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 to be revealed, 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; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 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.
Today we have finally reached the last chapter of 1 Peter! Can you believe it! The journey in 1 Peter has had it ups and downs but you are still here so that is a good sign! But I have to tell you the verses we have before us today have been heavy on my heart. As I studied it showed me the constant need of God’s grace, a constant need for the gospel, because these verses deals with my calling and the reason I am here.
I think to help us understand this text and to understand why Peter is exhorting the elders, we have to ask the question...
Lucky for us God has revealed to us in scriptures on how! but first lets look at what it isn’t.
It is not a autocracy- It is not a one man show, one person who has absolute power. We have no need of a pope.
It is not a democracy- Listen to me before you close your ears, it is not one person one vote. God’s people have never been lead that way. Yes the people do have a voice, but I have not seen in scripture were God has left it up entirely to the people to lead the people.
The way church is governed is by a Theocracy- God is in charge, He is King of kings and Lord of Lords. The house of God belongs to Him and He has called certain men with in His household to exercise authority over His household; in which, the other members of God’s household confirm their calling and confirm their qualifications by electing them to be their representatives. These representatives are called elders, we might refer them as pastors. We see there duty in verse 2 to shepherd, to feed, by exercising oversight over the flock of God, not the flock of this person or that person, not the flock of the people, but it is the flock of God. It is God’s church, and the elders are given the privilege and responsibility of shepherding it . They shepherd, they feed, they exercise oversight according to God’s will, according to scriptures, according to the Chief Shepherd Jesus Christ!
What I just gave you was a brief summary, and I encourage you to do your own study of scriptures to understand eldership better, but we will look at a couple of verse to get a better idea of what they are who they are. The first place we see elders is in the Old Testament.
In Exodus chapter 18 Moses father-in-law has heard all that God has done for Moses and for Israel and decided to visit Moses to celebrate all that God has done. In verse 13 Jethro notice that Moses sat to judge the people from morning to night, we see Jethro making an inquire on why he does this and we see His solution starting in verse 17 (Exo 18:17-23)
17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, 20 then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21 Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22 Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.”
So elders our able men, it is not earthly age, but a spiritual age, able men who fear God, men of truth, teaching the statues and the way they should walk, they are leaders of the people. They share the same burdens with each other, of leading the people. This is according to God’s will for His people. Look at Numbers 11:16-17
16 The Lord therefore said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.
This purpose and the position of elder carried over and was well established in the New Testament church. Examples
Acts 11:30 Barnabas and Paul was sent to the elders
Acts 14:23 They appointed elders in every church
Acts 15 Doctrinal issues where brought before the elders
Acts 16 Paul delivered decrees that was decided by the apostles and elders to be observed by the church.
Galatians 2:1-2 Paul went before the elders to examine the gospel he was preaching
1 Timothy 5:17-22 Tells us some elders who work hard at preaching and teaching are consider worthy of double honor. Showing that some elders are paid for they can be more devoted to their task.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 gives us the qualifications of a elder or overseer for those who aspire to that position, who feel that they have been called (aka this is me) telling us in I Tim 3:2-5
2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),
Hebrews 13:17 says to obey your leaders
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Elders are leaders, representatives of the church of God. They are called to watch over your souls and will be held accountable for them. In today’s text Peter gives us more insight about the office of elders. Look at verse 1 (1 Peter 5:1)
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 to be revealed,
Peter shifts from suffering to talking directly to the leaders of these local churches to the elders to exhort them, to implore them. Why?
Because leaders need to be exhorted in caring for the needs of those who God has placed them in over. The suffering and persecution faced by these believers would have the entire community strained, Leaders of the community needs to respond in the appropriate manner. To teach the people in the way they should go, to remind them of the gospel.
Because being the leaders they may receive the blunt of the persecution and need to be exhorted to act in the manner fitting of someone in authority over God’s household.
In addressing the elders Peter begins by identify himself along with them.
Peter was a fellow elder- again showing that not one person ruled the church, but he was a fellow elder along with them. Yet as a apostle he did have authority over them, since he was the one giving instruction. that what he is instructing them on applies also to him.
a witness of the suffering of Christ- Reminding them that he witness the opposition against Christ, that Jesus Christ traveled the same road, that this road is the pathway to glory, so do not be surprised that they are called to do the same.
He is a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed - That he also is looking to the future reward that believers will receive from Christ.
In verse two Peter exhorts them to there main task. Shepherding! look at verse 2 (1 Peter 5:2)
2 “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight...”
So the first task the elders our to do is to shepherd, it is more than providing food, it extends to everything required for the safety and well-being of the sheep. So the elders must preach the word of God to church and giving direction and discipline as the word of God prescribes, the elders are to also exercise oversight, to oversee the church and manage it.
We see the same exhortation from Paul to elders in the church of Ephesus look at Acts 20:28
28 Be on guard for yourselves and for 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.
They are to shepherd God’s church, it belongs to no one but God, He has purchased it with His own blood, through Jesus Christ. The church is valuable, it is precious, it is holy. Elders, pastors are dependent on God’s grace, they are dependent on the Holy Spirit to oversee and shepherd God’s Church.
Peter then gives us the manner in how the elders are to conduct their duties. look at verse 2 & 3 (1 Peter 5: 2-3)
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; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
Lets start at the last one
1. Elders are not to use there positions of authority as lords, like God has given over the church and the people to own. As the KJV translated neither being lords over God’s heritage. They do not belong to them but to God, and should treat their people as the flock of God, as God’s heritage, they should treat them with love, meekness, and tenderness, for the sake of God to whom they belong.
Elders are the under-shepherds and Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd as it reminds us in verse 4. Fundamentally we are all His servants, we all belong to Christ. He has bought us, He rules us, He defends us, He saves us forever. We are all accountable to Him. Elders our shepherds and they serve under the authority of Christ, doing his will rather than theirs, So they should be examples to their people. Demonstrating the character of Christ, the Chief Shepherd!
2. Elders should not serve in a disgraceful manner to obtain profit or advantage. Usually you can tell a false teacher in their love of money. Peter tells us that in 2 Peter 2:3 that “in their greed they will exploit you with false words..” We can see that often in tv preachers, who live their lives in luxury because they peddle the word of God for profit. Genuine leaders, on the other hand, have a eagerness in doing the work. So elders should not serve for what they may get out of it, but eagerly for the good they can do.
3. The final way a elder is to conduct themselves, is not under compulsion, but voluntarily. or as KJV translates it “not by constraint, but willingly”. This one part of this verse has made me sit many hours in prayer and reflection. It made me ask the question “Why am I here?” When this church first called me to come and preach I was so excited, because I love y’all so much! You all are family! The memories and everything I have here, I love this church! And when I saw y’all I saw people that I loved who had a need, who were suffering. I saw a people who needed to be reminded of the grace of God and that is why I chose 1 Peter. As you know I have been in the process of being examined by the elders of Safe Haven Church, who has not been quick to lay hand on me , which goes with scripture.
1 Timothy 5:22 tells us not to lay hands upon anyone too hastily..
They have asked many question about my calling to this church and me and Lauren have been in prayer over this calling, and as I have been preaching to y’all, God has been revealing his grace to me. That question why am I here? is it out of necessity, is it out of my on love for y’all and the need for you to fill a position or is it willing according to the will of God. John Calvin say’s “for when we act according to what necessity prescribes, we proceed in our work as it were by constraint.” I have to ask you forgiveness, because I am not called to be the pastor or elder of this church, because I have acted out of the necessity of the situation. I believe God has shown me that I am just not ready yet to exercise oversight, but as a firm believer of the sovereignty of God, I asked myself again, Why am I here? I know that I am called to preach the word of God, so why am I here? And it has been to point you to the Chief Shepherd in Christ Jesus!
I believe it is too ask you the same question, Church why are you here? Have you asked that question, is it out of constraint to keep the doors open, the bills paid. Is it out of necessity to keep a good appearance, to keep with tradition or the history of the church. Is it out of desire to have a church that fits your needs or a church that you can have a say over. Or is it out of a willingness to lay all aside to serve the Chief Shepherd. Have you asked why is our church in a season of suffering? because as we learned through 1 Peter suffering happens to try us, to judge us, to purify us, but it also happens because of our own sin as we saw last week. This church needs to examine itself as Paul did in Galatians, to make sure he preaching the gospel correctly in fear that he was running or had run in vain. Is this Church running in vain?
The question is Why are you here? How does this Church answer that, Well I think we see the first step in verse 5 “to clothe yourselves with humility” humble ourselves to one another, everyone in here is in need of grace, in need of mercy, and in need of the gospel. We all need to be humble, because if we don’t we become defensive, we start pointing fingers, or we start build up walls and become prideful. look at the reason Peter gives us end of verse 5 for being humble,
“For God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
and I think the next step is to stand firm in the true grace of God, because if our hope is completely on God’s grace, we search and prepare our minds by the word of God, we sacrifice our life’s to God daily to him through Christ, and follow the pathway that Christ has laid for us. That it is not about us, it is not about what this church can accomplish, or be, and it is not about anything we can bring to the table. It is only about the Glory of God in the face of Christ. So Let us remember the Gospel.
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Christ is the Chief Shepherd! Let us go to Him now!