What is the best way to stand against the power of evil in your life?
Peter closes this epistle with advice to elders, young men, and all those in the congregation, and some final words about standing firm in Christ against Satan.
Duties of Elders and Young Men
1 Peter 5:1-4 – The Greek term for elders here, presbuteros, is one to two terms used somewhat interchangeably for those who lead the flock, the other being episkipos. We get Presbyterian and Episcopalian church names from them based on congregational organization and hierarchical leadership principles. The elder was to lead like Peter did: voluntary service—not coerced—but Spirit-led. This alone can give Godly direction. One shouldn’t be an elder for the money (yes, elders in the New Testament appear to be paid by the gospel). Peter’s own experience with Jesus’ teaching on leadership is evident in vs. 3 (see Mark 10:35-45, specifically verses 43-45). Christian leadership isn’t a position of authority, but of service and shepherd-like guidance leading sheep to feed safely and to multiply. Discipleship and growth are the primary goals an elder should have for his flock. The word “pastor” (related to “pasture”) fits well here.
How does selfish leadership affect those who follow?
1 Peter 5:5 – Young men are to be submissive to the elders. An old song by Cat Stephens titled Father and Son speaks to the conflict young men have with their fathers. Youth speaks from idealism and energy, age from the wisdom born of experience. Peter offers advice that will lead to peace.
What role should older men have in the congregation mentoring younger men? How can we help train the next generation for Christ?
Attitude of Believers
1 Peter 5:6-7 – As young men were to be submissive to elders, so the encouragement for all the flock is to be humble. This likewise echoes the teaching of Christ: The exalted would be humbled, and vice versa. It’s far better to assume a position of humility than to be forced into one. Any concern one may have about such low estate is safe in the hands of a loving God. There is no need to worry about self-esteem: the Creator cares for me!
How do I lay my worries on Christ in practice? Is it as easy as the sermon on the mount says, “don’t worry about tomorrow…”? Can we just turn off our anxieties?
Glory After Suffering
1 Peter 5:8-11 – Peter advises his hearers stay awake and sober spiritually. Those fighting wild animals must not let their guard down. Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 24-25 about His coming are in view here, as well. Resistance of the Devil isn’t possible unless we do so through faith in God’s leading and power. Alone, I am helpless against his schemes.
But achieving the crown of suffering will eventually give way to the crown of glory. It is human nature to want glory without suffering, but every athlete, entrepreneur, or academic at the top of their field knows the glory cannot come without pain and sacrifice.
The goal of all of this is found in verse 10: Christ will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish the believer who has suffered for Christ. These are enviable positions.
Have you ever been tempted to skip the suffering that leads to the glory of success?
Closing Salutation and Benediction
1 Peter 5:12-14 – Peter’s letter is a brief one, apparently. He confirms Silas/Sylvanus as a mediator of this epistle, likely Peter’s scribe.
The greeting from “she who is in Babylon” is probably cryptic language for the church in Rome. This would protect those delivering the letter and those named, especially in the face of persecution of some kind.
We don’t kiss each other in western culture, but this might have been seen with a sideways glance even in Peter’s day. How we show our affection to one another should never bring reproach on Christ, but should be genuine, real and sincere.
Does the fact that Peter may have used a scribe affect your understanding of inspiration? How much of the letter can we say is “Peter” if the scribe had control over the final product?
Peter closes his gospel where he begins it: with the grace and peace of Christ. His focus on suffering will be explored more in next week’s lesson with Jesus’ experience on the cross and the glory of His resurrection.