1 Peter 5:5 MEANING

1 Peter 5:5
(5) Likewise, ye younger.--Self-submission has been, at least tacitly, inculcated upon the pastors in 1 Peter 5:3; so the writer can say "likewise" in turning to the rest. In comparison with the presbyters or elders, the lay people are styled "younger," or "juniors;" although in point of natural age, or of baptismal seniority, they might be the older. So our Lord addresses His disciples (according to the rabbinical fashion) as "children," though there is good reason to suppose that several were older than Himself; and St. Paul, in the same way, called all the Corinthian Christians his "sons." This seems to be the most natural interpretation of the word; for it was undoubtedly in respect of the supposed juniority of the whole of the lay people that their rulers received the name of "presbyters." Otherwise there is nothing against the interpretation which makes "ye younger to be an address to those who held inferior offices in the Church, such as deacons, catechists, readers, and the like (Acts 5:6; Acts 5:10). The danger of any insubordination of the laity or inferior clergy against the priesthood at such a crisis was very obvious.

Yea, all of you.--Here the true text strikes out the words "be subject and," so that the clause will run, Yea, all of you be clothed with humility one to another. Not only mutual complaisance between rulers on the one hand and ruled on the other, but clergy to clergy and laity to laity are to behave with the same self-suppression.

Be clothed with humility.--The Greek verb is a rare and curious one. It means properly, "tie yourselves up in humility." Humility is to be gathered tight round about us like a cloak, and tied up so that the wind may not blow it back, nor the rain beat inside it. But there is a still further and more delicate shade of meaning in the word. There was a peculiar kind of cape, well known by a name taken from this verb (we might call it a "tie-up"), and this kind of cape was worn by slaves, and by no others. It was a badge of servitude. Thus St. Peter bids them all gird themselves for one another in a slave's "tie-up" of humility. None are to be masters in the Church of Christ. And the humility is to be the very first thing noticed about them, their outward mark and sign.

For God resisteth the proud.--The exhortation to mutual self-submission is reinforced by a quotation of a well-known proverb. The proverb is based on the LXX. translation of Proverbs 3:34; but as it differs somewhat from both the Hebrew and the Greek of that passage, and is found word for word in James 4:6, we may probably give the same account of it as of the other proverb quoted in 1 Peter 4:8, where see Note. A sad calamity for Christians under persecution, suddenly to find God Himself in array on the enemy's side! (such is the meaning of "resisteth"); and this is what they would find, if they went against discipline. On the other hand, if they were submissive, He would bestow "grace" upon them; here again, perhaps, not in the strict theological sense, but in that of "favour."

Verse 5. - Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Is St. Peter still using the last word in its official sense? or is he passing to its ordinary meaning? It seems impossible to answer the question with certainty. Some think that the word νεώτεροι, younger, had also acquired an official meaning, and that it is used here, and in Acts 5:6 of assistant-ministers who were employed to help the presbyters and apostles. Others think that it had a meaning nearly equivalent to our "laity" as distinguished from the presbyters. But, on the whole, it seems more natural to suppose that the word "elder," when once used, led St. Peter on from one meaning to another, and that here he is simply speaking of the respect due to age (comp. 1 Timothy 5:1). Yea, all of you be subject one to another. The word ὑποτασσόμενοι, rendered "be subject," is omitted in the most ancient manuscripts. If their reading is adopted, the dative, ἀλλήλοις, "one to another," may be taken either with the previous clause," Submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you, to one another;" or with that which follows, "Be clothed with humility one towards another." And be clothed with humility. The word rendered "be clothed" ἐγκοβώσασθε occurs here only, and is a remarkable word. It is derived from κόμβος, a knot or band; the corresponding noun. ἐγκόμβωμα, was the name of an apron worn by slaves, which was tied round them when at work, to keep their dress clean. The word seems to teach that humility is a garment which must be firmly fastened on and bound closely round us. The association of the slave's apron seems also to suggest that Christians should be ready to submit to the humblest works of charity for others, and to point back to the lowliness of the Lord Jesus, when he girded himself, and washed the feet of his apostles (John 13:4). It may be noticed that the Greek word for "humility" ταπεινοφροσύνη is used only by St. Paul, except in this place. For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. St. Peter is quoting from the Septuagint Version of Proverbs 3:34, without marks of quotation, as in other places. St. James quotes the same passage (James 4:6), and with the same variation, substituting "God" for "Lord," as St. Peter does. The Greek word for "resisteth ἀντιτάσσεται is a strong one: God rangeth himself as with an army against the haughty.

5:5-9 Humility preserves peace and order in all Christian churches and societies; pride disturbs them. Where God gives grace to be humble, he will give wisdom, faith, and holiness. To be humble, and subject to our reconciled God, will bring greater comfort to the soul than the gratification of pride and ambition. But it is to be in due time; not in thy fancied time, but God's own wisely appointed time. Does he wait, and wilt not thou? What difficulties will not the firm belief of his wisdom, power, and goodness get over! Then be humble under his hand. Cast all you care; personal cares, family cares, cares for the present, and cares for the future, for yourselves, for others, for the church, on God. These are burdensome, and often very sinful, when they arise from unbelief and distrust, when they torture and distract the mind, unfit us for duties, and hinder our delight in the service of God. The remedy is, to cast our care upon God, and leave every event to his wise and gracious disposal. Firm belief that the Divine will and counsels are right, calms the spirit of a man. Truly the godly too often forget this, and fret themselves to no purpose. Refer all to God's disposal. The golden mines of all spiritual comfort and good are wholly his, and the Spirit itself. Then, will he not furnish what is fit for us, if we humbly attend on him, and lay the care of providing for us, upon his wisdom and love? The whole design of Satan is to devour and destroy souls. He always is contriving whom he may insnare to eternal ruin. Our duty plainly is, to be sober; to govern both the outward and the inward man by the rules of temperance. To be vigilant; suspicious of constant danger from this spiritual enemy, watchful and diligent to prevent his designs. Be stedfast, or solid, by faith. A man cannot fight upon a quagmire, there is no standing without firm ground to tread upon; this faith alone furnishes. It lifts the soul to the firm advanced ground of the promises, and fixes it there. The consideration of what others suffer, is proper to encourage us to bear our share in any affliction; and in whatever form Satan assaults us, or by whatever means, we may know that our brethren experience the same.Likewise ye younger,.... Not in office, as if inferior officers to bishops were here intended, who ought to be subject to them; for elders and pastors are the same with them, nor is there any other office but that of deacons; nor younger pastors and overseers, such an one as Timothy was; not but that a deference is to be paid, and proper respect had to such who are of greater age, and longer standing and experience, by younger brethren in the ministry; nor such as are only younger in years, who ought to rise up unto, and honour hoary hairs, which may be done where subjection is not required, as here; nor such as are young in grace and experience, since there are little children, young men, and fathers in the church; but all the members of churches in common are here intended, as distinguished from their officers; for as pastors and overseers were, for the most part, chosen from among those that were senior in age, so the members generally consisted of the younger sort; and besides, as it was usual to call chief men and rulers, whether in church or state, fathers, so those that were subjects, the younger; see Luke 21:26. These the apostle exhorts as follows,

submit yourselves unto the elder; not merely in age, but in office, as before; for as he had exhorted the elders to a discharge of their work and office, he proceeds, in the next place, and which is signified by the word "likewise", to stir up the members of the churches to their duty to their elders, or pastors, who had the oversight of them; and that is to "submit" themselves to them, as in Hebrews 13:17, which is done by attending constantly on the word preached by them, and receiving it, so far as it agrees with the Scriptures of truth; and by joining with them in all the ordinances of Christ, and their administrations of them; by being subject to the laws of Christ's house, as put in execution by them; by taking their counsel and advice, regarding and hearkening to their admonitions and reproofs, and taking them in good part, looking upon them, and behaving towards them, as their spiritual guides and governors. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "to your elders"; such as were particularly set over them in the Lord, and had taken the care of them, for to no others are they obliged to submit themselves.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another; that is, all the members of the churches should not only submit themselves to their pastors, but to their fellow members, as in Ephesians 5:21, they should submit to the superior judgments of one another, esteeming each other better than themselves, and not be tenacious of their own way of thinking and judging of things; yea, condescend to men of low estates and weaker minds, bear the infirmities of the weak, and take all admonitions and reproofs given in a friendly manner kindly; and cheerfully perform all offices of love, and by it serve one another in things temporal and spiritual; doing the meanest services for the good of each other, such as washing the feet of one another, in imitation of their Lord and master.

And be clothed with humility; without which there will be no subjection, either to the elders, or one another. This is a grace which shows itself in a man's thinking and speaking the best of others, and the worst of himself; in not affecting places and titles of eminence; in being content with the lowest place, and patiently bearing the greatest contempt; in not aspiring to things too high for him, always acknowledging his own meanness, baseness, and unworthiness, ascribing all he is, and has, to the grace and goodness of God, whether it be gifts of nature, providence, or grace: and this is a believer's clothing, not the robe of his justifying righteousness before God, but is a considerable part of his inward garment of sanctification, which is in the sight of God of great price; and makes a large show in his outward conversation garments before men, and renders him lovely and amiable: it is an ornament to him, which is precious with God, and recommends him to the esteem of men, and the religion and Gospel he professes, and his profession of it. Some think there is a metaphor in the words, taken from knots of ribbons, and such like things, wore by women on their heads, or breasts, for ornament; and that the apostle's advice to the saints is, that their breast knot, or ornament, should be humility. Others think it is taken from a sort of badge which servants wore over their garments, by which they were distinguished; and so saints are directed to put on this badge, by which they may be known to be the servants of Christ: the former seems more agreeable: but as the word signifies to bind, or fasten anything, by tying of knots, it may denote the retaining of this grace in constant exercise, so as never to be without it; and to be clothed or covered with it, is always to have it on, and in exercise, in every action of life, in all our deportment before God and men, in all public and religious worship, and throughout the whole of our conversation, in the family, in the world, or in the church. The phrase seems to be Jewish, and is to be met with in the writings of the Jews. It is said (a),

"he that has fear, , "and is clothed with humility"; humility is the most excellent, and is comprehended in all, as it is said, Proverbs 22:4. He who has the fear of God is worthy of humility, and everyone that hath humility is worthy of kindness or holiness.''

And it is a saying of R. Meir (b),

"he that loves God loves men; he that makes God glad makes men glad; and it (the law) , "clothes him with humility and fear".''

For he resisteth the proud; or "scorneth the scorners", as it is in Proverbs 3:34, from whence these words are taken: the Lord treats them as they treat others; as they despise all other men and things, he despises them; he is above them, in that they have dealt proudly, and has them in derision; he eludes all their artifices, and frustrates their schemes, and disappoints their ambitious views, and scatters them in the imagination of their hearts, and brings their counsels to confusion, and opposes himself to them, and as their adversary; and a dreadful thing it is for persons to have God stand up against them, and resist them. This is a reason dissuading from pride, and exciting to humility, as is also what follows: and giveth grace to the humble; that is, more grace; see James 4:6. The first grace cannot be intended, for no man is truly humble before he has received the grace of God, it is that which makes him so; or it may design larger gifts of grace, which God bestows on those who acknowledge him to be the author and giver of what they have, and who make a proper use of them to his glory; when he takes away from the vain and ostentatious that which to themselves and others they seemed to have. Moreover, God grants his gracious presence to such as are of an humble, and of a contrite spirit; and at last he gives them glory, which is a free grace gift, and the perfection of grace; the poor in spirit, or humble souls, have both a right and meetness for, and shall enjoy the kingdom of heaven.

(a) Zohar in Numb. fol. 60. 3.((b) Pirke Abot, c. 6. sect. 1.

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