1 Peter 5

1 Peter 5:1

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,

(a) The elders. An elder or overseer watches over and cares for the church, a role they fulfil by teaching, praying, and setting a good example (Tit. 1:9, 1 Pet. 5:3, Jas. 5:14).

(b) The elders among you. Although Peter’s letter was addressed to scattered believers who had fled Judea and resettled in Asia Minor, it was circulated among churches led by elders. The elders received the letter and read it out in the church.

(c) Your fellow elder. Peter was one of the greatest apostles and a close personal friend of Jesus, yet when writing to churches led by elders he identified himself as a fellow elder. In doing this he modelled Christlike leadership which is characterized by humility and setting an example for others to follow.

(c) Witness. Peter reminds us that he was present at the key events of Christ’s life and ministry including the crucifixion. In contrast with false teachers who belittle things they haven’t experienced and who boast about things they don’t understand, Peter had massive credibility.

(e) A partaker also of the glory. Peter was present on the Mount of Transfiguration when the Lord Jesus Christ was unveiled in power and glory. See entry for 2 Peter 1:16.

(f) The glory that is to be revealed is synonymous with the salvation that is to be revealed when Jesus Christ returns and we are clothed with glory (1 Pet. 1:5). Peter is saying, “On the mountain I had a taste of what is coming when the Lord returns in glory.”

1 Peter 5:2

shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;

(a) Shepherd the flock. An elder is not a CEO or general but a shepherd like Jesus (1 Pet. 2:25). The original word for shepherd (poimaino) is related to a noun (poimen) that is sometimes translated as pastor (Eph. 4:11). A pastor is a shepherd. The exhortation to care for the sheep is something Peter heard from the Good Shepherd himself (John 21:15–17).

(b) Exercising oversight. Shepherds watch over and care for the sheep.

(c) Voluntarily. Willingly.

(d) Not for sordid gain. Don’t become a pastor for the money. Do it because it is a privilege and an honor to care for the Shepherd’s sheep.

1 Peter 5:3

nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

(a) Lording. As Jesus taught and modelled, Christlike leaders are to be servant-hearted and not lord it over others (Matt. 20:25–26). Sadly, his words and example are forgotten in cultures characterized by control and coercion. When church leaders are put on pedestals, the opportunity for abuse is never far away.

Further reading: “Bullying in the church

(b) Examples. A godly pastor does not throw their weight around like a tyrant but sets an example for others to follow. They have the same mindset as Paul who said “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

What does a pastor do? Pastors are asked to do a hundred different things, but in the Bible they mainly do three things: they set an example for others to follow, they prayerfully watch over those in their care, and they teach so that the body of Christ may be strengthened and equipped (See Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:11, Tit. 1:9, Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:2–3). Not all teachers are pastors, but all pastors are teachers, in one form or another.

1 Peter 5:4

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

(a) The Chief Shepherd. Although pastors are shepherds, the sheep belong to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ (see entry for 1 Pet. 2:25).

(b) The unfading crown of glory is synonymous with the crown of life that Jesus gives to all who love him (Jas. 1:12). Crowns are given to all the children of the King, and the least crown, if there is such a thing, is more glorious than the most splendid crown on earth.

(c) Glory; see entry for 1 Pet. 1:21.

1 Peter 5:5

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

(a) Younger men. Since the original words are gender neutral, this should be read as younger people.

(b) Be subject means to yield or submit. It is something the young people do for their elders and not something those who are older impose on those who are younger. It’s an act of love from the one submitting, not an act of control imposed by the one being submitted to (1 Pet. 2:13).

(c) Elders; see entry for 1 Pet. 5:1.

(d) All of you. The original word for subject (hupotasso) appears twice in this verse, first in connection with younger men, then in connection with everyone else. As other translations have it: “All of you be subject one to another.” As in all matters of love, submission is a two-way street.

(e) Humility is the defining characteristic of any Christian relationship or organization. Humility attracts the grace of God.

(f) God opposes the proud. The proud who resist grace will find God resisting them. (The capitalized quote is from Proverbs 3:34 as it appears in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament.)

One way that God resists the proud is by applying the hammer of the law to the hard and stubborn heart. To those who say, “I have no need of grace for I am good enough,” the law replies, “You are not good at all. You are a lawbreaker, deserving of death, and in desperate need of grace.”

(g) Grace captures the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. Grace is God’s divine aid that supernaturally empowers you to be who he made you to be. See entry for Grace of God.

(h) But gives grace to the humble. We all need grace, but grace only comes to those who are honest enough to acknowledge their need for it (Jas. 4:6).

1 Peter 5:6

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

(a) Humble yourselves. As an act of love, we give preference to one another (Rom. 12:10). Note that we don’t humble others; we humble ourselves (1 Pet. 5:3).

(b) The mighty hand of God. When we submit to spouses, bosses, and one another in love (1 Pet. 2:18, 3:8, 5:5), we are submitting to the Lord of all. This is particularly true if the person we are submitting to is unreasonable. In the natural, they may not deserve our love. But we love them anyway and we pray for them because God loves them and his love burns in our hearts.

(c) He may exalt you at the proper time. True promotion comes from the Lord and it comes in his good timing.

1 Peter 5:7

casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

(a) Casting. God wants you to live carefree and untroubled by worry. To cast your cares is to say, “Take these burdens, Lord, for I will carry them no longer.” Since you belong to the Lord (1 Pet. 2:9), your burdens belong to him. They are not yours but his and he is well able to bear them.

(b) He cares for you. God is not a distant deity but your loving Father who is interested in everything about you (see Luke 12:7). You are the apple of his eye.

1 Peter 5:8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

(a) Sober spirit. Be clearheaded and live with your eyes open; see entry for 1 Pet. 1:13.

(b) Be on the alert. Don’t get caught napping. Watch your thought life. Guard your heart. Take care not to heed any message that might distract you from simple faith in Jesus.

(c) Adversary. The original word (antidikos) means an opponent in a lawsuit. The devil is a legalist who will try to bring charges against you. He will accuse you of being a failure, being neglectful, being imperfect. He does this to undermine your faith and provoke you to respond in your own strength. A better response is to take those charges and accusations and give them to Jesus your Advocate who defends you (1 John 2:1).

(d) The devil, is a defeated and disarmed enemy (Heb. 2:14). The only way he can defeat you is by deceiving you and filling you with fear and anxiety. He will tell you that God is angry with you or that you are beyond the reach of his grace. “You have committed the unforgivable sin and God won’t accept you.” Ignore his damnable lies; listen to Jesus. Read the previous verse and cast all your anxiety on the Lord who cares for you.

(e) Like a roaring lion seeking. What sort of lion roars while it seeks its prey? This toothless lion is all roar and no bite. He’s trying to frighten you with his lies and accusations because that’s his only trick.

(f) Seeking someone. The devil can’t just devour people; he can only go after those who have wandered from the Good Shepherd and aren’t standing firm in the faith (see next verse).

1 Peter 5:9

But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

(a) Resist him. We actively resist the devil by submitting to God (Jas. 4:7).

Spiritual warfare for the Christian is less about shouting at the devil and more about believing that Jesus is Lord over whatever situation we face (1 Cor. 15:57). Unbelief says we must engage the enemy and fight for the victory, but faith declares that Jesus has already won. Unbelief cowers before the name of the adversary, whether it’s disease, debt, or depression, but faith exalts the Name that is above every name.

(b) Firm in your faith. To be firm in the faith we must stand firm in the grace of God (see entry for 1 Pet. 5:12).

(c) Suffering for being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:16).

(d) Your brethren. Fellow believers around the world. When we go through trials it’s tempting to think that we are alone and nobody understands what we are going through. That is rarely the case.

1 Peter 5:10

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

(a) A little while. All earthly afflictions are temporary and fleeting in comparison with eternity (2 Cor. 4:17).

(b) The God of all grace. All love and grace originates with God. Grace is what the unconditional love of God looks like from our side. Grace is love come down.

Manmade religion portrays God as an angry deity who can be bought off with sacrifices and good works. But the God that Jesus revealed sits on a throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). He blesses us for no other reason than he loves us.

(c) Grace; see entry for 1 Pet. 5:5.

(d) Who called you; see the entry for 1 Peter 1:15.

(e) Glory; see entry for 1 Pet. 1:21.

(f) Will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. We are saved and kept by grace.

Most Christians know that it is on account of God’s grace that we are saved (Acts 15:11, Eph. 2:8, 2 Tim. 1:9), forgiven (Eph. 1:7), justified (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) and made alive with Christ (Eph. 2:5). But they may not fully appreciate that all of God’s blessings come by grace (Eph. 1:3).

Grace builds us up (Acts 20:32), empowers us to do good works (Gal. 2:9), makes us fruitful (Col. 1:6), and prospers us (2 Cor. 8:9, 9:8). Grace gives us hope (2 Th. 2:6) and enables us to reign in life (Rom. 5:21). Grace is not merely for “sinners” and those outside the kingdom. Grace is for all of us, every day.

(g) Perfect. The original verb (katartizo) means to repair, adjust, equip, and thoroughly complete. Dead religion says you have to fix yourself, but the gospel of grace says you can trust the Lord to complete the good work he has begun in you (Php. 1:6).

(h) Confirm. The original verb (sterizo) means to fix or set firmly in place. It is usually translated as establish and strengthen, so Peter is repeating himself for emphasis.

1 Peter 5:11

To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Dominion. Peter repeats part of his praise prayer of 1 Peter 4:11.

1 Peter 5:12

Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!

(a) Silvanus was the Romanized name of Silas, a colleague of both Peter and Paul (see entry for 1 Thess. 1:1). Silvanus delivered Peter’s letter to the churches in the five Roman provinces of Asia Minor (1 Pet. 1:1). Silvanus would have been known to these churches as he had passed through the region on his travels with Paul.

(b) The true grace of God can be contrasted with the counterfeit grace preached by false teachers. False grace promotes sin and self-trust while true grace inspires you to rely on Christ Jesus. Sadly, there have always been some who preach a false kind of grace, and Peter will have more to say about them in the second chapter of his second letter.

(c) Grace; see entry for 1 Pet. 5:5.

(d) Stand firm in it! Everything in the Christian life depends upon us standing firm in the true grace of God. Since God’s grace comes to us through his Son (John 1:17), Peter is saying, “Hold fast to Jesus and let nothing move you.”

1 Peter 5:13

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.

(a) She who is in Babylon. Who is she? Nobody knows. She could be a woman (Peter’s wife? John Mark’s mother?) or the church itself.

(b) Babylon was probably a code name for Rome. Peter sent his letter from Rome to believers in nearby provinces (1 Pet. 1:1).

(c) Mark is widely believed to be John Mark, the probable author of the Gospel of Mark. John Mark was friends with both Paul and Peter (Acts 12:25). Just as Paul called Timothy a spiritual son in the faith (1 Tim. 1:18), Peter considered Mark to be a spiritual son. Papias, the Bishop of Hierapolis, considered Mark’s Gospel to be based on Peter’s memories.

1 Peter 5:14

Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

(a) A kiss of love. Like the Jews before them (Gen. 27:26, Luke 7:45), the early Christians greeted one another with a kiss of friendship (Acts 20:37). Paul called this greeting a holy kiss (1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Thess. 5:26); Peter called it a kiss of love.

(b) All who are in Christ. Believers.

You are in Christ and he is in you. There are no stages to spiritual union with Christ; you are either in Christ or you need to be. See entry for Union.

The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got a suggestion? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply