Summary: A message on the essntial virtues of Christian living.
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas
The Text Outline:
I. The Christian’s Attitudes (vv.5-8a).
A. Submission (v. 5a).
B. Humility (vv. 5b-6).
C. Complete trust in the Lord (v. 7).
D. Self-control (v. 8a).
E. Spiritual attentiveness (v. 8a).
II. The Christian’s Adversary (vv. 8b-9).
A. The Devil’s description (v. 8b).
1. He is like a roaring lion.
2. He is looking for easily captured victims.
B. The Devil’s defeat (v. 9).
1. Resist him in faith.
2. Resist him mindful of his defeats elsewhere.
III. The Christian’s Advancement (vv. 10-11).
A. Eternal life.
I Pet. 2:13; I Cor. 16:15; Eph. 5:21; Heb. 13:7, 17; James 4:6; Pro. 3:34, 6:16, 8:13; Mic. 6:9; Tit. 1:3
The Apostle Peter is writing to Christians spread out over a wide area of the Roman Empire. These believers share a common faith, and face common problems. As the Apostle writes, Christianity, initially considered a sect within Judaism, is beginning to sheer off into a distinct religion. The Romans had granted the Jews a special dispensation from the annual obligation to worship the divinity of Caesar, and as a part of Judaism the first generation of Christians enjoyed the peace and security this loophole brought them. But as Gentiles began to be converted in significant numbers, and as the first Jerusalem Council of elders in Acts chapter 15 concluded that Gentile converts should not be required to submit to circumcision and keeping the Mosaic Law, a distinction was being made between ethnic Jews practicing the religion of the fathers and followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus Christians, in the mid-first century A.D., began being singled out for persecution—both by the pagan Romans and the leaders of the Jewish synagogues.
Peter’s letter is especially germane for us. He writes to a diverse group of believers trying to live for God in a society ignorant of God. We share with the Apostle’s original recipients the experience of being misunderstood because we claim the name of Christ. In this letter, Peter informs his readers that they will be subject to ever increasing conflict with the world. But the good news is that their—and our—suffering is temporary, that our firmness will be rewarded, that our Lord Jesus left us an example of godly suffering to imitate, and that the virtues of patience, faith, and humility, which according to Peter are more precious than gold, are the results of suffering for Christ’s sake.
In his brief letter Peter uses the Greek word anastrophe, meaning conduct, behavior, or way life, 6 times; the word pascho, meaning to suffer, 12 times, and the word hypotasso, meaning to subject or to subordinate to, 6 times. Taken together, we get from Peter’s letter an emphasis on the godly life being one lived in submission and humility in the midst of suffering.
I have titled the message on I Peter 5:5-11 this morning “Every Pilgrim’s Progress” not only because these 7 verses in many ways recapitulate the epistle has a whole, kind of like a reprise, but also because they synthesize the basics of every Christian life. Peter will admonish us to the Christian’s attitudes of submission, humility, and trust; he will reintroduce us to the Christian’s adversary Satan, described as a roaring lion looking for easy prey; and he concludes with the Christian’s advancement, or the rewards that await us for continued faithfulness.
erses 5 through the beginning of verse 8 include a series of imperatives, or commands. Peter is exhorting us to adopt certain attitudes that are essential to the Christian life and our growth in holiness. He is not exhorting us to actions, but to the right attitudes which if adopted will motivate us to right actions.
There are 5 I need you to notice.
The first is submission to spiritual leaders. Submit to your elders, Peter says, and submit to one another. It is always uncomfortable for me to preach on the necessity of believers to submit to the authority of their spiritual leaders, firstly because I am younger than most of the men who do this job, and secondly because it feels a little self-serving.
We must remember that the Christian life is nothing if not a series of submissions. We submit to the Gospel, submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, submit to the authority of the Scriptures and the local church, and on and on it goes. Peter mentions submission 12 times in this letter. The word he uses hupotasso is a military term meaning “to line up under the commander.” We can’t be Christians without the virtue of submission. And submission to spiritual leaders is vital. We will not, despite what we say, submit to our invisible Lord if we refuse to submit to His visible representatives. Submission is not blind obedience, but thoughtful, joyful, willing yielding. The health of the local church depends upon godly leadership and Christians willing to submit to and follow their appointed spiritual elders.