1 Peter 5

Elders and Young Men, 1-11

Guthrie (New Testament Introduction) suggests that the theme of this section is ‘discipline’ – corporate (1-6) and individual (7-11).

Peter has just written that ‘it is time for judgement [krima, assessment] to begin with the family of God’ (4:17).  In doing so he may have been alluding to Eze 9:6, where judgement begins at the sanctuary, ‘with the elders who were in front of the temple’.  This thought may have led the apostle to proceed to address the elders of the church directly.

Alternatively, Peter may be addressing the church leaders first because they are first in the line of fire of persecution.

Either way, it is important to note that what follows is addressed to a suffering church.

In this first section, Peter addresses the leaders.  As Marshall says, a football team might be packed with gifted players, but they will not be a successful team without effective leadership.  So it is with a church, which ‘may have any number of individuals gifted by God with spiritual gifts of teaching and service, but it will still need leaders responsible for making decisions, providing encouragement, keeping people on the right path and so on.’

This teaching comes out of Peter’s personal experience:-

‘A witness of Christ’s sufferings’, v1 – as one of the Twelve, Peter saw at first hand much of what Christ endured
‘One who also will share in the glory to be revealed’, v1 – a glory foreshadowed at the Transfiguration, Mt 17:1–5; cf. 2 Pet 1:15–18)
‘Be shepherds of God’s flock’, v2 – reminiscent of Jn 10; 21:15-17
‘Not lording it over those entrusted to you’, v3 – recalls Lk 22:24-30
‘Clothe yourselves with humility’, v5 – see Jn 13:1-17
‘Your enemy the devil prowls around’, v8 – see Lk 22:31

1 Pet 5:1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:

This verse begins with an untranslated ‘therefore’.  According to Grudem, ‘it is likely that the thought of judgment beginning from the house of God (1 Pet 4:17) prompted Peter to focus on the need for purity of heart before God in relationships among those in the church, beginning with the leaders of the church.’

Elders – Although the term itself could refer just to ‘older men’ (as in Acts 2:17), the context here and elsewhere in the NT indicates that these ‘senior Christians’ had a recognised leadership role.  While age was not, no doubt, the only criterion, it is clear enough that those called to such a role should be known as mature and proven in the faith.  In Acts 20:28 the terms ‘elders’ and ‘overseers’ are used interchangeably.  The NT knows only of a multiplicity of leaders in the local church.  Peter does not indicate how these ‘elders’ were appointed, or what their functions were.

The NT does not seem to present a single model for leadership in the local church.  As Marshall says, ‘in some churches the first converts had a leading role (1 Cor 16:15–16); in others “deacons” served alongside the elders. There may already have been a diversification of function among the elders, which led in time to the post-NT development of a local “bishop” presiding over a group of elders. No one particular setup for leadership appears to be sacrosanct.’  Marshall infers from this that a patriarchal system is not necessarily appropriate for all times and situations.

Nisbet observes that Peter gives these instructions to the elders, not in a private letter addressed to them alone, but in a public letter to be read by all.  ‘The duties of ministers and other office-bearers of the church ought to be pressed upon them in the hearing of the people, that so those officers may be the more engaged to their duty, and the people the more able to discern between those of them that are conscionable in the discharge of their duty and others that are not.’

I appeal as a fellow elder – although Peter has identified himself as an apostle (in 1 Pet 1:1), his appeal is not based on any high status, but only as (perhaps) ‘first among equals’.  As Marshall writes: ‘We note that the picture of Paul in Acts 20:18–35, also addressed to elders, is not dissimilar. In both cases we have people who did have leading positions in the church but who knew how to act humbly in the exercise of them.’

‘If he had the right of primacy he would have claimed it, and this would have been most suitable on the present occasion, but although he was an apostle, he knew that authority over his colleagues was by no means delegated to him, but that on the contrary he was joined with the others in the sharing of the same office.’ (Calvin)

A witness of Christ’s sufferings – This may mean:

(a) that Peter was a witness of Jesus’ crucifixion.  Although the Gospels only specify women as eyewitnesses of this event, Peter may have been present, as John was, Jn 19:26f; or that he was a witness more generally of our Lord’s sufferings (Lk 22:28, 54–62; Jn 18:15–27);

(b) that he testified to Christ’s sufferings in his preaching of the gospel (cf. v9; also 1 Pet 4:13).

(c) that he shared the sufferings of Christ in his own flesh (cf. 2 Tim 2:12).  This is the preferred view of Calvin.  The word ‘martus’ came to be associated with the idea of one who suffers because of his testimony (Acts 22:20; Heb 12:1; Rev 2:13; 17:6).  See 1 Pet 4:wildcamping uk

13 – ‘Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.’

As Grudem says, it is remarkable that Peter does not mention, in the context of being a ‘witness’, Christ’s transfiguration (cf. 2 Pet 1:16-18) or resurrection (cf. Acts 2:32; 3:15; cf. 1 Pet 1:22).  What he does mention is Jesus’ sufferings, and these would have triggered the recollection of his having failed to be an effective witness at that critical times (cf. Mt 26:69-75).  No wonder, then, that he identifies himself as a ‘fellow elder’ (not in a higher league than them).  There is also a strong hint here that restoration is possible after the most grievous failure.  Humble confession of sin, and not arrogant pride, are the order of the day.

Nisbet: ‘It pleased our Redeemer to suffer before witnesses, both in his agony in the Garden, Mt 26:37, and upon the Cross, Mt 27:39, and likewise to employ some of these witnesses to preach him crucified to the church, thereby condescending to beget the greater certainty in the hearts of believers that God’s justice is satisfied for them Acts 5:30f, to give us the more lively description of his sufferings, Acts 3:15, and to let us know that he has borne shame for us, as a part of the punishment due ot our sins, Heb 12:2.’

Peter refers to ‘suffering’ throughout this letter.  Christ’s sufferings are, of course, uniquely redemptive.  But Christ in his suffering also provides an example for us to follow.

One who will also share in the glory to be revealed – lit. ‘about to be revealed’.  Perhaps Peter is now glancing back at the glory that was revealed at the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1–8; Lk 9:32; cf. 2 Pet 1:16–18), and also at the resurrection, regarding these as a foretaste of the glory that will be revealed when Christ returns, Mt 19:28; 1 Pet 1:7; 4:13; 5:4, 10.  But note that Christ’s glory is ‘shared’ with his followers (not just Peter – see v4).

‘Peter,’ remarks Grudem, ‘is an “elder” who has sinned, repented, been restored, and will share with Christ in glory. He can rightly “exhort” any elder in whose life there is sin likewise to repent and be restored before God’s disciplinary refining fire reaches him.’

‘What is significant here is that he expects this so vividly that he considers himself already to be a “partaker” of that glory. Knowing that he is faithful now, he already anticipates his participation in what is coming (cf. the anticipated joy of 1 Pet 1:6; 4:12). This should encourage his “fellow-elders” to continue on the same road of witness and participation.’ (Davids)

Nisbet: ‘Although the saints in this mortal state could not well endure the least glimpse of glory, much less partake of it as  they shall do afterward, Mark 9:6, yet even while they are in the midst of much outward misery, and in the expectation of more, they have a right and may attain to some real participation of glory, while they are by faith united with Christ the Lord of glory. Col. 1:27, and do sometimes taste of the first fruits of that whereupon glorified spirits do live. Rev. 2:17.’

Leighton draws attention to the experiential aspect of Peter’s teaching.  He did not merely observe Christ’s sufferings (as many did who had no idea of their nature or purpose), but applied them by faith to his own soul.  He did not merely discourse upon future glory, but counted himself as a partaker of it.  Christians can and should speak of Jesus Christ, ‘not only as a King and as a Redeemer, but as their King and their Redeemer.’  Let them speak about their salvation not as people might discuss a foreign land which they have never seen, but as their own well-known and well-loved home.

‘It is hidden for the present, wholly unknown to the children of this world, and even but little known to the children of God, who are heirs of it.  Yea, they who know themselves partakers of it, yet know not much what it is; only this, that it is above all they know or can imagine.’ (Leighton)

1 Pet 5:2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Calvin observes that Peter points out three vices that might particularly be found in pastors: laziness, greed, and lust for power.

Be shepherds – Blomberg (The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel) wonders if Peter’s expression here is based on his recollection of his exchange with Jesus in Jn 21:16.  See also Acts 20:28.

God complains about Israel’s leaders in Eze 34:2 – Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?’  See also Jude 12.

‘A shepherd is responsible for the total well-being of the flock committed by an employer into his charge. He must see to it that the sheep are fed, watered, and protected at all times, and that, as necessary, they are led from place to place to find fresh pasture. The task can involve not simply the personal inconvenience of putting the sheep before his own comfort, but hardship and danger, even at the risk to his own life (John 10:11). The appropriateness of the metaphor is apparent in the harsh and wild rural economy of Bible days, even if the city-dweller of today may have to make a special effort to appreciate its application to a modern situation.’ (Hillyer)

The image of shepherding is most apt.  Christ’s flock need shepherding ‘to keep them from wandering away in their stupidity; to protect them from dangers from wild animals and thieves; to feed them; to find them, even at personal risk, when they are lost; to prevent one animal from taking advantage of others; to maintain unity within the flock; and to exercise individual care.’ (Marshall)

‘This is the thing we have to study, to set him before us, and to apply ourselves in his strength to this work – not to seek to please, but to feed; not to delight the ears, but to feed the souls of his people; to see that the good be according to his appointment; not empty or subtle notions, not light affected expressions, but wholesome truths, solid food, spiritual things spiritually conceived, and uttered with holy understanding and affection.’ (Leighton)

God’s flock – It belongs to him.  ‘Elders in their shepherding are to keep that fact always in mind, for they are engaged in fulfilling a divine trust, and in due course they will be answerable to God for what they do—or fail to do—with it.’ (Hillyer)

‘The Lord] never delivers to pastors the government, but only the care, so that his own right remains unimpaired.’ (Calvin)

As it should be the aim of the elder to pastor God’s flock, so it should be the aim of God’s people to be led and fed by godly ministers.

That is under your care – that has been allotted or assigned to you (probably a house church – so Davids).  ‘Just as Israel is allotted to God [Deut 9:29], an elder’s duties in the congregation are allotted to him. This must mean that the whole attitude of the elder to his people must be the same as the attitude of God to his people…It is our task to show to people God’s forbearance, his forgiveness, his seeking love, his illimitable service. God has allotted to us a task and we must do it as he himself would do it. That is the supreme ideal of service in the Christian Church.’ (DSB)

Serving as overseers – suggesting that ‘elder’ and ‘overseer’ (episcopos, bishop) were synonymous terms.  Jesus as Christ is the chief shepherd, so he is the chief overseer (1 Pet 2:25).

Willing…eager – The first word focuses on unconstrained choice, and the second on an emotional desire to do the work. (Grudem).

Not because you must, but because you are willing – Not half-heartedly, or out of a desire for money or status.  As Hillyer remarks, ‘Christian service of every kind must be freely given out of love and not wrung unwillingly from reluctant hands.’

Not greedy for money – Hillyer remarks that it would have been a real temptation for Christian leaders to exploit the ‘flock’ in this way, since the ostracism of believers in general society would have meant that opportunities for gainful employment were more limited.  Marshall adds that some of the elders might have been in charge of the finances of the local church, and therefore subject to temptation to misuse the funds.

It is clear from Mt 10:10; 1 Cor 9:12; 1 Tim 5:17–18 that some church leaders were supported financially.

In today’s western church, few would be inclined to enter the Christian ministry because of financial gain.  But we may allow Peter’s teaching here to warn us against undertaking any kind of Christian service simply for what we can get out of it.  We must be in it for what we can give, and not for what we can get.

Not lording it – See Mk 10:42.  Not being ‘a petty tyrant’ (DSB).  (‘Here Peter forbids the use of arbitrary, arrogant, selfish, or excessively restrictive rule. He implies that elders should govern not by the use of threats, emotional intimidation, or flaunting of power, nor generally by the use of ‘political’ force within the church, but rather by power of example whenever possible. Nevertheless, verse 5, in commanding others to ‘be subject’ to the elders, implies that they have genuine governing authority in the church, and that at times they can give directions which the church ought to obey.’ (Grudem)

‘Jesus had clearly pointed out that the way of world at large was for leaders to domineer over the led, expecting obedience and the “perks” of leadership. But that was not to be the model his disciples were to follow (Mark 10:42). His disciples were to be servants, not bosses; ministers, not executives.’ (Davids)

‘The lure of power can separate the most resolute of Christians from the true nature of Christian leadership, which is service to others.  It is difficult to stand on a pedestal and wash the feet of those below…Nothing distinguishes the kingdoms of man from the kingdom of God more than their diametrically opposed views of the exercise of power.  One seeks to control people, the other the serve people; one promotes self, the other prostrates self; one seeks prestige and position, the other lifts up the lowly and despised.’ (Quoted by Stott, The Contemporary Christian, p291)

Examples to the flock – Bear in mind that ancient shepherds did not drive their sheep, but rather walked in front of them.  Of course, our supreme example is Christ himself (1 Pet 2:21; 1 Jn 2:6).  But Christian leaders are often urged to be examples themselves, 1 Cor 4:16; 11:1; Phil 3:17; 4:9; 2 Thess 3:7–9; 1 Tim 4:12; Tit 2:7–8; cf. Heb 6:12; 13:7).

It has been rightly said that the spiritual temperature of a congregation will rarely rise above that of its ministers.

‘That which does much complete the ministers of Jesus Christ, is when with their abilities to teach and rule and other inward qualifications, they have also such an external conversation as may be alluring to the flock to follow, and worthy of their imitation, while they express in their practice the graces of God to be in their heart, such as faith and love, 1 Tim 4:12, patience under personal injuries, 1 Cor 4:16, humility, and self-denial for the good of others, 1 Cor 10:33 and 11:1.’ (Nisbet)

Qualifications for ministry

  1. motives – ‘not because you must, but because you are willing’
  2. goals – ‘not greedy for money but eager to serve’
  3. methods – not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock’

1 Pet 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Although the shepherds must not set their sights on temporal rewards, nevertheless they will receive ample recompense from their ‘Chief Shepherd’.

Christ is the Chief Shepherd, ‘and all the under-shepherds receive their gifts and commissions from him.’ (Flavel) Cf. Jn 10:11; Heb 13:20.

‘To speak of the Chief Shepherd is to remind the elders that they are only undershepherds. Their authority is not original: they minister only in Christ’s name, and according to his word.’ (Clowney)

Jesus Christ is

  1. the Good Shepherd who died for the sheep (John 10:11),
  2. the Great Shepherd who lives for the sheep (Heb. 13:20–21),
  3. the Chief Shepherd who comes for the sheep (1 Peter 5:4).

(Wiersbe)

‘Jesus had likened himself to the shepherd who sought at the peril of his life for the sheep which was lost (Matt 18:12-14; Lk 15:4-7). He had sent out his disciples to gather in the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:6). He was moved with pity for the crowds, for they were as sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36; Mk 6:34). Above all, Jesus had likened himself to the Good Shepherd who was ready to lay down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:1-18).’ (DSB)

Appears refers to his glorious return, his parousia.

Nisbet: ‘Albeit the Lord uses to give in hand to His faithful servants worth all their pains in His service, either by letting them
see some success of their labours, 2 Cor. 2:14, or by giving them inward peace from the faith of His approbation, when desired success is wanting, Isa. 49:4 , yet He would have them taking their prime encouragement from what they shall get when He and they meet.’

The crown of glory that will never fade away – Victorious athletes were awarded floral crowns; but these rapidly faded.  This ‘crown of glory’ could be (a) a crown that consists of glory; (b) a crown whose glory (dazzling brightness) will never fade; (c) a crown which symbolises believers’ share in the divine glory (cf. 2 Pet 1:4).  As Hillyer states, ‘Whatever the nature of that crown, it is clearly intended as a symbol of triumph and represents a sharing in the victory of Jesus Christ over all suffering and over death itself (1 Pet 5:1).’

According to Hillyer, the dominant idea of a ‘crown’ – for both Jews and Greeks – was one of victorious celebration.  The notion of royal rule is not so prevalent.

Faithful pastors may receive little by way of recognition or reward in this life, but will be amply recompensed in the life to come.

Nisbet: ‘The reward abiding Christ’s faithful ministers wherein all the lovers of Christ shall share in their own measure, 2 Tim 4:8 , shall be exceeding complete and glorious, as the metaphor of a crown of glory signifies, and such as shall never fade or wax old, but to all eternity shall remain still in its primitive vigour as if a flower should still keep its fairest lustre and sweetest smell.’

‘Today a Christian worker may labor for many different kinds of rewards. Some work hard to build personal empires; others strive V 2, p 431 for the applause of men; still others seek promotion in their denomination. All of these things will fade one day. The only reward we ought to strive for is the “Well done!” of the Saviour and the unfading crown of glory that goes with it. What a joy it will be to place the crown at His feet (Rev. 4:10) and acknowledge that all we did was because of His grace and power (1 Cor. 15:10; 1 Peter 4:11). We will have no desire for personal glory when we see Jesus Christ face-to-face.’ (Wiersbe)

‘A believer’s inheritance, his glory, his happiness, his blessedness, shall be as fresh and flourishing after he hath been many thousand thousands of years in heaven as it was at his first entrance into it.’ (Brooks, Works, Vol 1)

1 Pet 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.

‘He had already admonished the saints to be submissive to government authorities (1 Peter 2:13–17), the slaves to submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18–25), and the wives to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1–7). Now he commanded all of the believers to submit to God and to each other.’ (Wiersbe)

In the same way – or, ‘likewise’, which, Grudem says, doesn’t mean ‘act in the same way’, but rather, ‘continuing the same theme’.

Young men – lit. ‘younger men’.  According to Marshall, the dividing line between young and old probably came at around 40.  However, men who were younger still were sometimes to be found in leadership roles, as with Jesus himself and also his disciples.  Marshall, Grudem and Schreiner think that they are singled out because, lacking a voice in the church’s affairs, they are more likely to be rebellious.  So also Calvin, who thinks that Peter is using the word for ‘elder’ in a different sense than previously.

Hillyer thinks that the reference here is to those who have recently been appointed to the office of elder.  There is a possible hint of such a class of younger men in Acts 5:6.  They should be submissive to those who also hold that office who are more senior.  Another approach is to regard this group as all those church members who were not elders.

Having reviewed the alternative interpretations, Davids concludes: ‘It appears best…to see the “younger” here as the youthful people in the church (if Jewish reckoning is involved, anyone under 30 and perhaps even some who were older would be included in this category). Such younger people are often (but not necessarily) junior leaders, ready to learn from and assist those directing the church (which may be what one sees in Acts 5), but their very readiness for service and commitment can make them impatient with the leaders, who either due to pastoral wisdom or the conservatism that often comes with age (the two are not to be equated) are not ready to move as quickly or as radically as they are. It would be quite fitting to address such people with an admonition to be subject to their elders. Indeed, particularly in a time of persecution their willingness to take radical stands without considering the consequences could endanger the church.’

Be submissive to those who are older – ‘which imports obedience to their message and respect to their persons.’ (Nisbet)

‘It is the duty of the Lord’s people to be subject to their rulers whom He has set over them in His church, by submitting to the duties which they press upon them from the Word, Heb 13:22 , and to the censures they inflict according to the Word, 2 Cor 2:9 , by affording them some means of outward subsistence, Gal 6:6, and by giving some respect to their persons because of their office, 1 Cor 4:1.’ (Nisbet)

Submisson to authority is unpopular in today’s world.  It has connotations of slaves submitting to violent masters, of children submitting to abusive parents, or wives submitting to dominating husbands.  We must agree that it has often been an excuse for racism, abuse and injustice.  Independence and self-determination have become modern idols.  The Bible certainly does not teach blind obedience to tyrannical authority.  The Reformation was, amongst other things, a movement of protest against the prevailing authority of the church.  But there is an authority which God gives to the leaders of a church, which they must exercise prayerfully, sensitively, and humbly.  And we must submit to such leadership in the same spirit.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

A new paragraph starts here.

All of you – Peter moves from addressing elders to addressing believers generally.

Clothe yourselves with humility – The picture is of wrapping around oneself a tight-fitting garment, such as an apron.  This is in contrast with a loose-fitting item, which would not be suitable for work and which could more easily be put on and off.  This is precisely what our Lord did, when he took off his loose outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist, in order to wash his disciples’ feet (Jn 13:4f, 12, although, as Davis observes, different terminology is used, suggesting that Peter is not directly alluding to that text).  That attitude of a servant is therefore suggested.

On clothing oneself with virtue, see Rom 13:12; Eph 6:11, 14; Col 3:12; 1 Thess. 5:8.

Davids notes that humility, while highly valued in the NT (Acts 20:19; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:12; cf. Mark 10:42–45), was much less so in Jewish and Hellenistic culture.

‘Of all the evils of our corrupt nature, there is none more connatural and universal than pride, the grand wickedness.  St Augustine says truly: “That which first overcame man, is the last thing he overcomes.”..Whereas other sins are fomented by one another, this feeds even on virtues and graces…It will secretly cleave to the best actions, and prey upon them.’ (Leighton)

‘Consider the safety of grace under this clothing: it is that which keeps it unexposed to a tousand hazards.  Humility doth grace no prejudice in covering it, but indeed shelters it from violence and wrong.’ (Leighton)

“God opposes the proud” – Quoting Prov 3:34; cf. James 4:6.  The ‘proud’, according to Hillyer, are ‘those who ridicule and despise Christian believers (1 Pet 2:12; 3:16; 4:4–5). Such people are oblivious of the fact that by their attitude they are foolishly pitting their puny selves against the overwhelming might of God.’  The double problem of the proud is that they see no need of God and treat others with contempt.

‘Peter well knew the power of pride. He had boasted that although all others might deny Christ, he, Peter, would remain true [Mt. 26:33; Mk. 14:29].  From the height of that proud boast he fell into the abyss of denial.’ (Clowney)

‘We are to imagine,’ says Calvin, ‘that god has two hands, one which like a hammer beats down and breaks in pieces those who raise up themselves, and the other which raises up the humble who willingly bow themselves down, and sustain them like a firm prop…let this sentence of Peter be as a celestial thunderbolt, to make men humble.’

1 Pet 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Cf. Mt 18:4, and the close parallel in Jas 4:10.

Humble yourselves – Underlying our humble attitude towards one another is a humble attitude towards God himself.

God’s mighty hand generally refers to his powerful deliverance.  God’s mighty hand is evident in the biblical record of creation, of the delivery from Egypt (Ex 3:19; 6:1; 13:3, 9, 14, 16; Deut 9:26, 29; 26:8; Jer 21:5; Ez 20:33–34), of the return from exile, and of the redemptive acts of God in Christ (Luke 1:66; Acts 4:28, 30; 11:21; 13:11), of the resurrection of Christ, and of the life of the resurrection Christ in the believer.

We might think of the way in which a father might place his hand on the shoulder of a child who is becoming fractious.

Peter’s thoughts turn back to suffering and God’s will in it.  Suffering (a) is consistent with God’s will, 1 Pet 3:17; (b) compatible with our status as followers of Christ, 1 Pet 4:12-16; and (c) functions as God’s purifying fire, 1 Pet 4:17-19.  ‘If this is so, the duty of the believer is not to resist (either attacking the persecutors or raging against God), but to “humble [himself] under the mighty hand of God.”’ (Davis)

‘The consideration of the mighty power of God, which is sufficiently able to protect and bear through all His followers, John 10:28 , and to find out and punish all that oppose Him or them, Psa. 21:8,9, should move the Lord’s people humbly to submit to their duty and to the hardest dispensation in following thereof.’ (Nisbet)

‘When men look upon the hand of God as a weak hand, a feeble hand, a low hand, a mean hand, their hearts rise against his hand. ‘Who is the Lord,’ saith Pharaoh, ‘that I should obey his voice?’ Exod. 5:2. And until Pharaoh came to see the hand of God, as a mighty hand, and to feel it as a mighty hand, he would not let Israel go.  When afflictions arrest us, we shall murmur and grumble, and struggle, and strive even to the death, before we shall yield to that God that strikes, until we come to see his majesty and authority, until we come to see him as the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Isa. 26:11, 12. It is such a sight of God as this, that makes the heart to stoop under his almighty hand, Rev. 1:5. The Thracians being ignorant of the dignity and majesty of God; when it thundered and lightened, used to express their madness and folly in shooting their arrows against heaven threatening-wise. As a sight of his grace cheers the soul, so a sight of his greatness and glory silences the soul.’ (Brooks, Works, Vol 1)

That he may lift you up – The nature of this ‘exaltation’ is not specified.  It might be understood ‘in terms of increased spiritual blessing and deeper fellowship with himself, perhaps also in terms of responsibility, reward, or honour which will be seen by others as well.’ (Grudem)

As Davids points out, this self-humiliation is not merely negative, and does not consist in the negation of self or fostering a low self-image.  It leads to a discovery of the true self – the self one is meant to be – the self in a proper relationship with one’s Maker and Redeemer.  It leads, in other words, not to the death of self, but to a ‘lifting up’, a resurrection, of self.

In due time – ‘not necessarily with the immediacy that one often craves in distress, but at the divinely right moment, as God sees the whole situation’ (Hillyer).  Marshall thinks that this ‘must’ refer to the time of our Lord’s return, when our exaltation will mean sharing in Christ’s glory, 1 Pet 5:1.  Davids also: ‘It is then that these folk will be vindicated, that their enemies will be judged, and that they will receive in exchange for their persecution that inheritance which is already waiting for them in heaven (1 Pet 1:3).’

As Grudem says, ‘Among other things this will involve bowing to God’s wisdom, accepting the twists and turns of his providence, and entrusting all our concerns to him. Though this may well mean personal disadvantage in this life, it is always in the believer’s interest to humble himself or herself before God so that in due time he may exalt you.’

There is, as Marshall suggests, a twofold submission to God: a submission to his providential will in allowing us to pass through various fiery trials, and a submission to his way of delivering us from those trials.

‘When the Lord has perfected His work intended by their affliction, Isa. 10:12, particularly when they are brought to that measure of humiliation to which by their straits the Lord intends to bring them, Lev. 26:41, when they are prepared by
their straits to put a due price upon a delivery, Psa. 102:13,14, and when the cup of their enemies’ iniquity is full. Gen. 15:16,
for this word signifies both the opportunity fixed and fittest for the exaltation of the humble.’ (Nisbet)

‘And what though most or all of our life, should pass without much sensible taste even of spiritual comforts? a poor all it is! Provided we can humbly wait for free grace and depend on the word of promise, we are safe.  If the Lord will clearly shine on us and refresh us, this is much to be desired and prized; but if he so think fit, what if we should be all our days held at a distance and under a cloud of wrath?  It is but a moment in his anger.  Then follows a life-time in his favour, an endless life-time.  It is but weeping for a night, and joy comes in the morning, that clearer morning of eternity, to which no evening succeeds.’ (Leighton)

1 Pet 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you – The word for ‘cast/casting’ is used on just one other occasion in the NT, of casting garments on a colt, Lk 19:35.  Cf. Psa 55:22.  This verse should be regarded as a continuation of the sentence begun in the previous verse: ‘…casting all your anxiety on him…’  We are to humble ourselves by casting all our anxiety on him.  The implied question might be: ‘but if I put others before myself, who will care for me?’ (Grudem)

‘A man was trudging along a road with a heavy pack on his back. A car drew up and the driver offered him a lift. The walker thankfully accepted the offer and took his seat in the car, but with the pack still on his back. The driver said, “Why don’t you put your pack down?” The walker replied, “Well I didn’t want to impose on you. It was kind enough of you to offer me a lift, I couldn’t expect you to carry my pack as well.” Christian, we have cast ourselves upon the Lord, and that includes all our burdens. Don’t behave as if we had to continue to shoulder the load ourselves.’

This teaching echoes that of our Lord in Mt 6:25 34; Lk 12:22–32.  See the experience of Martha, Lk 10:38-42.  See also Phil 4:6, in which this trustful attitude is explicitly linked to prayer.

The idea of pride is still not far away, for anxiety is proudful in that it refuses to look away from oneself to the God who cares for us.  As Schreiner says: ‘Worry is a form of pride because when believers are filled with anxiety, they are convinced that they must solve all the problems in their lives in their own strength. The only god they trust in is themselves. When believers throw their worries upon God, they express their trust in his mighty hand, acknowledging that he is Lord and Sovereign over all of life.’

We should cast all our cares on the Lord, not keeping for ourselves those that we feel we can handle very nicely on our own.

Cast (better, ‘casting’, indicating that this is how we humble ourselves under God’s hand) carries the idea of a burden being thrown onto something or someone else.

Davids explains that the word here is ‘colourful and graphic’, its one use elsewhere in the NT being in Lk 19:35, where it is used of cloaks being thrown over a donkey in order to make a saddle for Jesus.

Anxiety – Hillyer says that the Gk. underlying ‘anxiety’ suggests being pulled in several different directions, and notes that this is ‘a vivid impression of what worry means.’

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom

Leighton remarks that many of our cares are unnecessary, for ‘a great part of the troublous cares of men relate merely to such things as have no other necessity in them, than what our disordered desires create, nor truly any real good in them, but what our fancy puts upon them.’  We are much mistaken, adds Leighton, if we suppose that contentment lies lies in having more of this or that; for contentment will be as far off at the end as it was at the beginning, as when we have climbed a hill, heaven is no nearer than when we started.  ‘Men think, “O had I this, I were well;” and when it is reached, it is but an advanced standing from which to look higher, and spy out for some other thing.’  Such cares, far from be cast on God, should be cast out of the heart.  ‘Entertain not care at all but such as thou mayest put into God’s hands, and make his on thy behalf; such as he will take off they hand and undertake for thee.’

Someone has said that we do not cast our cares on the Lord in order to become careless, but in order to become carefree.

Because he cares for you – Peter has urged his readers to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand.  He has indicated how they are to do this – by casting all their anxieties on him.  Now he explains why they are to do it – because God cares for them.

Christ’s death, 1 Pet 2:22-24; 3:18, intercession, 1 Jn 2:1f, and shepherding, 1 Pet 2:25; 5:4 all assure us that god does indeed ‘care for us’.

Hillyer notes that ‘it is one of the distinctive treasures which Christianity has inherited from Judaism that God is known to be concerned with the personal care of his people. Other religions at best see God as aloof, as one who, while good and perfect, keeps his distance from human beings.’

‘George Muller (1805-1898) built many orphanages at Ashley Down, England. Without a personal salary, he relied only on God to supply the money and food needed to support the hundreds of homeless children he befriended in the name of Christ. A man of radiant faith, he kept a motto on his desk for many years that brought comfort, strength, and uplifting confidence to his heart. It read, “It matters to him about you.” Muller believed that those words captured the meaning of 1 Pet 5:7, and he rested his claim for divine help on that truth. He testified at the end of his life that the Lord had never failed to supply all his needs.’

‘How,’ (asks Wiersbe), ‘does God show His love and care for us when we give our cares to Him? I believe that He performs four wonderful ministries on our behalf:- (1) He gives us the courage to face our cares honestly and not run away (Isa. 41:10).
(2) He gives us the wisdom to understand the situation (James 1:5).
(3) He gives us the strength to do what we must do (Phil. 4:13).  And
(4) He gives us the faith to trust Him to do the rest (Ps. 37:5).’

1 Pet 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

After reassurance comes warning.  For, as Davids wryly notes, God is not the only one who is interested in the believer.

Self-controlled and alert – carrying notions of clear-headedness and watchulness.  Actually, self-controlled is, lit. ‘sober’, and has already been used in an eschatological context by Peter (1 Pet 1:13; 4:7).  ‘This sobriety is not only temperance in meat and drink, but in all things that concern the flesh’ (Leighton).  The second term would have been used of a soldier on watch duty.

Just as a traveller along a dangerous stretch of road needs to be sober, wakeful and watchful, so do Peter’s readers.

To be alert means to watch out for spiritual dangers.

‘The opposite of this sober watchfulness is a kind of spiritual drowsiness in which one sees and responds to situations no differently than unbelievers, and God’s perspective on each event is seldom if ever considered.’ (Grudem)

‘Peter knew how hard this vigilance was, for he remembered how in Gethsemane he and his fellow-disciples slept when they should have been watching with Christ, Mt 26:38-46 (DSB).

‘The children of God, if they rightly take their Father’s mind, are always disburdened of perplexing carefulness, but never exempted from diligent watchfulness.’ (Leighton)

‘This watchfulness, joined with sobriety, extends to all the estates and ways of a Christian, surrounded with hazards and snares…Most men do thus walk at random: they give attendance on public worship, and have some customary way of private prayer, but do not further regard how they walk, what is their carriage all the day long, what they speak, how they are in company, and how alone, which way their hearts to early and late, what it is that steals way most of their affection from God.’ (Leighton)

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion – As Hillyer observes, behind the sufferings of believers lies a supernatural, malevolent foe.  We must always be alert to this unseen, but highly active, enemy.

Think of how a lion hunts its prey: it identifies the most vulnerable target, and waits patiently and silently for the moment to pounce.

As Clowney says, some of Peter’s readers may have vivid memories of seeing lions attacking and killing humans in the Roman amphitheatre.

Again, Peter may have been remembering how he himself succumbed to the devil’s powerful influences.

‘Satan, like a lion, may hunt by stealth as well as by terror; he could not ask for better cover than the illusion that he does not exist, or that his comeback is merely metaphorical. Jesus Christ came to expose as well as to destroy the works of the devil.’ (Clowney)

As Marshall remarks, a man by himself stands no chance against a lion.  But, as the next two verses stress, God provides him with all the resources needed to ‘stand firm in the faith’.

Satan has three titles given in the Scriptures, setting forth his malignity against the church of God: a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength. (Edward Reynolds)

‘The metaphor is apt, for a prowling lion attacks suddenly, viciously, and often when its unsuspecting victim is engaged in routine activities…Peter here views Satan as a cunning and evil personal being who has the ability and the propensity to attack (and presumably harm) Christians.’ (Grudem)

‘Lions were viewed as the most ferocious and mighty beasts, and from Ps 22:13 (probably the background here) they came to be used as figures for enemies of God’s people. In the time of Nero, Christians were fed to some literal lions as well.’ (NT Background Commentary)

‘There be other two usually ranked with him, as the leading enemies of our souls, the world and our own flesh; but here he is expressly named, who commands in chief, and orders and manages the war, using the service of the other two against us, as prime officers, under which most of the forces of particular temptations are ranked.’ (Leighton)

Looking for someone to devour – swallow whole, as the fish swallowed Jonah.  In other words, to bring to spiritual ruin.

How does the devil attack today?

  1. He attacks the sick, the weak, the isolated. Be alert to support and surround with prayer those who face illness, who are weakened with pressure and stress, and those who are on the fringes.
  2. He attacks the newborns. Be especially watchful over new Christians. Help them face doubts and temptations that will weaken their defenses.
  3. He attacks those who pull away from the church. Go after those whose participation in church has dropped off. They may be especially vulnerable.
  4. He attacks the unwary. Make sure that teaching and preaching give clear warning about Satan’s strategies.
  5. He attacks the timid. Today’s climate of economic, social, and political problems makes us afraid. Beware lest fear drive us to doubt God or abandon his call to love and service.

(Life Application Bible Commentary – slightly adapted)

Perceiving the devil's influence

Grudem rightly cautions that we should not attribute all evil in the world to the devil.  But a ‘sober and watchful’ Christian might see his influence, at least in part, in:-

bizarre or violently irrational evil behaviour, especially in opposition to the gospel or to Christians (Mark 1:24; 5:2–5; 9:18; Acts 16:16–18; Rev. 2:10);
malicious slander and falsehood in speech (John 8:44; 1 John 4:1–3);
increasing bondage to self-destructive behaviour (Mark 5:5; 9:20);
stubborn advocacy of false doctrine (1 John 4:1–6);
the sudden and unexplained onslaughts of emotions (such as fear, hatred, depression, anxiety, violent anger, etc.) which are both contrary to God’s will and inappropriate in one’s situation (note the ‘flaming darts of the evil one’ in Eph 6:16);
the deep spiritual uneasiness which might be called the ‘discernment’ (cf. 1 Cor 12:10) of spiritual evil.

(Slightly altered; formatting added)

‘All the activity, power, terror and cruelty of the Devil should be so far from discouraging the Lord’s people in the battle against him that the consideration thereof should animate and hearten them to the same, considering that he is an enemy spoiled by Jesus Christ, Col. 2:15 , that there is more power to be employed for believers than is against them, 2 Kgs. 6:16 , and that victory over Satan is sure and near to all believers, Rom. 16:20.’ (Nisbet)

‘Satan is “ho antidikos”, one that charges us before God, 1 Pet. 5:8. and continually endeavors to make breaches between us and God. Christ is “ho parakletos”, our attorney, or advocate, that pleads for us, and continues peace and friendship between us and God, 1 John 2:2. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ (Flavel, The Fountain of Life)

‘The prey he hunts is souls, that they may be as miserable as himself.  Therefore he is justly called our adversary, the enemy of holiness and of our souls; first tempting to sin, and then accusing for sin, as his name imports.  He studies our nature, and fits his temptations to it: knows the prevalency of lust, or earthliness, or that great and most general evil of pride, so like himself, and that is his throne in the heart.  And this his enmity, though it is against man in general, yet is most enraged against the children of God.  He goes about and spies where they are weakest; and amongst them, directs his attacks most against those, who are most advanced in holiness and nearest unto God.  They were once under his power, and now being escaped from him, he pursues them, as Pharaoh did the Israelites, with all his forces, raging and roaring after them, as a prey that was one in his den and under his paw, and now is rescued.’ (Leighton)

‘Especially after a time of some special season of grace, and some special supplies of grace received in such seasons, then will he set on most eagerly, when he knows of the richest booty.  The pirates that let the ships pass as they go by empty, watch them well when they return richly laden: so doth this great pirate.  Did he not assault our Saviour straight after is baptism?’ (Leighton)

1 Pet 5:9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Here are two reasons for hopefulness in our struggle: (a) it is possible to successfully resist the devil; (b) we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all our fellow-believers. (Hillyer)

Resist him – Cf. Jas 4:7.  Peter does not tell us how, but see Eph 6:10-18.  ‘All the positive resources of the Christian life are to be used—prayer, the word of God, praise, the help of fellow believers, verbal rebuke of the enemy (Luke 10:17–20; Acts 16:18), renewed holiness of life (note ‘righteousness’ in Eph. 6:14); in short ‘the whole armour of God’ (Eph. 6:11).’ (Grudem)

As Grudem remarks, although we should not ignore the devil’s threats, neither should we cower in fear.  See James 4:7.

Grudem suggests that Peter’s language includes not only ‘active, determined opposition’, but also confrontation (cf. Acts 13:8; Rom 13:2; Gal 2:11; 2 Tim 3:8; 4:15).

Standing firm in the faith – ‘Christians must resist, expecting that the enemy will flee, God’s kingdom will advance, they will grow in faith and holiness through conflict, and God will take Satan’s plans for evil and turn them to their good.’ (Grudem)

The focus here is not so much on standing firm in terms of doctrine (as in the Pastoral epistles), but rather in terms of character (cf. Acts 16:5).  Rev 12:9-12 links such firmness of faith with victory over the devil.

‘A man cannot fight upon a quagmire; there is not standing without some firm ground to treat upon; and this faith alone furnishes.  It lifts the soul up to the firm advanced ground of the promises, and fastens it there’ (Leighton)

‘Remember that they defeats, through the wisdom and love of thy God, may be ordered to advance the victory; to put courage and holy anger into thee against thine enemies; to humble thee, and drive thee from thing own imagined strength, to make use of his real strength.’ (Leighton)

Because you know that – lit. ‘knowing that’.

Your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings – The apostles, as well-travelled Christian leaders, were in a strong position to make such a comment.  Cf. 1 Thess 2:14.

One of Satan’s most powerful temptations is to make believers feel that their situation is unique.  ‘Thus sometimes they swell even their outward trials in imagination, but oftener their inward ones, which are most heavy and pressing to themselves, and the parallel of them in others least discernible by them’ (Leighton).  Thus they can easily feel isolated.  But they are not alone in their suffering: what they are experiencing is common to all believers everywhere.  Cf. 1 Cor 10:13.  Their sufferings are not meaningless personal misfortunes: they are part and parcel of what it means to belong to God’s people in a hostile world.

1 Pet 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Verse 10f contains a very precious promise, conditional, it seems, on obedience to the commands in vv 8f. ‘This is a promise to those who resist the devil.’ (Marshall)

In fact, there is here a fourfold reason for hopefulness: (a) God is a God of ‘all grace’; (b) we have been called to his eternal glory in Christ; (c) our sufferings are for ‘a little while’; (d) God himself will restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast.

And the God of all grace – Grudem thinks that this would better be translated, ‘But the God of all grace…’.  Peter is drawing a contrast between their present condition and their future restoration.

‘The source of all sufficiency for every demand made upon his own (2 Cor 12:9).’ (Hillyer)

‘Thus the ultimate fact about God is that his character is sheer love and concern for the welfare of his people, even in their sufferings. He has called them to be his people (1 Pet 1:15), and his intention is that they should share in his own eternal glory.’ (Marshall)

‘No-one can understand the message of Scripture who doe snot know the meaning of grace.  The God of the Bible is “the God of all grace”.  Grace is love, but love of a special sort.  It is love which stoops and sacrifices and serves, love which is kind to the unkind, and generous to the ungrateful and undeserving.  Grace is God’s free and unmerited favour, loving the unlovable, seeking the fugitive, rescuing the hopeless, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill to make his sit among princes (Psa 113:7f). (Stott, Understanding the Bible, 127)

‘There is in God an all-sufliciency of every grace, and withal a strong propension to communicate the same freely to unworthy sinners, the consideration whereof should hearten both ministers and people to pray for and expect a more plentiful measure thereof than what they have already received.’ (Nisbet)

Who called you to his eternal glory in Christ – On eternal glory inherited by the saints, see 1 Sam 2:8; Ps 73:24; Pr 3:35; Col 3:4.

This, says Grudem, ‘is the realm that really counts, for it lasts for ever.’  And this is the realm to which we have been called.

‘Whether the Lord’s people consider that woeful case out of which they are called by the Gospel, Col. 1:13, or that blessed state to which they are called, 1 Cor. 1:9, they may take His calling of them for a sure ground to their faith (if so be they have consented to His call) concerning His willingness to give them every thing necessary for their perseverance, till they come to the possession of what He has called them to.’ (Nisbet)

‘It is by Jesus Christ the Mediator that sinners are called to the possession of this eternal glory; He by His blood has purchased it for them, Eph. 1:14; by His Word and Spirit He clears to them the way to it, 2 Tim. 1:10. Yea, He Himself is the way, and He quickens His redeemed ones to walk in it, John 14:6.’ (Nisbet)

Leighton meditates on how much this word ‘eternal’ adds.  How soon we are parted from even the best things that this world offers!  ‘It is but a show, a pageant that goes through the street, and is seen no more.’  But this is an ‘eternal glory’.  ‘O a thought of this swallows up all the grandeur of the world, and the noise of reckoned years and ages.’

Eternal glory…after you have suffered a little while – Note the intentional contrast here between the permanent nature of the glory, and the transient nature of the suffering. The time scale indicated by Peter (‘a little while’) is ‘intentionally vague’, and could refer to either this life or the next (Grudem), or to the entire period before the time of ‘eternal glory in Christ’ (Schreiner).  On the temporary nature of afflictions, see Ps 30:5; 103:9; Isa 54:7,8; Jn 16:20; Rom 8:18; 2 Cor 4:16-18; 1 Pet 1:6.

What counts as ‘suffering’ for us today?  It includes the everyday challenges and difficulties of the Christian life, the marginalisation and opprobrium that Christians in the Western world increasingly have to endure, and, for some, overt persecution, either emotional or physical.

At the time, suffering can seem endless, but it is in fact temporary.  ‘Our sufferings may be lasting, not everlasting. Affliction is compared to a ‘cup’. (Lam 4:21) The wicked drink of a sea of wrath which has no bottom. It will never be emptied. But it is only a cup of martyrdom, and God will say, ‘Let this cup pass away’. ‘The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous’. (Ps 125:3) The rod may be there, it shall not rest. Christ calls his sufferings ‘an hour’. (Lk 22:53) Can we not suffer one hour? Persecution is sharp, but short. Though it has a sting to torment, yet it has a wing to fly. ‘Sorrow shall fly away’. (Isa 35:10) It is but awhile when the saints shall have a writ of ease granted them. They shall weep no more, suffer no more. They shall be taken off the torturing wrack and laid in Christ’s bosom. The people of God shall not always be in the iron furnace; a year of Jubilee will come. The water of persecution like a land-flood will soon be dried up.’ (Thomas Watson)

According to Peter, suffering is not only temporary, it is also purposeful, 1 Pet 1:7; 2:12, 15, 19; 3:9, 14, 16; 4:13–16.  ‘God is using every experience, especially perhaps the more unpleasant ones, to further his loving purpose in the lives of his people and to enable them to grow in grace and in their knowledge of him (2 Pet. 3:18).’ (Hillyer)

‘Even the hardest of the Lord’s people’s sufferings are of small weight as compared with the reward, 2 Cor. 4:17 , and of short continuance, as compared with eternity, 2 Pet. 3:8.’ (Nisbet)

Restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast – God will restore them ‘with respect to any resource or ability which they have lost through this suffering’; he will establish them ‘in any position, rightful privilege, or responsibility which this suffering has taken from them’; he will strengthen them ‘for any weakness they have been made to suffer, any inadequacy for overcoming evil which they may have known’; and he will settle them ‘in any rightful place from which the suffering has wrongfully removed them.’  In other words, all loss will be made up.  (Grudem)

The word for ‘restore’ is used in Mt 4:21 and Mk 1:19 for the disciples mending their nets.  Hillyer: ‘After the wear and tear of daily living for God in a hostile environment, they need to be renewed, restored, fully re-equipped.’

The word for ‘steadfast’ is suggestive of a building with a firm foundation (cf. Mt 7:24-27).

‘You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun beams and passing rain drops, how can it abide? The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding. Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed-“After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.’ (Spurgeon)

‘During this period of affliction God will help his people. Four verbs are used to bring out different aspects of this help:
(1) God will restore or repair whatever is damaged, so that the believer will be fully complete to face up to whatever lies ahead (if we have been defeated in the past, this does not mean that our capacity to face future conflicts will be impaired);
(2) God will make us strong, or stable, imparting courage and strength to weak believers;
(3) God will make us firm;
(4) God will make us steadfast; he will establish us so that our defenses rest on a firm foundation and will not be undermined. It may be hairsplitting to differentiate the senses of the various verbs used in this way. They are piled up rhetorically to emphasize that God will strengthen us in every way to face up to persecution.’ (Marshall)

‘Suffering is very far from doing these precious things for [everyone]. It may well drive a [person] to bitterness and despair; and may well take away such faith as he has. But if it is accepted in the trusting certainty that a father’s hand will never cause his child a needless tear, then out of suffering come things which the easy way may never bring.’ (DSB)

‘I grant it as true that the sincere soul grows stronger and stronger-but how?-even as the tree grows higher and bigger, which we know meets with a fall of the leaf, and winter, that for a while intermits its growth. Thus the sincere soul may be put to a present stand by some temptation-as Peter, who was far from growing stronger when he fell from professing to denying Christ, from denying to swearing and cursing if he knew him. Yet as the tree, when spring comes, revives and gains more in the summer than it loseth in the winter, so doth the sincere soul. Just as we see in Peter, whose grace that squatted in for a while came forth with such a force, shaking temptations, that no cruelty from men could drive it in ever after; so will the sincere soul ever end in settlement, according to the apostle’s prayer, ‘The God of all grace,…after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you,’ 1 Pet 5:10.’ (Gurnall)

See Col 1:23.

‘When an unbeliever goes through suffering, he loses his hope; but for a believer, suffering only increases his hope. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3–4, NIV). God builds character and brightens hope when a believer trusts Him and depends on His grace. The result is that God receives the glory forever and ever.'(Wiersbe)

‘It is an excellent life, and it is the proper life of a Christian, to be daily outstripping himself, to be spiritually wiser, holier, more heavenly-minded today than yesterday, and to-morrow, if it be added to his life, than today; every day loving the world less, and Christ more, and gaining every day some further victory over his secret corruptions; having his passions more subdued and mortified, his desires in all temporal things more cool and indifferent, and in spiritual things more ardent; that miserable lightness of spirit cured, and his heart rendered more solid and fixed upon God; aspiring to more near communion with him; and labouring that particular graces may be made more lively and strong, bu often exercising and stirring them up, faith more confirmed and stayed, love more inflamed, composed meekness producing more deep humility.  O this were a worthy ambition indeed!’ (Leighton)

And it is the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, which will accomplish this.  If we look inwards, at either our failures or our resolutions to do better, we shall meet only with discouragement.  But ‘the believer looks to Jesus; looks off from all oppositions and difficulties, looks above them to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…Thus that royal dignity is interested in the maintenance and completion of what he hath wrought.  Notwithstanding all thy imperfections and the strength of sin, he can and will subdue it.  Notwithstanding thy condition is so light and loose, that it were ready for any wind of temptation to blow thee away, yet he shall hold thee in his right hand…Though thou art weak, he is strong; and it is he that strengthens thee, and renews thy strength; when it seems to be gone and quite spent, he makes if fresh and greater than before.  A weak believer, and his strong Saviour, will be too hard for all that can rise against them.’ (Leighton)

The God of all grace – The work of salvation is all grace from beginning to end.  He is the God of pardoning grace, and of sanctifying grace.

This calling is, of course, an effectual calling, which ‘powerfully works grace in the soul and secures glory for the soul; gives it s right to that inheritance, and fits it for it, and sometimes gives it even the evident and sweet assurance of it’ (Leighton).  Of this assurance, Leighton adds that ‘some travel on in a covert, cloudy day, and get home by it, having so much light as to know their way, and yet do not at all clearly see the bright and full sunshine of assurance; others have it breaking forth at times, and anon under a cloud; and some have it more constantly.  But as all meet in the end, so all agree in this in the beginning, that is, in the reality of the thing; they are made unalterably sure heirs of it, in their effectual calling.’

1 Pet 5:11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

‘They know little of their own wants and emptiness, who are not much in prayer; and they know little of the greatness and goodness of God, who are not much in praise.’ (Leighton)

Final Greetings, 12-14

1 Pet 5:12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.

With the help of Silas – ‘dia Silouanou’, ‘by Silas’, which may refer to Silas as the carrier of the letter, rather than (as NIV implies) as Peter’s amanuensis.

I have written to you…encouraging you and testifying – Some writings grow out of book-study. This one, however, grew out of Peter’s life and experience. Some things are written merely to inform the mind. This one was written as an encouragement and a testimony.

1 Pet 5:13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.

This ‘Babylon’ can scarcely be the desolate and ruined city in Mesopotamia. The name is obviously being used in a symbolic way, as in Rev 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, where Rome is in mind. Christians are the people of God in exile and dispersion, 1 Pet 1:1,17; 2:9-11. Babylon was the great city of world empire for the OT prophets, and was also the city of Israel’s exile. To be ‘in Babylon’ is to be ‘in exile’. It is likely that the letter was written from Rome: Mark, mentioned here, is also mentioned by Paul, writing from Rome; (2 Tim 4:11; Phm 24) tradition states that Peter, like Paul, was martyred in Rome (Eusebius, quoting Papias and Origen). F.F. Bruce (NBD) comments that Babylon here ‘is most probably a Christian church. ‘Babylon’ here has been identified with the city on the Euphrates, and also with a Roman military station on the Nile (on the site of Cairo); but it is best to accept the identification with Rome.’

If, as many think likely, ‘Babylon’ in this verse stands for ‘Rome’, then the tradition of the Roman origins of Mark’s Gospel are given some support.