Elders Who Shepherd and Members Who Submit

Elders Who Shepherd and Members Who Submit

“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: 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; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 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” (1 Peter 5:1-5).

Brief thoughts about the text/sermon:

When persecution starts, it usually begins with a church’s leadership, which is probably why Peter began with elders in our text for tomorrow. Some scholars think Peter had the following OT passage in his mind when he addressed the eldership: “And to the others he said in my hearing, ‘Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.’ So they began with the elders who were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:5-6).

But not only that. When times are hard–whether from persecution or something else–a church needs strong leadership. So tomorrow we’ll spend some time studying what Peter wrote to elders and to the church. He uses the “shepherd” metaphor, reflecting an image that Jesus often used. Notice the balance Peter emphasizes: there’s “oversight,” but it’s not “domineering.” They willingly and eagerly exercise guidance primarily through the examples that they set for the flock that follows them.

And Peter encourages the rest of us to submit to our shepherds with humility. They’ve been placed into their position by the chief Shepherd himself, and he’s particularly interested in how sheep and shepherds interact.