In reading through Peter’s epistles we cannot help by being impressed with the fact that they are of a pastoral character. Evidently Peter remained true o the commission he received from the Lord to “feed His lambs and sheep.”
These elders to whom he wrote were true elders. They were mature, spiritually-minded brethren. They already were doing the work of an elder. They were not appointed by men, but raised up by God the Holy Spirit. Acts 20. They were men who had distinguished themselves in service, and were singular in character and repute in spiritual things.
Peter approaches his exhortation with humility. He does not appeal to his apostolic authority, nor does he put himself above the other elders. However, he does strengthen the exhortation by mentioning that he was a “witness of the sufferings of Christ.” He had learned much from the example of the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep. Peter also mentions that he will be a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. He had had a preview of that glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
There was special need for this exhortation to the elders because the flock was being attacked by the hostile world.
v. 2—Feed, tend, shepherd the “flock of God.” It is the elders’ responsibility to feed the “flock of God” with the “Word of God.” The word “tend” really means to shepherd the flock. Pastoring is a gift from the risen Christ. This goes beyond feeding and would include care, protection, and leading—in fact, anything for the flock’s welfare. Isaiah 40:11.
Peter then instructs the elders how they were to discharge this responsibility. “Willingly,” not reluctantly or by “constraint” or compulsion. Nor was it to be for financial gain. But of a “ready mind” and a willing heart.
v. 3—This is an important verse. There is no room in God’s economy in the church, for domineering, self-centered, selfish leaders. Those who would shepherd or oversee the flock must, of necessity, be examples to the sheep. Then he is in the position to exhort, admonish, and rebuke.
v. 4—A shepherd should not look for praise in this life. Their ministrations may be unrecognized and unappreciated by others. But when the Chief Shepherd appears the faithful elder receive a crown of glory, which will never fade. The epistle opens with a fadeless inheritance in chapters 1-4, and closes with a fadeless crown.
v. 5—“In like manner.” As the elder/undershepherd is submissive to the Chief Shepherd, so should the assembly be to their elders. Peter exhorts especially the younger to submit themselves unto the elders. If this godly precept is followed, much trouble will be avoided. In addition to this, Peter exhorts us all to clothe ourselves with “garments of humility.” This is in contrast to garments of pride and vain glory.
Pride is a roadblock to all spiritual progress. He gives His grace to the humble.
v. 6—We are exhorted to humble ourselves before God, and at the proper time God will exalt us.
v. 7—While we are awaiting God’s proper time for our blessing we have to make a definite commitment of our cares and anxieties to Him. See Phil. 4. God is not an indifferent spectator of His children’s sufferings. This exhortation was particularly comforting to the strangers scattered abroad.
v. 8-9—“Be sober.” Although we have been exhorted to cast our cares on God in verse 7, this does not mean that we can go through life detached or disinterested. Neither should it make us indifferent or indolent. We must think clearly and be alert, trusting God at all times, because the adversary the devil is pictured here as a roaring lion, prowling about, attacking and seeking victims whom he may devour.
v. 9—How do we resist him? The Word! By putting on the “whole armor of God”—Ephesians 6.
v. 10-11—Suffering was part of life for these dear ones. But as usual in Peter, alongside the suffering there is God’s sufficiency and grace. And there is the glory to follow.
v. 11—This part of the epistle closes with an outburst of praise and adoration. “To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
v. 12-16—Peter mentions two brethren here. Sylvanus wrote the letter for Paul. Marcus was probably John Mark.
v. 13—“The church” could also be interpreted, “She that is in Babylon.” Some think that this could refer to Peter’s wife, or to some prominent sister in the church. These
The benediction—“Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”