Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:'Chap. 5:1-11.] Last hortatory portion of the Epistle; in which the word ending the former portion, ἀγαθοποιΐᾳ, is taken up and spread over various classes among the readers: thus vv. 1-4, he exhorts the leaders of the church; ver. 5, the younger members (see note there); vv. 6-9, all in common. Then, vv. 10, 11, follows his general parting wish and ascription of praise to God.
1.] Elders therefore among you I exhort (any who are in the situation of πρεσβύτεροι, anarthrous: the omission of τούς after πρεσβ. is not surprising in St. Peter’s style, but has apparently led to the insertion of the art. by those who did not advert to this peculiarity. The designation here is evidently an official one (ver. 2), but at the same time reference to age is included: cf. νεώτεροι, ver. 5. The οὖν takes up the above exhortation, ch. 4:19) who am a fellow-elder (with you: “Hortatio mutua inter æquales et collegas inprimis valet,” Beng.), and witness of the sufferings of Christ (μάρτυς, not in the sense of Acts 1:8, Acts 1:22, Acts 1:2:32, Acts 1:10:39, al. (De Wette, al.),—a witness to testify to by words,—nor as Hebrews 12:1; Acts 22:20; Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:17:6, a witness, in bearing about in his own person (Luth., Calv., Huther),—nor both of these together (“Petrus et viderat ipsum Dominum patientem, et nunc passiones sustinebat,” Bengel);—but in the sense of an eye-witness, on the ground of which his apostolic testimony rested: q. d. I who say to you χριστὸς ἔπαθεν σαρκί, say this of sufferings which my own eyes saw. Thus this clause links on the following exhortation to the preceding portion of the Epistle concerning Christian suffering, and tends to justify the οὖν. Observe that it is not ὁ καὶ μάρτυς, but συμπρεσβ. κ. μάρτυς are under the same art.: q. d. “the one among the συμπρεσβύτεροι who witnessed the sufferings of Christ”), who am also a partaker of the glory which is about to be revealed (I prefer to take this as an allusion to our Lord’s own words John 13:36, ὕστερον ἀκολουθήσεις μοι, rather than regard it as alluding to the Transfiguration, as some (e. g. Dr. Burton), or to the certainty that those who suffer with Him will be glorified with Him (see above on this view of μάρτυς). As bearing that promise, he came to them with great weight of authority as an exhorter—having seen the sufferings of which he speaks, and being himself an heir of that glory to which he points onwards),—
2.] tend ([or keep] the aor. stronger than the pres. in the imperative: gathering together the whole ποιμαίνειν into one ποίμαναι as the act of the life) the flock (compare the injunction given to St. Peter himself in John 21:16, ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου. “Quam ergo ovium pascendarum curam a Christo sibi noverat commendatam, in ejus societatem presbyteros vocat,” Gerhard. The verb includes in one word the various offices of a shepherd; the leading, feeding, heeding: “pasce mente, pasce ore, pasce opere, pasce animi oratione, verbi exhortatione, exempli exhibitione,” Bernard, in Wiesinger. Our only, but not sufficient, word is, ‘tending’) of God (cf. Acts 20:28. The similitude is among the commonest in Scripture: cf. Jeremiah 3:15, 23:Jeremiah 3:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2 ff.; John 10:11 ff.) which is among you (τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν is taken by Erasm. and Calvin to mean “quantum in vobis est:” and no doubt this is possible; yet it sounds more Latin than Greek, which would rather perhaps be τὸ καθʼ ὑμᾶς, or τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν, as Wies. observes. But the sense is the greatest objection: “Petrus noverat sibi a Christo non esse dictum, pasce quantum in te est, oves meas, sed absolute et simpliciter, pasce,” as Gerhard. And the ἐν ὑμῖν above seems decisive against this meaning. But even then we find various renderings: as “vobis pro vestra parte commissum,” Bengel, as εἶναι or κεῖσθαι ἔν τινι, and so Luther (die Heerde, so euch befohlen ist), Steiger, al.: Huther says, ἐν signifies here, as elsewhere also, inner communion, not merely local presence: “the flock which is under your charge.” Gerhard gives “qui vobiscum est, videlicet cum quo unum corpus, una ecclesia estis,” to which I do not see that Huther has any right to object, as he does. But the mere local meaning is by far the best. He orders them to feed the flock of God, not generally, nor œcumenically, but locally, as far as concerned that part of it found among them) [, overseeing (it) (the word ἐπισκοποῦντες, which tallies very much with St. Peter’s participial style, has perhaps been removed for ecclesiastical reasons, for fear πρεσβύτεροι should be supposed to be, as they really were, ἐπίσκοποι: “ipsum episcopatus nomen et officium exprimere voluit,” Calv.)] not constrainedly (‘coacte:’ as Bengel, “necessitas incumbit, 1Corinthians 9:16, sed hujus sensum absorbet lubentia. Id valet et in suscipiendo et in gerendo munere. Non sine reprehensione sunt pastores qui, si res integra esset, mallent quidvis potius esse:” , “Coacte pascit gregem Dei, qui propter rerum temporalium penuriam non habens unde vivat, idcirco prædicat Evangelium ut de Evangelio vivere possit.” And then, as Calv., “Dum agimus ad necessitatis præscriptum, lente et frigide in opere progredimur”) but willingly (not exactly, as Bede, “supernæ mercedis intuitu,” but out of love to the great Shepherd, and to the flock. The addition in al., κατὰ θεόν, is curious, and not easily accounted for. It certainly does not, as Huther says, clear up the thought, but rather obscures it. The expression is seldom found; and never in the sense here required. Cf. Romans 8:27; 2Corinthians 7:9 ff.), nor yet (μηδέ brings in a climax each time) with a view to base gain (“propter quæstum et terrena commoda,” as Bede. Cf. Isaiah 56:11; Jeremiah 6:13, Jeremiah 6:8:10; Ezekiel 34:2, Ezekiel 34:3, &c.; and Titus 1:7) but earnestly (as 2Corinthians 12:14 (cf. προθυμία, 2Corinthians 8:11, 2Corinthians 9:2), prompted by a desire not of gain, but of good to the flock;—ready and enthusiastic, as (the illustration is Bede’s) the children of Israel, and even the workmen, gave their services eagerly and gratuitously to build the tabernacle of old):
3.] nor yet as lording it over (the κατα as in reff. and in καταδυναστεύω James 2:6, κατακαυχάομαι Romans 11:18, James 2:13, καταμαρτυρέω Matthew 26:62, carries the idea of hostility, and therefore, when joined with κυριεύω, of oppression; of using the rights of a κύριος for the diminution of the ruled and the exaltation of self. Christian rulers of the church are προϊστάμενοι (1Thessalonians 5:12; Romans 12:8), ἡγούμενοι (Luke 22:26), but not κυριεύοντες (Luke 22:25, Luke 22:26). One is their κύριος, and they are His διάκονοι) the portions (entrusted to you) (so is κλῆρος understood by (not Cyril, as commonly cited: see below) Bede apparently, Erasm. (“gregem qui cuique forte contigit gubernandus”), Estius (“gregis Dominici portiones, quæ singulis episcopis pascendæ et regendæ velut sortito obtigerunt.”), Calov., Bengel, Wolf, Steiger, De Wette, Huther, Wiesinger, al. And so Theophanes, Homil. xii. p. 70 (in Suicer), addresses his hearers, ἡμεῖς δέ, ὦ κλῆρος ἐμός: cf. also Acts 17:4 (of which I do not see why De Wette should say that it has nothing to do with the present consideration). On the other hand, 2. ‘the heritage of God’ is taken as the meaning by Cyril (on Isaiah 3:12 (vol. iii. p. 63), not 1:6, as commonly cited by all, copying one from another. But the passage is not satisfactory. In the Latin, we read “non ut dominentur in clero, id est, populo qui sors Domini est:” but the words in italics have no representatives in the Greek, which simply quotes this verse without comment), Calv. (“quum universum ecclesiæ corpus hæreditas sit domini, totidem sunt veluti prædia, quorum culturam singulis presbyteris assignat”), Beza (and consequently E. V.), Grot., Benson, al. But the objections to this are, that κλῆροι could not be taken for portions of κλῆρος,—and that θεοῦ could in this case hardly be wanting. Again, 3. some, principally R.-Cath. expositors, have anachronistically supposed κλῆροι to mean the clergy: so even Œc.,—κλῆρον τὸ ἱερὸν σύστημα καλεῖ, ὥσπερ καὶ νῦν ἡμεῖς, and , Epist. ad Nepot. (Lev_7, vol. i. p. 262): so Corn. a-Lap. (“jubet ergo S. Petrus Episcopis et Pastoribus, ne inferioribus clericis imperiose dominari velint”), Justiniani (doubtfully: “sive P. de fideli populo universo, sive de ordine ecclesiastico loquatur”), Feuardentius, Rev_4. Dodwell understood it of the church-goods: which view has nothing to recommend it, and is refuted by Wolf, Curæ, h. l. That the first meaning is the right one, is decided by τοῦ ποιμνίου below: see there), but becoming (it is well, where it can be done, to keep the distinctive meaning of γίνομαι. This more frequently happens in affirmative than in negative sentences: cf. μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός, John 20:27, where this distinctive meaning can be well brought out in the latter clause, but not in the former) patterns of the flock (the tyrannizing could only apply to the portion over which their authority extended, but the good example would be seen and followed by the whole church: hence τῶν κλήρων in the prohibition, but τοῦ ποιμνίου in the exhortation. τύποι, because the flock will look to you: “pastor ante oves vadit.” Gerh. The Commentators quote from Bernard, “Monstrosa res est gradus summus et animus infimus, sedes prima et vita ima, lingua magniloqua et vita otiosa, sermo multus et fructus nullus:” and from Gregory the Great, “Informis est vita pastoris, qui modo calicem Domini signat, modo talos agitat: qui in avibus cœli ludit, canes instigat,” &c.