I Peter 5:1-4

Sunday, May 15th, 2016



Paul has written in I Timothy 3:1

I Timothy 3:1 If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth [i.e. he has his heart set on] a good [i.e. a noble] work.


If I were to ask you what the work of a pastor is in the local church, I am certain that we would find some very scriptural answers; but I am also certain that we would find some unscriptural ideas as well.


It has been written, “After hundreds of years, a model pastor has finally been found. He preaches exactly 30 minutes, condemns sin, but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He works from 8:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. in every type of activity from giving out the Word to custodial service. He makes less than a hundred dollars a week, yet wears fine clothes, buys good books regularly, has a nice family, drives a new car, and gives $30.00 a week to the church. He also stands ready to contribute to every other worthy cause. He is 26 years old and yet has been preaching for 30 years! He is both tall and short, and is winsome and handsome. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and is occupied full-time with older folks. He smiles constantly with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls a day on members, spends all his time evangelizing the unchurched, and is never out of his office.” (source unknown)


Obviously, no such creature exists, yet people have all of these ideas and more.


About 45 years ago, in order to prove a point, I surveyed my congregation in order to find out how many hours a day each person felt I should be working. I listed my responsibilities, and asked how much time I should devote to each one. When the total times were added up, amazingly, many of the people thought I should put in 28 hours a day! However, this did not include any time for sleeping!


In I Peter 5:1-4 , we see what Peter taught regarding the work of pastors in the local church. Notice that his instructions cover all pastors generally, without making any distinctions for their varying gifts or personalities. Now we must mention that all people are unique. They are individuals. They have had differing experiences, and they have differing abilities as well as differing weaknesses. All persons have certain things that they do exceptionally well, and all persons have things in which they could stand to improve.


Pastors are the same. Although most are hard workers, some work exceptionally hard; and some are lazy. Some are scholarly. Some are not. Some are good teachers, and some are excellent teachers. Some are good leaders, and some are excellent leaders. Others lead just enough to get the job done. Some are excellent administrators; while, others barely get by. Some are extremely likeable; while, others seem distant, hard to get to know. Some work well with youth, and some do not. Some are excellent in the sick room. Others just get sick themselves. Some are domineering, and some are walked on by everyone. A man must make the most of his ministry with the talents and abilities God has given him while endeavoring to improve any weak areas he has. He must realize that he has been specially made by God, fashioned to God’s own specifications to function well in the place where God has called him. Frankly, this means that, since God has called me to where I am serving, He has made me just the way I ought to be for where I am; and I ought never try to be something that He has not made me. Now, if God should call any of you to pastor, you must be yourself, and never try to copy anyone else, including me. All you will ever end up copying are someone else’s bad habits or faults.


In I Peter 5:1-4 we see the general work of pastors which God has set forth for them to do.

We see –



I Peter 5:1 (1) 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.


Peter introduces a new subject in chapter 5.


Elder is a designation for a church official, one of three designations in the New Testament for the office of pastor. The other two are pastor and bishop. Now every pastor is at the same time an elder and also a bishop; these terms do not refer to different types of pastors. There is no such thing in the New Testament as a pastor who is not also at the same time both an elder and a bishop. There is also no such thing in the New Testament as a bishop who is not at the same time both a pastor and an elder, and there is no such thing in the New Testament as an elder who is not at the same time both a pastor and a bishop. The differences that exist in churches today did not come from the Bible. Elder, bishop, and pastor are three different functions within the same office rather than three different offices. As the pastor, he is to shepherd the flock or tend the sheep. As the elder, he is the president of the assembly, the chairman, or the leader of the congregation. As the bishop, he is the superintendent of everything that happens in his local congregation.


The elders which are among you locates these elders as being among the group to whom Peter was writing. What is written to them is also true by extension to all elders everywhere just as what Peter wrote to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia is applicable to all believers everywhere.


I exhort is I am exhorting, I am urging, I am appealing to, or I am encouraging. What he is exhorting them to do is given as the entire content of verses 2 and 3. They are to feed the flock of God and take the oversight of it in the manner prescribed.


Peter describes himself as an elder, a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. For these three reasons his readers should heed what he says. God has qualified him.


Who am also an elder indicates that Peter also was involved in the pastoral ministry. It is literally the fellow-elder. He was one of them, a fellow-elder of this group of elders whom he was addressing. He could have commanded them as an apostle, but he spoke to them as one who was on the same level they were on. The fact that he was a fellow-elder demonstrates that Peter was not the first pope. There is no such thing as the primacy of Peter taught in the Word of God.


And a witness of the sufferings of Christ reminds us that Peter was present throughout the earthly ministry of Christ, throughout the events leading up to the crucifixion. He was in the garden of Gethsemane when Judas betrayed Jesus. He was on the outside looking in during the trials. He was present when Christ suffered on the cross for sin. These elders to whom Peter was writing had received their information about what happened from others.


By contrast, Peter saw these things with his own eyes; no one had to report them to him. He witnessed the sufferings of Christ. This undoubtedly refers to the events of the crucifixion where Jesus shed His precious blood for the sins of the world. As an eye-witness of these events, he and the others present at Christ’s ascension into heaven were charged with the responsibility of witnessing regarding the things that they had seen and heard.


And a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed is Peter’s third description of himself.


Partaker means companion, partner, or sharer.


Of the glory that shall be revealed is what Peter participated in or shared in. Its future tense indicates that the glory will definitely come in the future. It is not here yet, but it is more than something we could only hope for.


Shall be emphasizes the definiteness of its fulfillment. It will be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ, i.e. at the second coming. What will be revealed to all at that time is the glory of Christ in all its fullness. Peter had seen this glory at the transfiguration and refers to it again in II Peter 1:16-18 ,


II Peter 1:16-18 – (16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.


Thus, Peter had a preview of the glory of Christ which the rest of us can only imagine as we read about it in the Scriptures. Some day, however, we too will see the Lord Jesus face to face in all His glory.


Peter states that –

1.Pastors must have a right ministry – 5:2a, b


Having a right ministry means that –

                        (1) Pastors are to feed the flock of God which is among them – 5:2a


I Peter 5:2 a – Feed the flock of God which is among you. . . .


To feed the flock means to shepherd the flock


Shepherding the flock involves more than giving them food. It also includes things such as guarding, tending, etc.


Ezekiel 34:1-51 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel [i.e. in these verses the shepherds refers to the rulers of the people of Israel], prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat [i.e. food] to all the beasts [i.e. wild animals] of the field, when they were scattered.


We see that the shepherd or pastor –

1)Denies self - Ezekiel 34:2-3

2)Feeds the flock - Ezekiel 34:2-3

                                          3)  Ministers to the needy - Ezekiel 34:4

4)Seeks backsliders - Ezekiel 34:4

5)Searches for the lost - Ezekiel 34:5

6)Rules with love - Ezekiel 34:5

7)Keeps the flock - Ezekiel 34:5


Back to I Peter 5:2

In addition to feeding the flock, having a right ministry means that –

(2)Pastors must willingly take the oversight of the church – 5:2b, i.e. they must function as bishops in their own local churches overseeing or superintending the work of God.


I Peter 5:2 b – . . . Taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly. . . .


Not by constraint. Pastors must not take the oversight of the church by constraint, i.e. by compulsion. They must not be reluctant or need to be forced to take charge.


But willingly. Pastors must willingly take the oversight of the church and provide the leadership necessary in their own local churches. Willingly means eagerly or freely.


Paul gave similar instruction to the elders of the church in Ephesus.


Acts 20:17-3117 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia [i.e. into Asia Minor], after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations [i.e. trials], which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews [i.e. which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews]: 20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house [i.e. churches met in many different houses – this is not speaking about door-to-door evangelism], 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that [i.e. except that] the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me [i.e. await me]. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you [i.e. unto all of you elders – all of whom are believers] all the counsel of God [He is not pure from the blood of all men because of his witnessing to unbelievers but because of his teaching the whole counsel of God.]. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers [i.e. bishops or superintendents], to feed [i.e. to shepherd or to tend] the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.


Not only must pastors have a right ministry in which they feed the flock and take the oversight of the church, but we furthermore note that –

2.Pastors must have a right motive – 5:2c


I Peter 5:2 c – . . . Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.


As a part of having a right motive, –

                              (1) Pastors must not take the oversight of the church for filthy lucre, i.e. in fondness for dishonest gain


They must not be in the pastoral ministry for the money.


As a part of having a right motive, we note that –

                              (2) Pastors must take the oversight of the church of a ready mind, i.e. willingly, eagerly, with eagerness.


Yet, the local church must remember some Biblical principles regarding its responsibility toward its pastor:


Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. . . .


I Corinthians 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.


I Timothy 5:17-18 – (17) Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (18) For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.


Not only must pastors have a right ministry in which they feed the flock and take the oversight of the church, and do so with a right motive in which they do this willingly or eagerly and not for financial gain, but in addition we note that –

                  3.   Pastors must have a right manner – 5:3


Having a right manner means that –

                              (1) Pastors must not be lords over God’s heritage – 5:3a


I Peter 5:3 a – Neither as being lords over God’s heritage. . . .


This verse clearly places a limit on the pastor’s authority in the local church. He must not be a dictator.


Yet we must remember that the pastors are to be providing leadership for the local church, and they must lead by their example as well as by their teaching.


I Thessalonians 5:12-13 – (12) And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.


Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.


Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.


Back to I Peter 5:3

The local church is God’s heritage, a charge which God has given to the pastor.


Having a right manner not only means that pastors are not to lord it over their churches but also means that –

                              (2) Pastors must be examples to the flock – 5:3b


I Peter 5:3 b – . . . Being ensamples to the flock.


Pastors must lead by example.

Not only do we see the responsibilities of pastors, but we also see –



Those who pastor their churches not only with a right ministry in which they feed their flocks and take the oversight of them, not only with a right motive – not one of financial gain, but eagerly, and also with a right manner in which they do not lord it over their congregations but serve as examples to the flock. Regarding pastors, we note that –

            1.   They will be rewarded when the chief Shepherd appears – 5:4a


I Peter 5:4 a – And when the chief Shepherd shall appear. . . .


This indicates the time that the reward will be given.


And suggests a continuation of the thoughts of the previous two verses. It is assumed that the pastor feeds the flock of God well, that he oversees it willingly and eagerly, and that he leads by providing a proper example for the congregation to follow.


The chief Shepherd is Christ.


In Hebrews 13:20 Christ is referred to as that great shepherd of the sheep, and in John 10:11 as the good shepherd. The whole flock belongs to God; whereas, pastors have been given the responsibility of leading only small, individual portions of God’s entire flock.


Shall appear suggests the second coming of Christ.


Not only will pastors be rewarded when Christ appears, but we also take note that –

            2.   They will be rewarded with a crown of glory which does not fade away – 5:4b


I Peter 5:4 b – . . . Ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.


Ye is you and refers to the elders, pastors, or bishops to whom Peter has specifically addressed verses 1-3.


Shall receive emphasizes it as a definite matter. It is not just something pastors wish for; those who have discharged their responsibilities will definitely receive this reward.


What pastors will receive is a crown of glory.


Now, Peter does not state what form this crown will take; and this may be understood in a number of ways.


For example, of glory may be used to describe the crown so that it is understood to be a glorious crown.


Glory may instead be the crown itself so that it is understood to be a crown which is glory. If so, it would mean that pastors will receive a glory that does not fade.


A third possibility for understanding glory suggests Peter’s meaning is the source of the crown as being a crown from the glory, i.e. from Christ.


Peter referred to Christ’s glory in I Peter 4:13 , and it has already been mentioned that of glory in the phrase the Spirit of glory in I Peter 4:14 may refer to Christ.


But, no matter how we are to understand a crown of glory, this crown will be glorious. Pastors will also be receiving it from Christ, i.e. from the Glory Himself.


It is probably best, however, to understand Peter to mean that the crown is the glory which pastors will receive. In I Peter 5:1 Peter stated that he was a partaker in the glory of Christ. Is it to be inferred that Peter intends to say that pastors will share in the glory of Christ when the chief Shepherd will appear?


That fadeth not away describes the crown. Whereas crowns and wreaths do not look as beautiful several years after their presentation, this crown of glory will never fail to be as glorious as it was the day it was received.


One is reminded of the face of Moses which shone, reflecting the glory of the Lord. Although Moses’ glory faded, but this crown of glory will never fade.



If God should call you to be a pastor, you have the responsibilities of feeding the flock of believers and of taking the oversight of the flock. However, you must do it with a right motive and in a right manner. When Christ returns, He will reward you appropriately.


If God does not call you to be a pastor, you don’t belong in the pastorate. Yet, you must realize what the work of a pastor is, and you must cooperate with it rather than make it difficult. You must also follow his leadership, and not be demanding that he do things which he has not been called to do.