1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…
I. I shall DESCRIBE THE NATURE, QUALIFICATIONS, AND DUTIES OF THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE AS STATED IN THE CONTEXT.
1. I shall consider the duties which this figurative description of the pastoral office implies.
(1) It is incumbent on a Christian shepherd to feed the flock. And what is the provision with which he is to feed them? Food for the mind and heart, suited to their condition as rational beings, as fallen sinners, and as immortal creatures, the truth as it is in Jesus.
(2) Inspection of the state of the flock is another duty implied in this figure. We should know the circumstances of our people, the sorrows which oppress, the cares which perplex, the sins which beset them, and the difficulties which embarrass them, in order that we may give to each "a portion of meat in due season."(3) Protection of his flock is also the duty of a shepherd. Is not Satan perpetually going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour? Is not the spirit of the world ever watching for an opportunity to devastate the interests of piety in our churches? Are there not heresies ever lurking about the pastures of truth?
(4) Affectionate tenderness is generally associated with the character of a shepherd.
(5) A faithful minister will enforce all his instructions by his example.
2. The apostle states in a negative form the manner in which the duties of the pastoral office are to be entered upon and discharged.
(1) A minister is not to take upon him the oversight of flock under constraint, but with a willing mind.
(2) We are forbidden to take the oversight of the flock for the sake of filthy lucre.
(3) A Christian minister is not to lord it over God's heritage. He has no dominion over the conscience; his power in the church is ministerial, not legislatorial.
II. I shall consider his SUBORDINATION AND RESPONSIBILITY TO CHRIST. These are implied in the expression, "the Chief Shepherd." It is needless to say that this refers to our Divine Lord. This epithet implies —
1. His superiority to all others. They are mere men of the same nature as their flocks; He in His mysterious and complex person unites the uncreated glories of the Godhead with the milder beauties of the perfect man. They (in a good sense of the term) are hired pastors; He is the great Proprietor of the sheep. They partake of the infirmities of the people; He is holy, harmless, and undefiled. They are encompassed with ignorance, and with the best intentions often err in the direction of the church. Unerring wisdom characterises all His dispensations. They possess affection for their flock, but the warmest bosom that ever glowed with ministerial love is as the frigid zone itself compared with the love of His heart. They are weak, and are often ready to sink under the multiplied cares of office; but though the government is upon His shoulder, He fainteth not, neither is weary. They are mortal, and continue not by reason of death; He is the "blessed and only Potentate, who only hath immortality," and reigns, as Head over all things to His Church, not "by the law of a carnal commandment, but by the power of an endless life."
2. This epithet implies the authority of Christ. He, in this respect, is the Chief Shepherd. It is exclusively His right to rule in the Church, to regulate all its concerns and all its officers.
III. Turn we now to contemplate THE FAITHFUL MINISTER'S GLORIOUS REWARD.
1. The reward will be bestowed when the Chief Shepherd shall appear.
2. But I must consider of what the reward is to consist. "He shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."(1) The figure implies honourable distinction. The crown was an emblem of honour. The faithful pastor will no doubt be singled out amidst the solemnities of the last day, and occupy a station where every eye will behold him. He will receive a public testimony of approbation from the Chief Shepherd.
(2) Perfect felicity is evidently implied in this figurative description of a minister's reward. The crown of victory was worn on days of public rejoicing, and he who wore it was considered the happiest of the festive throng, and the centre of the universal joy. He received the congratulations of the admiring multitude as having reached the summit of human happiness. The apostle, therefore, intended to include the idea of perfect happiness in his beautiful illusion. The holy pastor shall partake, in common with his people, of all those sublime felicities which the Father hath prepared for them that love Him.
(3) Eternal duration is ascribed by the apostle to the honour and happiness promised in the text.
(J. A. James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: