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Song of Solomon
1 Peter 5 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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1 Peter 5
1 Peter 5:1
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
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" (
, 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
, 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
. 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 (
). 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 (
); 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
. 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 (
), 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" (
1 Peter 5:2
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight
, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Feed the flock of God which is among you
, as a shepherd tends his flock. The verb
is aorist, as if St. Peter wished to concentrate into one point of view all the labors of the ministerial life. He is echoing the word so solemnly addressed to himself by the risen Lord, "Feed my sheep
ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου
." The word covers all the various duties of the pastoral office: "Pasce mente, pasce ore, pasce operc, pasce animi oratione, verbi exhortatione, exempli exhibitione" (St. Bernard, quoted by Alford). St. Peter lays stress upon the solemn fact that the flock belongs to God, not to the shepherds (comp.
). Some understand the words rendered "which is among you
τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν
" as meaning" quantum in vobis est," "
far as lies in your power." Others as "
which is committed to you," or "that which is placed under your care." But the simple local meaning seems the best.
Taking the oversight thereof.
is not found in the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts. Alford thinks that "it has, perhaps, been removed for ecclesiastical reasons, for fear
should be supposed to be, as they really were,
It is in the Alexandrine and most other ancient manuscripts and versions, and there seems to be no sufficient reason for omitting it. It shows that when this Epistle was written, the words
, presbyter and bishop, were still synonymous (comp.
and 28 in the Greek; also
Not by constraint, but willingly
. The word
, by constraint, occurs only here. St. Paul says (
1 Corinthians 9:16
), "Necessity is laid upon me;" but that was an inward necessity, the constraining love of Christ. Bede, quoted by Alford,
, "Coacte pascit gregem, qui propter rerum temporalium penurium non habens unde vivat, idcirco praedicat evangelium ut de evangelio vivere possit." Some good manuscripts add, after "willingly," the words
, "according to God," i.e. according to his will (comp.
Not for filthy lucre.
occurs only here (for the thought, comp.
1 Timothy 3:8
). It would seem that, even in the apostolic age, there were sometimes such opportunities of gain (see
2 Timothy 3:6
) as to be a temptation to enter the ministry for the sake of money. St. Peter uses a strong word in condemnation of such a motive.
But of a ready mind.
occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; it has a stronger meaning than the preceding word
, willingly; it implies zeal and enthusiasm.
1 Peter 5:3
Neither as being lords over
heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Neither as being lords over God's heritage
; rather, as in the Revised Version,
neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you
κατά ιν τηε
is not only intensive, it implies something of scorn and tyranny or even of hostility, as also in
. The literal rendering of the clause is, "lording it over the lots." The Authorized Version, following Beza, supplies
, "God's heritage." But if this were the apostle's meaning, he would surely have used the singular,
, "the lot or portion of God;" and it is very unlikely that he would have left the most important word to be supplied. Some commentators take
in its modern sense, of the clergy, as if St. Peter was commanding the bishops not to tyrannize over the inferior clergy. But this view involves an anachronism; the word had not acquired this meaning in St. Peter's time. It is clearly best to understand it of the lots or portions assigned to individual presbyters. The word
originally meant a "lot" (
), then portions assigned by casting lots, as the possessions of the tribes of Israel (
and 19), then any portion or inheritance however obtained; thus in
the Lord is said to be the Inheritance
of the Levites. In later times the word was applied to the clergy, who were regarded as, in a special sense, the Lord's portion or inheritance, perhaps because God was pleased to take the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn, saying, the Levites shall be mine (
But being ensamples to the flock
. They must imitate the great Example, the Lord Jesus, and, by gradual imitation of his blessed character, become examples themselves. Thus they will acquire a more salutary influence and a truer authority. "The life should command, and the tongue persuade" (Athanasius, quoted by Fronmuller).
1 Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear
. The word rendered "chief Shepherd"
occurs only here; it reminds us of the Lord's description of himself as "the good Shepherd," and of the "great Shepherd of the sheep" (
Ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away
. This is the true reward of the faithful presbyter, not power or filthy lucre. Literally, it is "the crown of glory," the promised glory, the glory of the Lord which he hath promised to his chosen. "The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them" (
). The crown is the glory; the genitive seems to be one of apposition. The Greek word here rendered "that fadeth not away"
is not exactly the same with that so rendered in
1 Peter 1:4
; taken literally, the words used here mean an amaranthine wreath - a wreath of amaranth flowers; the general meaning remains the same, "unfading." St. Peter is thinking, not of a kingly crown, but of the wreaths worn on festive occasions or bestowed on conquerors.
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all
be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
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
, younger, had also acquired an official meaning, and that it is used here, and in
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.
, rendered "be subject," is omitted in the most ancient manuscripts. If their reading is adopted, the dative,
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, "
clothed with humility one towards another."
And be clothed with humility.
The word rendered "be clothed"
occurs here only, and is a remarkable word. It is derived from
, a knot or band; the corresponding noun.
, 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 (
). It may be noticed that the Greek word for "humility"
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
, without marks of quotation, as in other places. St. James quotes the same passage (
), and with the same variation, substituting "God" for "Lord," as St. Peter does. The Greek word for "resisteth
is a strong one: God rangeth himself as with an army against the haughty.
1 Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.
The Alexandrine Manuscript and some ancient versions add
, "in the time of visitation," probably from
. For "the mighty hand of God," comp.
. St. Peter was doubtless thinking of the well-remembered words of the Lord, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Casting all your care upon him
all your anxiety
. St. Peter is quoting, with slight alterations, the Septuagint Version of
. We cast our anxiety upon God when we fulfill the Lord's commandment, "Take no thought [rather, 'be not anxious'], saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Fat. her knoweth that ye have need of all these things." God cares for us; therefore we must not be over-anxious, but trust in him. The participle is aorist, as if implying that we are to cast the whole burden of all our anxieties
πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν
by one act of faith upon the Lord.
For he careth for you
. The Greek word is
, quite different from the
of the foregoing clause. The care which is forbidden is that anxiety about worldly things which harasses a man and distracts his mind, so that he cannot compose himself to prayer and holy meditation. God's care for us is calm, holy, thoughtful providence. He "knoweth that we have need of all these things;" and he maketh all things work together for good to his chosen, to them that love him.
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Be sober, be vigilant
1 Thessalonians 5:6
). For the first word,
, see note on 1 Peter 4:7. The second
, is the word so often and so emphatically used by our Lord (
Mark 13:35, 37
Matthew 26:40, 41
, etc.). The imperatives are aorist, as in
1 Peter 4:7
; and, as there, either imply that the exhortation was needed by the readers, or are used to express vividly the necessity of instant attention.
Because your adversary the devil.
The conjunction "because" is omitted in the best manuscripts. The asyndeten, as in the last clause, increases the emphasis. The word rendered "adversary"
means properly an opponent in a lawsuit, as in
; but it is also used generally for "adversary," and so is a translation of the Hebrew word
. The word
, devil, means "slanderer," "false accuser."
As a roaring lion
. He is called a serpent to denote his subtlety, a lion to express his fierceness and strength. The word rendered "roaring"
is used especially of the cries of wild beasts when ravenous with hunger (see
; and comp.
Psalm 22:13, 21
Walketh about, seeking whom he may devour
). The words express the restless energy of the wicked one. He cannot touch those who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; but he walketh about, looking eagerly after any lost sheep that may have wandered from the fold. He roars in the craving of his heart for prey, like a hungry lion, seeking whom he may devour, or (for the reading here is somewhat uncertain) to devour some one, or simply to devour. The Greek word means literally "to drink down;" it implies utter destruction. It is the word in
1 Corinthians 15:54
, "Death is swallowed up
in victory." Satan now seeks whom he may destroy: "The Lord will destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (
1 Peter 5:9
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Whom resist steadfast in the faith
, where the same word,
, is used; the close resemblance seems to indicate St. Peter's knowledge of the Epistle of St. James; comp. also St. Paul in
, etc. The Greek word for "steadfast"
is emphatic; it implies solidity, rocklike firmness. Only faith can give that steadfastness - faith in Christ, the one Foundation, the Rock on which the Christian's house is built. Faith here is trustfulness rather than objective truth. Therefore the rendering of the Revised Version seems preferable, "in your faith," the article having, as often, a possessive meaning.
Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world
τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων
unusual construction with the pronoun, though common with adjectives, intended to give emphasis; the sufferings were the very same. The infinitive is present; it should therefore be rendered, "are being accomplished." The persecutions were now beginning to break out. The word for "brethren" is the collective,
, brotherhood, which we met with in
1 Peter 2:17
. The dative is that of reference - "in" or "for" the brotherhood. (For the words, "in the world," comp.
, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.") There is another way of taking the clause. The unusual construction (in the Greek Testament) of the accusative and infinitive, which, indeed, occurs nowhere else with
, has led Herman and others to take the verb
as middle, and to connect the dative, "
the brotherhood," with
, the same. Thus the translation will be, "
how to pay the same tribute of affliction as your brethren in the world." This seems forced and unnecessary. Huther gives another possible translation, which he thinks preferable to all others: "
[or better rather, 'considering'] that the same sufferings are accomplishing themselves in the brethren."
1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle
But the God of all grace
2 Corinthians 1:3
, "the God of all comfort"). St. Peter has finished his exhortations; he has told his readers what they must do; he now bids them look to God, and tells them where they will find strength. God will work within them both to will and to do of his good pleasure; for he is the God of all grace. All that grace by which we are saved, without which we can do nothing, comes from him as its Author and Source.
Who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus
who called you
in Christ Jesus
. All the best manuscripts read "you" instead of us. Two of the most ancient omit "Jesus" here. God called us "in Christ;" that is, through spiritual union with Christ; the glory is promised to these who are one with Christ; for the glory is Christ's, and his members will share it. The very end and purpose of our calling was that we might inherit that glory. This is the apostle's great topic of consolation.
After that ye have suffered a while
. The word may refer to the degree, as well as to the duration, of the sufferings. They are transient; the glory is eternal. They may seem very severe, but they are light in comparison with that "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
The manuscripts vary between the future and the optative in these four verbs; the preponderance of evidence seems in favor of the future. The emphatic pronoun
must not be omitted. Translate therefore, "shall himself make you perfect." He only can "perfect what is lacking in our faith" (
1 Thessalonians 3:10
, where the same verb is used); and he will do it. This is our hope and encouragement. The verb
means "to finish, to complete, to repair." It is the word used in the account of the calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John, by the Sea of Galilee, when the two last were in the ship with Zebedee their father, mending
their nets. God will repair, bring to completion, what is lacking in the character of his chosen, if they persevere in prayer, if they are sober and vigilant (comp.
1 Corinthians 1:10
2 Corinthians 13:11
. The Lord had said to St. Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen
thy brethren" (
); Peter remembers his Master's words.
. The word occurs only here.
; literally, "shall ground you, shall give you a firm foundation." "Digna
oratio, 'Confirmat fratres sues,'" says Bengel (comp.
2 Timothy 2:19
1 Corinthians 3:11
). The word is omitted in the Vatican and Alexandrine Manuscripts; but it is found in the Sinaitic and other manuscripts and versions, and ought to be retained.
1 Peter 5:11
glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
. This doxology occurs also in
1 Peter 4:11
, where see notes. The best manuscripts omit the word "
in this place. St. Peter has been directing the thoughts of his readers to the power of God. He will make them perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle them; he can, for "his is the might forever and ever." The Christian may well say his "
with a thankful and adoring heart.
1 Peter 5:12
By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly
; rather, as in the Revised Version,
our faithful brother
as I account him
I have written unto you briefly
. The preposition "by"
has the same sense as
. Silvanus was the bearer of the Epistle; he may have been the amanuensis also. In all probability he is the Silas of the Acts of the Apostles, and the Silvanus whose name St. Paul associates with his own in the address of both Epistles to the Thessalonians; he is mentioned also in
2 Corinthians 1:19
. As the companion of St. Paul, he must have been known to the Churches of Asia Minor. The word rendered in the Authorized Version "I suppose"
does not imply any doubt (comp.
). The Christians of Asia Minor knew Silvanus as a faithful brother; St. Peter adds his testimony. Some connect it with the clause, "
have written unto you briefly," as if St. Peter meant to say that he regarded his letter as a short one, the subjects being so important; but this does not seem natural. It is better to take the pronoun
, unto you, with the verb "I have written," than with the words, "a faithful brother," as in the Authorized Version. The verb
is the epistolary aorist, and may therefore be rendered "I write."
Exhorting, and testifying
. The general tone of this Epistle is hortatory: St. Peter comforts his readers in the sufferings which were coming on them, and exhorts them to patient endurance. The word rendered "testifying"
occurs only here in the New Testament. Bengel and others take the preposition
in the sense of
, in "addition:" "Petrus insuper testatur;" he adds his testimony to that of Paul and others who have gone before; or, he not only exhorts, he also testifies - the testimony is in addition to the exhortation. But more probably the
is intensive, or expresses simply the direction of the testifying (comp.
:40, where the same words nearly; the Greek for "testified" is
are used in describing St. Peter's exhortations).
That this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand
; rather, as in the Revised Version,
that this is the true grace of God: stand ye fast therein
. The reading
εἰς η}ν στῆτε
is supported by the oldest manuscripts. The construction involves a common ellipse, "Into which (having entered) stand fast." Some think that it was St. Peter's intention in these words to set the seal of his apostolic authority upon the truth of the teaching which the Christians of Asia Minor had received from St. Paul. It may be so. The whole Epistle corroborates the teaching of St. Paul, and shows St. Peter's exact agreement with it. But it seems probable that, if St. Peter had thought it necessary to give a formal sanction to St. Paul's preaching, he would have done so plainly, as he does at the end of the Second Epistle. Again, there are no traces in the Epistle of any doubts now existing in the minds of the Asiatic Christians, or of any opposition to St. Paul, such as there once had been in the Churches of Corinth and Galatia. And St. Peter does not say, "These are the true doctrines," but "This is the true grace of God." He seems rather to be giving the testimony o£ his knowledge and spiritual experience to the fact that the grace which they had received came indeed from God, that it was his true grace, that it was he who was working within them both to will and to do. They must stand fast in that grace, and by its help work out their own salvation.
1 Peter 5:13
church that is
at Babylon, elected together with
, saluteth you; and
Marcus my son.
The Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you
the co-elect in Babylon
ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτή
. The word "Church" is given in no manuscripts with the remarkable exception of the Sinaitic; the rest have simply "the co-elect." We ask - What word is to be supplied, "Church" or "sister"? Some think that St, Peter's wife (comp.
1 Corinthians 9:5
) is intended, or some other well-known Christian woman (comp.
2 John 1
). In favor of this view is the following salutation from Marcus. It is more natural to join together the names of two persons than to couple a Church with an individual. Also it scorns exceedingly improbable that such a word as "Church" should be omitted (a word, we may remark, which occurs nowhere in St. Peter's Epistles), and the ellipse left to be filled up by the readers. On the other hand, it is said to be unlikely that a humble Galilaean woman should be described as "the co-elect in Babylon." This argument would have considerable weight if the apostle were writing from large and well-known Church, like that at Rome; but it is quite possible that "the co-elect" might be the only Christian woman, or the one best known among a very small number in Babylon. On the whole, it seems most probable to us that by "the co-elect" (whether we supply "together with you" or "with me") is meant a Christian woman known at least by name to the Churches of Asia Miner, and therefore very possibly St. Peter's wife, who, St. Paul tells us, was his companion in travel. The question now meets us - Is "Babylon" to be taken in a mystic sense, as a cryptograph for Rome, or literally? Eusebius, and ancient writers generally, understand it of Rome. Eusebius is commonly understood to claim for this view the authority of Papias and Clement of Alexandria (as has been stated in the Introduction, p. 9.). But the historian's words ('Hist. Eccl.,' 1. 15. 2) seem to claim that authority only for the connection of St. Peter with St. Mark's Gospel; the identification of Babylon with Rome seems to be mentioned only as a common opinion in the time of Eusebius. It is said that there is n o trace o f the existence of a Christian Church at the Chaldean Babylon, and no proof, apart from this passage, that St. Peter was ever there. There had been a great Jewish colony at Babylon, but it had been destroyed in the time of Caligula. In answer to these arguments, it may be urged that the cryptograph of Babylon for Rome would probably not be understood; even if we assume the earliest date assigned to the Apocalypse, that book could scarcely be known very generally in Asia Minor when this Epistle was written. St. Peter at Babylon, like St. Paul at Athens, may have met with little success; the infant Church may have been quickly crushed. There may have been a second settlement of Jews at Babylon between A.D. and the date of this Epistle. But it is quite possible that St. Peter may have been working as a missionary among the Babylonian Gentiles, for we cannot believe that he confined his ministrations to the Jews. On the whole, it seems much more probable that St. Peter was writing at the famous city on the Euphrates, though no traces of his work there remain, than that he should have used this one word in a mystical sense at the end of an Epistle where all else is plain and simple (see this question discussed in the Introduction, p. 9.).
And so doth Marcus my son
is the word used by St. Paul of spiritual relationship (see
1 Timothy 1:2
2 Timothy 1:2
). St. Peter has
here. Still, it seems most probable that Marcus, mentioned as he is without any further description, is not a son of the apostle after the flesh, but the well-known John Mark of the Acts (see Introduction, p. 8.).
1 Peter 5:14
Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace
with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.
St. Paul gives the same direction in four places (
1 Corinthians 16:20
2 Corinthians 13:12
1 Thessalonians 5:26
). The practice seems to have been universal in early times; it is mentioned by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Augustine, and other ancient writers (see Bingham's 'Antiquities,' 15. 3. 3). It is now used only in the Coptic Church of Egypt. Rites and ceremonies may be changed "according to the diversities of countries, times, and men's manners;" the sacred duty of brotherly love remains unchanged forever.
Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
The most ancient manuscripts omit the word "Jesus" here and the "Amen? St. Paul's blessing at the end of his Epistles is usually "grace" (in the Epistle to the Ephesians he adds "peace"). St. Peter ends his Epistle with the benediction which he had so often heard from the Savior's lips. That blessed gift of peace is granted to all who are "in Christ," who is our Peace (
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