1 Peter 5:1

(1-11) FURTHER EXHORTATIONS SUGGESTED BY THE CRISIS.--The officers of the community are not to flinch from the duties imposed upon them, nor yet to perform them in any spirit of self-assertion. The laity, on the other hand, are to observe discipline. Indeed, mutual submission is the only safe-guard in the face of a common danger. An unbroken front must be presented, and the sense of brotherhood fostered.

(1) The elders which are among you . . .--The best text preserves the word "therefore" after "elders." In view, that is, of these hopes and threats, of the present persecution, and of the coming judgment, St. Peter gives his solemn charge to those who shared with him the responsibility of office in the Church. The word rendered "exhort" is that common New Testament word (parakalo), which we miss in English, including encouragement and entreaty, and even consolation, as well as exhortation. (See, e.g., Acts 4:36,) The whole of this Epistle is an example of such paraclesis.

Who am also an elder.--St. Peter is giving no irresponsible advice. He knows by experience the dangers which beset the office. The head Christian of the world, and writing from the thick of the persecution already begun in Rome, the Asiatic elders cannot set his advice down as that of some easy layman who is untouched by the difficulty. It can hardly be said, therefore, that this is an example of St. Peter's humility, as though he recognised in himself no higher office than that of these presbyters. The effect is, on the contrary, to make the recipients of the Letter feel that he is using a strong argument a fortiori.

And a witness of the sufferings of Christ.--The Greek word calls attention, not so much to the fact of his having been a spectator, an eye-witness, but rather to the fact of his bearing testimony to the sufferings. Here again, too, it is in Greek "the sufferings of the Christ." (See Note on 1Peter 1:11.) Not only did St. Peter know, by bearing office himself, what the dangers of office were, but he was able to testify how the Messiah Himself, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, had suffered, from which it was natural to conclude that all Christians also were destined to suffer.

And also a partaker of the glory . . .--This splendid assurance follows naturally from being a witness of the sufferings of the Christ. "I am in as much danger as any of you," the Apostle says, "but I can testify that the Christ Himself suffered thus, and therefore I knew that we who suffer with Him are even now partakers of the glory, though a veil at present hides. it." St. Peter insists in the same way on our present possession of what will not be shown us for a time in 1Peter 1:5.

Verse 1. - The elders which are among you I exhort. The Vatican and Alexandrine Manuscripts omit the article, and insert "therefore" (the Sinaitic gives both), reading, "Elders, therefore, among you I exhort." The solemn thoughts of the last chapter, the coming judgment, the approach of persecution, the necessity of perseverance in well-doing, suggest the exhortation; hence the "therefore." The context shows that the apostle is using the word "elder" (πρεσβύτερος, presbyter) in its official sense, though its original meaning was also in his thoughts, as appears by ver. 5. We first meet with the word in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:16, 18; Exodus 24:9; Numbers 11:16; Joshua 20:4, etc.). Used originally with reference to age, it soon became a designation of office. Very early in the history of the Christian Church we meet with the same title. It occurs first in Acts 11:30. The Christians of Antioch make a collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, and send their alms by the hand of Barnabas and Saul to the elders of the Jerusalem Church. We read several times of these elders in Acts xv. as associated with the apostles in the consideration of the great question of the circumcision of Gentile Christians; they joined with St. James in the official reception of St. Paul at his last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 21:18). It appears, then, that the Christian presbyterate originated in the mother Church of Jerusalem. It was soon introduced into the daughter Churches; the apostles Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every Church during the first missionary journey (Acts 14:23); and the various notices scattered over the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles imply the early establishment of the office throughout the Church. Who am also an elder ὁ συμπρεσβύτερος. St. Peter, though holding the very highest rank in the Church as an apostle of Christ, one of those who were to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), claims no supremacy; he simply designates himself as a brother presbyter. So also St. John (2 John 1; 3 John 1). He exhorts the presbyters as a brother, and grounds his exhortation on community of office. The absence of any note of distinction between bishops and presbyters is, so far, an indication of the early date of this Epistle, as against Hilgenfeld and others. And a witness of the sufferings of Christ. This was his one distinction above those whom he addresses. Like St. John, he declared unto them that which he had heard, which he had seen with his eyes. He had seen the Lord bound and delivered into the hands of wicked men; probably he had watched his last sufferings among them which stood afar off. And also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. The thought of the sufferings of Christ leads on to the thought of the future glory (comp. 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 4:13). Perhaps St. Peter was also thinking of the Lord's promise to himself, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards" (John 13:36).

5:1-4 The apostle Peter does not command, but exhorts. He does not claim power to rule over all pastors and churches. It was the peculiar honour of Peter and a few more, to be witnesses of Christ's sufferings; but it is the privilege of all true Christians to partake of the glory that shall be revealed. These poor, dispersed, suffering Christians, were the flock of God, redeemed to God by the great Shepherd, living in holy love and communion, according to the will of God. They are also dignified with the title of God's heritage or clergy; his peculiar lot, chosen for his own people, to enjoy his special favour, and to do him special service. Christ is the chief Shepherd of the whole flock and heritage of God. And all faithful ministers will receive a crown of unfading glory, infinitely better and more honourable than all the authority, wealth, and pleasure of the world.The elders which are among you I exhort,.... The apostle returns to particular exhortations, after having finished his general ones, and which chiefly concern patient suffering for Christ; and having particularly exhorted subjects to behave aright to civil magistrates, servants to their masters, and husbands and wives mutually to each other, here proceeds to exhort "elders" to the discharge of their office and duty; by whom are meant, not the elder in age, or the more ancient brethren in the churches, though they are distinguished from the younger, in 1 Peter 5:5 but men in office, whose business it was to feed the flock, as in 1 Peter 5:2 and though these might be generally the elder men, and whose office required, at least, senile gravity and prudence, yet they were not always so; sometimes young men, as Timothy, and others, were chosen into this office, which is the same with that of pastors, bishops, or overseers; for these are synonymous names, and belong to persons in the same office: and these are said to be "among" them, being members of the churches, and called out from among them to the pastoral office, and who were set over them in the Lord, and had their residence in the midst of them; for where should elders or pastors be, but with and among their flocks? they were fixed among them; and in this an elder differs from an apostle; an elder was tied down to a particular church, whereas an apostle was at large, and had authority in all the churches; and these the Apostle Peter does not command in an authoritative way, though he might lawfully have used his apostolic power; but he chose rather to exhort, entreat, and beseech, and that under the same character they bore:

who also am an elder; or, "who am a fellow elder"; and so the Syriac version renders it; and which expresses his office, and not his age, and is entirely consistent with his being an apostle; for though that is an higher office than a pastor, or elder, yet it involves that, and in some things agrees with it; as in preaching the word, and administering ordinances; and is mentioned to show the propriety and pertinency of his exhortation to the elders; for being an elder himself, it was acting in character to exhort them; nor could it be objected to as impertinent and unbecoming; and since he was still in an higher office, on which account he could have commanded, it shows great humility in him to put himself upon a level with them, and only entreat and beseech them; he does not call himself the prince of the apostles and pastors, and the vicar of Christ, as his pretended successor does, but a fellow elder:

and a witness of the sufferings of Christ; as he was even an eyewitness of many of them; of his exceeding great sorrow in his soul, of his agony and bloody sweat in the garden, and of his apprehension, and binding by the officers and soldiers there; and of the contumelious usage he met with in the high priest's hall, where was mocked, blindfolded, buffeted, and smote upon the face; if not of his sufferings on the cross; since it is certain John was then present; and quickly after we read of Peter and he being together, John 19:26 and therefore a very fit person to exhort these elders to feed the churches under their care with the preaching of a crucified Christ; since he, from his certain knowledge, could affirm his sufferings and his death: moreover, he was a witness, that is, a minister, and preacher of the sufferings of Christ, and of the doctrines of peace, pardon, justification, and salvation through them; as appears from all his sermons recorded in the "Acts of the Apostles", and from these his epistles: and besides, he was a partaker of the sufferings of Christ; he bore witness to him, by suffering for him; and as the Apostle Paul did, filled up the afflictions of Christ in his flesh; he, with other apostles, were put into the common prison by the Jewish sanhedrim, for preaching Christ, as he afterwards was by Herod; and had, doubtless, by this time, gone through a variety of sufferings for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, as he afterwards glorified God by dying that death, which his Lord and master signified to him before hand; and therefore a very proper person to exhort these elders to discharge their work and office, and persevere in it, whatever they were called to suffer for it:

and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; which some think has reference to the transfiguration of Christ upon the mount, where Peter was present, and saw the glory of Christ, and of those that were with him, Moses and Elias, and enjoyed their company, and heard their conversation with so much pleasure and delight, that he was for continuing there; and which was an emblem and pledge of the glory of Christ, that was afterwards to be revealed, and still is to be revealed, and so the Syriac version renders it, "a partaker of his glory": of the glory of Christ, see 1 Peter 4:13 or it regards the eternal glory and happiness of the saints, which is at present hid, and unseen, but shall be revealed at the last time, at the coming of Christ, when he shall appear in his glory, both to the saints, in them, and upon them; a glory which shall be both upon body and soul; and this the apostle calls himself a partaker of, as in Christ, his head and representative, and because of his interest in it, his assurance of right unto it, and meetness for it, and the certainty of enjoying it; nothing being more sure than this, that those that suffer with Christ, and for his sake, shall be glorified with him. Now, the exhortation of a person in such an office, as before expressed, and of one that was an eyewitness of Christ's sufferings, and had endured so much for Christ, and had had so large an experience of his grace, and such full assurance of glory, must carry great weight and influence in it, and is as follows.

1 Peter 4:19
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