1 Peter 5:1-14

Submitted by admin on Thu, 2010-09-30 10:42.

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Elders, capable men by reason of their age, experience, and exemplary conduct, looked after the welfare of fellow believers and taught the word of God. Peter directed his admonition to them as a “fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ.” He thus identified himself as serving in the same capacity and as being fully aware of their weighty responsibilities. His calling attention to his having been a witness of Christ’s suffering added solemnity to the exhortation and would have reminded the elders that they also would undergo suffering as they ministered to fellow believers and might even face death for their faithful service. (5:1; see the Notes section.)

Peter spoke confidently about being a sharer in the “glory about to be revealed.” This revelation would occur when Jesus Christ returns as the King of kings and Lord of lords in glory or royal dignity. Not knowing just when this would be, Peter referred to it with a sense of immediacy, saying regarding it, “about to be revealed.” He did not doubt the certainty of Jesus Christ’s return. Sharing in Christ’s glory would mean being united with him as sinless members of his Father’s family of approved children. (5:1)

Peter then continued with the admonition directed to fellow elders. (5:1) Like faithful shepherds, elders were to care for the “flock of God,” looking out for the welfare of fellow believers. The believers in the various towns and cities of Asia Minor to whom Peter’s letter had been sent belonged to God, for they had been purchased with the priceless blood of his unique Son. This called for the elders to treat fellow believers as persons who were precious to God. (5:2; see the Notes section.)

In carrying out their function of oversight, they were not to do so as would persons who are forced to perform a task, but they were to do so “willingly” as would eager volunteers. Numerous manuscripts add, “according to God.” This may mean that the willing service of the elders would be performed in a manner that God approved. Translations that include a rendering for “according to God” variously read, “as God would have you do it” (NRSV), “in order to please God” (CEV), and “as God would have it” (NAB, REB). In the community of believers, elders were to guard against using their position for “dishonest gain.” The Greek adverb aischrokerdós is descriptive of someone who would be shamelessly greedy for gain or material profit. A desire for such gain would be the very opposite of what the apostle Paul said to fellow elders about his own service, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions.” (Acts 20:33, 34, NRSV) Instead of seeking gain, elders were to minister to the needs of others eagerly. Exemplary elders would be givers, not takers. They would be deeply concerned about the welfare of fellow believers. (5:2)

The community of believers is referred to as “portions” (the plural of kléros). This could mean that the “flock of God” as a whole is considered as consisting of parts or portions in the various towns and cities where believers lived, and that the elders in those respective places had a portion or an allotment of the flock to care for. The term kléros has been rendered “those allotted to your charge” (NASB), “people you are responsible for” (NCV), “sphere of responsibility” (Verantwortungsbereich, German Gute Nachricht Bibel), “assigned ones” (Zugewiesene, Schlachter’s German translation). Elders were not to lord over those whom they served, assuming the role of masters over them and issuing commands, but they were to lead by being examples to God’s flock. (5:3; see the Notes section.)

The “chief shepherd” is Jesus Christ. At the time he appears or returns as the highly exalted King and Judge, elders who had faithfully served in looking after the welfare of fellow believers would receive the “unfading crown of glory.” This “crown” would denote Christ’s approval for their having discharged their responsibilities in faithfulness. They, like other devoted believers, would be rewarded with the enjoyment of life in the sinless state and share in all the divinely promised benefits and blessings. Unlike the victory wreaths consisting of leaves and with which athletes were crowned, the crown faithful elders would receive does not fade or wilt. They would be granted Christ’s approval and eternal life, the real life distinguished by the enjoyment of a never-ending relationship with him and his Father. (5:4)

The introductory “likewise” (homoíos) resumes the previous discussion about subjection. Just as subjection was involved in the relationship of believers to governmental authority, house servants to their masters, wives to their husbands, so younger men were to submit to older men, showing respect for them (as they would their own fathers) and listening to their sound admonition. (1 Timothy 5:1) The Greek term for those who served as elders in the community of believers and for older men is the same. The specific reference to “younger men” would suggest that the older men were older ones in the common sense of the word. (5:5)

Peter followed up his exhortation to younger men with admonition applicable to all believers. As part of the family of God’s beloved children, all believers should clothe (enkombóomai) themselves with humility or lowliness. The Greek term enkombóomai is a compound that includes the word kómbos, meaning “band,” and so refers to something that one ties on. With humility fastened to themselves, believers would be willing to serve one another, doing everything possible to respond to needs. Thus they would be conducting themselves in harmony with Proverbs 3:34 (LXX), God “opposes the haughty, but grants favor to the humble.” To extend his gracious favor or his unmerited kindness, which includes his aid and guidance, God turns his attention to the lowly who seek his help and who are willing to serve others. He stands in opposition to all who arrogantly lift themselves above others and want to dominate and to be served. (5:5)

“Therefore,” or because God opposes the haughty, believers should want to humble themselves under his “mighty hand.” This would mean submitting to whatever may take place by his permission, manifesting patience when experiencing distress or hardship. Then the very “hand” under which believers humble themselves will, “in time,” exalt them. Exaltation would include being honored as God’s approved servants who have faithfully endured trials. (5:6; see the Notes section.)

When faced with affliction or hardships, believers need to cast their “anxiety,” care, or concern on God, not giving in to unsettling worry but trusting in his loving concern and the strengthening aid he provides by means of his spirit. Never will our heavenly Father fail to sustain and strengthen us in our times of difficulty, for he cares for us. (5:7)

Committing one’s concerns and cares to God does not mean becoming complacent or indifferent, but involves active cooperation with the guidance he provides through his spirit. This is essential because the adversary, the devil, is prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking victims. So there continues to be a need for one to be “sober” or alert and “vigilant” or watchful, not permitting the adversary to find an opening for leading one into a path contrary to God’s will. (5:8; see the Notes section.)

Believers need to resist the devil, remaining firm in the faith. This requires that they not give in to any doubts about God’s love and concern for them and his desire to sustain and strengthen them by means of his spirit. Peter reminded those to whom he wrote to recognize that the entire community of believers, the whole “brotherhood” in the world, experienced the “same sufferings.” All the other believers faced affliction on account of being disciples of Jesus Christ. They suffered for the right reasons. The awareness that their circumstances were not unique would have aided believers in Asia Minor to remain loyal to God and Christ, confident that they would be divinely aided to endure whatever trials might come their way. (5:9)

All suffering would prove to be temporary. Especially in relation to eternity, the time of distress would be but a “little while.” The “God of all favor, who called [believers] to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus” would “restore [katartízo], support [sterízo], strengthen [sthenóo], and establish [themelióo] them after the short time of suffering had passed. (5:10; see the Notes section.)

The heavenly Father is the “God of all favor,” for he is the source of all the gracious favor or unmerited kindness in the form of guidance and aid that believers need. The greatest expression of his gracious favor was sending his Son to the earth, making it possible for humans to be forgiven of their sins and reconciled to him as beloved children. God did the calling or inviting through the proclamation of the good news about his Son, which message included how humans can become his approved children. Believers were called to be sharers in “his eternal glory.” This glory would be enjoyed in the never-ending sinless state as persons perfectly reflecting the image of God, or the glorious person who he is in love, justice, and all his other admirable attributes. The “glory” is “in Christ Jesus,” for it is by coming to be at one with him that believers become sharers in it. (5:10)

God will cause all the suffering that believers may experience to work out for their good. The Greek word katartízo can mean “restore,” “make complete,” or “prepare.” In this context, it could relate to being restored or made whole as would be a person who is trained to function well for a particular purpose. Sterízo conveys the sense of supporting, confirming, establishing, or making firm or unmovable. Sthenóo denotes “to make strong” or “to strengthen.” In its basic sense, themelióo relates to laying a foundation and so can refer to establishing or providing a sure basis. All four Greek terms make it clear that God will act to aid believers to be fully approved after all their trials have passed. (5:10)

Restoring or making whole, supporting or making firm, strengthening, and establishing require power or might. God is the ultimate source of strength, and it is ascribed to him in the prayerful expression, “To him [be] the might forever [literally, ‘into the ages’]. Amen [So be it].” (5:11; see the Notes section.)

Peter did not personally write the letter. He did so “through Silvanus the faithful brother.” Silvanus is the same as Silas, the Christian prophet who accompanied the apostle Paul. This was after Paul and Barnabas parted ways subsequent to a dispute about having Mark as a traveling companion. (Acts 15:22-40; 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) Like Paul, Silvanus (Silas) was a Roman citizen. (Acts 16:19-37) Peter’s considering Silvanus as a “faithful brother” may be understood to mean that he regarded him as completely trustworthy or dependable. Another possibility would be that Silvanus was a man of faith, fully devoted to God and Christ. (5:12)

The letter is comparatively short, and Peter spoke of having written through Silvanus “through few,” that is, with a few words or with a few lines. Peter expressed his purpose for writing to have been to provide encouragement, consolation, or exhortation and to testify that “this is the true favor of God, in which [believers should] stand.” The reference to “this” being “the true favor of God” may be variously understood. If the “this” relates specifically to the letter, it could apply to the matters about which he wrote and which were designed to encourage and strengthen them to endure their suffering in faithfulness to the end. Another possibility is that the affliction believers were experiencing constituted an expression of God’s true favor because of the benefits that would follow. It could also be that the focus is on the message that had been proclaimed to them about Jesus Christ and the significance of his sacrificial death, and that Peter added his confirmatory witness to this incomprehensibly great expression of God’s true favor. It is in the true favor of God that believers needed to stand firmly, not wavering in their confidence in his love and concern for them. (5:12)

The letter closes with greetings from “the [one] in Babylon, a fellow chosen [one], and Mark,” whom Peter called “my son.” The “fellow chosen one” in Babylon is in the feminine gender, and this is why some have thought Peter was speaking of his wife, but this would be a very unusual way of including his wife’s greetings and does not seem to be a likely explanation. The one in Babylon is generally understood to mean the community of believers, which community (in a collective sense) would be a fellow chosen one (called by God to be his own). Many translations make this significance explicit (“greetings from your sister church in Babylon” [REB]; “greetings from the Lord’s followers in Babylon” [CEV]; “the church in Babylon, who was chosen like you” [NCV]). In view of his close association with the younger man Mark (the cousin of Barnabas and the son of Mary who had a home in Jerusalem), Peter referred to him affectionately as “my son.” (5:13; Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:10; see the Notes section and the introductory material for 1 Peter about the identity of Babylon.)

The kiss with which believers were to greet one another is, according to many manuscripts, a “kiss of love” or a “loving kiss.” This kiss would be an expression of their love for one another as members of the same family of God’s children. (5:14; see the Notes section.)

“Peace” is the sense of calmness and tranquility that comes from knowing that one can rest assured of divine compassionate care, concern, and aid. The letter concludes with the prayerful wish that “all” who are “in Christ,” or at one with him as members of his body, have this peace. (5:14; see the Notes section.)


In verse 1, numerous manuscripts include “therefore” (oun) after “elders.” The connection with the preceding discussion is not readily apparent. Possibly the thought is that elders need to keep in mind their accountability to God and Christ when carrying out their responsibilities. As members of God’s household, they are included among those with whom the judgment begins. (4:17)

In verse 2, the Greek verb for “overseeing” (a form of episkopéo) is missing in fourth-century Codex Vaticanus and a number of other manuscripts.

All of verse 3 is missing in fourth-century Codex Vaticanus.

Numerous manuscripts (in verse 6) add episkopés after “time,” thus identifying the time as being one for visitation.

With reference to what the devil is seeking (verse 8), manuscript readings differ (“someone to devour”; “whom he should devour”; “to devour”). According to studies of lions conducted in recent years, one reason male lions roar is to identify ownership of their territory, and they will aggressively confront, drive out, or attack any intruding roaring male challenger. So a roaring lion can be a potential threat, and that is always true of the adversary, the devil.

In verse 10, the object of the call is either “you” or “us,” depending on which manuscript reading is being followed. The reading “you” has the best manuscript support. Also in verse 10, numerous manuscripts do not include “Jesus” after “Christ.” Another variant in this verse is the omission of either sthenósei (“strengthen”) or themeliósei (“found” or “establish”).

In verse 11, numerous manuscripts include the word dóxa (“glory”) before or after krátos (“might”). While some manuscripts, including P72 (c. 300 CE) and fourth century Codex Vaticanus, read “into the ages” or “forever,” many other manuscripts read “into the ages of the ages” or “forever and ever.”

In verse 13, one eleventh-century manuscript (2138) and a few others read “Rome” instead of “Babylon,” reflecting an interpretive scribal alteration.

Instead of “kiss of love” (in verse 14), a few later manuscripts read “holy kiss.”

The concluding prayerful expression that starts with “peace” is missing in P72 (c. 300 CE). “Amen” (“so be it”) appears at the conclusion of many manuscripts, as also does the name Jesus after Christ.