1 Peter Part 19
1 Peter 5:1-4
Shepherding God’s Flock
One of the peculiarities of how Holy Scripture is written, is how different groups are addressed in front of other groups.
The Bible does not have secret passages written to women and secret passages written to men which can only be studied in closed enclaves.
Men and women are addressed in the same letters, each hearing what the Lord has to say to the other, as well as to themselves.
It is common today to gather in men’s groups and women’s groups separately, as though there is some body of knowledge which only they can discuss in their respective groups.
There is a certain place for that, but we need to avoid letting those things turn us into discreet, isolated groups as though gender specific references have no meaning or value for everyone.
So then, parents are addressed in front of children and vice versa.
And, as in this passage, Elders or leaders in the Church are addressed in front of the Body of Believers, even as the letter so far has addressed Believers as a whole.
Up until now in our study, Peter has been addressing his comments to these displaced and marginalized Believers as a whole – But in our text today, he singles out one group especially – Elders. I.e. The Leadership in these little groups of Christians.
And one observation we must make at the outset, is that he addresses the Elders as suffering men…
Suffering men in turn, ministering to others who are also suffering.
Just as Paul in 2 Corinthians makes it clear that one of the ways God equips each Christian to minister to one another, is to use the comforts He has comforted each of us with in our distresses, to comfort others.
In this way, our distresses become gifts for the rest of the Church.
Which brings up the point that those in leadership are not exempt from any of the suffering which all Christians endure.
Leadership does not put anyone in a special spiritual class. A class which somehow exempts them from any of the very same temptations, weaknesses, doubts, fears, discouragements, problems or challenges that all the rest of you face.
In fact, sometimes, those in leadership are subject to even more.
Given Peter’s audience, as small, marginalized, groups of Believers, looked down on, misunderstood and mistreated in their society – he takes a few moments to speak to those men who may have a measure of gifting and a burden to see the Church thrive irrespective of the environment – and in it sets out 3 things.
I – vs. 1 / An Exhortation
II – vss. 2 & 3 / An Explanation
III – vs. 4 / An Encouragement
I – vs. 1-2a / An Exhortation
- 1-2a 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, shepherd the flock of God that is among you.
“Therefore” – Having addressed suffering from the beginning of this epistle, and in light of his own Eldership – “as your fellow elder” – Let me exhort you to have a mind equipped with these three things:
- Suffering WILL attend us – 2:21, 4:12
- Our fellow shepherds endure these things too.
- Glory Awaits Us
1. Suffering WILL Attend Us.
“As a witness of Christ’s suffering”,
Peter knew this persecution & rejection personally in 3 ways.
From Jesus teaching: Matt. 10:23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. 24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! ALSO: In His simple incarnation.
From observing Jesus’ own persecution, death, burial and resurrection.
From his own experience, as the books of Acts abundantly demonstrates.
2. Our Fellow Shepherds Endure Suffering too.
Feeling isolated or as though you are the only one who has suffered in a particular way or with as much intensity – is one of the ways our sinfulness deceives us.
In it, the Enemy capitalizes on to make us bitter, resentful against those who we perceive as sailing more comfortably, and then detaching from others.
It is a very destructive deception everyone who suffers much be aware of temptation to.
3. Glory Awaits Us. / “As a partaker of the glory to be revealed: – This all culminates in the coming glory:
Heb. 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
We WILL suffer – We are NOT alone – We WILL be glorified
II – vss. 2b & 3 / An Explanation
“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; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
- Shepherd – ποιμήν To tend, in the whole sense of the word, not simply to feed” – but “to feed sheep, to pasture or to tend while grazing.”
- Leading, not driving. They will not go, and should ONLY go where we are willing to go first. / “Who having gone before us”.
John Mohr / Steve Green
May all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light the way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.
3. Feed – The Word
Mark 6:34 “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
1. Protect – The Shepherd lays down his life for the lambs
Jesus speaks this way of His own Shepherding in John 10:11-13 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Dangers from within – Paul to the Ephesian leadership in Acts 20: 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure1 fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
From without – 1 John – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Themselves – James 4: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
Ourselves – Misplaced affections (Theirs and ours)
Don’t shepherd in such a way that you make them more dependent upon you, than individually upon Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
One writer on this portion wrote: “The image is so simple and informative. The virgin bride is the church. The husband she is betrothed to is Christ Himself. And Paul? How does he think of himself in this? He is as though a close mutual friend of the Bride and Groom. The one who introduced them. And now the Groom has gone away for a time – committing the care of His virgin bride to this friend, to keep her and protect her until He returns. Thus Paul sees these interlopers who are vying for her affection in Corinth – not as competitors to himself, but as trying to take liberties with the one he is sworn to keep until Christ returns.
I would submit to you that this is the very way that we as preachers and pastors are to consider our own relationship with the church. We may admire her beauty, delight in her company and revel in our usefulness to her – but she is not ours. We are guarding her virtue for Him. We have no right to fondle her, soil her garments or grow overly familiar with her. We are to direct her affections toward her intended, and to labor with all our might to keep her from inordinate affection for us, or anyone else.”
There is a temptation in all of this to grow neglectful of what the believers around us really need.
Temptation: It’s such a small group. Since it is small, no need to prepare much.
Walt Hobson – The myth of the super-leader.
Temptation: I don’t want to add to their burden.
Temptation: I’ve got enough problems of my own.
Temptation: “Practical” – not spiritual. To give what may be desired, above what is truly needed.
Temptation: There must be easier, better, less challenging places to serve.
- Jointly (v 2) – “the flock of God” / We are co-laborers WITH Christ over His flock, not ours
John 21: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep
FEED FEED FEED – MY MY MY
- Immediately (v 2) – “among you”, those at hand. Labor where you are.
One must never see ANY ministry in the Church – and especially eldership – as a step to something else.
- 3 – “allotted to your charge” Given by Providence.
- Attentively (v 2) – “oversight”, ἐπισκοπέω Watching all around – Prov. 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds” – Sherlock Holmes: Cosmologically, Astronomically, Philosophically, Theologically
- Voluntarily (v 2) – “not under compulsion”, as a volunteer – Willfully, and not in grudging duty / Service rendered as unto Him!
Why must Peter warn against an Elder serving by “compulsion”? Probably because of the present distress.
One who is gifted and evident as having the qualities of an elder, may himself feel that to add shepherding God’s flock in this foreign place, in this hostile culture, one more burden to add to his own life that he just does not want right now.
Peter says, go ahead and add it.
At the same time, don’t feel forced into it – for if you serve as forced, the service will not bring the heart and mind results Christ is looking for in His saints in this straight and narrow place.
1 Thess. 2:8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
- Obediently (v 2) – “as God would have you” / This is not about our vision, But His!
God’s program is conforming the saints to the image of His Son (Rom. 8) – Either this is our primary consideration too, or we are loose canons.
- Freely (v 2) – “not for shameful gain, but with eagerly”
- Humbly – Not Domineering (v 3) It seems that the examples Elders are to be here is not located in just being good examples in general, but especially examples of how to suffer without either seeking sinful means to ease our suffering, nor in the neglect of spiritual things as tho they might lighten our load, etc.
BOTTOM LINE: Live in such a way that they get to see how to suffer while remaining faithful, looking to Christ and the hope to come.
Not under compulsion: Do not let serving devolve into mere slavish duty.
Do not serve to get earthly gain, set your sights on heavenly gain.
Don’t grow gripey, edgy and short but remain sweet and gentle.
Don’t seek control, learn to submit to His perfect providence.
III – vs. 4 / An Encouragement.
4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Note, that this is the very same reward which all who are in Christ shall obtain.
In other words, fix on the same reward you call others to fix upon.
Crown of life – James 1:12
Crown of righteousness – 2 Timothy 4:8
Crown of glory – 1 Peter 5:4
How the leadership here understand our roles – at least in part. We do our best to understand our job description from these Biblical passages, rather than from a business model or what people may simply be used to or prefer.
In holding us accountable to keep this kind of focus. Once the Word of God and its exposition for your health and safety and walk with God ceases to be the focus – we are to be called into account!
In choosing a church where you might go if not here. Should life move you from fellowship here, we would want to see you planted in another fellowship where these same principles are foundation. This is the kind of Church WE would look for if we were to be moved from here.
In considering ministry yourself should you move in that direction. Some of you young men especially may have an inkling toward wanting to serve in this capacity – and a passage like this goes a long way toward helping you understand what Biblical Pastoral Ministry is al about.
In understanding how Christ Himself continues to minister to each of us as The Great Shepherd.
These are the very ways in which Christ ministered while on earth, and what He continues to provide for through under-shepherds while He is still overseeing His Church from on high.
Never forget that the Great Shepherd takes first responsibility for your soul, and is ALWAYS leading through His Word to lie down in those green pastures. Beside the still waters of trust and rest in Him. And in paths of righteousness – for His own name’s sake.
And what a wonder He is in this role. Having already laid down His life for us, that we might be safely in His eternal fold forever and ever.