Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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:V. EXHORTATIONS CONCERNING SERVICE AND CONFLICT
Peter now speaks in great tenderness exhorting to service. The exhortation is addressed to the elders and he speaks of himself as a “fellow-elder.” Does he mean by this an official title or does he mean simply his age and experience? He is not writing in any official capacity, but the word elder has the meaning of old in years. He assumes no ecclesiastical authority to dictate, but speaks out of a ripe experience and a heart of love. How different from what ritualism has made him to be. He takes his place among the other elders and calls himself a fellow-elder, not claiming any authority or superiority whatever. He was a witness of the sufferings of Christ; he knew he would be a partaker of the glory which shall be revealed. The Lord had given him this assurance (Matthew 19:28-29).
He gives some important exhortations. We give it in a better rendering. “Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but readily; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but being ensamples to the flock.” Believers here are called “the flock of God.” In John 10:16 the Lord had given the announcement that there should be one flock (not one fold, as the Authorized Version). The flock of God is the Church, the body of Christ. The language so frequently heard in Christendom when preachers and pastors speak of those to whom they preach as “my flock” or “my people,” is unscriptural and should be avoided. God’s children do not belong to anybody but the Lord. As the Lord had commissioned Peter: “Feed My sheep,” and “Feed My lambs,” so Peter writes to the elders to tend the flock of God. It is the same Greek word used here which we find in John 21:16 and is really “shepherd”--shepherd the flock of God. It is not to be done for filthy lucre’s sake, on account of gain, for money considerations.
All is prophetic, for exactly that which was not to be done is being done in Christendom today, hence many of those who claim to be shepherds of the flock are in reality nothing but hirelings; and often it happens that the hireling for the sake of better financial conditions will exchange “his flock” for another. Furthermore, there is to be no lording over the allotted charge (or over your allotments). The elder who has the oversight of the flock, called to shepherd the flock, minister to the flock as a servant, is not to take a place of superiority or spiritual dignity, claiming authority. This also is done in Christendom with its “Lord Bishops” and other titles of ecclesiastical authority. The word translated in the Authorized Version with “heritage” is in the Greek “kleros,” and means an allotment. From this word comes our English “clergy.” There is no such thing in the body of Christ as a “clergy” and a “laity.”
Instead of lording over their allotted charge, the elders are to be ensamples to the flock, in a godly life. Then comes the promise, “when the chief shepherd is manifested, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” The sheep of Christ for which He laid down His life are very precious to Him, and those who serve His sheep, who minister to their need, will be honored by Him and rewarded with the crown of glory in the day of His manifestation. There is to be submission by the younger to the elder, that is, the younger in years are to be subject to those older in years. The same rule of loving submission extends to all the flock of God, “be subject one to another.”
Humility is to be the right clothing for the saints of God. “They are to gird themselves with humility in this way, humility being that which will keep everything rightly adjusted, as the girdle the robe, and which would thus enable for such activity as all are called to; for humility is a grand help against discouragement by the difficulties of the way, and necessarily against all that would search out any remnant of pride in us” (F.W. Grant). Self-exaltation is the very essence of sin. God cannot tolerate it in His people. The example of Christ, who made of Himself no reputation, forbids it. God resisteth therefore always and in every way the proud, while He giveth grace to the humble. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” How little these great exhortations are considered in our times! Even among those who have the truth and believe in the revelation of God, while there is much increase in knowledge, there is little evidence of true humility. Humility will never leave us ashamed. We do not need to exalt ourselves; the Lord will do it for us.
Then there is the sweet comfort: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” All means all--all cares, whatever they are; all burdens, all anxieties we can roll upon Him, with the perfect assurance that He does care. Alas! our anxieties, our heavy feelings, our worry and our hurry, all speak the same language of unbelief. “Lord, dost Thou not care?” Well, it is if we look upon all burdens He permits to be laid upon us, as tokens of His love, by which we may learn His faithfulness afresh. Instead of murmuring then, we should sing and rejoice, being anxious for nothing, knowing He carries us and our burdens and cares as we can never do.
Once more we hear His exhortation: “Be sober, be watchful!” Why? Because there is an adversary and a conflict. In those days of persecution he was the roaring lion; in our days he sneaks about as an angel of light. No longer is it the persecution of the church; it is the corruption of the truth which is the work of the adversary today. But in Peter’s day the enemy was engaged in active persecution, seeking to devour God’s people. Once more he will assume this character during the coming great tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble. Then the faithful Jewish remnant, like this remnant to whom Peter wrote, will have to face the roaring lion, as we read so frequently in the book of Revelation.
Then follows Peter’s benediction, quite a different thing from the fraudulent benedictions, which come from the counterfeit successors of Peter. “But the God of all grace, who hath called you unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, when ye have suffered a little while, Himself shall perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”
The Epistle was sent to them by Silvanus. It is the same Silvanus whose back had been lacerated in the prison of Philippi, whose feet had been in stocks, and who sang the praises of the Lord with beloved Paul in that night of pain and suffering. He knew what suffering with Christ meant and could equally sympathize with his brethren.
There is greeting from the other elect ones in Babylon, as we have shown in our introduction, in literal Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates. Salutation from Marcus is also given. This is John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, whose failure in the book of Acts is recorded, and on account of whom the Apostle Paul had a falling out with Barnabas; it is the same Mark who wrote the Gospel which bears his name. The kiss of love is mentioned (Romans 16:16; 1Corinthians 16:20; 2Corinthians 13:12; 1Thessalonians 5:26). It was universally observed for centuries. “Peace be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”