love, washing His disciples' feet, a scene in which Peter had played an important part, so that he would naturally have it before his mind. Compare similarly 1Pe 5:2 with Joh 21:15-17. Clothing was the original badge of man's sin and shame. Pride caused the need of man's clothing, and pride still reigns in dress; the Christian therefore clothes himself in humility (1Pe 3:3, 4). God provides him with the robe of Christ's righteousness, in order to receive which man must be stripped of pride.

God resisteth the proud—Quoted, as Jas 4:6, from Pr 3:34. Peter had James before his mind, and gives his Epistle inspired sanction. Compare 1Pe 5:9 with Jas 4:7, literally, "arrayeth Himself against." Other sins flee from God: pride alone opposeth itself to God; therefore, God also in turn opposes Himself to the proud [Gerhard in Alford]. Humility is the vessel of all graces [Augustine].

Ye younger; either he means those that were inferior to the church officers, and then he here prescribes the people their duty, as he had done the ministers; or rather, those that were younger in years, and then he passeth from the more special to the general.

Submit yourselves: under subjection, he comprehends all those offices which the younger owe to the elder; as, to reverence them, take their advice, be guided by them, &c. Or, if younger be taken in the former sense, this precept falls in with that of the apostle, Hebrews 13:17.

To the elder: either elders by office, who were likewise usually elders in years, the younger sort being more rarely chosen to be officers; or rather, elder in age.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another; viz. in those mutual duties which they owe to each other, as husbands to wives, parents to children, &c. Those that are superior to others, yet are not so exempt from subjection as not to owe some duty: see Philippians 2:3.

And be clothed with humility; or, wrapt up, or covered, with humility, as with a garment which is put on over other garments; q.d. Adorn yourselves with humility as with a beautiful garment or robe. The metaphor of putting on is frequent, where mention is made of any grace or virtue, Romans 13:12 Ephesians 4:24 Colossians 3:10,12.

Likewise ye younger,.... Not in office, as if inferior officers to bishops were here intended, who ought to be subject to them; for elders and pastors are the same with them, nor is there any other office but that of deacons; nor younger pastors and overseers, such an one as Timothy was; not but that a deference is to be paid, and proper respect had to such who are of greater age, and longer standing and experience, by younger brethren in the ministry; nor such as are only younger in years, who ought to rise up unto, and honour hoary hairs, which may be done where subjection is not required, as here; nor such as are young in grace and experience, since there are little children, young men, and fathers in the church; but all the members of churches in common are here intended, as distinguished from their officers; for as pastors and overseers were, for the most part, chosen from among those that were senior in age, so the members generally consisted of the younger sort; and besides, as it was usual to call chief men and rulers, whether in church or state, fathers, so those that were subjects, the younger; see Luke 21:26. These the apostle exhorts as follows,

submit yourselves unto the elder; not merely in age, but in office, as before; for as he had exhorted the elders to a discharge of their work and office, he proceeds, in the next place, and which is signified by the word "likewise", to stir up the members of the churches to their duty to their elders, or pastors, who had the oversight of them; and that is to "submit" themselves to them, as in Hebrews 13:17, which is done by attending constantly on the word preached by them, and receiving it, so far as it agrees with the Scriptures of truth; and by joining with them in all the ordinances of Christ, and their administrations of them; by being subject to the laws of Christ's house, as put in execution by them; by taking their counsel and advice, regarding and hearkening to their admonitions and reproofs, and taking them in good part, looking upon them, and behaving towards them, as their spiritual guides and governors. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "to your elders"; such as were particularly set over them in the Lord, and had taken the care of them, for to no others are they obliged to submit themselves.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another; that is, all the members of the churches should not only submit themselves to their pastors, but to their fellow members, as in Ephesians 5:21, they should submit to the superior judgments of one another, esteeming each other better than themselves, and not be tenacious of their own way of thinking and judging of things; yea, condescend to men of low estates and weaker minds, bear the infirmities of the weak, and take all admonitions and reproofs given in a friendly manner kindly; and cheerfully perform all offices of love, and by it serve one another in things temporal and spiritual; doing the meanest services for the good of each other, such as washing the feet of one another, in imitation of their Lord and master.

And be clothed with humility; without which there will be no subjection, either to the elders, or one another. This is a grace which shows itself in a man's thinking and speaking the best of others, and the worst of himself; in not affecting places and titles of eminence; in being content with the lowest place, and patiently bearing the greatest contempt; in not aspiring to things too high for him, always acknowledging his own meanness, baseness, and unworthiness, ascribing all he is, and has, to the grace and goodness of God, whether it be gifts of nature, providence, or grace: and this is a believer's clothing, not the robe of his justifying righteousness before God, but is a considerable part of his inward garment of sanctification, which is in the sight of God of great price; and makes a large show in his outward conversation garments before men, and renders him lovely and amiable: it is an ornament to him, which is precious with God, and recommends him to the esteem of men, and the religion and Gospel he professes, and his profession of it. Some think there is a metaphor in the words, taken from knots of ribbons, and such like things, wore by women on their heads, or breasts, for ornament; and that the apostle's advice to the saints is, that their breast knot, or ornament, should be humility. Others think it is taken from a sort of badge which servants wore over their garments, by which they were distinguished; and so saints are directed to put on this badge, by which they may be known to be the servants of Christ: the former seems more agreeable: but as the word signifies to bind, or fasten anything, by tying of knots, it may denote the retaining of this grace in constant exercise, so as never to be without it; and to be clothed or covered with it, is always to have it on, and in exercise, in every action of life, in all our deportment before God and men, in all public and religious worship, and throughout the whole of our conversation, in the family, in the world, or in the church. The phrase seems to be Jewish, and is to be met with in the writings of the Jews. It is said (a),

"he that has fear, , "and is clothed with humility"; humility is the most excellent, and is comprehended in all, as it is said, Proverbs 22:4. He who has the fear of God is worthy of humility, and everyone that hath humility is worthy of kindness or holiness.''

And it is a saying of R. Meir (b),

"he that loves God loves men; he that makes God glad makes men glad; and it (the law) , "clothes him with humility and fear".''

For he resisteth the proud; or "scorneth the scorners", as it is in Proverbs 3:34, from whence these words are taken: the Lord treats them as they treat others; as they despise all other men and things, he despises them; he is above them, in that they have dealt proudly, and has them in derision; he eludes all their artifices, and frustrates their schemes, and disappoints their ambitious views, and scatters them in the imagination of their hearts, and brings their counsels to confusion, and opposes himself to them, and as their adversary; and a dreadful thing it is for persons to have God stand up against them, and resist them. This is a reason dissuading from pride, and exciting to humility, as is also what follows: and giveth grace to the humble; that is, more grace; see James 4:6. The first grace cannot be intended, for no man is truly humble before he has received the grace of God, it is that which makes him so; or it may design larger gifts of grace, which God bestows on those who acknowledge him to be the author and giver of what they have, and who make a proper use of them to his glory; when he takes away from the vain and ostentatious that which to themselves and others they seemed to have. Moreover, God grants his gracious presence to such as are of an humble, and of a contrite spirit; and at last he gives them glory, which is a free grace gift, and the perfection of grace; the poor in spirit, or humble souls, have both a right and meetness for, and shall enjoy the kingdom of heaven.

(a) Zohar in Numb. fol. 60. 3.((b) Pirke Abot, c. 6. sect. 1.

{8} Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: {9} for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

(8) He commends many peculiar Christian virtues, and especially modesty: an admonition all of us need, but especially the younger ones by reason of the perverseness and pride of that age.

(9) Because pride seems to many to be the way to the glory of this life, the apostle testifies to the opposite, that dishonour and shame is the reward of pride, and glory the reward of modesty.

1 Peter 5:5. ὁμοίως] cf. chap. 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:7; here also ὁμοίως is not a mere particle of transition (Pott). The exhortation to humility, expressed in this verse, corresponds to those addressed to the elders, wherein they are admonished to submit themselves to the duties of their office with humility, and without seeking their own advantage.

νεώτεροι ὑποτάγητε πρεσβυτέροις] Who are these νεώτεροι? Certainly not the whole of the members of the congregation (in contrast to the elders), as Beda, Estius, Pott, Wiesinger, etc., assume, but either the younger members generally, or such of them as were employed in many ministrations, suitable neither for the elders nor the deacons. The first assumption (Luther, Calvin, Aretius, Gerhard, etc.) is opposed by the circumstance that πρεσβυτέροις here seems to have the same official signification as above in 1 Peter 5:1 ff. If this be so, then it is plainly inconsistent to take the expression νεώτεροι, as specifying only a particular time of life. The second (Weiss, p. 344 ff., Schott, Brückner), founded chiefly on Acts 5:6; Acts 5:10, is contradicted by the fact, that there is no historical testimony for the existence of an office, such as it takes for granted. If νεώτεροι indicate only a particular time of life, then the like may be said of the accompanying πρεσβυτέροις. The difficulty which arises from the same name being employed first as an official title, and then to denote a particular age, is solved, in a measure at least, by supposing that since the word contained both references, the apostle might, as he proceeded in his exhortation, lose sight of the one in the other.[272]

The special exhortation is followed by the general: ΠΆΝΤΕς ΔῈ ἈΛΛΉΛΟΙς] If ὙΠΟΤΑΣΣΌΜΕΝΟΙ is to be erased after ἈΛΛΉΛΟΙς, the words may then be taken either with what precedes (Lach. gr. Ausg., Buttmann, Hofmann) or with what follows. In the first case there is something fragmentary in the structure of the clause, while the second, adopted by almost all commentators (formerly also in this commentary), is opposed by the dative ἀλλήλοις, which is too easily passed over with the remark that it is the dative of reference, equivalent to: “for each other,” or “with reference to each other.” All the passages which Winer (p. 202 [E. T. 270]) brings forward to prove that the dative is used of everything with reference to which anything takes place, are of a different nature. ΠΆΝΤΕς denotes the whole of the members of the church without distinction.

ΤῊΝ ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡΟΣΎΝΗΝ ἘΓΚΟΜΒΏΣΑΣΘΕ] In interpreting the word ἘΓΚΟΜΒΏΣΑΣΘΕ, commentators have not unfrequently, but erroneously, started from the meaning of the substantive ἘΓΚΌΜΒΩΜΑ,[273] understanding (certainly without justification) it to signify “a beautiful dress,” and rendering: “adorn yourselves with humility;” thus Calvin, etc.; or else, whilst correctly explaining the word as the apron worn by slaves, they find in the verb itself the reference to humility in behaviour; thus Grotius, Hornejus, Steiger, de Wette, etc.[274]

Rather, however, must that sense of the verb be retained which is to be had by deriving it from κόμβος, “a band:” “to tie on, or fasten anything by means of a κόμβος, i.e. a band.” Since, now, it is used for the most part of the fastening of a garment, it lies to hand to take the expression here as having the same sense with ἐνδύεσθαι (cf. Colossians 3:12), yet so that the idea of making fast is more strongly brought out in the former than in the latter: “to clothe oneself firmly, wrap oneself round with ταπεινοφρ;” Bengel: induite vos et involvite, ut amictus humilitatis nulla vi vobis detrahi possit (thus also Wiesinger, Schott). Other interpreters hold by the one or the other meaning only, i.e. either by that of clothing (Oecumenius: ἐνειλήσασθε καὶ περιβάλλεσθε) or that of making fast (Luther: “hold fast by humility;” Erasmus: humilitatem vobis fixam habete). Similar exhortations to humility towards one another: Ephesians 4:2; Php 2:3; Romans 12:16. The exhortation is strengthened by the quotation of the Old Testament passage, Proverbs 3:34, after the LXX., where, however, κύριος stands instead of ὁ Θεός. The same quotation is to be found in Jam 4:6, where, as here, there is first of all the injunction to submit to God, and then that to resist the devil; cf. also Luke 1:51.

[272] The view that πρεσβυτέροις indicates an office, but νεώτεροι a time of life (de Wette), is opposed by the circumstance that “it remains incomprehensible why the exhortation, which is surely meant to apply to the whole church, should be addressed to the younger members only” (Hofmann).

[273] Steph. s.v. ἐγκομβόω: illigo, involvo; Hesych. enim ἐγκομβωθείς exponit δεθείς et ἐγκεκόμβωται affert pro ἑνείληται.

Ἐγκόμβωμα vestimenti genus est; sctibit enim Poll. 4, 119, τῇ δὲ τῶν δούλων ἐξωμίδι προσκεῖσθαι καὶ ἱματίδιόν τι λευκόν, quod ἐγκόμβωμα s. ἐπίβλημα nominari.

[274] Hofmann holds by this reference (although he does not derive the meaning of the verb from that of the substantive). He says that the verb, of itself, has that sense, since he who prepared himself for the duties of a servant girded himself with a garment fastened by means of a band. This conclusion would be established if ἐγκομβοῦν were used only of the putting on of a slave’s apron, which, however, is not the case.

1 Peter 5:5. νεώτεροι, the younger members of each Church were perhaps more or less formally banded together on the model of the σύνοδοι τῶν νέων, which are mentioned in inscriptions as existing distinct from the Ephebi in Greek cities, especially in Asia Minor (Ziebarth Die Griechische Vereine, 111–115). Compare the modern Guilds and Associations of Young Men. In 1 Timothy 4:1, these natural divisions of elders and youngers are also recognised.—πάντες δὲ … Elders must serve; youngers submit. May all be lowly-minded towards one another—there is no need to add detailed commands.—ἐγκομβώσασθε is explained by Oecumenius as ἐνειλήσασθε περιβάλεσθε (wrap yourselves in, put round you), so the command corresponds to ἐνδύσασθεταπεινοφροσύνην of Colossians 3:12. But the choice of this unique word must have some justification in associations which can only be reconstructed by conjecture. The lexicographers (Hesychius, Sindas, etc.) give κόμβος κόσυμβος and ἐγκόμβωμα as synonyms. Pollux explains ἐγκομβ. as the apron worn by slaves to protect their tunic; so Longus, Pastoralia, ii. 35 f., in “casting his apron, naked he started to run like a fawn”. Photius (Epistle 156) takes George Metropolitan of Nicomedia to task for his suggestion that it was a barbarous word: “You ought to have remembered Epicharmus and Apollodoru … the former uses it frequently and the latter in the ‘Runaway’ (a comedy) says τὴν ἐπωμίαν πτύξασα διπλῆν ἄνωθεν ἀνεκομβωσάμην.” But the LXX of Isaiah 3:18 has τοὺς κοσύμβους = front-bands and Symmachus τὰ ἐγκομβώματα in Isaiah 3:20 for bands or sashes. Peter is therefore probably indebted again to this passage and says gird yourselves with the humility which is the proper ornament of women. If the word be taken in this sense a reference to John 13:4 ff., Taking a napkin He girded Himself, may be reasonably assumed—θεὸςχάριν = Proverbs 3:34, LXX (θεός being put for κύριος, which to a Christian reader meant Christ); the Hebrew text gives scoffers he scoffs at but to the humble he shows favour. The same quotation is employed in similar context by St. James (1 Peter 4:6); the devil (see below) is the typical scoffer.

5. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder] The question meets us, whether the words refer to age only, or to office as connected with age. In either case we have, of course, a perfectly adequate meaning. In favour of the latter view we have the facts (1) that in Luke 22:26, “he that is younger” in the first clause corresponds to “he that serveth” or “ministereth” in the second; (2) that in Acts 5:6 the term is obviously used of those who were discharging duties like those of the later deacons, sub-deacons or acolytes; (3) that it is hardly likely that the same writer would have used the word “elder” in two different senses in such close juxtaposition. On the whole, therefore, there seems sufficient reason for adopting this view. St Paul’s use of the term, however, in the precepts of 1 Timothy 5:1, Titus 2:6 is, perhaps, in favour of the other.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another] The words which answer to “be subject” are wanting in some of the best MSS. and have the character of an insertion made to complete the sense. If we omit the participle, the words “all of you, one to another” may be taken either with the clause that precedes or with that which follows.

be clothed with humility] The Greek verb (ἐγκομβώσασθε) for “clothe yourselves” has a somewhat interesting history. The noun from which it is derived (κόμβος) signifies a “knot.” Hence the verb means “to tie on with a knot,” and from the verb another noun is formed (ἐγκομβῶμα), denoting a garment so tied on. This, according to its quality, might be the outer “over-all” cloak of slaves, or the costly mantle of princes. The word may have well been chosen for the sake of some of the associations which this its history suggests. Men were to clothe themselves with lowliness of mind, to fasten it tight round them like a garment, so that it might never fall away (comp. the same thought as applied to hatred in Psalm 109:17-18), and this was to be worn, as it were, over all other virtues, half-concealing, half-sheltering them. It might present, from one point of view, the aspect of servitude. It was, in reality, a raiment more glorious than that of kings (Acts 12:21), or those who live in kings’ houses (Matthew 11:8). In the case of slaves, probably in all cases, the garment so named was white. (Poll. Onomast. 4:119.) This also probably was not without a suggestive significance. In Colossians 3:12 we have, though not the word, a thought very closely parallel.

for God resisteth the proud] We have here another passage quoted from the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:34, from the LXX. version with “God” substituted for “the Lord”) without the formula of quotation. It is interesting (1) as taking its place in the list of passages from the Book of Proverbs, which St Peter quotes both in the First and Second Epistles; and (2) as being quoted also by St James (James 4:6). The parallelism which we have already traced between the two writers (see notes on chap. 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 1:24) makes it probable that St Peter may have derived his quotation from his brother Apostle of the circumcision. In James 4:6 the promise is cited with more special reference to the grace which gives men strength for the combat against evil, here in its wider and more general aspect.

1 Peter 5:5. Ὁμοίως, in like manner) The foundation of the exhortation which precedes and follows is humility.—ἀλλήλοις, one to another) even without regard to age.—ἐγκομβώσασθε, put on) Κόμβος, a knot, or band, by which the slaves were fastened, especially in the dress of slaves. Hesychius: κομβώσασθαι, στολίσαθαι, to put on a dress; and ἐγκομβωθεὶς, δεθείς, bound; and ἐγκεκόμβωται, ἐνείληται, he is wrapped up in.[41] Therefore ἘΓΚΟΜΒΏΣΑΣΘΕ is, put on and wrap yourselves up in: so that the covering of humility cannot be stripped off from you by any force.—ὁ Θεὸς, God) See Jam 4:6, note.

[41] Thus Horace:—“Virtute me involvo.”—T.

Verse 5. - Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Is St. Peter still using the last word in its official sense? or is he passing to its ordinary meaning? It seems impossible to answer the question with certainty. Some think that the word νεώτεροι, younger, had also acquired an official meaning, and that it is used here, and in Acts 5:6 of assistant-ministers who were employed to help the presbyters and apostles. Others think that it had a meaning nearly equivalent to our "laity" as distinguished from the presbyters. But, on the whole, it seems more natural to suppose that the word "elder," when once used, led St. Peter on from one meaning to another, and that here he is simply speaking of the respect due to age (comp. 1 Timothy 5:1). Yea, all of you be subject one to another. The word ὑποτασσόμενοι, rendered "be subject," is omitted in the most ancient manuscripts. If their reading is adopted, the dative, ἀλλήλοις, "one to another," may be taken either with the previous clause," Submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you, to one another;" or with that which follows, "Be clothed with humility one towards another." And be clothed with humility. The word rendered "be clothed" ἐγκοβώσασθε occurs here only, and is a remarkable word. It is derived from κόμβος, a knot or band; the corresponding noun. ἐγκόμβωμα, was the name of an apron worn by slaves, which was tied round them when at work, to keep their dress clean. The word seems to teach that humility is a garment which must be firmly fastened on and bound closely round us. The association of the slave's apron seems also to suggest that Christians should be ready to submit to the humblest works of charity for others, and to point back to the lowliness of the Lord Jesus, when he girded himself, and washed the feet of his apostles (John 13:4). It may be noticed that the Greek word for "humility" ταπεινοφροσύνη is used only by St. Paul, except in this place. For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. St. Peter is quoting from the Septuagint Version of Proverbs 3:34, without marks of quotation, as in other places. St. James quotes the same passage (James 4:6), and with the same variation, substituting "God" for "Lord," as St. Peter does. The Greek word for "resisteth ἀντιτάσσεται is a strong one: God rangeth himself as with an army against the haughty. 1 Peter 5:5Be clothed with humility (τὴν ταπεινοφροσύνην ἐγκομβώσασθε)

The last word is a very peculiar one, occurring only here. It is derived from κόμβος, a roll, band, or girth: a knot or roll of cloth, made in tying or tucking up any part of the dress. The kindred word ἐγκόμβωμα, from which the verb is directly formed, means a slave's apron, under which the loose garments were girt up. Compare Horace's "puer alte cinctus," a slave girt high. Hence the figure carries an exhortation to put on humility as a working virtue employed in ministry. This is apparent from the evident reminiscence of that scene in which Peter figured so prominently - the washing of the disciples' feet by the Lord, when he girded himself with a towel as a servant, and gave them the lesson of ministry both by word and act. Bengel paraphrases, "Put on and wrap yourselves about with humility, so that the covering of humility cannot possibly be stripped from you."

Resisteth (ἀντιτάσσεται)

A strong and graphic word. Lit., setteth himself in array against, as one draws out a host for battle. Pride calls out God's armies. No wonder, therefore, that it "goeth before destruction."

The proud (ὑπερηφάνοις)

See on pride, Mark 7:22. Compare James 4:6.

To the humble

See on Matthew 11:29.

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