Study of 1 Peter: Roll of Elders

Questions for 1 Peter Chapter 5:

1. What is Peter's charge to the Elders of the Church?

2. What about the younger people?

3. Why should you be "firm in your faith?"

Answers to Questions:

Answer to Question 1:

Elders were chosen from among the people or appointed by the apostles to be leaders in the early church. Many modern churches have tried to retain this structure in church governance by heavy reliance upon Elders. A good example of this is the Presbyterian Church.

Peter in the first verse calls himself an Elder. Today, management consultants research various ancient authorities to develop theories of management. One authority, Sun-tzu, who wrote "The Art of War, had as his thesis, war and conflict. Peter has a different approach that might also be put beneficially to practice by Fortune 500 companies.

Appealing to church elders, Peter says, "be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and take care of it willingly." Peter does not want us to begrudge our mission. He knows that we will be better leaders if we do our work with gladness in the knowledge that we are making a positive contribution to the society in which we live. In verse 2 he continues, "Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve."

In management theory there are thought to be two kinds of managers, and management styles can be graphed on an x,y axis. X axis managers are matter of fact, stern order givers. Y axis managers are coaches who exhort their people to perform. Peter takes a middle way. He believes that it is best to lead by example, for he says, "Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock."

How much more will be accomplished with this attitude? And how much greater will be the reward of success? For Peter says, "When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness."

Answer to Question 2:

Like most other societal relationships commented upon in the bible, there is a reciprocal force to the Elders. Peter has cautioned the elders to lead by example, to act with enthusiasm. Now he has advice for the young people. He tells them, "You must submit yourselves to the older men."

He is not looking for slavish thinking on the part of the young. Rather, he knows that the young think that they know everything and believe they do not need the advice and criticism of their elders. Peter is hoping that a few words from him will help to curb folly brought on by inexperience. Cool judgement will go a long way in advancing the truth and goodness of the Word of God.

Stereotypes often are based on reality, and stereotypes that have endured for thousands of years are even more likely to have seeds of truth. Then, as now, the young strove to be independent and to defy authority. Then, as now, elders were secure and often smug in the knowledge brought about by years of experience. Peter sees here a potential for a clash, and he wants everyone to tread carefully, so he adds, "All of you must put on the apron of humility to serve one another."

Answer to Question 3:

In verse 9, Peter reminds us to be "firm in faith." He knows that this is important because, as he cautions in several places earlier in the letter, there will be distractions and persecutions. He comes up with a vivid image of the Devil, "roaming around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."

He bids us take comfort in the fact that others are persecuted in their faith just as we are. Indeed, even in our own country there is persecution. For example, in recent weeks, Attorney General, John Ashcroft has been criticized in the press for praying before the day's work begins in the privacy of his office.

Certain segments of society fear morality in individuals and persecute it because they do not wish to have the degradation of their own character revealed by comparison.

Peter tells us that if we do suffer persecution and other afflictions gladly that "The God of all Grace...will himself perfect you and give you firmness strength and sure foundation." Indeed, suffering often teaches strength and endurance. The oft quoted phrase, "That which does not kill me, only makes me stronger," is applicable here. We should also remember that God is a font of power and strength and that we shall be far stronger by relying on Him.

Study 2Peter Chapter 1

Letters of Peter Home
Overview
1st Letter
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
2nd Letter
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3

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