1 Peter 5

When Christians are passing through times of persecution and
suffering, so much depends upon there being a right and happy condition
amongst themselves. The Apostle Peter, therefore, supplements his
warnings as to the persecution with some words of admonition addressed
respectively to the elder and the younger amongst the disciples.
Between such friction may easily develop, as we know right well.

The tendency to develop friction has always existed but never more
so than now, inasmuch as the rapidity with which world changes have
occurred has never been as pronounced as in the last few decades. The
consequence of this is that great changes in thought and habits and
outlook have supervened within the limits of a single generation; and
hence children look upon their parents as behind the times and their
grandparents as thoroughly antique, and the older people look upon the
younger as revolutionary in their ideas. If verses 1-7 of our chapter
be observed and obeyed, all friction would cease and harmony reign
inside the Church of God whatever conditions prevail without.

Peter addresses himself first to the elders as being the more
responsible. These were men recognized as holding the office of an
elder, and not mercy Christian men advanced in years. He claims a right
to exhort them as being an elder and more than an elder-a witness of
Christ's sufferings. To those sufferings he could render testimony
since he had seen them, having been with Him in the days of His flesh.
Once he thought that he could easily share in those sufferings, even to
prison and death, and we all know the painful breakdown in which his
self-confidence involved him. If, however, he then failed, the Lord in
His grace indicated to him that he should partake in some measure
before his course was finished (see, John 21: 18, 19). Here he simply
speaks of himself as a partaker of the coming glories as the fruit of

His one exhortation to the elders is, "Feed," or "Shepherd the flock
of God." The Holy Ghost thus gives exactly the same injunction to the
elders by the lips of Paul in Acts 20: 28, and by the pen of Peter
here. The elders should extend towards their younger brethren all the
care which a shepherd takes of his sheep. Nothing but the outflow of
divine love in their hearts will produce the watchful oversight which
such care demands, and it is well for the younger believers to see in
the care of their older brethren an expression of the love of Christ
the Chief Shepherd, which He will richly reward at His appearing.

It is most important that the "elder" should exert his spiritual
authority in the right way and spirit, hence the three things
stipulated in verses 2 and 3. He is to take up his service
willingly, readily, and as himself a
model to the flock. The Holy Ghost who inspired these words foresaw what a tendency there would be to take up such work, either from
compulsion, or for
love of gain, or for
desire for power and influence. How
much these words were needed is borne witness to by church history,
which tells us how the simple "elders" or "bishops" of apostolic days
were gradually magnified into "princes of the church," who forded it
over God's people as though they were their own possessions. It is,
indeed, remarkable with verse 3 before us, that anyone professing to be
a Christian "bishop" should call himself, or suffer himself to be
called, "lord."

Those of us who rank amongst the younger believers, have to pay
special attention to verse 5. The elder may indeed be willing and ready
in the exercise of oversight, and also may himself carry out what he
enjoins on others, so as to be an example himself; all will be in vain
if the younger are not prepared to listen to him and be subject. We beg
every young Christian to remember that though there may be much advance
in certain branches of human discovery and knowledge, so that the older
generation may in these things easily fall behind the times, there is
no such advance in the revealed truth of God. Consequently, spiritual
maturity is still only to be gained as the fruit of years well spent in
the school of God-and by that we mean, the study of His Word,
supplemented by Christian life, experience and service. The younger
Christian may indeed have superior zeal, energy, endurance, and
possibly superior mental equipment, even so he will more effectually
serve his Master if he is subject to the mature and wise guidance of
the "elder," who may be in most other respects decidedly his inferior.

All this will be easy if the humble spirit prevails.
All are
to be clothed with humility in their dealings with each other. The
person of humble mind is not uppish, and hence does not readily come
into collision with others. Better still, he does not come into
collision with God; for God sets Himself against the proud, whilst He
gives grace to the humble. The mighty hand of God is upon His people in
the way of training, and often in very painful dealings, as was the
case in the persecutions of these early Christians, yet under it we are
to bow and in due time we shall be exalted. Meanwhile, we are to cast
all the cares, which this painful state of things might produce, upon
Him in the full assurance that He cares for us.

Although as believers we are privileged to take all our trials, even
our persecutions, as connected with "the mighty hand of God," yet we
are not to overlook the fact that the devil has a hand in them. The
case of Job in the Old Testament illustrates this, and the fact is
recognised here. In the persecution of saints the devil moves about as
a roaring lion, aiming thereby at breaking down our faith. If faith be
a mere matter of mental enlightenment, mere head-conviction and not
heart-trust, it fails and he devours us. We are therefore to be sober
and watchful. We must recognize that the devil is our adversary, and
that he is to be resisted in the energy of a live faith which cleaves
to the faith made known to us in Christ, remembering also, that if we
taste suffering we are only sharing what is the common lot of our
brethren in the world.

The "But" that opens verse 10 lifts us in the most glorious way out
of the murky atmosphere of the world with its persecutions and trials
and the power of Satan. We are suddenly transported in thought into the
presence of "the God of all grace." Are we conscious of needing grace
in an infinite variety of ways? Well, He is the God of
all grace.
The powers of the world and the devil may be against us, but He has
called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, and nothing shall
frustrate His purpose. He will permit us to suffer for a little while,
but even that He will overrule. He will, as it were, take up the
suffering and use it as material which He weaves into the pattern and
design of His own choice as regards our characters and lives; and thus
make it contributory to the perfecting, the establishing, the
strengthening, the settlement of our souls.

As to His purpose for us, He has called us to His eternal glory. As
to His disciplinary ways with us, He overrules even the activities of
the adversary against us, for our spiritual perfecting and
establishment. Grace,
all grace, shines out in both His
purposes and His ways. Who would not ascribe glory and dominion to the
ages of ages to such an One as this?

The last three verses give us Peter's closing words. It is
interesting to find Silvanus (or, Silas) and Mark mentioned, both of
them brethren who had intimate relations with the Apostle Paul, since
the latter part of verse 12 is evidently an allusion to the Apostle
Paul's labours.

These scattered Jewish Christians had been evangelised, be it
remembered, by Paul and his companions. If they stood in grace it was
the fruit of his labours, and the grace in which they stood had been
opened out to them through his ministry. Now Peter is led to write to
them, in fulfilment of his commission as Apostle to the Jews,
testifying as to the grace of God, and thus confirming that the grace
in which they stood was the "true grace of God." When we remember how
once at Antioch, Peter and Paul came into pretty sharp collision over
questions concerning law and grace, and how Paul had to exclaim, "I do
not frustrate the grace of God" (Gal. 2: 21), for Peter was committing
himself to a line of action which threatened to do this very thing, we
can rejoice in noting how thoroughly now they are in accord. We find a
similar happy spirit of accord at the close of the second epistle (2
Peter 3: 15, 16).

Let us never forget that we stand in grace-
the true grace of God. All
our relations with God are on the basis of grace. He began with us in
grace at our conversion to Himself. He continues with us on the footing
of grace through all the vicissitudes of our Christian life and
service. With grace He will end-only, there is no end-for we shall
enter His eternal glory as called to it and brought into it by the "God
of all grace," as verse 10 has told us.

We are not so likely to overlook the start and the finish as we are
the course between. It is now, amidst the failures and difficulties of
our pilgrimage that we need an abiding sense of the grace that carries
us through, the grace in which we stand. Soon, as we sometimes sing,

"Grace all the work shall crown,

Through everlasting days;

It lays in heaven the topmost stone,

And well deserves the praise."