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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 5 - Verse 1
1 PETER CHAPTER V.
ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER.
THIS chapter embraces the following subjects:
I. An exhortation to the elders of the churches to be faithful to the flocks committed to their charge, 1 Pe 5:1-4.
II. An exhortation to the younger members of the church to evince all proper submission to those who were older; to occupy the station in which they were placed with a becoming spirit, casting all their care on God, 1 Pe 5:5-7.
III. An exhortation to be sober and vigilant, in view of the dangers which beset them, and the arts and power of their great adversary, the . devil, and especially to bear with patience the trials to which they were subjected, in common with their Christian brethren elsewhere, 1 Pe 5:8-11.
IV. Salutations, 1 Pe 5:12-14.
Verse 1. The elders which are among you I exhort. The word elder means, properly, one who is old; but it is frequently used in the New Testament as applicable to the officers of the church; probably because aged persons were at first commonly appointed to these offices. See Barnes "Ac 11:30"; See Barnes "Ac 14:23"; See Barnes "Ac 15:2".
There is evidently an allusion here to the fact that such persons were selected on account of their age, because in the following verses (1 Pe 5:4, seq.) the apostle addresses particularly the younger. It is worthy of remark, that he here refers only to one class of ministers. He does not speak of three "orders," of "bishops, priests, and deacons;" and the evidence from the passage here is quite strong that there were no such orders in the churches of Asia Minor, to which this epistle was directed. It is also worthy of remark, that the word "exhort" is here used. The language which Peter uses is not that of stern and arbitrary command; it is that of kind and mild Christian exhortation. See Barnes "Phm 1:8, See Barnes "Phm 1:9".
Who am also an elder. Gr., "a fellow-presbyter," (sumpresbuterov.) This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means that he was a co-presbyter with them; and he makes this one of the grounds of his exhortation to them. He does not put it on the ground of his apostolical authority; or urge it because he was the "vicegerent of Christ;" or because he was the head of the church; or because he had any pre-eminence over others in any way. Would he have used this language if he had been the "head of the church" on earth? Would he if he supposed that the distinction between apostles and other ministers was to be perpetuated? Would he if he believed that there were to be distinct orders of clergy? The whole drift of this passage is adverse to such a supposition.
And a witness of the sufferings of Christ. Peter was indeed a witness of the sufferings of Christ when on his trial, and doubtless also when he was scourged and mocked, and when he was crucified. After his denial of his Lord, he wept bitterly, and evidently then followed him to the place where he was crucified, and, in company with others, observed with painful solicitude the last agonies of his Saviour. It is not, so far as I know, expressly said in the Gospels that Peter was present at the crucifixion of the Saviour; but it is said (Lu 23:49) that "all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things," and nothing is more probable than that Peter was among them. His warm attachment to his Master: and his recent bitter repentance for having denied him, would lead him to follow him to the place of his death; for after the painful act of denying him he would not be likely to expose himself to the charge of neglect, or of any want of love again. His own solemn declaration here makes it certain that he was present. He alludes to it now, evidently because it qualified him to exhort those whom he addressed. It would be natural to regard with peculiar respect one who had actually seen the Saviour in his last agony, and nothing would be more impressive than an exhortation falling from the lips of such a man. A son would be likely to listen with great respect to any suggestions which should be made by one who had seen his father or mother die. The impression which Peter had of that scene he would desire to have transferred to those whom he addressed, that by a lively view of the sufferings of their Saviour they might be excited to fidelity in his cause.
And a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. Another reason to make his exhortation impressive and solemn. He felt that he was an heir of life. He was about to partake of the glories of heaven. Looking forward, as they did also, to the blessed world before him and them, he had a right to exhort them to the faithful performance of duty. Any one, who is himself an heir of salvation, may appropriately exhort his fellow-Christians to fidelity in the service of their common Lord.
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