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Scripture reading – 1 Peter 5; Hebrews 1

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Today marks the first day of the final month of our two-year chronological journey through the Scriptures! I applaud those who have participated in this “spiritual marathon” study of God’s Word. I trust you share with me a sense of accomplishment and rejoicing. The author of Psalm 119 wrote, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103); indeed, they are!

Today’s Scripture reading concludes the 1st Epistle of Peter, and introduces the Book of Hebrews (which many suggest was authored by Paul; however, that is mere speculation). This devotional will be taken from 1 Peter 5:1-4.

A Review of 1 Peter 1-4

I pointed out to you in an earlier devotional from 1 Peter, the practical nature of the apostle’s letter to the “strangers scattered” (1:1), believers who had been driven far from family, friends, and country by persecution. Peter, now an old man, was burdened that believers not only know the Scriptures, but live them. After he reminded them who they were in Christ (elect, chosen, and sanctified, 1:2), he challenged them to lay aside besetting sins (2:1), and to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that [they] may grow thereby” (2:2). Echoing the words of the psalmist, Peter affirmed, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (2:3).

In chapter 3, Peter charged believers regarding marital relationships (3:1-7), and interrelations with believers and unbelievers in the world (3:8-22). Understanding the scattered saints would face sufferings, persecutions, and even death…Peter called upon believers to bear injustices (4:1-6), love one another fervently (4:8-11), and hope to the end! (4:12-19)

1 Peter 5

Though only 14 verses in length, chapter 5 overflows with Charges, Exhortations, Encouragements, and a Challenge to be emboldened by Christ’s sufferings (5:10-11). Nevertheless, I must limit my focus to the first four verses, and what I consider to be Peter’s challenge to the pastors (“elders”) of the churches (5:1-4). Understanding the primary role of the pastor is that of a spiritual shepherd (for he leads, feeds, guides, and protects the sheep), it was critical for mature men, called by the Lord be ordained in the churches. Writing to believers, Peter addressed the role, responsibility, and reward of the pastor.

The Pastor’s Role (5:1)

The pastor was described as an “elder,” for no novice was to be ordained (1 Timothy 3:6). In Jewish and Greek culture, an “elder” was an older man, and one who was respected and given honor in his home, congregation, and society.

The role of the “elder” was defined by three titles: “Bishop,” meaning an overseer (1 Peter 2:25; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7); “Pastor,” the word for shepherd (Ephesians 4:11); and “Elders,” emphasizing the spiritual maturity necessary for ministry (5:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; 2 John 1; 3 John 1). With humility characteristic of the apostles, the apostle Peter identified himself as “an elder” (5:1b). His credentials and authority were summed up in this: “a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” (5:1c). He had been an eyewitness of Christ’s life, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection, and glorious ascension to heaven.

The Pastor’s Responsibility (5:2-3)

Peter charged the spiritual shepherds to, “feed the flock of God which is among you” (5:2a). The work of the shepherd in feeding a flock encompassed the responsibility of guiding, protecting, and providing nourishment (Psalm 23). The same is the calling for the pastor, for he is to guide, protect, and spiritually nourish believers in his charge.

The apostle then addressed the attitude of the shepherd, writing, “not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (5:2b). The heart of a good shepherd need not be forced to the work of ministry, but is willing, self-motivated, and as Paul challenged, “instant in season, out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). He serves his calling with eagerness, and not to enrich himself (5:2b).

The pastor\shepherd is to be a model, an example of a servant (5:3). Pastors are to lead by example, not as “as being lords” (5:3a). They are not masters exercising absolute authority, but shepherds “over God’s heritage” (5:3b). Believers are the “heritage,” meaning the inheritance of God (5:3b), and pastors are to be models, “ensamples to the flock” (5:3c). What are they to model? The likeness of Christ, fruit of the Sprit (Galatians 5:22-23), and the character and actions of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

The Pastor’s Reward (5:4)

The sum of Peter’s challenge to the “elders” was to remind them their labor in the Word, hardships, challenges, and sorrows would be rewarded when Jesus Christ, the “Chief Shepherd shall appear” (5:4a). At Christ’s Second Coming, faithful pastors will “receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (5:4b). An earthly crown is temporal, but the reward Peter promised faithful pastors was eternal!

What a wonderful incentive to faithful, dedicated pastors! Not only have we received a great calling, but we are promised “a crown of glory!”

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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