1 Peter 5:1-7

1 Peter 5:1-7 … This begins the closing thoughts of this first letter of the Apostle Peter and it contains very precious guidance to the Church. He first addresses elders, which is the Greek word Presbyterous and refers to the local church leaders. The Presbyterian denomination gets its name and governance structure from the word Presbyterous. Elected elders lead in Presbyterian churches. Many other churches have an elected leadership structure as well, but may use a name other than “elder” for their leaders. The instruction given is to shepherd the flock (referring to the familiar shepherd-sheep metaphor) where the idea is to protect and provide spiritual nourishment to church members. You might recall that in restoring Peter after his denial, Jesus told Peter three times: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-18). Also recall 1 Peter 2:2, where Peter told church members to “crave pure spiritual milk [of the word].” You can sense the passion Peter feels to assure that congregations are well taught. But there’s more guidance for elders in 1 Peter 5:2-3 pointing out that shepherding (or pastoring, it’s the same thing) is not an ordinary or perfunctory job, it’s a passion of pursuing the will of God in the community and of being an example of faithfulness and obedience to God.

Then turning to church members themselves, Peter charges them to follow and place themselves under the authority of the elders. This is important conceptually, that all in the church recognize and hold themselves accountable to the church leadership. He punctuates that thought with a well-known and good memory verse (1 Peter 5:5): “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” While you’re memorizing that, you might add verses 6-7 to it as they all go together as part of a precious promise of God’s Word: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”

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