Summary: Humility and grace while we wait
January 15, 2012
God commands the “Elders” to lead well (:1-4)
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
This first command is for the “elders.” The Greek word is (πρεσβύτερος), and it can mean someone who is older or it can be a title for someone with rank or with an office. In the New Testament the men who oversee a flock are called bishops, elders, and presbyters—they all mean the same thing.
In verse five Peter tells the young people to submit to the older people, but I don’t think that’s the meaning here in verse one. The reason is because in verse two he tells these “elders” to feed the flock and to take oversight. Not every older person is charged with that, so I think he has to be talking about the men who are in charge of ruling the body.
And Peter says, “I’m an elder too, and not only that, but I’m an apostle, and I’m waiting with you for the end of all things. And this is how you’re supposed to rule:”
2Feed the flock of God which is among you,
Think of a flock of sheep—they depend on the shepherd to lead them to water and give them food, to protect them from wolves, and to generally take care of them. Peter says, “Elders, take good care of Christ’s sheep.” It’s the same thing Jesus told Peter to do in John 21:15-17. “Feed My lambs.”
taking the oversight thereof,
You’ll recognize the Greek word for “oversight.” It’s ἐπισκοπέω. It means to inspect something carefully and to look after it. Do you realize it’s the elders’ job to look after you? I’m responsible to study and read and to know the requirements of God and then teach them to you. I’m responsible to check in on you and make sure you’re alright; I’m responsible to protect you from wolves and to keep you from false doctrine. It’s a big job, and it’s not easy, but Christ’s sheep are worth it. And so we do it,
not by constraint, but willingly;
You know what? There are some times that I am a pastor by constraint—I’m only doing it because God wants me to do it.
It’s spiritual warfare.
It’s carrying other people’s burdens.
It’s preaching the truth even when you’re hated for it.
But we do it willingly because the flock belongs to God. If God loves them then so do we. Will there be wolves among the sheep? Sure—Jesus promised that. Will we get bit? You bet. Sometimes even the sheep give us a little head-butt, but that’s the price of being a shepherd.
Speaking of price, we do this,
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
There’s a lot of money to be made in religion. “Filthy lucre” means you want to get rich. You know, I don’t doubt that some great preachers have had a surplus, but that’s not a reason for being an elder. There are guys who have more than plenty, and then there are guys who get into the business of running a church because it’s easy money. And Peter says, “Elders, lead well. Not because you’re paid well, but because that’s what God has put in your mind to do…whether you’re paid or not.”
Do you know I’d do this job for free? I have to provide for my family, but if I had to work another job to shepherd God’s sheep, I’d do it.
And I don’t do it because it’s a powerful position either:
3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.
We talk about “rulers” and some people think that means elders have special power like a king. But Christ says that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. The greatest of all is a servant (Mt. 23:11).
“Rulers” or “elders” have charge with keeping the flock which means they have authority, but they’re not above the Chief Shepherd, and their flocks is actually His flock.
We’re responsible for setting things in order (Titus 1:5) and overseeing and feeding the flock, but we do it by example and not as lords.
4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
This is the reason we do it, right here. All our worries and tears and efforts will pay off in the end with an eternal reward.
So the elders lead by example, and everyone else is expected to follow suit:
God commands everyone to submit to each other in humility (:5-7)
5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.