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. THE DUTY ENJOINED. Every step of the way of our salvation hath on it the print of infinite majesty, wisdom, and goodness; and this amongst the rest, that sinful, weak men are made subservient in that great work of bringing Christ and souls to meet, and that the life which is conveyed to them by the word of life in the hands of poor men, is by the same means preserved and advanced. Oh, what dexterity and diligence, and, above all, what affection are needful for this task! Who would not faint in it, were not our Lord the Chief Shepherd, were not all our sufficiency laid up in His rich fulness, and all our insufficiency covered in His gracious acceptance?
II. THE DISCHARGE OF THIS HIGH TASK we have here duly qualified. The apostle expresses the upright way of it both negatively and positively.
1. There be three evils he would remove from this work — constrainedness, covetousness, and ambition — as opposed to willingness, a ready mind, and exemplary temper and behaviour.
(1) We are cautioned against constrainedness, against being driven to the work by necessity, indigence, and want of other means of subsistence, as it is with too many, making a trade of it to live by; yea, making it the refuge and forlorn resource of their insufficiency for other callings. This willingness should not arise from any thing but pure affection to the work.
(2) Not for filthy gain, but purely from the inward bent of the mind. As it should not be a compulsive motion from without, so it should not be an artificial motion by weights hung on within, avarice and love of gain. The former were a wheel, driven or drawn, going by force; the latter little better, as a clock made to go by art, by weights hung to it. But there should be a natural motion, like that of the heavens in their course.
(3) The third evil is ambition, and that is either in the affecting of undue authority, or the tyrannical exercise of due authority, or to seek those dignities that suit not with this charge.
2. "But being ensamples": such a pattern as they may stamp and print their spirits and carriage by, and be followers of you as you are of Christ. And without this, there is little or no fruitful teaching.
III. THE HIGH ADVANTAGE. "And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear," etc. Thou shalt lose nothing by all this restraint from base gain, and vain glory, and worldly power. Let them all go for "a crown" — that weighs them all down, that shall abide forever. Oh, how far more excellent: — "a crown of glory," pure, unmixed glory, without any pride or sinful vanity, or any danger of it — and a crown "that fadeth not," of such a flower as withers not. May they not well trample on base gain and vain applause, who have this crown to look to? They that will be content with those things let them be so; they have their reward, and it is done and gone, when faithful followers are to receive theirs.
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: