Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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:St. Andrew's Day
1 Peter 5:4
St. Andrew's Day has been set apart by the authorities of our Church for the consideration of the great subject of Foreign Missions, and I desire to bring it before you in the light of the Second Advent, for tomorrow, as you know, is Advent Sunday. 'When the Chief Shepherd shall appear.' As I hear that message it tells me three things.
I. There is a Chief Shepherd.—First it tells me that there is a Chief Shepherd. As we think of our great cities and of the millions of souls living in them, some of them so sad, so lonely, so tempted, it should be everything to us to know that there is a Chief Shepherd Who knows and cares for every one of them; that even those whom we cannot reach ourselves, He knows and tries to protect and care for. When, again, we think of the 800,000,000 of heathen and 180,000,000 of Mohammedans, it is everything to know that this world is not left to itself. There is a Chief Shepherd, and the claim which He makes is ringing unto the ends of the earth. 'All souls are Mine,' saith the Lord of Hosts, 'all souls are Mine'.
II. The Chief Shepherd is Near.—And then, secondly, this message tells us that the Chief Shepherd is near. When you read your New Testament in the Revised Version you will find that all those passages which speak of His appearing are translated when He is 'manifested,' and the old idea, founded I suppose on the parable of the man who went into a far country, that Jesus is a long way off somewhere is shown by those passages to be entirely erroneous. He is in the midst of us. There is one standing in our midst Whom we see not but Who is close by, and the word 'manifested' means that at the Second Advent the veil will be taken from our eyes at a flash and we shall see Him Who is in the midst of us all the time. It is as if we came into this Church blindfolded, and suddenly, in a flash, the bandage is taken from our eyes and we see the Chief Shepherd Who was there all the time. The Chief Shepherd is not only alive, but near.
Closer is He than breathing,
Nearer than hands and feet.
III. We shall see the Chief Shepherd.—And here is the third point, that the one certain thing about our lives, be they long or short, be they sad or merry, is that we shall see the Chief Shepherd. Our eyes shall see Him. The one certain truth is that the Chief Shepherd will see us and that we shall see Him, and the only question that will matter in life will be not 'What do I think of Jesus Christ?' but 'What does He think of me?'
IV. A Message for Workers.—I need hardly point out what a message that is for all who are working for God. If we forget that our sole task in life is to gather in the thousands of souls, not only here but throughout the whole world, we shall incur the displeasure of the Chief Shepherd, because we only live to gather in souls for whom He died, and whom He loves. 'All souls are Mine,' saith the Lord of Hosts. Then every day, every night, with every power we have, before He comes again and before we see Him, let us seek to gather that great flock in all parts of the world. All through the beautiful Ordination service for a priest, it is his pastoral work which is impressed upon him again and again.
(a) Can the Chief Shepherd rely upon you? He says, 'Upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'. He is building on you. The one hope of having a really missionary, loyal-hearted, honourable, God-fearing Church is on the laity who believe, and I want to ask you whether you are failing the Chief Shepherd in that place where He has placed you? In that warehouse or office, are you a man He can depend upon, a man of God, the one who witnesses, who is perfectly certain to be firm and will not have bad language used in the presence of boys or in his own presence, who stands up for truth and honesty in all dealings. Remember that Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd, Whom you have to see one day, and Who sees you now, looks to you as a rock man.
(b) Are you gathering. Then again, 'He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth'. If that does not mean that a man is not a Christian who takes no part in missionary work, I do not know what it means. Jesus Christ said of the world, 'All souls are mine'. He says of you, 'He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth'. When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, we shall find what He expected us to do. You dare not meet Him empty-handed. If in the spirit of pastoral work and pastoral service you live your life, when the Chief Shepherd shall appear you shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
1 Peter 5:4
We know how it will be; to shepherds He will become the Chief Shepherd, to sailors the steersman, to travellers the guide, to soldiers the commander; He will bless the seed for the peasants, and He will sit at table with us, a daily invited guest, in the breaking of bread.
References.—V. 4.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 4. V. 5.—Christianity in Daily Conduct, p. 45. W. H. Evans, Short Sermons for the Seasons, p. 101. H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. ii. pp. 15, 30. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 171. A. Maclaren, After the Resurrection, p. 182. V. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol xxix. No. 1733. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 134. Ibid. Readings for the Aged (4th Series), p. 26. V. 6, 7.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 173. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons, p. 105. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons (2nd Series), p. 167.
1 Peter 5:7
Atra Cura—Black Care—was familiar to the light-hearted Roman poet. It was impossible to ride away from it; wherever the traveller went, it went with him.
After all these years of Christ the hard tyranny of circumstance is unloosened. Perhaps it never pressed so heavily as of late. Every morning there rises the great army of the careworn to take up the daily toils with sinking heart. Every day competition grows more savage, and success more difficult.
I. Atra Cura—Black Care—we find it everywhere—even in the gatherings of Christians. How is it going, they ask too anxiously, with the cause of truth and righteousness? There are hours when all but the bravest are overborne for the moment by the fierceness of the conflict—almost afraid to believe that the eternal summer draws nearer, and that the kingdom of God must come. When the grey clouds drift over the sky and the winds beat loudly and fiercely, there is no peace save for the soul that has learned to rise above the region of storms.
II. The argument against care, so frequently urged by our Lord and His Apostles, is always an argument for faith. When Christ began His ministry He pointed upward from the love that watched over the falling sparrow. If God was with the tiny dying bird, how much surer was His keeping of the children. And when at the last, under the shadow of the cross, Jesus sat reasoning with His disciples, He was still pleading for faith. Let not your heart be troubled... believe. He told them in slow, tender words that they were not to be afraid, for He was always to be with them. St. Paul argued downward from redemption to providence: God who spared not His own Son would not grudge bread. This then is the cure for care: a belief in the constant dumb tending of the Invisible.
III. This promise of unsleeping love does not mean that we are to escape the discipline of life. Rather, it signifies that we are to undergo it. Only the pain and darkness that may sometimes wrap us harshly round are not suffered to invade the central peace of the spirit. Such as they are, we are to have help in bearing them. Our Lord has never promised that we shall keep what money we have or that we shall gain more. He may see us to be too deeply involved in the complexities of living. In His wise love He may take us out of circumstances which make a true and spiritual life impossible, and set us in the great currents of humanity again. Perhaps Jesus never meant that life should grow all of one pattern and stuff. But if men come to think otherwise, true believers will have no temptation to resist them. Nothing material is to have supremacy over us. There is a deep sense in which Christians still must live outside their worldly possessions, and confess themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
—W. Robertson Nicoll, Ten-Minute Sermons, p. 27.
1 Peter 5:7
Mr. A. C. Benson remarks on this text: 'The strongest and best things in the world seem to me to be peace and tranquillity, and the same hidden power seems to be leading me thither; and to lead me all the faster whenever I try not to fret, not to grieve, not to despair. "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you," says the Divine Word; and the more that I follow intuition rather than reason, the nearer I seem to come to the truth.'
References.—V. 7.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii. No. 428. S. Gregory, How to Steer a Ship, p. 63. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, p. 474. G. B. F. Hallock, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 175. C. O. Eldridge, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 315. F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Reading, p. 197.
1 Peter 5:8
Ruth was half-way towards the impatient Mr. Bellingham when her old friend called her back. He longed to give her a warning of the danger that he thought she was in, and yet he did not know how. When she came up, all he could think of to say was a text; indeed, the language of the Bible was the language in which he thought whenever his ideas went beyond practical everyday life into expressions of emotion or feeling. 'My dear, remember the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; remember that, Ruth.' The words fell on her ear, but gave no definite idea. The utmost they suggested was the remembrance of the dread she felt as a child when this verse came into her mind, and how she used to imagine a lion's head with glaring eyes peering out of the bushes, in a dark shady part of the wood, which, for this reason, she had always avoided, and even now could hardly think of without a shudder. She never imagined that the grim warning related to the handsome young man who awaited her with a countenance beaming with love, and tenderly drew her hand within his arm.
—Mrs. Gaskell's Ruth (ch. iv.).
References.—V. 8.—W. F. Shaw, Sermon Sketches for the Christian Year, p. 83. J. Bunting, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 47. C. Bosanquet, Blossoms from the King's Garden, p. 139. S. A. Brooke, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 16. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 190. V. 8, 9.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. i. p. 299. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 419. H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermons, p. 320. V. 9.—J. Keble, Sermons for Sundays After Trinity, pt. i. p. 74. F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Reading (2nd Series), p. 180. V. 10.—J. J. West, Penny Pulpit, No. 1490, p. 57. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi. No. 292, and vol. xxix. No. 1721. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 34. V. 10, 11.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 326.
1 Peter 5:12
This is Peter's mature judgment on the character of his friend; it is no hasty certificate, signed in a moment of good-nature. He had learned, from his own experience, how responsible a thing it is to permit ourselves to drift into friendships or associations with other people promiscuously. Hence these deliberate words may serve as a text for a sermon upon our responsibility for the influence exerted by others upon us, as well as for the ties of friendship which we form, and which quicken us into an activity for better or for worse.
(a) Peter knew how disastrous it was to let any sudden or strong influence determine one's actions. For the sake of personal safety he had allowed the maid-servant in the hall of judgment to control or at least affect his actions and utterances for the moment. For the sake of peace he had permitted the Jewish Christians at Antioch to divert him from the path of principle. (b) On the other hand, he had profited by the friendship of his brother Andrew (John 1:41), and by association with John and Paul, so that both the lapses and achievements of his life had been largely due to the influence of other people upon his character.
His personal history had thus made him careful and prudent by this time about human influence. Any impulsive, warm-hearted nature like his is too apt to admit the sway of other people from time to time without sufficient reflection, and this receptiveness may turn out fatally as well as happily. 'The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried' are the only ones who are, like Silvanus, to be held fast to the soul with hooks of steel. They must be judged trustworthy, and that judgment cannot rest upon the impression of the moment.
References.—V. 12.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Peter, p. 138; ibid. p. 146. Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 241. Expositor (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 287. V. 12, 13.—Ibid. (5th Series), vol. x. p. 319. For an Exposition of the whole Chapter see Rev. Charles Brown's Trial and Triumph, p. 172.
St. Mark's Day
1 Peter 5:13
The exact time when a religious festival was instituted in honour of St. Mark cannot now be positively determined; it is nevertheless generally thought to have occurred about the ninth century, for it has been annually observed since then by the Greek, Latin, and other Churches with profound reverence, and finally on 25th April, because then, according to tradition, St Mark suffered martyrdom at Alexandria in Egypt, where he fixed his chief residence.
But doubt does not end here: it attaches even to the Evangelist himself. Three other Marks are mentioned in Holy Scripture, while St. Mark changes his Hebrew name—John—to that by which he is now familiarly known in the Church. This was a common practice when Evangelists and Apostles were desirous of visiting the Gentile world on embassies of mercy; but it has generally added to the perplexity of deciding satisfactorily concerning some persons who have taken a leading part in sacred affairs. It is so in this instance. There are, however, some particulars respecting St. Mark which leave no room for doubt. His mother's name was Mary; and it was at her house the Apostles and other Christian brethren were hospitably received, and to which St. Peter repaired after his deliverance from prison by the angel of the Lord (Acts 12:5-17).
I. St. Peter makes special and interesting allusions to him as Marcus in his earlier Epistle. He was a good man. St. Peter calls him his 'son,' just as St. Paul calls Timothy his 'son'—a phrase of Christian endearment which means that as St. Paul was the spiritual father of Timothy, so St. Peter was the spiritual father of Mark.
II. That he possessed a missionary spirit is clear. At first he was the devoted companion of St. Paul and St. Barnabas in some of their long journeys to propagate Christianity (Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5); but he withdrew himself in Pamphylia, because St. Paul contended with St. Barnabas about his going farther with them, and he, 'departing from them, returned to Jerusalem'. Soon after this, he joined himself to St. Peter, for he loved him as Timothy loved St. Paul. We next read of him as being with St Peter in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). Subsequently he visited Rome, at the express wish of St. Paul, in company with Timothy (2 Timothy 4:11); but how long he remained in this famous city we cannot ascertain. Tradition says that he left it for Alexandria, where he planted a Church, and died and was buried. If all these things are true of him, and we can scarcely doubt them, then St Mark loved not only his spiritual father, but the souls of men, and especially Him Who died to save them from perishing.
III. Finally we think of him as the writer of the second Gospel. This he did between the years fifty-six and sixty-three. As he was for a long time the intimate acquaintance of St. Peter, he heard from his lips the chief events of the life of Christ, and also the substance of His wonderful discourses. The unbroken testimony of the Fathers is—that St. Mark was the interpreter of St. Peter, and that he wrote under his eye and with his help. Another fact is equally certain—the right of his Gospel among the inspired books has never been questioned, nor that he was the writer of it. He loved the truth as the truth was in Jesus, and therefore gladly penned it for the everlasting welfare of mankind.
The acts and memories of such a man are fragrant as Eden, and wholesome in their influences, albeit over such a man there hangs the thick veil of mystery, and consequently he will never be fully known, either in bodily presence or saintly virtue, until he is seen 'face to face' in heaven, and all mysteries are cleared away for ever.
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;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.