Summary: Sermon 16 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“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. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.”
The progression of Peter’s first letter to the churches of the Asian regions has been apparent throughout, and that does not change as we come to his closing exhortations.
Once more he says ‘therefore’ and since it is clear that he is referring to all the things he has said about suffering and their Christian behavior in persecutions, it makes sense that to both exhort and encourage them at the end of his letter he would give them instructions for maintaining a Godly cohesion among themselves.
Now we’ve all heard the old adage that there is strength in numbers. It is usually employed in calling an ‘underdog’ element together to give one another strength and work together to overcome a potentially stronger foe.
But that is not the direction Peter is taking them. A William Wallace or a Patrick Henry might give that sort of speech to rally weary troops to the cause, but in fact that is not the Biblical approach to oppression and persecution.
The Biblical approach, if you think about it, is quite the opposite. God whittled Gideon’s army down to a mere 300 against the hoards of the Midianites specifically so that He might show Himself to be the strong One in Israel.
Throughout the scriptures God is found using individuals or small groups, and usually the most unlikely characters of all, through whom to do great things, because it is not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
Peter had learned this lesson well. It was to Peter directly that Jesus had said ‘…those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword’, Matt 26:52 and now, with the churches he loved going through ‘fiery ordeal’ and facing more, we don’t see him rallying the troops as it were, but exhorting them to the excellence of Godly behavior to one another and the unity of the Spirit that will see them through to glory.
SHEEP AND SHEPHERDS (1-5)
It makes sense then, that the first group he would address would be the leaders. It is certainly not by chance that Peter employs the analogy of sheep and shepherds at this point.
As I pointed out, they were a people undergoing persecution and suffering for the name of Christ and as Christ went as a sheep to the slaughter without defending Himself, so they were now following in His steps.
So Peter addresses the shepherds of the flock, who are really just lead sheep themselves.
Can you imagine the weight of responsibility an overseer of the church must feel pressing down on him when on a regular basis the people he is caring for and attempting to lead to streams of living water are being publicly maligned and mistreated and one at a time, one family at a time, being arrested and taken away to prison or to crucifixion?