1 Peter 5
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The work of the pastoral office is to be fulfilled also by the private members of the Church, according to their respective gifts and opportunities. So there are practical lessons here for them, as well as for the minister, it is to them the words are addressed, "Exhort one another daily," and "Bishoping, lest any man fail of the grace of God."

I. THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH AND THEIR WORK. Church system is in itself worth nothing; its sole value consists in that it is a means of promoting the life of the Church and its mission to the world. But some system every Church must have; and it becomes us, in our reverence for inspired example, and our sense of the importance of the ends for which the Church exists, to endeavor to discover and adopt that system most in harmony with the Divine mind, as seen in the principles embodied in apostolic times. In the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles we find that the believers in any one place were called a "Church" - "what thou seest write in a book, and send unto the seven Churches which are in Asia." These Churches were so many separate societies, each governing itself according to Divine instruction, without acknowledging the authority of sister Churches. Even the appeal of the Church at Antioch to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem was made of their own accord, not of necessity; and they received in response, not a command, but a recommendation only. The apostles endeavored to bind these Churches together in Christian affection; witness the greetings in different Epistles from members of one fellowship to those of others. The only unity of early Christians was that of spiritual life and love; of external unity there is no trace. Now, in these Churches we find mention of two permanent officers - bishops and deacons. Timothy receives instruction as to the ordination of two classes of Church servants, called respectively bishops and deacons. Who, then, are the "elders" of whom we read? They were the same persons as the bishops. Paul, in writing to Titus, says, "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest... ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless... for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;" or in the passage before us. "The elders which are among you I exhort... feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof" (literally, Greek ἐπισκοποῦντες, bishoping). The two terms (as also, we believe, the term "angel," in Revelation 2.) are designations of the same office, and used interchangeably; we never find them together. Each Church apparently had its own bishop, or elder, and deacons. When you have taken from the list of the public servants of the early Church such names as those of "apostles," "prophets," "workers of miracles," none of whom were intended to be permanent, I think you will find but these two left besides the evangelists. The work of the elders.

1. To feed the flock of God. Just the words you would expect from Peter. They take us back to that early morning when his Master thrice bade him feed his sheep and lambs. To feed the flock is essentially the minister's task. The Word of truth is the great sanctifying agency in the hands of the Divine Spirit, and it is the minister's business so to present this that sanctification shall be the result. There never was greater need of plain practical Scripture teaching than now, when the pressure of business leaves, I fear, too little leisure for Scripture study. It should not be so, but so it is.

2. To take the oversight of the flock. "Let the eiders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor." God's Word shows that he regards the elders as the superintendents of the Churches committed to them, as the presidents of all the work of those Churches, and as having heavy responsibilities for their well-being. Of the Christian minister it is said, he shall "warn the unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak."

3. To be examples to the flock. A minister's personal spiritual life is the first essential in his work; he has to watch his character, lest it should be a shadow darkening his teaching. Many of you have your own smaller portions of the flock to feed and care for. Christian workers, remember that the shepherds of Christ's fold must, like the great Shepherd, always go first. If you want to work for Christ successfully, the best part of that work will be done in your closet, ministering Christ to yourself. The work can never be better than the worker; the power of a lesson depends on the teacher seen behind it.


1. It is to be wrought from personal fellowship with Christ. Peter here says that he was an elder, because he had seen Christ suffer, and was a partaker of his glory. How we shall teach and preach when we look at the sufferings of Jesus, and at his glorified face! We must live with our unseen Lord, and then work for his flock will be no more a constraint, but a joy.

2. In subordination to Christ. "Neither as being lords over God's heritage? It is "God's heritage;" it is the "flock of God;" and there is a "chief Shepherd." Christ has set shepherds over his people, but they are shepherds under him. The flock are never fed, or guided, or upheld, or restored by human ministry, but he does it. If the under-shepherds are not what they ought to be, Jesus remains, and the flock is his.

3. It is to be wrought with hope in Christ. "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shah receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Whatever happiness awaits Christ's faithful servants in another world, whatever forms the unfading crown may take, this at least will not be wanting - the presence there of those who have been redeemed through their instrumentality. Christian worker, when the chief Shepherd shall appear, and you with him, the first wondering glance at the autumnal fields you sowed will be your overwhelming recompense.

III. THE BEARING OF THE CALL TO THIS WORK ON THE CHURCH. Christ has called some of the elders in his Church to feed and oversee his flock, What of that to the Church?

1. It reminds us of the dependence of the people on the ministry. "The perfecting of the saints, and the edifying of the body of Christ," are declared to be, in a very important sense, dependent on the ministry; then it must be a perilous thing to depreciate that ministry, to cast one's self off from it willingly. "Feed the flock of God," he says to the elders; then let the flock of God see that they are willing to be fed.

2. And this calls for the recognition by the people of the proper work of the ministry. It would be a great thing if the elders were able to lead in all the paths of life - in things political, things social, things literary, things scientific, things philanthropic; but spiritual work is essentially theirs, and if these lower things are attended to, the great thing will suffer; and, though the sheep may follow, they will be unfed.

3. The furtherance by the people of the work of the ministry. The Church can greatly help their minister to help them; they can let him know the help they need; they can speak freely of their spiritual difficulties; they can ask for prayer and sympathy, when other aid is unavailing; and in this way can give a joy as great as that they seek. - C.N.

(Artc. 1). "The elders therefore among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder," etc. With the word "well-doing" in the last sentence of the preceding chapter ringing in our ears, we easily understand why the apostle thus proceeds to exhort men to their duties as office-bearers in the Christian Church. We notice, as here indicated -

I. THE SPIRIT OF OFFICE-BEARERS IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. The word "elders," according to Dean Alford, simply here means" leaders" in the Church. Subsequently it becomes clear that there were two orders of "eiders," viz. bishops and deacons. But at this time these offices had not crystallized thus. All were included in the term here used. Their spirit is indicated by Peter's use of the word "fellow-elders" as describing himself, and "exhort" as denoting his relationship to them. There is none of the spirit of an ecclesiastical princeling; no arrogance. But brotherliness permeates all the intercourse. That is the supreme spirit of true office-bearers.


1. Fellowship in sympathy. "Fellow-elder;" burdened with the same cares, stirred with the same inspirations, etc.

2. Witness-bearing to most solemn realities. "Witness of the sufferings of Christ." All through this Epistle those sufferings are conspicuous as the theme of thought, the constraint of will. The word "witness" implies that Peter felt he was, as regarded these sufferings,

(1) a spectator;

(2) a testifier. Ruskin says, "You look at marble which is the delight of the eyes, the wealth of the architecture of all civilized nations, and you find there is not a purple vein or flaming zone that is not the record of its ancient torture in raging fire and stormful convulsion." So is it with the beauty of the Christ, our Foundation-stone, our Cornerstone.

3. Possession of a sublime inheritance. "Partaker of the glory," etc.

(1) The glory of character.

(2) That glory at present partially hidden.

(3) Yet a Christian already possesses it. What wealth! what dignity! How unspeakably richer than the mere millionaire, and more honorable than the mere hero, is the true Christian worker! - U.R.T.


1. In what character Peter exhorts. "The elders therefore among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." The link of connection is "well-doing," which is here given in detail. The first who are exhorted to do well are the elders, to be understood officially. These elders are referred to as among them, i.e. in the Churches in the various localities. Peter might have commanded even the elders, as an apostle; there was nothing derogatory to his apostleship, and there was a gain of influence, in his humbly exhorting them as a fellow-elder, who had the same duties of the eldership to perform. If he had superior authority, he would only derive it from the fact that he was "a witness of the sufferings of Christ." He had seen Christ suffer in the garden and on the cross; he had, therefore, the advantage of proceeding on personal testimony in his preaching. An eye-witness of the sufferings of Christ, might he not claim to have a special title comfortably to exhort the suffering, the persecuted? Taking them back to the Crucifixion-scene, he does not leave them there, but points them forward. He was also "a partaker of the glory to be revealed," i.e. future sharer with Christ when revealed in his glory, of which he had already enjoyed the foretaste in his having been a privileged witness of the Transfiguration. He does not say "fellow-partaker;" but we may suppose that this was in his mind for the comfort of the persecuted.

2. To what duty he exhorts.

(1) Shepherding. "Tend the flock of God which is among you." Thrice Peter fell; thrice the Master laid on him his commission. Twice the word of the commission was feed, as if special attention was to be given to feeding of the flock, finding spiritual food for them; on the second occasion the word of the commission was more comprehensively shepherd, or, as it is translated," tend." It is that word which is used here, taken, we can believe, from the commission. The shepherd has to guide, guard, fold, as well as find food; so the minister (the elder chiefly, though not exclusively, to be thought of) has not only to teach, but also to do what is sometimes, with a limitation, called pastoral work - attending to the sick, the aged, the anxious, the tempted. The elders were to tend the flock in their several localities in the consciousness of its being the flock of God, i.e. not belonging absolutely to them, but God.

(2) Character of the shepherding. First negative and positive. "Exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according unto God." Shepherding is of the nature of overseeing. This overseeing is not to be engaged in of constraint, i.e. from outward pressure such as the solicitation of friends, but willingly, i.e. from free choice, The remaining words introduced into the Revised Version seem unnecessary in thought. Second negative and positive. "Nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." Overseeing is not to be engaged in for filthy lucre, i.e. lucre which is not filthy in itself, but becomes filthy when made the determining consideration in the holding of a sacred office. On the contrary, it is to be engaged in of a ready mind, i.e. from love for the work. Support cannot be overlooked, but it will be a secondary consideration with a man who loves his work, is glad to have the abundant opportunity of doing good in the name of Christ. Third negative and positive. "Neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock." Elders are to oversee; it is said that they are to preside; it is also said that they are to lead; but it is not said that they are to lord it, nor that they are to lord it against, as it is literally here, i.e. against the rights or interests of the people over whom they are placed. They are not to lord it over the charges allotted to them. On the contrary, they are to make themselves ensamples to the flock. Their ambition is to be to live what they teach. "Either teach not," says Gregory Nazianzen, "or teach by living."

3. Promise of reward for fulfillment of the exhortation. "And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away." The pastoral wealth of the great Proprietor makes one flock, over which is placed the chief Shepherd. This is a very beautiful designation of our Lord. It is suggestive of shepherds under him. If these under-shepherds act from their own free choice, and from love of the work, and are exemplary, they shall not go unrewarded. The time of their reward is to be when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, i.e. shall be disclosed in all the glory that belongs to him on account of what he has done for the flesh. The faithful under-shepherds are to be crowned with a crown of glory. Peter, who is Jewish in his imagery, may have had in his mind the wreath used by the Jews on festive occasions. They are to be crowned as with flowers, i.e. with all that is most beautiful in body and soul. The designation given to the crown of beauty is derived from a flower, to which Milton thus makes allusion.

"Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold;
Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In Paradise, fast by the tree of life
Began to bloom." As the lily is symbolic of purity, so the amaranth (being what we call an "everlasting") is symbolic of immortality. What is at last to blossom forth in the faithful servants of Christ is never to lose its form or brightness.

II. EXHORTATION TO THE YOUNGER. "Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder." As there was what was suitable for the elders, in like manner there was what was suitable for the younger (people). By these we are to understand all in the congregations except the elders. The designation was not simply with reference to age (which held to a certain extent), but with reference to their being placed under the elders. We should therefore read" elders" here, as in the first verse. In accordance with former injunctions in regard to other relations, the word for the younger is "subjection" They were to be subject unto the elders. It is not said that they were to be subject in the Lord; but we are to understand the ground and conditions of the subjection to lie in the elders being representatives of Christ's authority and administering Christ's laws.


1. Humility in service of one another. "Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." Peter now turns to all of them, i.e. both the elders and the younger (people), and with a certain emphasis sums up their duties in humility. A recognized definition of it is "the esteeming of ourselves small, because we are so, the thinking truly, and, because truly, therefore lowlily, of ourselves." The work for which Christ's gospel came into the world was no less than to put clown the mighty from their seat, and to exalt the humble and meek. It was, then, only in accordance with this its mission that it should dethrone the heathen virtue great-souledness, and set up the despised Christian grace humility in its room, stripping that of the honor it had unjustly assumed, delivering this from the dishonor which so unjustly had clung to it hitherto; and in this direction advancing so far that a Christian writer has called this last not merely a grace, but the casket or treasure-house in which all other graces are contained. And, indeed, not the grace only, but the very word was itself a fruit of the gospel; "no Greek writer employed it before the Christian era, nor, apart from the influence of Christian writers, after" (Trench). What we are to do with humility is to gird ourselves with it, the reference being to the use of an apron (worn especially by slaves) for menial service. "Even if this were not the reference, it would be difficult to believe that Peter could have written this without remembering how the Lord washed his disciples' feet, and what he said on that occasion, and specially to Peter himself. The Lord put on a servile garment for the occasion - he girded himself before he addressed himself to that menial, gracious task, which was a parable in action never to be forgotten. This being so, how much force, how much life, is given to Peter's admonition! When his words come to us loaded with the loving, overwhelming remembrance, they bring to us all the weight of what our Savior aid and said on that sacred evening before the Crucifixion" (Howson's 'Horae Petrinae'). All of them, after the example of Christ, were to gird themselves to serve one another - the elders the younger (people), and the younger (people) the elders. The principle laid down in 1 Peter 4:10 was that all gifts - experience, youthful energy, among them - were to be placed at the service of the community. The consideration by which humility is enforced here contains the principles according to which God withholds and grants his blessing. There is a certain disposition which is necessarily disowned, its opposite being that which is owned. The proud, i.e. those who are satisfied with themselves and who exalt themselves above others on account of advantages, God sets himself in array against them. The humble, i.e. those who have a sense of their needs and who do not think of comparing themselves with others, God giveth grace to them. He sends the rich empty away, while satisfying the poor with good things.

2. Humility before God. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." Even in the persecutors Peter saw the mighty hand of God. In what they suffered at their hands there was a call to acknowledge their importance in the hands of might. There was also a call to acknowledge their sins. If they thus abased themselves individually and unitedly before God, he would exalt them in due time. He would certainly exalt them above their persecutors, and, without reference to their persecutors, on the day of judgment. He would then bring forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noonday. But the language may also be taken as holding out a promise that, whenever the ends of the Divine administration permitted, they would be exalted here above their persecutors. The hand that afflicted would also remove the affliction.

3. Accompaniment of humility before God. "Casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you." This does not stand by itself, but is participially connected with the foregoing. Whilst there is to be an abasing, there must be, if there is to be a lifting up, if there is to be a balanced condition in the spiritual life, also a casting upon God. What they were to cast was, not their care, but their anxious care. What was to become of them in the persecution? In the event of their being martyred, how would their families be provided for? how would their children be defended against worldly influences, which were worse than persecution? Let them be encouraged to cast all their anxious care upon God; for he most effectually cared for them. He was acquainted with all their anxious care in its length and breadth, in its height and depth, and he would not forget them or theirs in the present or in the future. When Peter penned this precept he had grown above his own restless energy into the calm of words which he had once heard from sacred lips. "For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought [have no anxious care] for the morrow."


1. Watchfulness. "Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." By the omission of connecting words, a nervous force is given to the language. In 1 Thessalonians 5:6 it is said, "Let us watch and be sober." The same verbs are used here, but the order is reversed. The stress is here upon be watchful, which is placed next the danger pointed to. Be sober, i.e. be free from the stupefying of meats and drinks, from all worldly excitement; from the disturbing influence of anxious care. Unless they were sober, they could not be watchful, i.e. have all their senses and powers wakened up, so as to be prepared like a sentinel against the approach of the enemy. The two words are like the ringing of an alarm-bell. Be in a fit and wakeful state; the enemy may any moment be here. There is raised an impression of the formidableness of the enemy named here. In respect of good qualities - strength, majesty - Christ is compared to a lion. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In respect of bad qualities - fierceness, wonderful activity for rapacious ends - the devil is here compared to a lion. "As a roaring lion he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." This language has special application to times of persecution. When the fire of persecution is among the Churches, then there is, as it were, roaring, unwonted stirring-up of energy, in the expectation that, through unsteadfastness, one here and another there may tall into his power.

2. Steadfastness. "Whom withstand steadfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world." it is sometimes our duty to flee from the devil. We are to flee from the scene where we are strongly tempted. We are here exhorted not to flee from but to face the devil; and James adds the thought that, when we boldly face him, he will flee from us. There seems to be a connecting of the devil with the persecutions that were taking place. Paul says that Satan hindered once and again his going to the Thessalonians. So, through the persecutors who were under his influence, he was opposing the Christians; and they were not weakly to yield to him, but to stand up against him. They could only expect to be unwavering in their stand against him in their faith, i.e. in the strong conviction that they were not left to themselves, but that there was One with them stronger than their adversary. Let them be supported by the consciousness that they occupied no singular position. It was the destiny of the brotherhood in the world to suffer. The same sufferings were being accomplished in Babylon from which he wrote as in the Churches of Asia Minor to which he wrote.

3. Promise of support from God. "And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, stablish, strengthen you." They were to be steadfast in their faith; there was this promise on which their faith could rest. The God of the promise is designated the God of all grace, i.e. who could supply grace up to and beyond all their needs. The beginning of his grace was when he called them in Christ; but that beginning was connected with an end. He called them unto his eternal glory. The end was not to be reached, unless by means going before. The foregoing condition was suffering a little while. There is consolation in the manner of stating it, the shortness of the suffering being placed in contrast with the length of the glory. In and through the suffering God would support them, so that they would not fail of eternal glory. There being three words employed has the effect of giving increased force to the idea. The first word is a promise that God will supply all that is lacking in the elements of character upon which strength depends. The second word is a promise that God will keep from being overpowered in the actual assault. The third word is a promise that God will increase strength so as to turn successful resistance into victorious aggression. The God who called, he will support all through unto eternal glory.

4. Doxology annexed to the promise. "To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." "Power" is a better word than "dominion." When God promises us power or gives us to experience power, it becomes us to ascribe the power to him. As we shall be receiving accessions of power through the ages of ages, our ascriptions of power can never end. As our ascriptions are so defective at their best, we seek to have them intensified by adding our "Amen." - R.F.

The office of the Christian pastor - the bishop, the presbyter, the deacon - was something new in the history of mankind. The functions of the Christian pastor differ widely and radically from those of the heathen priest or philosopher; and they differ decidedly from those of the Jewish prophet or priest. The bonds uniting pastor and people together are more sacred, more tender, and more morally powerful than the official bonds which owe their efficacy merely to superior power or superior wisdom. It is only the religion of Christ which can furnish the basis for the pastoral relation, even among those who accept the great doctrines of man's spiritual nature and the Divine redemption.


1. The personal spring of this ministry is the pure devotion of heart and energies to the welfare of those for whom Christ died.

2. The intellectual character of the pastorate is expressed in the vocation described by St. Peter as "feeding the flock." The reference in this language is evidently to teaching, to wise and constant instruction in Divine and spiritual truth.

3. The moral work to be fulfilled is ruling in righteousness. It is not enough for the Christian minister to teach; he is called to guide in the way of virtue and piety, to exercise supervision over the character and the conduct of the members of the flock.

II. THE TEMPTATIONS AND PERILS OF THE PASTORAL LIFE AND MINISTRY. St. Peter deals very faithfully with his fellow-laborers; he reminds them that they are but men, and are subject to human infirmities, which must be guarded against by watchfulness and prayer.

1. It is possible for one to assume or to retain the pastoral office without a cheerful and cordial delight in it; as e.g. is the case with those who engage in the service of the Church, not by Divine summons, but through the influence of friends or through the force of circumstances. Such ministers lose the greater part of their power for good, because their heart is not in their work.

2. Mercenary service cannot be profitable to men or acceptable to God. He who for the sake of gain insincerely professes to seek men's spiritual welfare is beneath human contempt.

3. A domineering spirit is contrary to the very nature and purpose of the pastoral relation. That proud and ambitious natures have made the Church the means of rising to high station and to vast power is plainly taught by the history of Christendom. But upon the work of such men the blessing of the chief Shepherd cannot rest; for he was "meek and lowly in heart."


1. It is not present, but future.

2. It is not from man, but from God.

3. It is not perishable, but immortal.

For the faithful and the lowly servant of Christ there is reserved the amaranthine crown. - J.R.T.

Tend the flock of God which is among you, etc. The apostle's practical exhortation to leaders in the Church about well-doing opens up a view of -

I. THEIR DUTY. "Tend" - a completer word than "feed." The word "flock suggests what tending is needful; e.g. feeding, leading, controlling, protecting, exercising the oversight." Keen and constant care. Of what sort of care he speaks, the word Peter coins to describe Christ, "chief Shepherd," eloquently tells.

1. Receive instructions from him.

2. Imitate him.


1. This motive is dealt with negatively.

(1) Not constrainedly - a warning against perfunctoriness.

(2) Not covetously. "Lucre" becomes filthy if it is a motive for spiritual work.

(3) Not ambitiously. Not "lording it."

2. This motive is dealt with positively.

(1) Voluntariness. "Ready mind."

(2) Sympathy. "Making yourselves ensamples."

III. THEIR HOPE. "The crown" - the symbol of dignity. "Of glory;" not tinseled or tarnished, but unalloyed. "That fadeth not away." Amaranthine; imperishable. We are advancing to such a coronation if we are true workers for Christ.


1. Mutual subjection. "Be subject," etc.

2. Perfect humility. "Gird yourselves with humility;" persistent and constant lowliness of temper.

V. THEIR HELP. "God giveth grace." Grace, the favor of God, the gentlest yet mightiest inspiration of souls. - U.R.T.

1 Peter 5:5 (middle clause)
Be clothed, or, according to the Revised Version, "gird yourselves." It is a remarkable word, occurring only here in the New Testament. It means to put on a certain article of dress which according to one view was a kind of "overall" worn by slaves above their other clothing, anti according to another was a white scarf which was part of the slave's dress. In either case it was a mark of servitude; therefore the exhortation is not merely to wear the garment of lowly-mindedness, veiling all other graces, but specifically to put on the badge of menial service. There may be a still more touching allusion in the peculiar word. Did not Peter's memory go back to that scene in the upper room, which he had understood so little then, but had, as his Lord promised, come to "know" in some measure in the "hereafter" of his many years of service? He recalls how the Master had girded himself with the towel, and stooped to the slave's task of washing the disciples' feet. Surely in this text, especially if we adopt the reading and translation of the Revised Version ("gird yourselves with humility to serve one another), we trace a reference to that wonderful act of stooping love, and hear an echo of the solemn lesson which Christ himself taught in connection with it: Ye also ought to wash one another's feet."

I. THE CHRISTIAN SLAVE'S GARMENT. Whatever was the exact form of the article of dress referred to, it was worn by slaves, and was a badge of their condition. We, too, are slaves, bought and absolutely possessed by our Owner and Master, Jesus Christ. The fitting garb for us is that lowliness of mind which he himself manifested, and which Christianity has throned as in some sense the queen of all the virtues. It is purely a Christian virtue; the very name for it in the New Testament is a Christian coinage; for new things need new words, and this was a new thing. The modest grace of humility looks, by the side of the splendid virtues of Greece and Rome, like some homely brown bird among the gorgeously colored birds of the East, or a dove among eagles. The gospel has brought to us such a clear revelation of what we ought to be, and has so quickened the sensitiveness of men's consciences as to their failures and sins, that a lowly estimate of one's self is for a Christian the only possible one, and is felt to be for all men the only true one. The more clear our vision of what we may become, and the more ardent our enthusiasm after yet unattained stages of progress in character, the more lowly will necessarily be our estimate of ourselves. Whoever has seen himself as he really is will have no heart to blow his own trumpet, or to hear other men singing his praises. We do not need to affect to be ignorant of, or to depreciate, what we are or can do. It is no breach of humility to be conscious of power, but it is to be so conscious of it that we forget our Weakness, and forget that the power is a gift, or are ever expecting recognition from our brethren, and thinking more of ourselves and of our claims than either of our obligations or of our weaknesses. If we would obey this injunction, and be rooted in humility, we must seek to know ourselves as we are, and to that end must study our own fees in the glass of God's Word and Christ's example. These mirrors will show us what will put us out of conceit of ourselves. We must further reverse the favorite mode of comparison with others, and search into their good and our own evil. We must further remember that all on which pride or self-conceit can build their flimsy castles is God's gift, and that therefore thankfulness anti not self-exaltation should be our temper. To wear this servile dress goes clean against the grain of human nature. It is the victory of unselfishness when we truly put it on. It is not pleasant to flesh and blood to go about in the garb which proclaims that we are slaves. But what true Christianity can there be in a man who has not learned that he is poor and blind and naked, and that all his wealth and sight and vesture he must owe to undeserved, unpurchased grace? And how can a man who has had to kneel before Jesus a suppliant penitent, and confess himself leprous and beggared and lost, get up from his knees and go out among his fellows, carrying his head very high and bearing himself as if he were somebody? If we are Christ's, we must wear the dress that proclaims us slaves, and gird ourselves with humility, the livery of his household.

II. THE PATTERN WHICH WE HAVE TO FOLLOW. Our thoughts are carried back, as we have already suggested, to the memorable incident of the foot-washing. In that incident was condensed, and as it were presented in an acted parable, the spirit of Christ's whole mission. The evangelist emphatically marks that supreme instance of condescension as being the outcome of our Lord's clear consciousness of his Divine Sonship and of his universal authority. Just because he knew that he had come from God and went to God, and held all things in his sway, he bowed to serve us. And it was also the outcome of his ever-flowing love to his followers. So his whole work on earth, in every stage of its humiliation, is based on that unique consciousness of Divinity and imperial sway, and is animated by love. As he then laid aside his garments, so he has put off the glories which he wore or ever the world was; and as he then girded himself with the towel, so he has voluntarily assumed the coarse and lowly body of our humiliation, stooping to be a man. As he then assumed a menial garb in order that he might wash his disciples' feet, so he has taken the form of a servant and become obedient to death that he might cleanse us all from our sins, by his own application to conscience and character of his own cleansing blood. In all these points we have to follow his example. Our humility must not only be a lowly estimate of ourselves, but it must be a practical stripping off of distinctions and prerogatives and an identifying of ourselves with the lowliest. It must lead to service. That service must have for its end our brother's cleansing. Jesus is not only our Pattern, but also our Motive; and not only our Motive, but by his indwelling Spirit he is the Power which moulds our selfishness into the likeness of his perfect self-surrender. In the deepest sense of the words, the "mind which was in Christ Jesus" must be in us, if we are truly Christians. If we have not his Spirit, we are not his servants. If we have that Spirit, we too, like him, shall be girt with humility, and do for others what he has done for us.

III. THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH IT IS WORN. According to one view of the word, the piece of dress here referred to was, as we have said, a kind of loose "overall" put on in preparation for work, and, according to another, a scarf which served the purpose of a girdle. So this grace of humility may be regarded as keeping all the other virtues which robe the Christian character in their places. It adds luster to them all, as rich attire and flashing jewels are harmonized and beautified by some sober-tinted cloak thrown over them. Nay, more, it is their very life, for nothing more surely destroys the charm of all other excellences and withers them when they grow than self-gratulation and self-conceit. Moses was all unaware that his face shone. But the great purpose for which humility is enjoined on Christians is that they may be ready for service. The man who flaunts about in gay clothing of self-conceit is usually slow to put his hand to work in anything which will not advance his reputation, or will soil his bravery. Fine clothes and hard work do not go well together. He is generally more ready to insist upon his claims than to respond to his brother's claims on him. We must put off that gaudy robe, and be content to hide our excellences with the wrapper of humility, as a servant puts on some coarse apron for coarse tasks, if we are to be rightly attired for the work we have to do. The humble mind thinks not of its claims on others, but of its duties to them. It is ready for the lowest service, and is kept by no false dignity from placing itself by the side of the feeblest and the foulest. Like the Master, it will take beggars by the hand, nor shrink from the touch of publicans and sinners. It will regard the meanest task done for Jesus as an honor and a mark of the Master's favor. Diffident of its own power, it will depend, and not in vain, upon him for all its efficiency; and, so depending, it will be enriched with all necessary helps, while self-conceit, trusting in its own power, will do little, and that little mostly barren, for, as the next words tell us, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." The rains and dews run off the mountain crests, which are always sterile and often struck by the lightning. It is down in the valleys that the broad rivers glide and spread fruitfulness and smiling plenty. - A.M.

Complaints are commonly made in our day that the authority of age, experience, and social and ecclesiastical position is little reverenced or even regarded. There have been times when such authority has been boldly asserted on the one hand, and readily acknowledged on the other. Owing to the growth of education and of democratic sentiment, a very different habit now prevails. There is no fear of harshness, of foul and arbitrary conduct, on the part of the older, or even on the part of the great, in human society. The danger is all in the other direction. Hence the urgent necessity, at the present time, of attention to the directions of St. Peter in this passage.


1. Children are required by Divine authority to be subject to parents.

2. The young and inexperienced in human society are enjoined to show respect and deference to those who have seen much of life, and who have acquired lessons of experience and wisdom.

3. In the Church of Christ, novices and recruits should place themselves under the guidance of veterans, and members of any congregation should submit to the judgment and authority of those who are placed in office. Probably this is the especial reference of the apostle in this passage, it would, indeed, be absurd to imagine that men can be trusted with absolute and arbitrary power, or that a blind, unreasoning obedience is required of intelligent beings. There are limits alike to authority and to submission. But the lessons of history teach us that, within such limits, deference, service, and submission may wisely and safely be rendered.


1. Submission is for the good of those who are subject. A lawless spirit is a hopeless spirit. Where there is no modesty, no humility, there is little prospect of moral growth, of a mature, noble, and serviceable character.

2. Especially, obedience and subjection are the best preparation for the exercise of authority and command. As society is constituted, it is natural and necessary that, whilst generation succeeds generation, the younger should step into the places of those who have gone before them, and should wield the power which they formerly acknowledged and cheerfully obeyed.

3. Thus the order and happiness of society and of the Christian Church are secured and promoted. Insubordination is a curse alike to Church and state. True liberty and true order are not opposed, but harmonious. It is well with that community where the elder and the rulers exercise their power in the sight of God and for the public good; and where the younger and the subject submit themselves "to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." - J.R.T.

It is natural for men to think highly of themselves and depreciatingly of others. Pride was always reckoned by the old Catholic moralists among the seven deadly sins. It is a sin into which too many habitually fall, however it may seem to them anything but a sign of degradation. Christianity attacks this habit, and seeks to substitute for it in human character the fair but often despised grace of humility.


1. The Christian is humble before God. A just and scriptural conception of the Divine attributes is necessary to true humility. A man must compare himself with infinite greatness and excellence, with infinite power and wisdom, in order that he may form a proper estimate of himself. Such humility displays itself in reverential prayer, in scrupulous obedience, in patient submission, especially under disciplinary affliction.

2. The Christian is humble in his demeanor towards his fellow-men. This is a far more difficult exercise. And it must not he supposed that humility is expected, of the same kind and the same degree, in the attitude of man to man, as in the attitude of man to God. A wise man is not required to regard a fool as his superior in wisdom, or a virtuous man to regard a criminal as his superior in character. But the Christian is to guard against an overbearing and haughty spirit; he is to treat the lowly and the poor with due respect and consideration. Humility is best shown in the bearing of a man towards those who are his inferiors, and even towards those who are ungrateful for favors and services.

II. THE DISCIPLINE AND HABIT OF HUMILITY. The expression in the original translated "gird yourselves with humility," is not without difficulty; yet it seems to imply both that an effort and resolution are required, and that humility is to become a vestment, a clothing, to be habitually worn for use.

III. THE MOTIVES TO HUMILITY. The need of powerful motives in order to overcome powerful temptations is obvious; and such motives are provided for the Christian's benefit and aid.

1. The consciousness of our own feebleness and ill desert. None who truly knows himself can cherish pride. His frequent errors in the past, his liability still to err, must be too present to his mind. to allow of self-confidence and boasting.

2. The pressing necessity of the service of man. All around us are those who need help. It may not promote our personal advantage to minister to their needs; and such ministry may involve the sacrifice of self, the crucifixion of pride.

3. The prospect of the future exaltation of the lowly. This is a proper motive, for it is one presented by the inspired writers. The way of self-denial is the way to victory.

4. The precepts and example of the Lord Jesus himself must have great force with his affectionate followers; and he has shown us that it is right and admirable even "to wash one another's feet"! - J.R.T.

The apostle is not thinking of those who are young in years when he writes, "Likewise, ye younger." In the early Church the ministers were to he tried men, consequently they were more advanced in experience than most of the rest, and thus were called elders as their official designation; and those who are here addressed are the private members of the Church. He speaks of them as "younger," a term corresponding to "elder." "Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder." All that Peter actually says of the conduct becoming the Church to its ministers is in that word "submit." He then applies the principle on a much broader scale. From the fifth verse to the ninth the one idea is self-submission, and, having struck that key, he says, "Let there be the humility of subjection to one another; the humility of submission to God; and the humility of suspicion with regard to Satan." Our subject is - The conduct becoming Church members towards the elders of the Church, and the principle applied generally. Self-suppression was not always Peter's characteristic; the Peter of the Gospels almost always asserted himself and took the lead; the Peter of the Epistles, Peter the aged, has grown in gentleness by growing downwards.

I. THE DIVINE DEMAND FOR HUMILITY. "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." It is probably correct to say that pride is wherever self is put first, and refuses to submit either to God or man. There is the pride of self-righteousness; the pride of self-glorification; the pride of self-reliance; the pride of self-will, etc.

1. Think of God's resistance of pride. The word really means, "God sets himself in battle array" against the proud. But can God be against man? May I use an illustration? God is like a river; his laws ever sweep to the great ocean of blessing his love desires for men, and those who submit to be carried by them where they will, ever find that God is wholly on man's side; but let them set themselves against those laws, and try to make headway and reach success in opposition to them, when, then, they are beaten about and disappointed, and at last utterly ruined, are they at liberty to say that God is against them? No, and Yes. No, because they were against him, and it was not God resisting them, but-they resisting God. Yes, because in doing that they brought all the Divine force to bear against them. Think of having the whole of God, his purposes, his laws, his providences, yea, and his love, turned to fight against us.

2. "God giveth grace to tire humble." Grace! what grace? All kinds of grace - all the varied treasures which he designs for his children, and which Christ's sacrifice has purchased for them. Grace according to the riches of Divine glory. Who can have it? The consciously empty heart, submitting itself to God, to be filled by him.

II. THE APPLICATION OF THIS DEMAND FOR HUMILITY TO THE MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP OF CHRISTIANS. "All of you," ministers and people, "be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." The apostle here uses a rare and curious word; in the Revised Version it is rendered, "Gird yourselves with humility." Another instance of how Peter's early life reproduces itself in this Epistle.

1. Humble subjection to one another is his demand. Forego for others something to which you may be entitled - some pleasure, or distinction, or convenience, which none could blame you for accepting, but which for the happiness of your brother you willingly give up. And this when you have to stoop to do it, when it involves a bringing down of your pride, when it is on behalf of the unworthy, possibly of an enemy, or one lower than you.

2. This must be a matter of personal discipline. Humility does not grow on us; it is foreign to our proud selfish nature; and the soul which sets out at the Divine bidding to acquire this spirit of humility to which God imparts all grace, will have to be much alone with itself and God, and not be in a moment's doubt as to where lies one of the great battlefields of life.

3. This humble subjection to one another is greatly due to the keeping of Christ's example before us. If we are plagued with pride, with a spirit that stands aloof, that cannot bend, nor yield, nor serve, but that wants to lead and receive homage, that spirit from which God withholds his grace, let us set Christ before us. The mind that was in him will be in us only as we keep him in view; the taw of heaven fulfilled on earth - looking, we become like.

III. THIS DEMAND (FOR HUMILITY) STILL FURTHER APPLIED TO OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD UNDER AFFLICTION. It is implied here that pride of heart is likely to manifest itself in affliction in two ways.

1. In rebellion against God, casting us down. Affliction may come through many means, but, let the means be what they may, it is "the mighty hand of God." Now, our tendency is to rebel against him and his will, and this rebellion is the essence of pride; it is the soul lifting up its own judgment against the wisdom of the Most High. We call our murmuring at God's will by much softer names than this, but this is what it is; let us shrink from it with all our might. Here is our Pattern. A Pleader in the dark grove of Gethsemane, pleading in his agony, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" but adding, in the utter humility of his faith, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"

2. In unwillingness to trust him. We think our affairs depend on us, and that, if we fail, they must fail. I say it is a subtle pride that is at the bottom of that, the soul unwilling to let God be everything. We must lose that; for God's happiness and glory, we must lose it; we must be ready to confide in him absolutely, though we cannot see what he is doing, and cannot do anything more for ourselves. We must rely entirely on his love.

3. But whence comes this humility? "Know thyself." Depend upon it, we shall be humble enough if we know ourselves. But we shall only know ourselves as we know Jesus; in his greatness we discover our littleness, in his goodness our sin, in his life our example, in his love our coldness, in his cross our doom. - C.N.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, etc. Approaching the end of his letter, the apostle condenses into two or three almost electric sentences some most momentous practical directions for troubled Christian men. In these directions we learn -


1. Devout humility, and with it freedom from anxiety. The two are more closely associated than we sometimes imagine. Let us look at them separately, and then in their combination. "Humble yourselves.., under the mighty hand of God."

(1) Self-humbling is true humility. To be crushed by others or by circumstances may be only humiliation.

(2) Humbling of self before God is true humility. Towards God first and chiefly the emotion is to be cherished, the attitude maintained.

(3) Humbling of self before a personal, great, and loving God is true humility. "Mighty hand of God." Not a force, but a "hand" - a hand as gentle as mighty.

(4) Humbling of self before, such a God will lead to exaltation "in due time he will exalt." "Casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you." "Anxiety;" perplexing, dividing, cutting thought. "Cast;" by a brave and resolute and simple act of will. "For he careth." Not anxiety now, but clear, loving, constant interest. Now, we can see how true humility leads to freedom from anxiety. The relationship and attitude of the soul towards God is the key to both.

2. Sober watchfulness, and with it stern conflict. "Be sober," etc. Note the need for the watchfulness.

(1) An enemy. "Your adversary the devil."

(2) An active enemy. "Walketh about."

(3) A destructive enemy. "Whom he may devour."

(4) An enemy who can be resisted. "Whom withstand."

(5) An enemy whom others have contended with and conquered. "The same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world."

Into that trial and battle and storm all the brotherhood, even the great elder Brother, have gone.


1. A destiny that is wonderful. "God of grace " - compassion, favor, help. "Called." God compels rivers, oceans, in their courses, etc., but calls souls to their high destiny. "Eternal glory in Christ;" such as is

(1) revealed in Christ;

(2) shared with Christ;

(3) inherited through Christ.

2. A trial that is transient. "Alter ye have suffered a little while." Often it seems long. "Life, an age to the miserable, a moment to the happy." But it is a "little while" comparatively to eternity, and absolute in itself.

3. A character that is complete. "Perfect;" no deficiency or defect. "Stablish;" all this to be made permanent. Not goodness like the early cloud and morning dew. "Strengthen;" inspire with force to overcome all hostile influences.

4. A character that calls for praise to God. "To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Peter exulted that God reigned, and yearned for him to have empire that was universal and perpetual, and acknowledged by all with the "Amen," not only of all men, but of all the powers in every man. - U.R.T.

The Christian religion is not simply a body of doctrine, it is a provision of grace. Its practical helpfulness has been proved by all who have accepted its guidance and put themselves under its authority. It is intended not merely to brighten this life, when dark, by the prospect of a better life to come, but to supply motives to service and to endurance, even when toil is hard and thankless and trials are many and oppressive.

I. THE ILL THAT CALLS FOR REMEDY. This is anxiety; and from the beginning human life has abounded in occasions of anxiety. No doubt the measure of this evil varies with the character and temperament of individuals, and with their needs and circumstances. The anxieties of some are personal; those of others are relative. Many are anxious because health is broken, or circumstances are narrow, or a vocation is uncongenial. Some are anxious concerning the prospects of their children, others concerning the state of their Church or their country. The anxieties of not a few arise from their spiritual state - their temptations, doubts, and fears. These anxieties are distractions, and have a tendency to depress the spirits, to mar happiness, to cripple in the discharge of duty.

II. THE REMEDY PROPOSED FOR THIS ILL. It is, in the simple language of St. Peter - language prompted, there can be no doubt, by his own personal experience - to cast anxiety upon God. But how is this to be done? It is to be done by confession, i.e. where there is a consciousness of sin, where there has been distrust or murmuring. By prayer; in which deliverance is to be sought. "Roll thy burden," said the psalmist, "upon the Lord." By faith; in which the anxious Christian, convinced of God's all-sufficiency, is content to leave all that concerns him in the wise and merciful hands of his Father and Savior. Whether the cause for anxiety be temporal or spiritual, great or small, personal or relative, the remedy is the same, and is equally efficacious.

III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO APPLY THE REMEDY TO THE ILL WITH A VIEW TO RELIEF AND CURE. The apostle assures us that God "careth for us." By this we understand that he observes, being minded otherwise than the fabled Epicurean deities, who were deaf to human cries and indifferent to human affairs. And he takes a deep and sympathetic interest in the condition and the sorrows of his children upon earth. Nor is this all. There are ways in which God gives expression to his interest and care for his own. By his providence he guides and governs all human affairs for their good. And by his Spirit he brings their hearts into harmony with his will, and thus causes all things to work together for their good. - J.R.T.

Peter may well have remembered the Lord's appeal to him and his companions in the garden of Gethsemane, "Could ye not watch with me one hour?' And his failure upon that occasion to exercise this virtue, connected as it was with the reproach of his Divine Friend, may well have deepened his sense of the importance of the Christian virtue which he in this passage inculcated upon his readers.


1. The uncertainty of the future. No one can reckon upon events succeeding one another with even regularity, and therefore no one can make provision for time to come, and abandon himself to security and ease, assured that all things will continue as from the beginning. In our Lord's discourses we find frequent warnings of changes and catastrophes, accompanied by exhortations to vigilance.

2. The certainty that every man will be called upon, and that before very long, to appear before the Divine Judge, to give an account of the deeds done in the body. How important that that day should not come upon us unawares and find us unprepared!

3. The temptations to unfaithfulness and indolence which beset us from without. Whether Christians are vigilant or not, they may be sure the adversary of souls is upon the alert, and ready to take advantage of every opportunity of attacking us by force or seducing us by craft.

4. The frailty of our own nature is prone to concur with the enemy's activity in exposing us to spiritual danger. We have not only to watch against Satan, we have to watch against self.

II. THE METHODS AND SCOPE OF CHRISTIAN WATCHFULNESS. As the avenues by which danger approaches are many, it is necessary to set a guard against every one of them. More especially is it important:

1. To watch the thoughts. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts and sins; accordingly the precept of inspiration is most appropriate, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

2. To watch the lips. We are reminded by St. James that the tongue is a little member, but that it may be set on fire of hell. How much misery is caused by unbridled speech! - misery to the speaker himself, who regrets words spoken in sinful anger or passion of some other kind; misery to others, whose character may be blasted, whose usefulness may be crippled.

3. To watch the actions. It has been said that four-fifths of life consists of conduct. Certain it is that, unless the actions be watched, unless deeds of justice and mercy occupy the energies, all professions of religion are worthless. No man ought to be so confident of the stability and purity of his character as to deem himself exempt from the necessity of observing his conduct and consciously regulating it by the counsels of inspired wisdom.

III. THE MOTIVE TO WATCHFULNESS. The motive which will weigh most with the Christian will be the wish and authoritative command of his Lord. How deep an impression his frequent admonitions to spiritual vigilance produced upon his Church is apparent from the truly Christian names which were so frequently given or assumed by Christians; they took a pleasure in being called by such names as Gregory and Vigilantius, meaning "the Watcher." The Lord has said, "I say unto all, Watch!" "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation!" - J.R.T.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, etc. Jesus had appointed Peter to the care of his flock, and here we have the cry of the wakeful shepherd, and also another instance in which Peter's personal history reappears in the Epistle. The lesson of humility had been burnt into his heart on that dark evening when Jesus was betrayed; he had discovered then what he tells them here, that the hour of sorrow is Satan's hour. No wonder that years after he wrote with emphasis, "Cherish that Christian humility which suspects Satan."

I. THE CHRISTIAN'S ADVERSARY. The fact of this adversary. Behind the forces antagonistic to the Church, Peter sees another, the master-force, the inspiring power of all, and, thinking of him as the one great foe, speaks of "your adversary the devil." The doctrine of a personal Satan is regarded by some as a superstition. But even from the standpoint of human speculation it is not unreasonable. There are many grades of being between man and the rudimentary forms of life, and for aught we know we may be as far from the perfect creature state as from the least perfect; and as there are so many ranks between us and the one, why not also between us and the other? And if, in the highest forms of animal life, creatures begin to herd together under a chief till this becomes the invariable rule with man, why, as life rises higher into the unseen, should there not still be leaders and princes, one position above another, till all possible authority is vested in one who is called "the prince of the power of darkness." Judging thus by analogy with what we know, the idea of a personal Satan is not without reason. But when we turn to Scripture, which of necessity is our only source of information in this matter, the teaching is very plain. We have the same evidence for the personality of Satan as of God. He is universally spoken of as a person; we are taught to pray, "Deliver us from the evil one." It is said, when Scripture speaks of him thus, it is in a figure - the principle of evil personified. There can be no such thing as a principle of evil apart from mind; yet when Jesus, in whose mind was no evil, was in the wilderness, Satan was there; and in heaven, where from every mind evil has been expelled, the Book of Job tells us Satan was there. Satan appears before us in Scripture as an apostate angel, exalted above his associates, the great enemy of God and man, the first cause of sin here, the quickener of temptation in human minds, the "god of this world," permitted under Divine restraint to "blind the minds of those who believe it;" that man in his freedom of will may elect the good, and attain that holiness which must always be voluntary, and rise to that purity and blessedness which are only possible through temptation's discipline. The character of the adversary. "As a roaring lion" suggests the twofold idea of power and great cruelty. His work. "He goeth about," etc. Satan is not omnipotent, neither is he omnipresent; but he probably has larger agencies under his control than we suppose, and wherever man is, there may be no moment when, by some instrumentality, he may not have access to our will. Every circumstance may conceal our deadly foe. Are you weak? or are you a leader? Be sure his eye is fixed on you; he thirsts to destroy your faith, your purity, your peace, your good name.

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S RESISTANCE OF THE ADVERSARY. Safari tempts to cast us down; God permits him to tempt, in order to raise us up. Three ways in which we may resist him.

1. Sobriety; the opposite of intoxication. Anything that strengthens the lower principle of our nature, deadening us to conscience and reason, intoxicates. Business, love of the world, happiness, sorrow. Christian, be sober, let nothing engross thee till it masters thee.

2. Vigilance. "Be vigilant." Victory is sure to no other attitude; but this attitude must be maintained till death brings the great discharge. Sometimes Satan so takes us by surprise that we hardly know we are sinning till we have sinned. Take heed that he come not upon you unawares; five minutes off your guard may be the loss of your most sacred treasure.

3. Steadfastness in the faith. Faith in God is the fort from which the adversary would dislodge us; driven from that, all is lost, unless God in his mercy bring us back again. Satan can do us no harm whilst we are shut up in the strong walls of faith in God. What does the word "afflictions" mean, coming in where it does? Peter was writing to the afflicted, and he knew that affliction is Satan's opportunity; the afflicted know it too. It is then he whispers, "Is this a God of love? give up thy faith in him." Afflictions are a family sign; of all the brethren it shall be said, "These are they who have come out of great tribulation;" and the sufferings of the eldest Brother, God's Well-beloved, were the keenest of all.

III. THE CHRISTIAN'S STRENGTH IN RESISTANCE. "And the God of all grace," etc, Read this beautiful verse as it is in the Revised Version, and you will see that it is a Divine promise, and its position in the argument will be apparent. There is help enough in this one passage for any victory.

1. There is help in the title here ascribed to God. "The God of all grace" - of every needed grace, of every kind of grace, of every means of grace. Here is the power that overcometh Satan. "My grace is sufficient for thee."

2. There is help in the purpose here adopted by God. "Who hath called us unto his eternal glory," etc. Then he will accomplish his purpose, and, though Satan does his worst, if in our resistance of him we bear the mark of the "called," nothing shall prevent our reaching perfect victory when our "little while" of suffering shalt be forgotten in the eternal glory of the tearless land.

3. There is help in the promise here given by God. "He shall himself perfect, stablish, strengthen you." The victory shall be his. As you resist the foe, he will gird you with strength. He will nerve your arm, he will "beat down Satan under your feet;" and in that day your humbled, grateful soul will recognize that it was all of him, and will cry, with the apostle, "To him the dominion for ever and ever." - C.N.

1 Peter 5:10 (first portion)
These closing words of the Epistle, which have only some personal greetings after them, are best taken, not as a prayer, but as a full-toned assurance, like some grand swell of music at the end of an oratorio. The apostle has been speaking much about suffering and trial, especially in the latter part of his letter. He has just warned his readers of the adversary who seeks their destruction. And here against that grim figure he holds up the shield of the Name and purpose of God, and bids us be brave and jubilant amid all sufferings and in the presence of the enemy, because he is for us. We shall consider the rich significance of the various forms of the Divine help as expressed in the latter part of this verse, in another homily. For the present we confine ourselves to the former half of the verse, each clause of which sets forth a fresh ground on which a poor feeble soul may build its confidence, in spite of sorrow and Satan, that no harm will come to it.

I. THE GREAT FOUNDATION FOR THE TRIUMPHANT ASSURANCE WHICH FORESEES VICTORY IN THE MIDST OF THE SOREST CONFLICT IS THE INFINITE FULNESS AND LOVING HEART OF GOD. When surrounded by difficulties, crushed by sorrows, assaulted and battered by all the artillery of temptations, when faint of heart and conscious of one's own weakness, when dull torpor seems to have taken all warmth of feeling out of us, and many defeats to have robbed us of hope, - there is one strong tower into which we may run and be safe. The Name of the Lord, the thought of his revealed character as the God of all grace, is enough to scatter all the black-winged brood of cares and fears, and to bring the dove of peace into our hearts, though they be lonely as the ark, and all be one waste of waters around. For that great Name proclaims that his love is inexhaustible. Grace is love exercised to inferiors and undeserving persons; and, if he is the God of all grace, boundless love for the lowliest and foulest is in his heart. Anything short of such Divine fullness of love would be tired out by our slowness and repeated sin. Impatience steals into the most long-suffering heart, and the most liberal hand will shut fast at last when the ragged good-for-nothing comes for the hundredth time with the old story of shiftless improvidence and misery, and the old whining petition for help already so often given and squandered. But there is no wearying out his patient love, and no past misuse of his gifts can ever prompt him to deny us more. The God of all grace has grace for all. The Name, too, proclaims the infinite fullness of his resources. That great storehouse is inexhaustible, after all giving full. He works and is not weary. He bestows and is none the poorer. The stream has been pouring for ages with a rush like Niagara, and the flood to-day is as mighty as at the beginning. It is fed from the eternal fountains in the "mountains of God," and cannot cease. Shall we fear drought whilst we are borne on its broad bosom? The coins in circulation, though enough to enrich the world, are as nothing to the masses of bullion stored in the depths. The sun itself will die by self-communication, and that great hearth-fire will grow cold, and all the family of worlds that move around it cease to be united and warmed by its beams; but the God who is our Sun burns and is not consumed. Shall we fear freezing or darkness while we walk in the light of his face? And that great Name implies an infinite variety of resources. All diversities of grace are his, that they may be ours. Grace is not only love in exercise to inferiors, but is also the gifts of that love, which are so inseparable from it that they are called by the same name. These take the shape of every man's need, and of all the needs of every man. The bread-fruit tree to the South Sea Islanders is a storehouse from which they get all they require. Its fruit is their food, its juice their beverage, from its bark they prepare their clothing, from its wood they build their houses and fashion their weapons, its leaves make their thatch, its fibers their cordage. So the grace of God is all-sufficient - Protean in its forms, fitting each necessity as it arises, and shaped so as to give to every one of us the very thing which character and circumstances at the moment require. Shall we fear to be ever left to fall before enemies or to be crushed by our sorrows, when we have such an ever-full fountain of various grace to draw from?

II. ANOTHER GROUND OF CONFIDENT ASSURANCE IS GOD'S OWN ACT, WHICH WOULD BE STULTIFIED IF WE WERE NOT UPHELD. He "called us unto his eternal glory in Christ" Here the act of calling, and that to which we are called, and the Christ in whom we are called, are all alleged as a threefold cord on which we may hang the whole weight of our confidence. They make it inconceivable that God should not do for us all which the next clause assures us he will do. He will not leave his purpose half accomplished. Nobody shall ever have to point to his incomplete work, and say that he began to build and was not able to finish. His gifts and calling are subject to no change of his solemn purpose, He is not a son of man that he should repent. And if he wills an end, he wills the means to that end. He will assuredly provide for his children all that is needed to bring them to the glory to which he has called them. Does God summon men to his eternal glory, and forget to provide them grace? Will he call them to his own palace, and not give them an outfit for their journey? Does he send out his soldiers without ammunition or stores? "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" was Christ's great reason to his little flock why they should not fear; as if he had said, "Do you suppose that the Father who gives you a crown at last will not give you all you need on your way to it?" So a joyous temper of triumphant confidence in the face of all suffering and temptation should be ours; "for faithful is he that calleth you, who also will" carry out his purpose to the blessed end.

III. THE FINAL GROUND ON WHICH WE MAY BUILD OUR CONFIDENCE IS GOD'S APPOINTMENT OF SUFFERING AND ITS MEANING. The words, "after that ye have suffered a while," must be connected more immediately with the preceding. They teach that the way to the eternal glory is through transitory, brief suffering. The apostle comes back to the thoughts with which he began his Epistle about "for a season being in heaviness." These sufferings, then, were included in the Divine purpose. They are as much a part of his scheme, are as much a fruit of his inexhaustible love, as the glory to which they lead. They do not break in upon the Divine plan. There is no fear of their threatening its fulfillment. They are not excrescences, but essential parts of that deep counsel of the unfathomable wisdom according to which all our circumstances are appointed by him. He will not, then, be taken at unawares by them, nor will any accumulation of sorrow or suffering be any hindrance to his Divine purpose of strengthening us. The electric spark finds no resistance to its passage in the deepest sea, and though all the waves and billows go over us, his sustaining grace can none the less make its way to our hearts. Nor are they only his appointment, but their direct purpose is to fit us for the eternal glory to which we are called. Joy alone would not do that. The heart needs to be refined by sorrow, and the experience of desolation, ere it can fully receive the grace now which leads to the glory hereafter. So we are not only strengthened for, but by, sorrow; and one of God's ways of "stablishing" us is to cut away all other props, that we may lean all our weight upon him. Faith, then, out of the lion brings honey, wrings hope and assured triumph out of the very pains and foes that beset us, as if one should draw lightning to guide him on his road from the heavy thunder-clouds that frown above him. When sorrow comes, see in it a part of that Divine plan which issues in eternal glory, see in it one of the channels by which that plan shall be accomplished, that glory reached, and the grace of the God of all grace enter more abundantly into your heart. So good cheer will be born of sadness, as radiant morning from night, and your light affliction, which is but for a moment, will bring you even now a confidence in God and an enlarged strength, which are precursors and pledges of an eternal weight of glory. - A.M.

1 Peter 5:10 (latter half)
The apostle has so exalted an idea of the fullness and variety of the operations of God's grace that he heaps together here all these terms which substantially express the same idea. The accumulation, however, is not empty tautology. It witnesses to the joyful emotion which fills his heart. It brings to view the completeness of the multiform help which our need in all its aspects may expect to receive. That great river of ever-flowing Divine communication parts into the four heads which water all the Eden of the renewed soul. Though the ideas be closely connected, yet we may distinguish between them, and may let our thoughts dwell on these words, in which the apostle seeks to breathe his own cheerful confidence into sorrowful and tried hearts, as illustrating both man's manifold need and God's manifold grace. The whole verse is best regarded, with the Revised Version, not as a prayer, but as an assurance: "God shall perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

I. OUR FAILURES AND IMPERFECTIONS WILL BE REPAIRED. The word here translated "perfect" properly means "to restore to a state of completeness." It is used to describe the process of mending nets. It is used in its ethical sense (Galatians 6:1) to express the Christian duty of restoring the brother overtaken in a fault. And so it is employed here for that great work of Divine grace by which our defects are made good, the rents which sin has made mended, the tarnished purity given back, the scars effaced. That form of the Divine help answers to the deepest of our needs, and, in its incipient stages, is the firstfruits of the great harvest of God's grace which a believing soul reaps. We need first of all forgiveness and the removal of the guilt of our sins. All restoration of fallen men to the lost ideal of man, which is the likeness of God, must begin there, and then there follows a long process which the patient God carries on, mending us by slow degrees, and step by step supplementing this defect and repairing the results of that sin, till there be no gaps remaining needing to be filled and no flaws in character needing to be corrected. "'Tis a lifelong task till the lump be leavened." The restoring grace has to permeate all the crannies and corners of the soul. It must transform and expel, if it is to mend and restore. When we think of our own defects and see how much is lacking in our characters, we may well feel that nothing can ever fill up these. Then the confidence of this brave text may hearten us. It is the God of all grace to whom we look for our perfecting. No emptiness can be so vast and so empty that that "all cannot fill it. No man can have gone so far from the right way, or had his nature so lacerated by sin's cruel fangs, that that all" cannot heal and repair the damage. Therefore the more we sound the height, and length, and breadth, and depth of our imperfections and sins, the more joyfully should we think of the completeness of that power which overlaps them on all sides and surpasses them in every dimension, and the more confidently should we exclaim, "The God of all grace shall restore us and complete us."

II. OUR FLUCTUATIONS WILL BE STEADIED. The God of all grace will stablish us. The assurance comes with special force from the life of the apostle whose earlier character had been marked by such extreme variations, and by such an enormous difference between high and low water. If ever there was a believer whose impulsiveness needed steadying, it was the man who is denying his Master from fear of a maidservant's sharp tongue less than four and twenty hours after he had bragged that, whoever fled, he would stand by him. Such quick alternations of hot and cold fits indicate a character very lovable, no doubt, in its transparency and in its generous impulses, but needing much painful discipline, before it can be consolidated into "rock," and Peter deserve his new name. There are many indications in this Epistle that the result had been attained, and that Peter's assurance here is in some measure a transcript of his own experience. But however that may be, the operation of the grace of God is to give firmness and solidity of character, both as against our own vacillations, and as against outward oppositions which bring a constant pressure against us to move us from our foundation. So long as we are on this earth and in this body, we shall be subject to variations both in the clearness of our perceptions of religious truth and in the warmth of our religious emotions, but God's grace is able to diminish the range of our thermometers, so that there shall not be so many degrees between the summer maximum and the winter minimum, and to bring about a gradual approximation to a uniformity in which emotion shall be converted into steadfast principle. If we are to be thus established, we must open our hearts for the entry of the grace which will steady us, and so we find, a verse or two before our text, that the apostle has bid his readers be "steadfast in the faith," where he employs a word which is cognate with that here used. Faith knits us to God, anti sets wide the portals of the heart that the flood of his power may enter in. If we trust him, he will hold us up. If we set the Lord at our right hands, we shall not be moved. Our hearts are changeful, and our temperaments may be impulsive and fickle, but God's grace is given us to help us to conquer our temperaments and change our dispositions. If we will let it work its work upon us, it will make us partakers of an inviolable and unshaken evenness of soul, which is a faint shadow of God's own unchangeableness.

III. OUR WEAKNESSES WILL BE STRENGTHENED. Our manifold need may be contemplated in yet another aspect. We are weak, and we need strength. If we measure our power compared with what we have to do, still more as compared with what we have to resist and suffer, how disproportionate it is! Heavy tasks have to be done, hard battles to be fought, bitter sorrows to be borne and "who is sufficient for these things?" Our weakness is our misery, and often it is our sin. It comes partly from the natural limits of our powers, but far more from the enfeebling influence of living to self, which, like fever, burns away energy and leaves us exhausted. What we are unfit by nature to do is not duty to do. It may be and often is duty to attempt what seems more than we can manage, and experience confirms faith in the expectation that power grows in the effort. But that which is plainly beyond our measure is not binding on us. God never bids us do what he does not strengthen us to do. And the feeblest Christian may cherish the triumphant assurance given to us all here that he will get all the power he needs for work, warfare, and sorrow. How will the strength come? It will be breathed into us by the communication of the mighty Spirit who dwells in all Christian souls. He is the Comforter, in the proper meaning of that word - the Strengthener, by whose companionship all weakness is invigorated, and the whole nature quickened into higher energy. We shall be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. It will come by the increase of faith; for dependence on God of itself brings strength, and to be persuaded that we have him to lean on makes the weak strong. It will come from self-control and self-denial; for the life purged of that taint is strong.

"My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure." An indwelling God will be the glory of our strength, and, possessing his grace, "the weakest may be as David, and David as an angel of God."

IV. WE SHALL BE FIXED ON THE FOUNDATION. The Revised Version omits the word "settle," and is probably correct in doing so. In addition to the external evidence against it, we may notice that. it conveys an idea of a somewhat different order to those of the preceding verbs, inasmuch as it introduces the thought of a foundation external to us, while they pointed entirely to inward processes. That very difference in the point of view may have been the reason for the insertion of the word, which, even if it be spurious, conveys a very striking and important concluding thought. All the preceding assurances will only be realized in proportion as we are fixed and abide on the one foundation. This unmoved repose on it is expressed by that final word "settle." All repair of our manifold imperfections and sins, all fixity of character and purpose, all strength for service or for suffering, comes from union with Christ the Foundation. Our organic oneness with him is not only like the resting of a building on the rock, it is like the rooting of a tree in the ground from which it draws nourishment; and, more wonderful still, is like the union of a branch with the stem from which it draws life. If we rest by faith on Jesus Christ, we have a basis for our thoughts, a foundation on which we can build holy, strenuous, and blessed lives. We have union with the personal Source of all completeness, of all resolute self-command and heroic persistence, as well as of all strength. If we keep near to Christ, his life will pass into our deadness, and all our needs will be supplied flora that fullness of which all who believe receive, and grace for grace. - A.M.

This language, so natural coming from the pen of an inspired apostle, would have been almost impossible to a religious teacher ignorant of Christ. It is testimony to the moral revolution wrought by the Christian faith that such a description of the almighty and eternal power should seem to us just and by no means singular. For nowhere can we meet with language more glorious in itself, more comforting to feeble, sinful, needy men.

I. A SUBLIME DOCTRINE CONCERNING GOD. To some minds omnipotence or omniscience might appear the grandest attributes to be predicated of the Supreme. But to the Christian the moral attributes are the most majestic. That the Eternal is a God of grace is to him the peculiar revelation of Christianity, transcending in excellence every other representation of the character of Deity. And that "all grace" should be attributed to God enhances our conception of his glory. In fact, it is the manifestation of God in Christ which makes this declaration comprehensible and real to us.

II. A DOCTRINE MOST CONSOLATORY TO MEN. There is no one of us, at any moment of his life, who does not stand in need of grace - pardoning grace, renewing grace, strengthening grace, enlightening grace, consoling grace. And when our Father in heaven is thus depicted by the inspired apostle, the Christian reader cannot but recognize, in such a delightful representation, abundant ground for gratitude, abundant encouragement to faith, abundant stimulant to prayer; whilst he who has offended against God's righteous laws, and who repents of his transgressions, may find, in this representation, ground for approaching the Divine presence with the assurance of a favorable reception and of forgiving mercy. - J.R.T.


1. The bearer. "By Silvanus, our faithful-brother, as I account him, I have written unto you briefly." Peter has written at considerable length, and yet, in comparison with the crowding of thoughts on his mind, briefly, being able to be brief because he had so qualified a messenger in Silvanus. This Silvanus or Silas is a link between Peter and Paul. He was associated with Paul in the writing of the two letters to the Thessalonians. He had assisted Paul in the founding of the Churches here addressed. This associate and assistant of Paul's Peter accounted a faithful brother. As he had been faithful in past services to the Churches, he would also be faithful in this.

2. Aim. "Exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God: stand ye fast therein." "He proposed an exhorting and a testifying, both in close connection with each other, as- the immediate juxtaposition of the ideas shows. The occasion of them lay in this, that the readers, as professing Christians, had to endure severe afflictions through the slanders of the heathen. In view of the dangers lying therein, the apostle was careful, on the one hand, to exhort them to patience, by directing their minds to the future inheritance, as also to the continuance in holiness, and to a conduct towards each other and towards the heathen, such as would lead the latter to see how groundless their slanders were; and, on the other hand, that his exhortation might not be without a firm basis, to assure them that a state of suffering was the true Divine state of grace" (Huther). Having stated his aim, he also exemplifies it. Having testified to their standing in the true grace (we. may understand through Pauline preaching, which thus agreed with Petrine preaching) he exhorts them to stand fast therein.


1. The Church in Babylon. "She that is in Babylon, elect together with you, saluteth you." It is significant of the widespread activity of Peter that he was at this time writing from Babylon. He was attracted to this city (changed from what it had once been) by the number of Jews that were resident there· Christianity had found a congenial soil among them; and now, on the occasion of Peter writing to the elect Churches of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia the co-elect Babylonian Church sends greeting to them.

2. Mark. "And so doth Mark my son." As Timothy to Paul, so was Mark to Peter, his son, i.e. convert, companion, helper. It was to the house of Mary the mother of Mark that Peter went when he was miraculously delivered from prison; it is pleasing to see the old friendship kept up. Thus associated, we can scarcely think of Mark writing his Gospel without consulting with Peter.

3. Mutual salutation. "Salute one another with a kiss of love." What Paul calls the holy kiss, Peter calls the kiss of love, i.e. Christian brotherly love. When this Epistle was read aloud in open assembly, at the close of the reading, the men were to kiss each other, and the women, sitting apart, were also to kiss each other. The fraternal kiss, with which every one, after being baptized, was received into the particular community - which the members bestowed on each other just before the celebration of the communion, and with which every Christian saluted his brother, though he never saw him before - was not an empty form, but the expression of Christian feeling; a token of the relation in which Christians conceived themselves to stand to each other. It was this, indeed, which in a cold and selfish age struck the pagans with wonder; to behold men of different countries, ranks, stages of culture, so intimately bound together; to see the stranger who came into a city, and by his letter of recognition made himself known to the Christians of the place as a brother beyond suspicion, finding at once among them, to whom he was personally unknown, all manner of brotherly sympathy and protection (Neander).

III. BENEDICTION. "Peace be unto you all that are in Christ." Christ said, "Peace be unto you." The addition made by Peter to the Master's words defines the range within which he invokes peace. Let none that are in Christ want the peace of the Divine forgiveness, of the Divine keeping. - R.F.

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