Here we are in the last chapter of 1 Peter. Here he wraps up his letter by talking to the elders specifically. He then uses that to talk about how others need to act and how we must be alert. Now, let’s dive in.
1 Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Here Peter takes the opportunity to remind the elders that they are supposed to be watching over the church. This is to be done of their own choice and not out of force. Moreover, this is to be done under God’s will, not just our own desire. He goes on to say that an elder is not to teach out of a desire for money, but out of eagerness to teach God’s words to others. They are to be in charge, but not to abuse that power or use it to intimidate. They are to be examples for other Christians to imitate. All of this is to be done, remembering that God will hold them accountable for how they lead. You may be wondering what your part is in this if you are not a leader. Your part is to make sure your leaders are doing what God has commanded them to and to know the standards they must follow, because most of them are applied to all Christians throughout the New Testament.
5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.
Now here is something a little more specific to those who are not leaders. Peter reminds them that they are to listen to the elders and subject themselves to their judgement. Likewise, we are called to be humble to one another, knowing that God resists the proud, but will give underserved grace to those who humble themselves. This means treating others better than ourselves and not having a high opinion of ourselves. If we humble ourselves, God will exalt us in His time, be that in this life or in eternity. As part of this, God asks us to cast our cares and burdens on Him as He will strengthen and sustain us.
8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.
Now Peter gives an emphatic point. We are called to be aware and on the lookout for Satan and his attacks. He desires to destroy us, or if he cannot do that, to make us useless for the gospel. We must resist him, crying to God for strength. Hold firm, remembering that this is happening to all believers and it is not just you. You are not alone. God will restore us, establish us, strengthen us, and support us. There is nothing better than that, as everything is under God’s authority.
12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Here we get a small explanation as to why Peter wrote this letter. He was seeking to encourage the believers and testify to the truth of God’s grace. He tells them to take their stand in it. He then gives greetings and prays peace for all of them.
So What Do I Do With This Now?
All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?
1 Leaders, shepherd your people the way God has commanded, and everyone else must strive to meet the same standards and to know what their leaders are supposed to do.
2 Subject yourself to the elders of your church.
3 Continue to humble yourself, considering other people more important and seeking to serve them more than yourself.
4 Go to God in pray and tell Him of your fears, worries and burdens and ask Him for strength. If you pray and give Him these things He will strengthen you and give you peace.
5 Be on the lookout for the Devil and his schemes. He will try to tempt you from following Jesus or he will try to keep you from advancing the gospel. Stand firm, turn to God, and He will give you victory.