1 Peter 5:2-4
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre…
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.
I. THE NATURE OF THE PASTORAL LIFE AND MINISTRY.
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."
III. THE RECOMPENSE OF THE PASTORAL LIFE AND MINISTRY.
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;