The Rightful Authority of Experience
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…

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.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

WEB: Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

The Proud Abased and the Humble Exalted
Top of Page
Top of Page