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:1 Peter 5:1. The elders which are among you I exhort — This was a name of office belonging to those who were appointed to feed and oversee the flock of Christ. They are indifferently called bishops, pastors, or rulers. The apostle addresses them here particularly, because the knowledge and good behaviour of the people depend, in a great measure, upon the kind of instruction which they receive from their teachers, and upon the care which their teachers take of them: who am also an elder — Or rather, a fellow- elder, as συμπρεσβυτερος signifies. So Peter, the first, and one of the chief, though not the head, of the apostles, appositely and modestly styles himself. Commentators justly observe, that if Peter had been the prince of the apostles, as the Papists affirm, he would in this place, and in the inscription of his two epistles, certainly have assumed to himself that high prerogative. And a witness of the sufferings of Christ — Having seen him suffer, and now suffering with him. “One of the purposes for which Christ chose twelve of his disciples to be with him always was, that, having heard his discourses, and seen his miracles and sufferings, they might be able to testify these things to the world as what they themselves heard and saw. Wherefore μαρτυς, a witness, in this passage, signifies not only one who was present at a transaction, but who testifies it to others.” These two circumstances of Peter’s being a fellow-elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, are mentioned by him to give weight to his exhortation. And also a partaker — That is, hoping to be a partaker; of the glory that shall be revealed — When he shall appear the second time, in circumstances so different from those in which he appeared before; a glory which shall be bestowed on all faithful pastors, in different degrees; yea, and on all his genuine followers.
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;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.”
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.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.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
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.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.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:1 Peter 5:8-9. Be sober — See on 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Keep your appetites and passions under proper restraint and government, or awake, as υηψανε also signifies; namely, to a deep sense of the certainty and importance of things invisible and eternal; be vigilant — Watchful against the subtle and malicious designs of your spiritual enemies. As if he had said, Awake, and keep awake; sleep no more; be this your care, white you cast your temporal and anxious cares on God. How deeply had Peter himself suffered for want of the wakeful vigilance which he here recommends! Because your grand adversary, the devil, full of rage, as a roaring lion — Fierce and hungry, walketh about — Watching for an opportunity to insnare and destroy you; seeking — With all subtlety likewise, whom he may assault with the greatest likelihood of success, and devour — Swallow up both soul and body. This manner of speaking strongly expresses the insatiable rage of this enemy of mankind to hinder their salvation, and the danger we are in from his devices and snares. He sometimes attacks the people of God in person, though not visibly, and sometimes by his ministers, the other evil spirits who are in league with him; and sometimes by wicked men, his subjects, whom he instigates to tempt them by the terror of persecution. This account of the devil’s malice is given with great propriety by Peter, to whom our Lord had said, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee. Whom resist — As you regard your safety and life, be careful to oppose him in all his assaults; steadfast in the faith — Firmly believing the truths and promises of the gospel, and adhering constantly to, and confiding in Christ, in whom all these truths and promises are yea and amen. To show the efficacy of faith, in enabling us to resist temptation, St. Paul calls it a shield, (Ephesians 6:16,) wherewith the fiery darts of the wicked one may be quenched; knowing that the trials with which you are exercised are not peculiar to you, but that the same afflictions which you are called to sustain are accomplished in — That is, suffered by; your brethren that are in the world — Till the measure allotted them is filled up, and you may reasonably hope that the same grace which is their support will be also yours.
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.1 Peter 5:10. The God of all grace — Of all mercy, compassion, and free, unmerited goodness; and the source of all those influences of the Holy Spirit, by which alone true spiritual light and life, peace, purity, and consolation, can be attained; who hath called — Invited; us unto his eternal glory — And not merely to behold, but to possess it; and hath sent us the invitation by Christ Jesus — His Word made flesh; that is, not only through him, as Mediator, who hath procured the inestimable blessing for us by his obedience unto death, but by him as a Divine Messenger, the greatest that ever appeared among men, confirming and enforcing his message by a most holy life, by extreme sufferings, by mighty miracles, by an ignominious, painful death, and a most glorious resurrection. After that ye have suffered a while — Such trials as his infinite wisdom shall see fit to appoint. Observe, reader, sufferings must precede glory! See 1 Peter 2:19; 1 Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 4:12; Romans 8:17; Romans 8:35; 2 Timothy 2:12. But it is only a while the disciples of Christ are called to suffer; a very short while compared with eternity. Or St. Peter may use the word ολιγον, here rendered a while, and which means a little, in respect of the degree as well as of the duration of suffering; for, compared with the joys of heaven, the sufferings of this life are light as well as momentary, 2 Corinthians 4:17. Make you perfect — That no defect may remain in your Christian knowledge, experience, or practice. See on Hebrews 13:21. Stablish — That nothing may overthrow your faith or hope, damp the flame of your love, or interrupt the constancy of your obedience; strengthen — That ye may conquer all your enemies, and may do, be conformed to, and suffer the will of God to the end; and settle you — As a house upon a rock. Or, inverting the order of the words, and taking the last particular first, as preparatory to the others, (which the sense of the several expressions seems to require, according to the usual progress of the work of grace in the hearts of believers,) the meaning will be, 1st, May he place you on your foundation, (so the word θεμελιωσαι, here rendered settle you, properly signifies,) even on the foundation which God hath laid in Zion, (1 Corinthians 3:11,) Christ Jesus, or on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, (Ephesians 2:20,) namely, the fundamental doctrines attested by them. 2d, May he strengthen you, that no power of earth or hell may move you from that foundation. In consequence of this, 3d, May he establish you in his truth and grace, in faith, hope, love, and new obedience, that you may be steadfast and immoveable in your adherence to the doctrines, your possession of the graces and privileges, and your performance of the duties of your holy calling. And in this way, 4th, May he make you perfect, or complete Christians, lacking nothing, destitute of no grace or virtue, and possessing every one in a mature state, a state of meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. Thus the apostle, being converted, does now strengthen his brethren.
To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.1 Peter 5:12. By Silvanus — The person probably of that name, whom St. Paul united with himself in writing the epistles to the Thessalonians, namely, Silas, who (Acts 15:22) is called a chief man among the brethren, and a prophet, Acts 15:32. Being Paul’s constant companion in travel after the defection of John Mark, he, no doubt, assisted in planting churches in Galatia, and the other countries of the Lesser Asia, mentioned chap. 1 Peter 1:1. So being well known to the brethren in those parts, he was a fit person to carry this letter to them from St. Peter; to whom, probably, after Paul’s death, he had attached himself as an assistant. A faithful brother, as I suppose — As I judge upon good grounds, though not by immediate inspiration; I have written briefly — Δι ολιγων, in few words; exhorting and testifying — Or adding my testimony, as επιμαρτυρων signifies; namely, to that which they had before heard from Paul; that this is the true grace of God — The true and only doctrine proceeding from the grace of God, and wherein the grace of God is offered and bestowed upon all penitent believers; and therefore earnestly exhorting you to attend to and seriously consider it.
The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.1 Peter 5:13-14. The church that is at Babylon saluteth you — See the preface. The word church is not in the original, but it is supplied in the Syriac, Vulgate, and other ancient versions, and by Œcumenius. Probably, as Beza observes, Peter omitted it as being a word of common use, which, in such a connection, would be easily supplied in the reader’s mind. There being many Jews remaining in Babylon, and in the country adjacent, ever since the captivity, and Peter being the apostle of the Jews, it is likely he went thither to preach the gospel to them, and so planted a church among them. Elected together with you — Συνεκλεκτη, co-elect, that is, a branch of God’s chosen people, as all true believers are. See on 1 Peter 1:2. And Marcus my son — So he calls him, because he had been converted by his ministry. With the family, of which he was a member, Peter was well acquainted, as may be gathered from his going immediately to the house of Mary, Mark’s mother, after he was miraculously brought out of prison by the angel, Acts 12:12. See more concerning him, Acts 13:5; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11. It is believed by many that he was the author of the gospel called by his name; this, however, is not certain. See the preface to that gospel.
Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.