1 Peter 5:1-5 “To the Leaders and the Followers”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church Manhattan KS, 1 Nov 2015

Omitting the Greyed-out text keeps the sermon delivery under 45 minutes.


1 [I,] the fellow-elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and participant of the glory which is about to be unveiled, I exhort the elders among y’all:

2 Start feeding the flock of God among y’all,


not compulsively but rather voluntarily,

and not due to bribery, but rather passionately;

3 and not as those who are domineering over their allotment,

but rather [as] those who are examples to the flock.

4 Then after the Lead Shepherd is brought to light, y’all will obtain the unfading crown of glory!


5 Likewise, younger guys, start submitting yourselves to the elders,

and all of you, gird yourselves with humble-mindedness toward one another,

because God arrays Himself against proud men, but to humble men He gives grace.


·         In chapter 1 verse 1, Peter introduced himself as an “apostle” and spoke to all the “elect” in the churches of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

·         Then, in the middle of his letter, he addressed three sub-groups with particular instructions – the slaves, the wives, and the husbands.

·         Now he turns to address another particular group, this time the elders of the church, and he re-introduces his credentials for doing so, stating three things that qualify him to speak to other elders:


v.1 [I,] the fellow-elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and participant of the glory which is about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among y’all:

·         First, he is the sumpresbuteros – “elder together” with them.

o        Note that no rank of church office higher than that of elder is needed speak authoritatively into the lives of other church elders. All the authority needed to deal with a church elder is the authority of a fellow elder.

o        We need to take very seriously the collegial relationships and also the admonitions of elders outside of our congregation.

·         Second, Peter introduces himself as a “witness of the sufferings of Christ.”

o        The Gospel accounts tell us that Peter witnessed the sufferings that Jesus endured in the garden of Gethsemane and at the trial at the high priest’s compound, and maybe this is saying he also saw the crucifixion.

o        He surely saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and spear wound in His side just as Thomas did after the resurrection.

o        Peter had seen all this personally, and therefore he had words to share from Jesus Himself which any leader in Jesus’ church would surely desire to hear.

·         Third, Peter introduces Himself as one who is the “participant – a partaker, a shareholder – in the glory that is [just around the corner and is] going to be revealed.”

o        This polarity of “suffering” and “glory” is something we looked at last week in chapter 4, verse 13, as belonging to everyone in the church: “just as y’all have fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, keep rejoicing, in order that also in the unveiling of His glory, y’all may rejoice...” (NAW). Peter says, “I too am of the elect. I am going to see y’all in heaven!

o        I think Peter is also saying that he is a tried-and-true elder, worth listening to because He has had to suffer persecution himself and has faithfully endured it.

o        You may have heard the joke that if you can’t make it in your line of business, you should become a consultant in that line of business, and if you can’t make it as a consultant, you should write a book, and if you can’t make it as an author, you should become a college professor. OK, maybe not every teacher and author and consultant is unqualified, but Peter is the real deal:

§         He has been in the trenches with Jesus;

§         he has been thrown in jail for preaching in Jerusalem;

§         and he has planted successful churches in Caesarea and Samaria.

§         He is somebody to whom we would do well to pay careful attention!

·         Now, without the context of the whole Bible, it might be assumed that this word presbuterous (literally “older men”) means no more than that: “those who are older,” and we could apply this passage to be respectful to those who are older than you.

·         But the Bible also teaches that it is older men who should be the official leaders of the church (and, incidentally, of civil society).

o        Note that these elders here in First Peter 5 are not merely “old men”:

o        They are expected to “feed” and “oversee” the church;

o        They are related to Peter’s office of “elder” and related to Christ’s office as “Chief Shepherd,”

o        and they are to be “submitted” to.

o        So, the context of first Peter makes it clear that he is speaking of the church office of elder.

o        And, for what it’s worth, this Greek word presbyterous is where the Presbyterian denomination gets its name – All Presbyterians use a plurality of elders as their form of church government.

·         The word “elders” is frequently found in the Bible to designate the office of a church overseer/pastor/elder, and it is also found in the Bible to designate the office of a civil magistrate who has the authority to act as a judge.

o        It was typically from among the older men of the Jewish townships that city councils – or Sanhedrin – were formed.

§         Deuteronomy 31:28 “Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them.” (NKJV)

§         2 Chronicles 10:6-8 “King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived... But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.” (NKJV)

§         Ezra 10:14 “let the leaders of our entire assembly stand; and let all those in our cities who have taken pagan wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of their cities...” (NKJV)

§         Mark 15:1 “...the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus... and delivered Him to Pilate.” (NKJV)

o        And it was typically from among the older men of the church congregations that church leadership was formed:

§         Acts 14:23 “So when they [Paul & Barnabas] had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (NKJV)

§         Titus 1:5 “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (NKJV)

§         James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” (NKJV)

§         Acts 16:4 “And as they [Paul and Timothy] went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.” (NKJV)

§         However, we know that some elders weren’t very old, since Timothy was considered “youthful”: 1 Tim. 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (NKJV)

o        To cap it off, what sort of system of leadership do we find in heaven? In John’s Revelation, he observed that underneath the authority of God there were “elders” whose leadership role was symbolized by “thrones” and “crowns”:

§         Revelation 4:4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. (NKJV)

o        This incidentally, is the Biblical basis for republican government – leadership by representatives who have a federal relationship to their constituency. (Federal means “covenanted – having entered into a mutually-agreed contract.”)

§         That reminds me of when one of pre-teen sons (who shall go unnamed here), after reading (perhaps too many) Hardy Boys mysteries, observed to his mother, “I think that kids are smarter than adults.”

§         In our culture, youthfulness is so over-rated that we have largely lost the Biblical perspective that there is great value in the wisdom that comes from many years of experience. The fact that I have lived three times as long and have specific experience in the problems that a youth has faced, for some reason, does not seem to occur to kids these days.

·         Now, what does Peter have to say to the elders?

v.2 Start feeding the flock of God among y’all, supervising, not compulsively but rather voluntarily, and not due to bribery, but rather passionately;

·         The Greek word for “flock” shares the same root as the Greek words for “sheep” and for “shepherd.” The root meaning actually has to do with eating grass, so the verb for “shepherd” is also sometimes translated “feed.”

·         Occasionally in the Bible, the people of God are referred to as a “flock” of “sheep[1].” Here, the church congregations scattered across northern Turkey, each under the care of their respective elders, are called a “flock of God.”

o        Psalm 78:52 “And he removed his people like sheep; he led them as a flock in the wilderness.” (Brenton)

o        Isaiah 40:11 “He shall tend his flock as a shepherd, and he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and shall soothe them that are with young.” (Brenton)

o        Ezekiel 34:31 “ye are my sheep, even the sheep of my flock, and I am the Lord your God, saith the Lord God.” (Brenton)

o        Luke 12:32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (NKJV)

o        Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (NKJV)

·         What is an elder supposed to do?

o        Peter’s main imperative is “feed the flock of God” – “shepherd” them!

§         Why would this be Peter’s main point? Think back to that morning on the Galilean lake when the resurrected Jesus fed him breakfast of fish roasted over a campfire and then called him aside for a walk down the beach. What did Jesus say? “Peter, do you love me? Then feed my sheep” (John 21:16). That thrice-repeated command must have rung in Peter’s mind for the rest of his life. No wonder that is his first imperative to the elders of the church!

§         But long before Peter, God expressed concern that leaders nurture and protect His people rather than take advantage of them. In Ezekiel 34:2-10, “Thus saith the Lord God; O shepherds of Israel, do shepherds feed themselves? do not the shepherds feed the sheep? Behold, ye feed on the milk, and clothe yourselves with the wool, and slay the fat: but ye feed not my sheep. The weak one ye have not strengthened, and the sick ye have not cherished, and the bruised ye have not bound up, and the stray one ye have not turned back, and the lost ye have not sought; and the strong ye have wearied with labour. And my sheep were scattered, because there were no shepherds: and they became meat to all the wild beasts of the field. And my sheep were scattered on every mountain, and on every high hill: yea, they were scattered on the face of the earth, and there was none to seek them out, nor to bring them back... For this cause... I am against the shepherds... and I will deliver my sheep out of their mouth.” (Brenton)

§         And in Jeremiah 3:15, God promised, “I will give you shepherds after my heart, and they shall certainly tend you with knowledge.” (Brenton)

§         That’s the figurative meaning of “feed” – to teach and impart “knowledge.”

§         Christians that are weak need to be fortified, not manipulated.

§         Sheep that are sick or injured need to be gently and patiently nursed back to health,

§         and sheep that are straying need to be chased down and brought back to safety.

§         These are the tasks of elders.

§         It’s also what we see Jesus doing for His glorified people at the end of time: Revelation 7:17 “the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (NKJV)

§         Now, think about how a shepherd feeds sheep. Does he pick the grass and stuff it into the mouth of each sheep? No? Does he chew it up for the sheep and then inject it into their stomachs? No! He leads them to places where they can feed themselves. I don’t think it’s stretching the analogy too far to say that the role of an elder, while certainly it is to include teaching, is to direct the attention of his congregation to ideas and teachers and books and resources that will be nourishing to their spiritual growth[2]. The sheep have to go to those places with the shepherd and do the work of eating and digesting the food before them. I want to train you all how to feed yourselves from God’s word.

§         Also, note that the church elders’ authority is limited to “the flock of God,” not to everybody in the world.

§         We each need to find our boundaries. For instance, I don’t answer the church phone if I don’t recognize who is calling; I let the answering machine take it. Now, if it’s someone that I can legitimately minister to, I’ll call them back, but this keeps me from spending hours every week talking with salesmen and panhandlers outside our church that I really can’t help anyway.

§         If there were no limits to who should receive my attention, I’d go insane. “Shepherd the flock of God among you.”

o        Well, once the shepherd has led the sheep to food, what does he do? Does he leave and take the rest of the day off? NO! What do the sheep need while they’re feeding? They need to be kept from wandering, and they need to be protected from predators. The shepherd has to stay there and watch the sheep and stay alert to any danger and be ready to fight to protect those sheep!

§         So Peter adds this word episkopountes (“overseeing/supervising”) as a participle to go along with the main imperative to “shepherd/feed the flock of God.”

§         This, by the way, is where the Episcopal denomination gets its name. All Episcopalians (and Anglicans) believe in an upper tier of church leadership called “bishops” which “oversees” the elders. “Bi-schop” is old English for Over-see, just as “super-vise” is Latin for “over-see.”

§         But you’d think Peter would have said, “I exhort you elders as your arch­bishop,” rather than “as your fellow-elder,” if that were the intended model.

§         Furthermore, you would expect that Paul would “commit” the elders in the churches he planted “to the care of bishops” rather than “committing them to the Lord” after ordaining those elders (Acts 14:23).

§         In fact, the words “bishop” and “elder” are used interchangeably in Acts 20 and in Titus 1, as synonyms for the same church office.

§         Anyway, just as shepherding is something that God does and which elders imitate, so the work of superintending or exercising oversight is something which God does and which elders imitate. Moses said that God was epi-skop-ing over the Promised Land long before New Testament times: “A land which the Lord thy God surveys [watches over] continually, the eyes of the Lord thy God are upon it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” (Deut. 11:12, Brenton)

§         The only other occurrence of this verb in the New Testament fills out a little more about how to “look out for” each other in the church: Hebrews 12:14-15 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully [epi-scoping] lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (NKJV) How do you supervise? By keeping peace so that roots of bitterness don’t spring up and by calling people to repentance from sin so that they do not become defiled by their sin and fall short of God’s grace. According to Hebrews 12, this is what every Christian can do, but according to 1 Peter 5, it is especially incumbent upon elders to do this peace-keeping and holiness-keeping.

·         Peter follows the imperative “feed/shepherd” and the participle “supervising/overseeing” with 4 adverbs contrasting how an elder should – and should not – go about shepherding & supervising.

o        He should serve “without constraint/compulsion, not because he must”[3] – there is no one driving him to do it.

§         No bishop telling him he has to.

§         No nagging wife manipulating her husband into a place of prestige.

§         And no sense of social obligation such as, “Well, nobody else is going to do it, so I guess I ought to.”

o        Instead he should serve “voluntarily/willingly.” This reminds me of the opening of First Timothy 3 which uses the synonyms “aspires” and “desires”: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1 Tim. 3:1, ESV) A good elder candidate sees the needs of the flock of God and thinks, “I really want to help out here!” (Of course there are additional qualifications for eldership in 1 Tim. 3, but that willingness is the first step.)

o        The next pair of adverbs set in opposition to each other is aiskrokerdws and prothumws.

§         The only other place we see any form of that word in the Greek Bible is among the qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8 and Titus 1:7, where it is translated “greedy for money/filthy lucre/fond of sordid or dishonest gain,” or, Wycliffe put it, “coveytouse of foul wynnyng.”

§         The concept of “shame” and the concept of “income” are the two prominent ideas in that Greek word.

§         Some interpret it to mean that elders must not be a con artists who use religion to bilk people out of their money. That is certainly a shameful way to get income and it has plagued the church from its earliest days to now – from Simon Magus to Jimmy Swaggart.

§         However, since the opposite word in this second pair of adverbs has to do with “eagerness,” I suspect that aischrokerdws might refer to another kind of “gain” that is “shameful,” namely “bribery” – an unwillingness to serve unless paid more than deserved.

o        The last adverb is prothumws, which contains the Greek word for “passion.”

§         Now if I were describing a man to you and were to make the observation, “Golf is his passion.” What would you infer? Give that guy the slightest excuse, and he’s out there on the green, right?

§         So it is with a Biblically-qualified elder. The well-being of the church just spills out of his heart in his prayers and in his conversation because that is what his mind readily runs to; it is where he is most eager to serve.

·         Now there is one more contrast Peter brings out:

v.3 and not as those who lord down on their allotment, but rather [as] those who are examples to the flock.

·         Peter is again recapping a leadership principle that Jesus had taught him personally. In Mark 10:42-45, “Jesus called them [the 12] to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” (NKJV)

·         Understand that “lording over” or “exercising dominion” is only bad in the Bible when it is practiced over fellow human beings that you have no business controlling[4] (Psalm 10:5 & 10).

o        The same Greek word is used in God’s command to Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:28) and to Noah and his sons (Gen. 9:1) to exercise dominion over the earth. Micromanaging the growth of a tomato plant or forcing a donkey to do what you want is different from micromanaging the life of a brother or sister in Christ.

·         Peter uses an interesting word here to describe the church congregation; he calls them “the allotment/the heritage/the trust.” In most of the Greek Bible where this word is used, it refers to the casting of lots. Here, God has precious people that He has drawn to Himself, and He had distributed them under the authority of these elders. The elders don’t own them; Jesus does. The elders didn’t even decide who they should oversee; God did by causing certain believers to live in a certain location (or perhaps the multiple elders in each church even had a random way of dividing up the members of their congregation among themselves for individual shepherding).

·         When we look at the contrasting word in v.3, we see that Peter is repudiating the kind of leadership which focuses on control. Yet how tempting it is for us to resort to physical force or emotional manipulation in order to control outcomes with other people!

o        I just recently watched Shakespeare’s play on Henry the Fifth, which opens with wealthy church bishops in England trying to out-maneuver a pending law that would shift the possession of a bunch of church property to the control of the political leaders, so they offer money to their king to take an army into France and conquer land there instead. When the king asked if it would be immoral to go to war against France, the bishops told him that if there was anything wrong they had the power to divert God’s punishment from the king. That’s what Peter is saying NO to.

o        But it doesn’t have to happen on a large scale like that; it can be a simple as seeing someone at church that you promised you would do something for – and forgot about – and thinking, “I don’t want to have to go through the embarrassment of admitting my fault. I’ll just make up an excuse and say I had a difficult counseling case and ran out of time, or maybe I’ll just stay on the opposite side of the room from them so I don’t have to talk to them this Sunday.” That’s “lording down” over people too, controlling things to suit yourself.

·         Instead, a Christian leader should lead by example.

o        1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” (NASB)

o        Titus 2:7 “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified” (NASB)

o        Now this doesn’t mean that an elder just leads a good life and looks the other way when people sin and simply hopes people follow his example. There are other places in the Bible where church leaders are told to proactively “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2b, NKJV), but there is a balance;

o        the elder who is all about other people’s faults and isn’t paying attention to his own sins or to the problems in his own household is going to have a hard time finding followers, and he won’t last long anyway, because the world and the devil will easily take him out.

o        What is called for here is elders (and, by extension, parents, Bible study leaders, Army officers, and every Christian who exercises any kind of leadership) who conduct their lives in such a way that people can imitate them and be better off.[5]

§         If there’s too much griping going on, are you setting a good example of gratitude and graciousness?

§         If there are too many feelings getting hurt; are you being gracious and extending the benefit of the doubt?

§         If there’s too much worldliness; are you shedding sin that entangles and pursuing Christ in prayer?

·         So elders should shepherd (feed minds with truth, protect the weak from harmful ideas, bring back wanderers) and supervise (maintaining peace and purity in the church) because they want to, not out of mere obligation, and they should lead by example rather than trying to control everybody. If they do so...

v.4 Then after the Lead Shepherd is brought to light, y’all will obtain the unfading crown of glory!

·         The main verb translated “receive/obtain” in this verse is mostly used in the Bible to speak of the final rewards that people receive when the Lord comes back. For instance,:

o        2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (NKJV)

o        and Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:” (NKJV)

·         This perspective of looking at life in terms of how things will stand when Christ returns is the way Peter encourages us to think throughout his whole epistle. Remember, in the opening of chapter 1, he used the same word to speak of “obtaining the goal of your faith: salvation of souls” “when Christ is revealed”.

·         Peter calls Christ the archipoimenos – the “Chief Shepherd,” the “arch-pastor.”

o        He is the one who stands in rank above the elders as the head of the church. (We have Peter’s word on it here – it’s not the pope!)

o        And it is to Jesus that the elders of the church are ultimately accountable. He will preside in a day of reckoning and evaluate each elder as to

§         whether they were a good example,

§         whether their motives for leadership were pure,

§         and whether they actually fed and looked out for His bride the church.

o        But this also means Jesus is our coach.

§         He is just as concerned as we are – and moreso – about pastoring the church well.

§         He is not just waiting to clobber elders for doing a bad job, He is on the same team as the elders, shepherding the church together with them.

§         And as the pastor over the pastors, He will do everything in His power to make His elders successful overseers of His church.

§         Then on the day that He returns, he won’t be like the coach that looks bad because all His players did crummy. He will be looking good as the lead shepherd over a team of successful shepherds.

·         And what is the reward He will give them? A “crown of glory that does not fade.”

o        Not the fading fleshly glory (like the grass in 1 Peter 1:24), but the heavenly glory of Christ which Peter has already repeatedly mentioned as coming to us in the future[6].

o        1 Corinthians 9: 25 “Now every contender exercises... in order that they might receive a perishable laurel, but we an imperishable! (NAW)

o        James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (NKJV)

o        2 Timothy 4:8 “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (NKJV)

o        Look forward to it! It is going to be awesome!

·         Now, are there any of you who have been thinking, “That whole sermon had nothing to do with me because it was all directed to elders and I’m not an elder!”? Well, verse five is for you then! It is directed to all who are not elders:

v.5 Likewise, younger guys, start submitting yourselves to the elders, and all of you, gird yourselves with humble-mindedness toward one another, because God arrays Himself against proud men, but to humble men He gives grace.

·         One of the challenges of interpreting this passage of scripture is that the word “elder” appears to be used in verse 1 to denote a church office instead of an age group, but then, when we get down to verse 5, the word “younger” seems to refer instead to an age group and not an office.

o        There are two places in the Bible where the newteroi “younger men” might denote a position rather than an age group:

§         The first place is Luke 22:25-26 And He [Jesus] said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” (NKJV) “Younger” is contrasted with “greatest,” which seems to indicate that “younger” is equated with being in an inferior position socially.

§         The other place is Acts 5:6, where it describes a certain group of young men in the church who took care of menial jobs[7]. (They were the ones who buried Ananias and Saphira.) Perhaps they were something like ministry interns who shadowed the apostles.

§         But in both cases, it’s not clear that the term “younger” actually denotes an office, and “youthfulness” seems to be the dominant idea.[8]

o        This opens the question as to whether the word “elder” then, in verse 5, means the age group or the church officers. In other words, is Peter saying that younger men should submit to older men just because they are older, or is Peter telling the younger men to be submissive to the elders who govern the church?

§         I don’t think Peter conclusively answers that question, but the question can be resolved a different way:

§         Does the Bible command us to show honor to senior citizens? YES! Leviticus 19:32 “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.” (NKJV)

§         Does the Bible command us to submit to the official elders of the church? YES! Hebrews 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls...” (NKJV)

§         Then we can apply Peter’s instruction both ways!

§         When Grandpa Ford is carrying the airpots of coffee and says, “Hey would you get the door for me?” God wants you to jump to it and open the door for him.

§         When Dr. Zachary says, “Hey kids, don’t play on the balcony upstairs.” God wants you to remember that rule and stay off the balcony.

o        By the way, in 1 Timothy 5, the newteroi “younger” women were those under the age of 60, so by that definition just about every one of you is younger!

o        It seems that pride is a greater temptation for those who are younger and less experienced.

§         You know what they say about freshmen, “They know nothing but think they know everything.”

§         Once they get to be Sophomores, “They know nothing and they know that they know nothing.”

§         Then by the time they’re Juniors, they know everything, but they still think they know nothing.” And that’s a good place to be.

o        Jesus and the Apostles recognized that youth and elderly folks both bring unique strengths to the body of Christ and should exist together as the church. 1 John 2:14 “I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known the From-The-Beginning One. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God is staying in you and you have conquered the evil one.” (NAW)

·         Now, notice the comparative at the beginning of verse 5: “Likewise/in the same way.” Same as what? Like what? I believe this refers back to the 4 adverbs in v.2 and the 2 participles in v.3:

o        Just like elders are to serve “voluntarily” and with “eager passion,”

o        and just as elders are to live “exemplary” lives and not be controlling,

o        so the younger folks in the church are to “be submissive” “voluntarily” without being forced to obey the elders,

o        and the younger folks need to be “passionate” about their roles and not have to be paid off to take part in serving the church.

o        Younger folks too should not seek to manipulate situations to their selfish ends, but should focus on living a life that would be a good “example” to others.

o        You see, all that stuff about elders that you didn’t think applied to you actually does apply to you!

·         In the latter part of verse 5, Peter addresses “all” of you in the church, saying, “clothe/gird yourselves with humble-mindedness toward each other.”

o        This is in keeping with what he said back in 3:8 “the goal [is for] y’all [to be] like-minded, sympathetic, brotherly-loving, compassionate, [and] humble-minded” (NAW)

o        If you can put aside your ideas and your agendas and support other people’s ideas and the agendas that will build up the whole church and not just benefit you, God will pour out blessings and grace on you!

·         Peter, as usual, provides a proof text to back up his instructions with the authority of Old Testament Scripture. He does this with an exact quote from the Greek Septuagint translation of Proverbs 3:34, “God arrays Himself against proud men, but to humble men He gives grace.”

o        (It’s interesting that James also quoted the same Proverb about humility and pride in his letter – chapter 4 verse 6. Perhaps it was a verse that Jesus had highlighted to them.)

o        There is a play on words here in Greek: the word “submit/be subject” is hupo-tassw (literally to “arrange under”) and the word “resists/opposed” is anti-tassw, literally, “arrange against”), so, if you do not “organize yourself under” proper human authority, God will “organize Himself in opposition” to you.

o        The word-picture is of an army setting up to fight against an enemy. That will be God’s stance toward you if you continue to think you know better than everyone else.

o        Those who appear to be on top are not those who are going to stay on top. God is the great leveler of pride, and He is the great exalter of humble people (Luke 1:52, Isa. 40:4).

·         And what is the grace that He gives to the humble-hearted?

o        It includes gifts from the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:6, 2 Cor. 8:1, Gal. 2:9, Eph 4:7)

o        and ultimately eternal salvation (Psalm 18:27 “For thou wilt save the lowly people, and wilt humble the eyes of the proud.” ~Brenton, cf. 84:11, 2 Thess. 2:16, 2 Tim. 1:9).


Comparison[i] of Bible Translations of 1 Peter 5:1-5

Patristic GNT







1 ΠρεσβυτέρουςAPM-C [ii]τοὺς ἐν ὑμῖν παρακαλῶPAI-1S ὁ συμ­πρεσ­βύτερος καὶ μάρτυςNSM τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθημάτων­GPN, ὁ καὶ τῆς μελλούσηςPAP-GSF ἀπο­καλύπτεσθαιPPN δόξηςGSF κοινωνός,

1 [I,] the fellow-elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and participant of the glory which is about to be unveiled, I exhort the elders among y’all:

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:

1 The elders who are among you I exhort, [I who] am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is X to be revealed,

1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory X to be revealed:

2 ποιμάνατεAAM-2P τὸASN ἐν ὑμῖν ποίμνιονASN τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐπισκοπ­οῦντεςPAP-NPM μὴ [iii]ἀναγκαστῶςADV ἀλλ᾿ ἑκουσίως­ADV, [iv] μηδὲ [v]αἰσ­χροκ­ερδῶςADV ἀλλὰ [vi]προθύμωςADV,

2 Start[vii] feeding the flock of God among y’all, supervising, not compulsively but rather voluntarily, and not due to bribery, but rather passionately;

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;

2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because [you] must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager [to serve];

3 μηδ᾿ ὡς κατακυριεύοντες PAP-NPM τῶν κλήρων ἀλλὰ τύποι γινόμενοιPNP-NPM τοῦ ποιμνίου·

3 and not as those who are domineering over their allotment, but rather [as] those who are examples to the flock.

3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

3 nor as being lords over those entrusted [to you], but being examples to the flock;

3 X not X domineering over those in [your] charge, but being examples to the flock.

3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to [your] charge, but proving [to be] examples to the flock.

3 X not X lording it over those entrusted [to you], but being examples to the flock.

4 καὶ φανερωθέντοςAPP-GSM τοῦ [viii]ἀρχιποίμενος [ix]κομιεῖσθε FDI τὸν [x]ἀμαράντινονA-ASM τῆς δόξηςGSF στέφανονASM.

4 Then after the Lead Shepherd is brought to light, y’all will obtain the unfading crown of glory!

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

5 ῾Ομοίως, νεώτεροιNPM-C, [xi]ὑποτάγητεAPM-2P πρεσβυτέροις, πάντες δὲ ἀλλήλοις [xii] τὴν [xiii]ταπεινο­φροσύνηνASF [xiv]ἐγκομβώ­σασθεADM-2P · ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ὑπερ­ηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται PMI-3S, ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιPAI-3S χάριν[xv].

5 Likewise, younger guys, start submitting yourselves[xvi] to the elders, and all of you, gird yourselves with humble-mindedness toward one another, because God arrays Himself against proud men, but to humble men He gives grace.

5 Likewise, ye young­er, submit yourselves unto the elderX. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

5 Likewise you young­er [people], submit your­selves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."

5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

5 YoungX men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Prov. 3:34 LXX κύριος ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται, ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.

Prov 3:34 אִם-לַלֵּצִים הוּא-יָלִיץ וְלַעֲנִיִּים יִתֶּן-חֵן:



[1] See also Jer. 13:17-20, Micah 5:4, and Zech. 10:3.

[2] cf. God’s command to King Saul in 2 Sam. 5:2 and the example of God Himself in Psalm 23

[3] This is a rare word in the Greek Bible, but we do find the root in parallel with the words for “farmer” and “master” in Proverbs 6:7 “Go to the ant, O sluggard; and see, and emulate his ways, and become wiser than he. For whereas he has no husbandry, nor any one to compel him, and is under no master” -Brenton

[4] There are some human beings that have to be brought under control, and those are “enemies” (Psalm 49:14 & 110:2), but brothers and sisters in the church are not in that category!

[5] Philippians 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” (NASB)

1 Thessalonians 1:7 “so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (NASB)

2 Thessalonians 3:9 “not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example.” (NASB)

[6] 1 Peter 1:7,11,21, 4:11,13,14; 5:1,4,10

[7] Acts 5:6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. (NKJV) In verse 10, these same young men are called νεανίσκοι, a group which Strong’s lexicon says is under the age of 40, and Thayer’s lexicon says could refer to a class of servants.

[8] Jameison, Faucett & Brown make a convincing case that newteroi could refer to the office of deacon.

[i] Where the traditional Patriarchal edition of the Greek Bible is challenged by the Textus Receptus or by the modern critical editions, I note that. When an English translation adds words not in the Greek text, but does not indicate it has done so by the use of italics (or greyed-out text), I put the added words in [square brackets]. When one English version chooses a wording which is different from all the other translations, I underline it. When a version chooses a translation which, in my opinion, either departs too far from the root meaning of the Greek word or departs too far from the gram­mar form of the original Greek word, I use strikeout. And when an English version omits a word which is in the Greek text, I insert an X. (Some­times I will place the X at the end of a word if the Greek word is plural but the English translation is singular.) I have also tried to use colors to help the reader see correlations between the Greek original and the various translations when there are more than two different translations of a Greek word.

[ii] Modern Critical Editions of the GNT read ουν (“therefore”) instead of “the” because all of the four oldest-known manuscripts (P72, א, A, B) read that way. Perhaps the editors of the Patristic text had good reasons, however. Papyrus #72 is not reliable (viz. its unique variant qeou instead of cristou later in this verse, rejected even by modern critical editors). The majority of Greek manuscripts read as above, and there are ancient witnesses to tous, including the Vulgate and א, so I’ll stick with them.

[iii] Hapex Legomenon. Verbal form occurs in Proverbs 6:7 (Ant has no one to lead or “compel” it), Luke 14:23 (“Compel” them to come to the wedding feast), Gal. 2:14 & 6:12 (“compelling” Gentiles to follow Jewish traditions). Adjective form is usually translated “necessary.”

[iv] The modern critical editions insert κατα θεον (“according to God”) here, following P72, א, and A, as well as the ancient Vulgate and Coptic versions. The majority of Greek manuscripts (including B) do not include this explanatory phrase, and it is not necessary, although I can appreciate its piety.

[v] Hapex Legomenon. Only other word with the same root in the Greek Bible is an adjectival form found in 1 Timothy 3:8 and Titus 1:7.

[vi] The only other place this adverb occurs in the Greek Bible is in 2 Chron. 29:34, where Brenton translates it “more zealously.” Of the 16 other occurrences of the same root word in other forms, over half are in the passages in 1 Chronicles and in 2 Corinthians where God’s people are praised for their willingness to give generous “free-will offerings” to the Lord. Both of those passages, by the way, use prothum- synonymously with ekousi-, confirming in my mind that these are not two different things in Peter’s mind either, but are really one set of opposites laid out in a Hebraic synonymous parallelism.

[vii] This is my attempt at rendering the Aorist tense of this Imperative. It seems possible, however, that the Aorist could instead denote intensity of action.

[viii] Hapex legomenon. There are other Greek words which are more closely-related to the concept of “head” or “first;” I see archi is more related to “rule.”

[ix] cf. 1:9 “while obtaining the goal of your faith: salvation of souls” (NAW)

[x] In the Greek Bible only here and 1 Peter 1:4 – describing the “inheritance” to be “obtained” when Jesus is “revealed.”

[xi] cf. 1 Peter 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5

[xii] The Textus Receptus follows the Majority of Greek manuscripts in adding the word ‘υποτασσομενοι (“submitting”) here, but it is not to be found in any manuscript dated before the 9th Century (although it is found in a Syriac version dated to the 7th century). This raises the question of why all the manuscripts and translations dated prior to the 7th century (including the Coptic and Latin versions and the Syriac Peshitta) do not have this extra word. Perhaps the editors of the Patristic text knew something Erasmus (the editor of the Textus Receptus) didn’t.

[xiii] cf. Acts 20:19; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 2:18,23; 3:12

[xiv] Hapex legomenon (Peter uses a lot of words which occur nowhere else in the entire Greek Bible!)

[xv] “Gives grace” = Salvation (Psalm 18:27, 84:11, 2 Thess. 2:16, 2 Tim. 1:9), Spiritual gifts (Rom 12:6, 2 Cor 8:1, Gal. 2:9, Eph 4:7)

[xvi] This imperative is Aorist and Passive. It seems possible, however, that the Aorist could instead denote intensity of action instead of ingressive action.