1 Peter 5


Directions to the elders to feed the flock of God, and not

to be lord over God's heritage, that when the chief Shepherd

does appear, they may receive a crown of glory, 1-4.

The young are to submit themselves to the elder, and to humble

themselves under the mighty hand of God, and cast all their

care upon him, 6-7.

They should be sober and watchful, because their adversary the

devil is continually seeking their destruction, whom they are

to resist, steadfast in the faith, 8, 9.

They are informed that the God of all grace had called them to

his eternal glory, 10- 11.

Of Silvanus, by whom this epistle was sent, 12.

Salutations from the Church at Babylon, 13.

The apostolic benediction, 14.


Verse 1. The elders which are among you] In this place the

term πρεσβυτεροι, elders or presbyters is the name of an office.

They were as pastors or shepherds of the flock of God, the

Christian people among whom they lived. They were the same as

bishops, presidents, teachers and deacons,

Ac 14:23; 1Ti 5:17.

And that these were the same as bishops the next verse proves.

Who am also an elder] συμπρεσβυτερος. A fellow elder; one on

a level with yourselves. Had he been what the popes of Rome say

he was-the prince of the apostles; and head of the Church, and

what they affect to be-mighty secular lords, binding the kings of

the earth in chains, and their nobles in fetters of iron; could he

have spoken of himself as he here does? It is true that the Roman

pontiffs, in all their bulls, each style themselves servus

servorum Dei, servant of the servants of God, while each affects

to be rex regum, king of kings, and vicar of Jesus Christ. But

the popes and the Scriptures never agree.

A witness of the sufferings of Christ] He was with Christ in

the garden; he was with him when he was apprehended. and he was

with him in the high priest's hall. Whether he followed him to

the cross we know not; probably he did not, for in the hall of the

high priest he had denied him most shamefully; and, having been

deeply convinced of the greatness of his crime, it is likely he

withdrew to some private place, to humble himself before God, and

to implore mercy. He could, however, with the strictest

propriety, say, from the above circumstances, that he was a

witness of the sufferings of Christ.

A partaker of the glory] He had a right to it through the

blood of the Lamb; he had a blessed anticipation of it by the

power of the Holy Ghost; and he had the promise from his Lord and

Master that he should be with him in heaven, to behold his glory;

Joh 17:21, 24.

Verse 2. Feed the flock] Do not fleece the flock.

Taking the oversight] επισκοπουντες. Discharging the office

of bishops or superintendents. This is another proof that bishop

and presbyter were the same order in the apostolic times, though

afterwards they were made distinct.

Not by constraint] The office was laborious and dangerous,

especially in these times of persecution; it is no wonder then

that even those who were best qualified for the office should

strive to excuse themselves with a genuine Nolo episcopari, "I am

unwilling to be a bishop."

Not for filthy lucre] Could the office of a bishop, in those

early days, and in the time of persecution, be a lucrative office?

Does not the Spirit of God lead the apostle to speak these things

rather for posterity than for that time?

See Clarke on 1Ti 3:3.

But of a ready mind] Doing all for Christ's sake, and through

love to immortal souls.

Verse 3. Neither as being lords over God's heritage] This is

the voice of St. Peter in his catholic epistle to the catholic

Church! According to him there are to be no lords over God's

heritage, the bishops and presbyters who are appointed by the head

of the Church are to feed the flock, to guide and to defend it,

not to fleece and waste it; and they are to look for their reward

in another world, and in the approbation of God in their

consciences. And in humility, self-abasement, self-renunciation,

and heavenly-mindedness, they are to be ensamples, τυποι, types,

to the flock, moulds of a heavenly form, into which the spirits

and lives of the flock may be cast, that they may come out after a

perfect pattern. We need not ask, Does the Church that arrogates

to itself the exclusive title of Catholic, and do its supreme

pastors, who affect to be the successors of Peter and the vicars

of Jesus Christ, act in this way? They are in every sense the

reverse of this. But we may ask, Do the other Churches, which

profess to be reformed from the abominations of the above, keep

the advice of the apostle in their eye? Have they pastors

according to God's own heart, who feed them with knowledge and

understanding? Jer 3:15.

Do they feed themselves, and not the flock? Are they lords over

the heritage of Christ, ruling with a high eeclesiastico-secular

hand, disputing with their flocks about penny-farthing tithes and

stipends, rather than contending for the faith once delivered to

the saints? Are they heavenly moulds, into which the spirits and

conduct of their flocks may be cast? I leave those who are

concerned to answer these questions; but I put them, in the name

of God, to all the preachers in the land. How many among them

properly care for the flock? Even among those reputed evangelical

teachers, are there not some who, on their first coming to a

parish or a congregation, make it their first business to raise

the tithes and the stipends, where, in all good conscience, there

was before enough, and more than enough, to provide them and their

families with not only the necessaries, but all the conveniences

and comforts of life? conveniences and comforts which neither

Jesus Christ nor his servant Peter ever enjoyed. And is not the

great concern among ministers to seek for those places, parishes,

and congregations, where the provision is the most ample, and the

work the smallest? Preacher or minister, whosoever thou art, who

readest this, apply not the word to thy neighbour, whether he be

state-appointed, congregation-appointed, or self-appointed; take

all to thyself; mutato nomine de TE fabula narratur. See that thy

own heart, views, and conduct be right with God; and then proceed

to the next verse.

Verse 4. When the chief Shepherd] That is, the Lord Jesus

Christ, whose is the flock, and who provides the pasture, and from

whom, if ye are legally called to the most awful work of preaching

the Gospel, ye have received your commission; when he shall appear

to judge the world in righteousness, ye who have fed his flock,

who have taken the superintendency of it, not by constraint, nor

for filthy lucre's sake, not as lords over the heritage, but with

a ready mind, employing body, soul, spirit, time and talents, in

endeavouring to pluck sinners as brands from eternal burnings, and

build up the Church of Christ on its most holy faith; YE shall

receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away, an eternal nearness

and intimacy with the ineffably glorious God; so that ye who have

turned many to righteousness shall shine, not merely as stars, but

as suns in the kingdom of your Father! O ye heavenly-minded,

diligent, self-denying pastors after God's own heart, whether ye

be in the Church established by the state, or in those divisions

widely separated from, or nearly connected with it, take courage;

preach Jesus; press through all difficulties in the faith of your

God; fear no evil while meditating nothing but good. Ye are stars

in the right hand of Jesus, who walks among your golden

candlesticks, and has lighted that lamp of life which ye are

appointed to trim; fear not, your labour in the Lord cannot be in

vain! Never, never can ye preach one sermon in the spirit of your

office, which the God of all grace shall permit to be unfruitful;

ye carry and sow the seed of the kingdom by the command and on the

authority of your God; ye sow it, and the heavens shall drop down

dew upon it. Ye may go forth weeping, though bearing this

precious seed; but ye shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,

bringing your sheaves with you. Amen, even so, Lord Jesus!

Verse 5. Likewise, ye younger] νεωτεροι probably means here

inferiors, or those not in sacred offices; and may be understood

as referring to the people at large who are called to obey them

that have the rule over them in the Lord. In this sense our Lord,

it appears, uses the word, Lu 22:26.

Be subject one to another] Strive all to serve each other; let

the pastors strive to serve the people, and the people the

pastors; and let there be no contention, but who shall do most to

oblige and profit all the rest.

Be clothed with humility] To be clothed with a thing or

person is a Greek mode of speech for being that thing or person

with which a man is said to be clothed. Be ye truly humble; and

let your outward garb and conduct be a proof of the humility of

your hearts. εγκομβωμα, from the original word εγκομβωσασθε,

signifies often an outward ornamental garment, tied in different

places with knots or bows, probably ornamented all over with bows

or knots of different coloured ribands, silk twist, &c. But it

also signifies the outward garment worn by servants, slaves,

girls, and shepherds, which was rather intended to be the guard

of the other garments than an ornament to those thus dressed: and

I am rather inclined to take it in this sense than in the former;

for as the apostle calls upon them to be subject to each other, he

desires them to put on humility, as the encomboma or servant's

dress, that they may appear to be such as were ready to serve; and

that he cannot refer to this article of clothing as an ornament

the next words sufficiently prove: God resisteth the PROUD, and

giveth grace to the HUMBLE-the proud, with all their ornaments,

God resists; while those who are clothed with the humble garment

he adorns.

Verse 6. Humble yourselves] Those who submit patiently to the

dispensations of God's providence he lifts up; those who lift

themselves up, God thrusts down.

If we humble not ourselves under God's grace, he will humble us

under his judgments. Those who patiently submit to him, he exalts

in due time; if his hand be mighty to depress, it is also mighty

to exalt.

Verse 7. Casting all your care] τηνμεριμναν. Your anxiety,

your distracting care, on him, for he careth for you, οτιαυτω

μελειπεριυμων, for he meddles or concerns himself, with the

things that interest you. Whatever things concern a follower of

God, whether they be spiritual or temporal, or whether in

themselves great or small, God concerns himself with them; what

affects them affects him; in all their afflictions he is

afflicted. He who knows that God cares for him, need have no

anxious cares about himself. This is a plain reference to

Ps 55:22:

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee. He will

bear both thee and thy burden.

Verse 8. Be sober] Avoid drunkenness of your senses, and

drunkenness in your souls; be not overcharged with the concerns

of the world.

Be vigilant] Awake, and keep awake; be always watchful; never

be off your guard; your enemies are alert, they are never off


Your adversary the devil ] This is the reason why ye should be

sober and vigilant; ye have an ever active, implacable, subtle

enemy to contend with. He walketh about-he has access to you

everywhere; he knows your feelings and your propensities, and

informs himself of all your circumstances; only God can know more

and do more than he, therefore your care must be cast upon God.

As a roaring lion] Satan tempts under three forms: 1. The

subtle serpent; to beguile our senses, pervert our judgment, and

enchant our imagination. 2. As an angel of light; to deceive us

with false views of spiritual things, refinements in religion, and

presumption on the providence and grace of God. 3. As a roaring

lion; to bear us down, and destroy us by violent opposition,

persecution, and death. Thus he was acting towards the followers

of God at Pontus, &c., who were now suffering a grievous


Walketh about] Traversing the earth; a plain reference to

Job 2:2, which see.

Seeking whom he may devour] τινψκαταπιη. Whom he may gulp

down. It is not every one that he can swallow down: those who

are sober and vigilant are proof against him, these he MAY NOT

swallow down; those who are drunken with the cares of this world,

&c., and are unwatchful, these he MAY swallow down. There is a

beauty in this verse, and a striking apposition between the first

and last words, which I think have not been noticed: Be sober,

νηψατε from νη, not, and πιειν to drink; do not drink, do

not swallow down: and the word καταπιη, from κατα, down, and

πιειν, to drink. If you swallow strong drink down, the devil will

swallow you down. Hear this, ye drunkards, topers, tipplers, or

by whatsoever name you are known in society, or among your fellow

sinners. Strong drink is not only the way to the devil, but the

devil's way into you; and YE are such as the devil particularly

MAY swallow down.

Verse 9. Whom resist] Stand against him, αντιστητε. Though

invulnerable, he is not unconquerable: the weakest follower of God

can confound and overpower him, if he continue steadfast in the

faith-believing on the Son of God, and walking uprightly before

him. To a soul thus engaged he can do no damage.

The same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren] It is

the lot of all the disciples of Christ to suffer persecution. The

brotherhood, αδελφοτης, the Christian Church, everywhere is

exposed to the assaults of men and devils; you are persecuted by

the heathen among whom ye live, and from among whom ye are

gathered into the fold of Christ: but even those who profess the

same faith with you, and who are resident among the Jews, (for so

I think ενκοσμω, in the world, is here to be understood,) are

also persecuted, both heathens and Jews being equally opposed to

the pure and holy doctrines of the Gospel. Any man who has read

the Greek Testament with any attention must have observed a vast

number of places in which the word κοσμος, which we translate

world, means the Jewish people and the Jewish state, and nothing


Verse 10. But the God of all grace] The Fountain of infinite

compassion, mercy, and goodness. Mohammed has conveyed this fine

description of the Divine Being in the words with which he

commences every surat or chapter of his Koran, two excepted; viz.;

[ A r a b i c ]

Bismillahi arrahmani arraheemi.

Of which the best translation that can be given is that of the

apostle, In the name of the God of all grace; the God who is the

most merciful and the most compassionate, who is an exuberant

Fountain of love and compassion to all his intelligent offspring.

Who hath called us] By the preaching of the Gospel.

Unto his eternal glory] To the infinite felicity of the

heavenly state.

By Christ Jesus] Through the merit of his passion and death,

by the influence of his Holy Spirit, by the precepts of his

Gospel, and by the splendour of his own example.

After that ye have suffered a while] ολιγονπαθοντας. Having

suffered a little time; that is, while ye are enduring these

persecutions, God will cause all to work together for your good.

Make you perfect] καταρτισειστηριξεισθενωσειθεμελιωσει.

All these words are read in the future tense by the best MSS. and


He will make you perfect.-καταρτισει. Put you in complete

joint as the timbers of a building.

Stablish] στηριξει. Make you firm in every part; adapt you

strongly to each other, so that you may be mutual supports, the

whole building being one in the Lord.

Strengthen] σθενωσει. Cramp and bind every part, so that

there shall be no danger of warping, splitting, or falling.

Settle] θεμελιωσει. Cause all to rest so evenly and firmly

upon the best and surest foundation, that ye may grow together to

a holy temple in the Lord: in a word, that ye may be complete in

all the mind that was in Christ; supported in all your trials and

difficulties; strengthened to resist and overcome all your

enemies; and after all abide, firmly founded, in the truth of

grace. All these phrases are architectural; and the apostle has

again in view the fine image which he produced 1Pe 2:5, where see

the notes.

Verse 11. To him] The God of all grace, be glory-all honour

and praise be ascribed, and dominion-the government of heaven,

earth, and hell, for ever-through time, and ever-through eternity.

Amen-so be it, so let it be, and so it shall be. Amen and Amen!

Verse 12. By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I

suppose] To say the least of this translation, it is extremely

obscure, and not put together with that elegance which is usual to

our translators. I see no reason why the clause may not be thus

translated: I have written to you, as I consider, briefly, by

Silvanus, the faithful brother. On all hands it is allowed that

this Silvanus was the same as Silas, Paul's faithful companion in

travel, mentioned Ac 15:40; 16:19; and, if he were the same,

Peter could never say as I suppose to his faith and piety: but he

might well say this to the shortness of his epistle,

notwithstanding the many and important subjects which it embraced.

See the Syriac, Vulgate, &c. If the words be applied to Silvanus,

they must be taken in a sense in which they are often used: "I

conclude him to be a trustworthy person; one by whom I may safely

send this letter; who will take care to travel through the

different regions in Asia, Pontus, Galatia, and Bithynia; read it

in every Church; and leave a copy for the encouragement and

instruction of Christ's flock." And in such a state of the

Church, in such countries, no ordinary person could have been

intrusted with such a message.

Exhorting] Calling upon you to be faithful, humble, and


And testifying] επιμαρτυρων, Earnestly witnessing, that it

is the true grace-the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which ye

stand, and in which ye should persevere to the end.

Verse 13. The Church that is at Babylon] After considering

all that has been said by learned men and critics on this place, I

am quite of opinion that the apostle does not mean Babylon in

Egypt, nor Jerusalem, nor Rome as figurative Babylon, but the

ancient celebrated Babylon in Assyria, which was, as Dr. Benson

observes, the metropolis of the eastern dispersion of the Jews;

but as I have said so much on this subject in the preface, I beg

leave to refer the reader to that place.

Instead of Babylon, some MSS. mentioned by Syncellus in his

Chronicon have ιοππη, Joppa; and one has ρωμη, Rome, in the

margin, probably as the meaning, according to the writer, of the

word Babylon.

Elected together with you] συνεκλεκτη. Fellow elect, or

elected jointly with you. Probably meaning that they, and the

believers at Babylon, received the Gospel about the same time. On

the election of those to whom St. Peter wrote,

See Clarke on 1Pe 1:2.

And-Marcus my son.] This is supposed to be the same person who

is mentioned Ac 12:12,

and who is known by the name of John Mark; he was sister's son to

Barnabas, Col 4:10, his mother's name was Mary, and he is the

same who wrote the gospel that goes under his name. He is called

here Peter's son, i.e. according to the faith, Peter having been

probably the means of his conversion. This is very likely, as

Peter seems to have been intimate at his mother's house. See the

account, Ac 12:6-17.

Verse 14. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.]

See Clarke on Ro 16:16, and on "1Co 16:20". In the above

places the kiss is called a holy kiss; here, φιληματιαγαπης,

a kiss of LOVE; i.e. as a mark of their love to each other, in order

that misunderstandings might be prevented. But ten or twelve MSS.,

with the Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, and Vulgate, have αγιω,

holy; salute one another with a HOLY kiss. The difference is not


Peace be with you all] May all prosperity, spiritual and

temporal, be with all that are in Christ Jesus-that are truly

converted to him, and live in his Spirit obedient to his will.

Amen.] Is wanting, as usual, in some of the principal MSS. and


The subscriptions are, as in other cases, various.


The end of the First Epistle of the Apostle Peter.-SYRIAC.

The First Catholic Epistle of Peter the apostle is ended.-SYRIAC


The end of the Epistle of St. Peter; may his supplication

preserve us! Amen. Praise be to the Lord of never ending and

eternal glory! Amen.-ARABIC.

The First Epistle of Peter is completed; may his intercession

be with us! Amen, and Amen.-AETHIOPIC,

Nothing in the COPTIC.

Nothing in the printed VULGATE.

The end of the First Epistle of St. Peter.-COMPLUTENSIAN


The First Epistle of St. Peter is ended.-BIB. VULGAT. Edit.



The First of Peter.-Codex Alexand. and Codex Vatican.

Written from Rome.-A MS. of the twelfth century,

The end of the First Catholic Epistle of Peter, written from

Rome.-A MS. of the thirteenth century.

These later subscriptions are of little value, nor do any of

them help to ascertain the place where the epistle was written.

The word Rome is only the supposed interpretation of the word

Babylon, as in 1Pe 5:13, which see.

As the true Church of Christ has generally been in a state of

suffering, the epistles of St. Peter have ever been most highly

prized by all believers. That which we have just finished is an

admirable letter, containing some of the most important maxims and

consolations for the Church in the wilderness. No Christian can

read it without deriving from it both light and life. Ministers,

especially, should study it well, that they may know how to

comfort their flocks when in persecution or adversity. He never

speaks to good effect in any spiritual case who is not furnished

out of the Divine treasury. God's words invite, solicit, and

command assent; on them a man may confidently rely. The words of

man may be true, but they are not infallible, This is the

character of God's word alone.

I SHALL sum up the contents of this chapter in the words of a

good commentator: "Because the knowledge and good behaviour of the

people depend, in a great measure, upon the kind of instruction

which they receive from their teachers, the apostle in this

chapter addressed the elders, that is, the bishops, pastors,

rulers, and deacons among the brethren of Pontus, &c., 1Pe 5:1,

exhorting the bishops in particular to feed the flock of God

committed to their care faithfully, and to exercise their

episcopal office, not as by constraint, but willingly; not from

the love of gain, but from love to their Master and to the flock,

1Pe 5:2; and not to lord it over God's heritage, but to be

patterns of humility and disinterestedness to the people,

1Pe 5:3. This exhortation to bishops to feed Christ's flock was

given with much propriety by Peter, who had himself been appointed

by Christ to feed his lambs and his sheep. Next, because the

faithful performance of the bishop's office was, in that age,

attended with great difficulty and danger, the apostle, to

encourage the bishops, assured them that; when the chief Shepherd

shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not

away, 1Pe 5:4. The distinguished reward which Christ is to

bestow on those who have suffered for his sake being a favourite

topic with our apostle, he introduces it often in this epistle.

"Having thus exhorted the pastors, the apostle turned his

discourse to the people, charging them to be subject to their

elders, and to one another; that is, to be of a teachable

disposition, and to receive instruction from every one capable of

giving it, and to do all the duties which they could to each

other, according to their different stations and relations,

1Pe 5:5. But especially to be subject to God, by humbly

submitting themselves to the judgments which were coming upon

them, that God might exalt them in due time, 1Pe 5:6.

Casting all their anxious care on God, because he cared for them,

1Pe 5:7. And to watch against the devil, who went about as a

roaring lion, seeking to destroy them by instigating the wicked

to persecute them, and drive them into apostasy, 1Pe 5:8. But

they were to resist that terrible enemy by steadfastness in the

faith, and not to think themselves hardly dealt with when

persecuted, knowing that their brethren everywhere were exposed

to the same temptations of the devil, 1Pe 5:9. In the meantime,

to give them all the assistance in his power, the apostle prayed

earnestly to God to stablish and strengthen them, 1Pe 5:10. And

ended his prayer with a doxology to God, expressive of his supreme

dominion over the universe, and all the things it contains.

"The apostle informed the brethren of Pontus that he had sent

this letter to them by Silvanus, whom he praised for his fidelity

to Christ, 1Pe 5:12. Then, giving them the salutation of the

Church in Babylon, where it seems he was when he wrote this

letter, he added the salutation of Mark, whom he called his son,

either because he had converted him, or on account of the great

attachment which Mark bore to him, 1Pe 5:13. And having desired

them to salute one another, he concluded with giving them his

apostolical benediction, 1Pe 5:14."

See Dr. Macknight.

Finished correcting this epistle for a new edition,

Dec. 31, 1831,-A. C.

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