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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 5 - Verse 2
It is a word which Peter would be likely to remember, from the solemn manner in which the injunction to perform the duty was laid on him by the Saviour. The direction means to take such an oversight of the church as a shepherd is accustomed to take of his flock. See Barnes "Joh 10:1, seq.
Which is among you. Marg., as much as in you is. The translation in the text is the more correct. It means the churches which were among them, or over which they were called to preside.
Taking the oversight thereof—episkopountev. The fair translation of this word is, discharging the episcopal office; and the word implies all that is ever implied by the word bishop in the New Testament. This idea should have been expressed in the translation. The meaning is not merely to take the oversight—for that might be done in a subordinate sense by any one in office; but it is to take such an oversight as is implied in the episcopate, or by the word bishop. The words episcopate, episcopal, and episcopacy, are merely the Greek word used here and its correlatives transferred to our language. The sense is that of overseeing; taking the oversight of; looking after, as of a flock; and the word has originally no reference to what is now spoken of as peculiarly the episcopal office. It is a word strictly applicable to any minister of religion, or officer of a church. In the passage before us this duty was to be performed by those who, in 1 Pe 5:1, are called presbyters or elders; and this is one of the numerous passages in the New Testament which prove that all that is properly implied in the performance of the episcopal functions pertained to those who were called presbyters, or elders. If so, there was no higher grade of ministers to which the peculiar duties of the episcopate were to be intrusted; that is, there was no class of officers corresponding to those who are now called bishops. Comp. See Barnes "Ac 20:28".
Not by constraint, but willingly. Not as if you felt that a heavy yoke was imposed on you, or a burden from which you would gladly be discharged. Go cheerfully to your duty as a work which you love, and act like a freeman in it, and not as a slave. Arduous as are the labours of the ministry, yet there is no work on earth in which a man can and should labour more cheerfully.
But of a ready mind. Cheerfully, promptly. We are to labour in this work, not under the influence of the desire of gain, but from the promptings of love. There is all the difference conceivable between one who does a thing because he is paid for it and one who does it from love—between, for example, the manner in which one attends on us when we are sick who loves us, and one who is merely hired to do it. Such a difference is there in the spirit with which one who is actuated by mercenary motives, and one whose heart is in the work, will engage in the ministry.
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