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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Peter 5



Verse 1

1. πρεσβυτέρους οὖν. The οὖν definitely connects the advice to Elders with the preceding section. In 1 Peter 4:17 St Peter probably referred to Ezekiel 9:6, where the judgment ordered to “begin at the sanctuary” was first executed upon τῶν ἀνδρῶν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων οἳ ἦσαν ἔσω ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ. The “refining” (cf. πύρωσις, 1 Peter 4:12) of the Sons of Levi as the preliminary to judgment upon sinners in Malachi 3:1-5 might further suggest the special responsibility of “elders” as οἰκόνομοι (cf. 1 Peter 4:10) in the new “house of God.”

The word πρεσβύτερος originally suggested the reverence due to seniority in age, and still retained much of its original meaning when it became a title for a definite office in the Church. The office of presbyter was not divorced from the qualifications and associations of age. Thus the πρεσβύτεροι are still put in contrast to νεώτεροι or νέοι by Polycarp, ad Phil. v, Clem, ad Cor. i, and in Church Ordinances c. 18 presbyters are required to be men of mature age. So here St Peter probably uses the word partly in the sense of “seniors,” although he is primarily employing it in its official sense of “Elders,” i.e. Church officers. The title was doubtless borrowed from the Jewish synagogue, though the duties of Christian Elders were not wholly identical with those of Jewish Elders. We first hear of Elders at Jerusalem, Acts 11:30, receiving the offerings brought from Antioch by Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23 the Elders are coupled with the Apostles in the Conference, in choosing delegates and in writing an official letter to other churches. In Acts 21:18 the Elders, together with James the Lord’s brother, receive St Paul and his companions at his last visit to Jerusalem and advise him how to conciliate Jewish prejudices. In Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appoint Elders in every city on their first missionary journey, and in Acts 20:28 St Paul, having summoned the Elders of Ephesus to meet him at Miletus, reminds them that they are overseers (ἐπίσκοποι) to shepherd (ποιμαίνειν) the Church of God. So here the T.R. inserts ἐπισκοποῦντες after ποιμάνατε. Elders are also mentioned in James 5:14, where they are to pray for the sick and anoint them with oil. But in St paul’s epistles the title πρεσβύτεροι is not found except in the Pastoral Epistles, written at the close of his life, where ἐπίσκοποι and πρεσβύτεροι almost certainly refer to the same officers, though ἐπίσκοπος may denote one special aspect of their duties. Possibly the title πρεσβύτερος did not for some time come into very common use in the Gentile Churches to which St Paul wrote, but there is little doubt that there were such officers in all churches from the first, and they are probably intended by the ἑπίσκοποι to whom a salutation is sent n Philippians 1:1 (σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις) and by the “pastors and teachers” in Ephesians 4:11. The special duties of the Elders seem to have been government and teaching. The absence of the article in this verse may denote such as are Elders.

ὁ συνπρεσβύτερος. Possibly St Peter here avoids calling himself ἀπόστολος, though he used that title of himself in the opening salutation, because he desires to set an example of humility to the Elders. His injunction not to “lord it over” others would lose much of its force if he himself asserted his own apostolic authority. He therefore deliberately couples himself with those to whom he appeals. Dr Hort, however (The Christian Ecclesia, p. 222), says “St Peter seems to join with this (the official sense “Elder”) the original or etymological sense (i.e. senior in age) when he calls himself a fellowelder, apparently as one who could bear personal testimony to the sufferings of Christ.” The title Elder is used of himself by St John in his second and third epistles. In Papias and Irenaeus it seems to be used of those who belonged to the older generation who were immediate companions of the Apostles.

μάρτυς means one who bears witness, and does not in itself mean an eyewitness or spectator, the word for which is αὐτόπτης (cf. Luke 1:2), but from the stress laid upon personal companionship with Jesus as a necessary qualification to be a μάρτυς in Acts 1:22, etc., there is little doubt that St Peter here means that he is testifying what he has himself seen (cf. John 19:35; Acts 22:15).

St Peter, while coupling himself with the Elders, reminds them that his language about suffering and glory is the testimony of one who actually witnessed Christ’s sufferings and who is assured of his personal share in the glory which is to follow. Harnack (Chronologie, p. 452) explains μάρτυς to mean a witness to Christ’s sufferings by means f the sufferings which he had himself endured for the Name of Christ.

κοινωνός = partner with Christ, not with you. For the latter meaning we should have συγκοινωνός (cf. Matthew 19:28).

τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης. Cf. Romans 8:18.

Verses 1-5

1 Peter 5:1 to 1 Peter 5:1 Let me then address a special word of exhortation to those of you who are “elders” in the Church. I do not wish to dictate to you as an Apostle, but to plead with you as one of yourselves, an “elder” both in office and in age. What I have said about suffering as leading to glory is a very real thing to me, for I can bear personal testimony to the sufferings of the Christ to which I have appealed, and I realize my share in the glory which is one day to be revealed. 2 Let me give you the same charge which my Master gave to me. Shepherd the flock of God which is in your midst, not as an irksome duty under a sense of compulsion, but as a labour of love; not with any sordid mercenary motives, but with eager enthusiasm. 3 Nor, again, must you domineer over the charges allotted to your care. Rather you should serve as models for the flock to imitate. 4 Then when the Chief Shepherd (the unseen partner in your pastoral work) is manifested to the world you shall receive the victor’s crown of glory, composed of flowers that cannot fade. 5 Such unassuming conduct on the part of the “elders” carries with it a corresponding claim upon those of you who are juniors to shew due submission to them. In fact, all of you, whatever your position may be, should gird yourselves with humbleness of mind to serve one another (as the Lord Jesus did at the Last Supper). For God opposes Himself to the haughty, but gives favour to those who are humble-minded.

Verse 2

2. ποιμάνατε denotes the duty of feeding, protecting and ruling. St Peter is apparently handing on to the Elders the same charge which our Lord gave to him, John 21:16; cf. Acts 20:28. In Ephesians 4:11 ποιμένες καὶ διδάσκαλοι probably refer to the local officers, i.e. presbyters.

τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν must be coupled with ποίμνιον and not, as Calvin renders it, “so far as lieth in you” (cf. Romans 12:18) = that portion of God’s flock which is among you, i.e. in your town or district, not (as Bengel and Luther) which depends upon you.

ἐπισκοποῦντες is read by the T.R. with AKLP etc., m. Vulg. Syrr. (add πνευματικῶς Syr. vg.) Memph. Arm. Aeth. R.V1.; but אB, two cursives, Hieron. etc. omit the word, so W.H., E.V. margin.

If the word is accepted it would support the identification of πρεσβύτεροι with ἐπίσκοποι in the N.T. In any ease St Peter uses ἐπίσκοπος of Christ as the ποιμήν, 1 Peter 2:25.

ἀναγκαστῶς, under a sense of compulsion, resenting as a burden the duty imposed upon you, but voluntarily (ἑκουσίως). In another sense God’s workers are “under compulsion” to work faithfully because their stewardship is not due to their own choice only, but is imposed upon them by God, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:16-17. Here, however, the reference is to the spirit in which they perform their work, “not grudgingly or of necessity” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Some MSS. אAP add κατὰ θεόν, which might mean “as God shepherds His flock,” but more probably “in accordance with God’s will as He would have you do.”

μηδὲ αἰσχροκερδῶς, not in the spirit of a hireling anxious only to make some sordid (not necessarily ill-gotten) gain. The phrase may imply that it was customary for Elders to receive some stipend, but possibly refers to their duties as treasurers of Church funds. In Titus 1:7 one of the qualifications for an ἐπίσκοπος is that he should not be αἰσχροκερδής, and so also of deacons, 1 Timothy 3:8; cf. also Titus 1:11 of false teachers who overturn whole households αἰσχροῦ κέρδους χάριν.

προθύμως, with the ready mind which is not content merely to do the minimum of prescribed duty, cf. 2 Corinthians 8:11-12.

Verse 3

3. κατακυριεύοντες. The word is used in the LXX. in Jeremiah 3:14 of God as being master or husband of His people, but elsewhere of subduing a city, taking possession of a country, or of sin getting the mastery over a person. In the N.T. it is used in Acts 19:16 of the demoniac at Ephesus “mastering” the exorcists, and also by our Lord after the ambitious request of James and John, Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42. He instructs His disciples that true greatness among His followers is not to seek for mastery over others as Gentile rulers do, but to be minister or servant of all. This saying of our Lord probably suggested St Peter’s advice to the Elders in this passage, cf. Matthew 23:8-12.

τῶν κλήρων. In later times κλῆρος and its Latin form clerus came to be used in the sense of “Clergy” (κλήρικοι), but there is no evidence of this use earlier than Tertullian, and this technical use of the word was not derived from the Jewish priesthood, but was a gradual development. κλῆρος = [1] the lot by which an office was assigned; [2] the office thus assigned by lot (cf. Acts 1:17; Acts 1:26), and so [3] the body of persons holding the office (Oecumenius, ad loc., Suidas). Elsewhere in the N.T. it is used of “casting lots,” or of a “lot” or “inheritance.” Here it must mean the flocks allotted to the care of the Elders. In Deuteronomy 9:29 (see Bigg) κλῆρος is used of the people of Israel as being the portion specially belonging to Jehovah—and that verse also contains the words τῇ χειρί σου τῇ κραταιᾷ—which St Peter uses in 1 Peter 5:6. Possibly, therefore, he regards the various communities of Christians as parts of God’s estate entrusted to His stewards or shepherds. But in this case we should have expected the singular, and it is simpler to understand κλήρων as meaning the charges allotted to the presbyters, although there is no parallel for this. The Elders seem always to have acted as a body, and there is no evidence of a single Elder having the charge of anything corresponding to a special “parish.” The plural here therefore denotes the flocks in all the different towns, each of which was assigned to the joint care of the Elders of that town.

τύποι is here used in its ordinary sense of “pattern” or “model.” The Elders must lead by example and not drive their flock by masterful methods. Cf. 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7; and in Philippians 3:17, 2 Thessalonians 3:9 St Paul points his readers to his own “example.”

Verse 4

4. φανερωθέντος. The Chief Shepherd is always present among His under-shepherds, and at last His presence will be manifested. The verb is used of the First Coming of Christ in 1 Peter 1:20 and 1 Timothy 3:16, but here it refers to the Second Advent as in Colossians 3:4; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:2.

ἀρχιποίμενος. The word occurs nowhere else. It refers to Christ, who was described as ποιμήν in 1 Peter 2:25. Our Lord described Himself as “the good Shepherd,” John 10, and in Matthew 25:32 compared His work as Judge to “a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats.” In Hebrews 13:20 He is called “the great Shepherd of the Sheep.” Here St Peter uses the title “chief shepherd,” to remind the presbyters that in shepherding God’s flock they are working under and with the good Shepherd Himself.

κομιεῖσθε. Cf. note on 1 Peter 1:9.

ἀμαράντινον is not quite the same as ἀμάραντον (= unfading, cf. 1 Peter 1:4), but means made of amaranth, a supposed unfading flower. Adjectives in -ινος denote the material of which a thing is made, e.g. ξύλινος, λίθινος, ὀστράκινος.

τῆς δόξης is not simply a “genitive of quality,” but “of apposition” or “epexegetic.” The crown consists in sharing the glory; cf. στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς, James 1:12; Revelation 2:10. The phrase στέφανος δόξης occurs in Jeremiah 13:18; cf. Psalms 8:6 δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν.

στέφανος might possibly mean a festal garland, but more probably the victor’s crown, which is its regular meaning in the N.T. as contrasted with διάδημα, the royal crown. But στέφανος is used of the crown of thorns, which was certainly intended as an emblem of royalty, and in the Apocalypse also it may denote a royal crown, as it does sometimes in the LXX.

Verse 5

5. ὁμοίως; cf. 1 Peter 3:1. Such unassuming conduct on the part of the presbyters demands a corresponding or reciprocal duty of submission on the part of those who are under their authority.

νεώτεροι. Ye younger probably refers to age and not to office, as also in 1 Timothy 5:1; Titus 2:6, in which case πρεσβυτέροις also in this verse means older men in general, and not official “elders” as in 1 Peter 5:1. At the same time such “elders” would generally, though not always, be seniors in age. Polycarp, 1 Peter 5:6, however, borrowing from St Peter, mentions νεώτεροι between his instructions to διάκονοι and πρεσβύτεροι, and says that it is right to submit to the “elders” and deacons as to God and Christ. Therefore he probably interpreted πρεσβυτέροις here in an official sense, but the warnings which he gives to νεώτεροι are against impurity and lust, and are therefore suited to younger men rather than to minor officials of the Church. Others, however, explain νεώτεροι to mean subordinate officers of some kind who performed the menial duties. In support of this they refer to Acts 5:6, where the νεώτεροι carried out Ananias for burial. But in 1 Peter 5:10 those who buried Sapphira are called νεανίσκοι, evidently referring to the same persons. Therefore in both verses it probably means merely “young men,” cf. Luke 22:26.

πάντες sums up the duties of all alike, whether presbyters or their flock, whether seniors or juniors.

ἀλλήλοις. The dative denotes the persons whose interests are affected (dativus commodi et incommodi), and is used loosely with various verbs; so here gird yourselves to serve one another or in your dealings with one another. There is no need to supply ὑποτασσόμενοι as the T.R. does.

ἐγκομβώσασθε (see Suicer, Bigg, ad loc.). κόμβος, according to the glossaries, means a knot, a button in later Greek (Kennedy, Sources), and so ἐγκόμβωμα may mean a garment tied on over others. Suidas uses κόμβος of a knot by which a pair of sleeves were fastened behind the neck, possibly to leave the arms free for action, while Pollux describes it as a little white garment which slaves wore over their tunic. Hesychius in one passage uses the substantive of a kind of blacksmith’s apron, but elsewhere he explains the verb as meaning to put on a robe or to wrap oneself. Longus, Pastoralium, describes a shepherd casting off his ἐγκόμβωμα in order to run fast. In this ease the meaning here may be merely that humility is the proper robe for a Christian (cf. 1 Peter 3:3-4). But, if the word was specially used of a slave’s dress or apron, it is better to translate as the R.V. “gird yourselves with humility,” in which case there is doubtless a reference to our Lord girding Himself with a towel at the Last Supper as an example of humility and service (John 13:4).

ταπεινοφροσύνην, lowliness of mind, in classical Greek would denote a mean-spirited or grovelling attitude of mind. It is only in Christian phraseology that humility is recognized as a virtue. The humility of Christians towards one another must not be merely superficial and limited to outward demeanour, but must be prompted by an inward attitude of mind. Cf. Colossians 3:12 ἐνδύσασθεταπεινοφροσύνην.

[] θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται κ.τ.λ. From Proverbs 3:34, occurs also in James 4:6 with the same variation from the LXX., viz. ὁ θεός for Κύριος. (See Introduction, p. lviii f.)

ὑπερηφάνοις from ὑπὲρ and φαίνομαι, those who are conspicuous above others, so in a bad sense, haughty. The word is frequently used in the LXX. and Luke 1:51; Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2.

δίδωσιν χάριν. In the LXX. δίδοναι χάριν means to give a person favour or acceptability in the eyes of another (Genesis 39:21; Exodus 12:36). So in Proverbs 3:34 the meaning is that God gives the lowly acceptance before true men as well as before Himself, and this may be the meaning in St James, viz. that God gives a far truer acceptance than can be won by courting the friendship of the world, but Parry explains, “bestows a greater favour,” i.e. the gift of regeneration. Here the thought of acceptance with man, which God grants to the humble, is subordinated to the higher acceptance with God. It is only the humble who “find favour” with God.

Verse 6

6. ταπεινώθητε οὖν. Such humility towards fellow-Christians is only the outward expression of humility towards God, just as obedience to rulers, masters or husbands was shewn to be based upon fear and subjection towards God. In their present circumstances of “trial by fire” such humility towards God must be shewn by patient, trustful acceptance of suffering as part of His loving purpose. They must not resent it as “a strange chance” or be fretful with anxiety (μέριμνα). Suffering for Christ is in itself a position of favour (cf. Philippians 1:29). To bear it humbly is the condition for being exalted to full and final favour.

κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ. The “mighty hand” of God is generally used in the LXX. of God’s power in deliverance, e.g. from Egypt, Exodus 3:19; Deuteronomy 9:29, etc., but in Ezekiel 20:34 it is used of God’s power in judgment, in scattering His people in exile. So here God’s “mighty hand” is shewn in judgment, but that same “mighty hand” will exalt those who humbly submit to His discipline.

ὑψώσῃ, for the exaltation of the lowly cf. Matthew 23:12; Luke 1:52; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14.

ἐν καιρῷ. AP and some cursives and versions add ἐπισκοπῆς from 1 Peter 2:12. Here it means in His own good time. Christians must not be impatient if God seems “to tarry long with them.”

Verses 6-14

6–14. 6 The way therefore to attain true greatness, to be exalted in God’s good time, is to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, submitting patiently to whatever trials He sends you; 7 casting all the burden of your anxiety upon Him in full assurance of His loving care for you.

8 But this does not justify any neglect of precaution on your part. You must have all your faculties under perfect control and be on the watch, for you have an active opponent to deal with. The devil, like a roaring lion, is ever prowling round you, hunting for some prey to devour. (Do not let the fear of suffering terrify you into submission.) 9 Stand your ground against him with the solid front which faith can give. Remember that you do not stand alone. You are part of a band of brothers, stationed like yourselves in the world. Your experience is not peculiar. The same discipline of suffering is being carried out by God’s will in their case also. 10 But however painful your experience may be, remember that it is sent by God whose every thought is loving favour. His final purpose for you, to which He called you, is to share His own eternal glory as members of Christ (your glorified Head). After passing through a short period of suffering He Himself will equip you fully, He will stablish you, He will give you the needful strength for the fight. 11 To Him be the might of victory to all eternity. Amen. Silvanus, 12 the bearer of this short letter, is one whom I regard as a faithful brother to you. My object in writing to you is to encourage you and to give my testimony to the fact that your position as Christians and the sufferings which it involves are in very truth a sign of God’s loving favour. Stand fast then to maintain it.

13 The sister Church in Rome, the new Babylonish exile of the new Israel of God, which shares with you God’s call to be His chosen people, sends you her greeting, as also does Mark, my son in the faith.

14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. May God give the blessing of peace to all of you as members of Christ.

Verse 7

7. ἐπιρίψαντες. The words are borrowed from Psalms 55:22 ἐπίριψον ἐπὶ Κύριον τὴν μέριμυάν σου καὶ αὐτός σε διαθρέψει. In times of danger the Christian is to cast all the burden of his anxiety or alarm (μέριμνα) upon God with confident trust in His loving care (μέλει). The A.V. casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you misses the distinction between the two words.

Verse 8

8. νήψατε, γρηγορήσατε. Such absence of anxiety, such self-abandonment to God’s care does not warrant any slackness or want of watchfulness, cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Here νήψατε is more metaphorical, cf. 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 4:7. For γρηγορεῖν as a precaution against temptation cf. Matthew 26:41.

ὁ ἀντίδικος. The word denotes literally an opponent in a court of law, as in Matthew 5:25; Luke 12:58; Luke 18:3. Here Blass (Grammar N.T. Gk. p. 163) regards it as virtually an adjective agreeing with διάβολος, as the latter word would otherwise require the article, unless it is to be taken as a proper name.

διάβολος is used thirteen times in Job to represent the Hebrew Satan, as also in Zechariah 3:1 where Satan is seen in vision standing at the right hand of Joshua the High Priest as his accuser, cf. Psalms 109:6 “Let Satan (= an accuser) stand at his right hand.” In 1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan stands up against Israel rather as a tempter than an accuser. In the N.T. both διάβολος and Σατανᾶς are used and the two titles are combined in Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2. διάβολος suggests malicious accusation, Satan spitefully accuses men to God, cf. Job 1:9 “doth Job fear God for nought?” and Revelation 12:10 “the accuser (κατήγωρ) of our brethren.” He also accuses God to men, making them doubt or distrust His love or power, and similarly he accuses men to each other.

λέων ὠρυόμενος, a roaring lion, cf. Psalms 22:13 (ὡς λέων ὁ ἁρπάζων καὶ ὠρυόμενος).

περιπατεῖ, cf. Satan’s description of himself in Job 1:7 I come “from going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it” (ἐμπεριπατήσας).

ζητῶν καταπιεῖν, seeking to devour (B). A adds τίνα = whom he may devour, while אKLP have τίνα = someone to devour.

The particular form of temptation to which St Peter refers is that of denying the faith through fear of suffering or persecution. This is seen from the words which follow τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων. So in the letter written by the Churches of Lyons and Vienne during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius those who at first denied the faith and afterwards repented and stood firm are described as being “devoured” by the beast and afterwards disgorged alive by him. It was this very temptation to which St Peter himself had yielded when he denied his Master in the hour of danger, when “Satan desired to have the disciples to sift them as wheat.” He is now fulfilling Christ’s command “Do thou, when once thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).

Ramsay, who insists that official organized persecution is referred to, explains περιπατεῖ ζητῶν as describing the searching out of Christians which was prohibited by the rescript of Trajan, and therefore he shews that the Epistle is certainly earlier than 112 A.D. But, while we accept the early date, there is no necessity to interpret this metaphorical description of Satan prowling about like a lion in search of prey as being literally fulfilled by the human persecutors who acted as Satan’s agents.

In other passages in this Epistle the sufferings of Christians are described as being in accordance with God’s will. The fact that they are here connected with Satan is not contradictory to that view. In Job’s case Satan was permitted by God to employ suffering to try his faith, and St Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is described as “the messenger of Satan” though given to him by God to humble him. So here the sufferings of Christians, though permitted by God’s loving purpose as a smelting fire of purification, are at the same time instigated by Satan and are made use of by him to overwhelm his victims if possible by making them deny the faith.

Verse 9

9. ᾧ ἀντίστητε, whom withstand, cf. James 4:7 and Ephesians 4:11; Ephesians 4:13.

στερεοί. The adjective means firm, solid, compact, so in Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 5:14 it is used of “solid food” and in 2 Timothy 2:19 of a “firm foundation.” The verb is used in Acts 16:5 of the churches being “consolidated in the faith,” and in Colossians 2:5 St Paul rejoices to see τὴν τάξιν καὶ τὸ στερέωμα τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν πίστεως on the part of his readers, where Lightfoot explains στερέωμα in a military sense “solid front” or “close phalanx” and compares 1 Maccabees 9:14. So here St Peter urges his readers to face the foe with a solid front, shoulder to shoulder not merely with their fellow-Christians in Asia Minor but as part of one great brotherhood who are all engaged in the same conflict in the world.

τῇ πίστει may mean your faith as the R.V. or the faith R.V. marg. In the former case the meaning would be do not allow the bulwark of your faith and trust in God to be broken through, or standing firm in virtue of your faith. In the latter case the meaning is standing firm for the Faith, the cause of Christ. So Philippians 1:27 συναθλοῦντες τῇ πίστει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου = joining in the contest in which the Faith of the Gospel is engaged, cf. 1 Timothy 4:1 ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως = some will desert from the Faith; 2 Timothy 4:7 τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα ἠγώνισμαιτὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα, cf. 1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Timothy 1:8; 3 John 1:8.

εἰδότες. The thought that they are not alone, that their sufferings are not exceptional but are shared by the whole Christian brotherhood, is, on the one hand, a message of encouragement reminding them that, despite the insignificance of each detachment, they are part of one glorious army. On the other hand, it is a reminder of their responsibility not to weaken the cause of others by any cowardly surrender in their part of the field of battle.

τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων is an unusual and irregular construction, τὰ αὐτὰ being practically treated as a substantive, the same kinds of sufferings, the same “trial by fire.”

ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ might possibly mean in other parts of the world as contrasted with Asia Minor, but probably it means in the same worldly surroundings as yourselves, cf. John 16:33; John 17:11. The world is the battle-ground of the Church Militant.

ἐπιτελεῖσθαι, are being accomplished. In their case, as in your own, their sufferings are no chance but the working out to its completion of God’s loving purpose.

Usually εἰδέναι followed by an infinitive means to know how to do something (Luke 12:56; Philippians 4:12) and ὅτι or a participle is used of knowing that something is the case, but the accusative and infinitive are used in that sense in Luke 4:41 and so here.

Another rendering suggested (Hofman, see Bigg’s note) is knowing how to pay the same tax of suffering as your brethren in the world (cf. Xen. Mem. iv. 8, 8) but this meaning is improbable, as elsewhere (30 times in LXX., 10 in N.T.) ἐπιτελεῖν = to finish or accomplish. E. F. Brown (Journ. Theol. Stud. VIII. 450) quotes Lightfoot on Galatians 3:3 for taking ἐπιτελεῖσθε in that passage as a middle voice, possibly in a sacrificial sense (cf. Hdt. II. 63, IV. 186). So here he renders knowing how to bring to (sacrificial) perfection, for (the benefit of) your (whole) brotherhood which is in the world, the same things in the way of sufferings (as they bear). For a share in Christ’s sufferings regarded as a contribution on behalf of the church cf. Colossians 1:24.

Verse 10

10. πάσης χάριτος. The God of all grace or of every grace. St Peter’s readers might be tempted to doubt God’s favour towards them because of their sufferings. He therefore assures them that the same loving favour, which called the Gentiles (cf. 1 Peter 1:10 τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος), is being exercised even in their sufferings, because they are to culminate in eternal glory, and in the meanwhile God’s favour will be shewn in equipping His followers with all needful strength.

εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ δόξαν probably points forward to the consummation of the glory as it will be finally revealed. But just as Christians share in eternal life here and now, so also they share in eternal glory. They have been called “out of darkness into God’s marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9), and even in their sufferings something of the glory already rests upon them, 1 Peter 4:14.

ἐν Χριστῷ is probably used, as in the final salutation, of the incorporation of Christians in Christ. It is as “members of Christ” that they are called to share God’s glory. The expression “in Christ” is intensely Pauline but we have no warrant for supposing that the idea was peculiar to St Paul. It underlies much of St John’s language in his Epistles and sums up numerous sayings of our Lord recorded in the fourth Gospel.

ὀλίγον παθόντας, for ὀλίγον cf. 1 Peter 1:6. Here it probably means for a little while as contrasted with eternal glory, but the brevity of the Christian’s sufferings is only one aspect of their slightness.

Westcott and Hort join ὀλίγον παθόντας with the verbs which follow, that God will perfect, stablish and strengthen them after they have suffered a little while. But stablishing and strengthening at any rate would be more necessary during the time of suffering rather than after it. Therefore, if the words are to be thus connected, the aorist participle might be explained as summing up as one idea the whole period of suffering during which God’s help will be given. The A.V. and R.V. place a comma both before and after the words “after ye have suffered for a little while” leaving it uncertain whether they are to be joined with the preceding clause or with the verbs which follow. It seems better however to take ὀλίγον παθόντας with καλέσας, that God has called them to eternal glory after a brief discipline of suffering, because (a) this gives the most natural meaning to the aorist participle, viz. after you have suffered, (b) it is somewhat characteristic of St Peter’s style to put an emphatic participle at the end of a clause, e.g. πάσχων ἀδίκως, 1 Peter 2:19; βλασφημοῦντες, 1 Peter 4:4.

αὐτὸς, shall Himself, etc. Besides the mutual support which members of the brotherhood may give to one another they have the assurance of God’s own support.

καταρτίσει either restore R.V. marg. or perfect R.V. The verb is used in Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19 of the disciples mending their nets; in Galatians 6:1 of restoring one who has been overtaken by a fault; in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 of making good deficiencies. Again in 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11 it may refer to the restoration needed by the Corinthian Church in consequence of their party factions, etc. So here it may mean that the Christian when bruised and battered by persecution will be refitted and restored by God’s grace.

Elsewhere however the word means to fit out or equip perfectly; so Luke 6:40 “everyone when he is perfected shall be as his Master”; and this may be the meaning here, that God will not leave His followers insufficiently equipped for the fray.

στηρίξει, shall stablish you. The word is used of fixing a thing firmly, making it stable. St Peter when warned of his fall was bidden “when once thou hast turned again stablish thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). St Paul uses it frequently of God, Romans 16:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3, while it is used of men in 1 Thessalonians 3:2; James 5:8; Revelation 3:2.

σθενώσει, shall strengthen you. The verb occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible and σθένος is only found three times in the LXX. and never in the N.T., though ἀσθενής, ἀσθένεια and ἀσθενεῖν are frequently used of bodily or moral weakness.

[θεμελιώσει], shall settle you, give you a firm foundation, is added by nearly all MSS. except AB Vulg. Aeth. and is retained in the R.V. marg.

In all the above verbs the T.R., following most of the later MSS., instead of the future indicative, reads the 3rd person 1st aorist optative καταρτίσαι κ.τ.λ. = may he perfect (or restore) you, etc.

Verse 11

11. αὐτῷ here refers to God whereas in 1 Peter 4:11 the doxology was probably addressed to Christ.

Probably ἐστίν not ἔστω should be understood, as ἐστίν is found in 1 Peter 4:11 but no verb is expressed in any of the other doxologies in the N.T. and some of them are apparently precatory. So here the R.V. renders “to Him be the dominion,” etc. The T.R. inserts ἡ δόξα καὶ from 1 Peter 4:11.

κράτος is only used of God in the N.T. It occurs only in one of St Paul’s doxologies, 1 Timothy 6:16, but is found in Judges 1:25; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:13.

Verse 12

12. διὰ Σιλουανοῦ. διά may refer (a) to the scribe by whom the Epistle was written or (b) to the messenger by whom it was conveyed. In favour of (a) it may be urged that St Paul certainly employed amanuenses to write his Epistles and that there is strong probability that St Peter did the same. As a Galilean fisherman, it is argued, he could only have a very imperfect knowledge of Greek and, according to tradition, required the services of Mark as his “interpreter,” so that he could hardly have composed such an Epistle himself.

Zahn therefore, following out the suggestion of earlier German writers, maintains that St Peter entrusted the composition of the letter to Silvanus, adding only the last few verses himself, as St Paul usually did. Selwyn, with an ingenuity which is hardly likely to find many supporters, identifies Silvanus with St Luke and argues that he not only wrote this Epistle for St Peter but had also acted as St Paul’s amanuensis in his Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians, thus accounting for the coincidences between 1 Pet. and those Epistles. Against (a) it may be urged

[1] that if so important a person as Silas wrote the Epistle but was not the bearer of it we should have expected him to send a salutation himself, as he would certainly be known to some of the readers, having worked in Galatia with St Paul on his second journey,

[2] that the Epistle does not read like a joint production in which St Peter furnished the ideas while another was responsible for the language.

Therefore it is more probable that Silvanus was the messenger by whom the letter was sent. διά is certainly used in that sense in Acts 15:23 and it is almost certainly used of the messengers in some of Ignatius’ Epistles. The commendation of Silvanus would have special force if he was starting on a missionary journey through Asia Minor and St Peter availed himself of the opportunity to send this letter to the churches which Silvanus proposed to visit.

Silvanus is generally assumed to be the Silvanus who is mentioned by St Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:19, from which passages we gather that he was St Paul’s companion and fellow-worker in Corinth during his second missionary journey. This in turn makes it practically certain that Silvanus is to be identified with Silas who was St Paul’s chief companion at the same time and place according to Acts. In this case we know that Silas was one of “the leaders among the brethren,” presumably in Jerusalem, who was chosen together with Judas, called Barsabbas, to convey to the Church in Antioch the decisions of the Apostolic Conference, Acts 15:22. He was therefore presumably a Jewish Christian (cf. Acts 16:20 “these men, viz. Paul and Silas, being Jews”) but was prepared to adopt a liberal policy towards Gentiles. In Antioch he worked for some time as a “prophet” or preacher and was chosen by St Paul to accompany him on his second missionary journey. Such a colleague, representing as he did the mother Church of Jerusalem, would be very valuable in helping to unite the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Asia Minor. With the same object St Paul delivered the decrees of the Apostolic Conference to the Asiatic Churches. Thence St Paul and Silas crossed to Macedonia, being debarred from preaching in Asia or Bithynia as they proposed to do. At Philippi they were imprisoned together and, as St Paul uses the plural “they have beaten us … being Romans,” it would seem that Silas was also a Roman citizen. This may possibly account for the Roman form of his name[3].

From Philippi Silas accompanied St Paul to Beroea and remained there with Timothy for a time, when St Paul left for Athens instructing them to join him there as soon as possible. From Athens they were again apparently sent back to Macedonia to report progress there (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1) and again joined St Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5). After this we hear nothing more of Silas except in this verse, where we find him with St Peter and St Mark apparently in Rome. As he is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans it is practically certain that he had not yet visited Rome in 57 (?). Again he cannot have been in Rome during St Paul’s first imprisonment, otherwise he must surely have been mentioned among the fellow-workers of the circumcision who were a comfort to St Paul. Nor again was he in Rome during St Paul’s second imprisonment when he wrote 2 Tim. in which he says “Only Luke is with me.” The visit of Silvanus to Rome must therefore apparently be placed either just after St Paul’s release about 61 or 62 or after St Paul’s death. There is therefore an interval of at least eight or ten years during which we know nothing of Silas. It is hardly likely however that one who had been such an ardent missionary with St Paul should have abandoned the work altogether. Therefore it is quite possible that he may have revisited the scenes of his former labours in Asia Minor and carried out the original design of preaching in Bithynia, possibly extending the work into Pontus and Cappadocia also.

The emphatic position of ὑμῖν suggests that it should be taken with τοῦ πιστοῦ ἀδελφοῦ rather than with ἔγραψα from which it is widely separated in the sentence. In this case St Peter may well be referring to the past work of Silvanus among the Asiatic Christians. We have no evidence as to the reason of his visit to Rome. He may have come there as a Roman citizen in the interval between two missionary journeys. He may have come to visit his old colleague St Paul, or possibly at St Paul’s request he may have come with St Peter to aid in uniting the Jewish and Gentile Christians. For such a task his past experience in Jerusalem, Antioch and in the mission field would give him special qualifications.

πιστοῦ ἀδελφοῦ, cf. the commendation of Tychicus, the bearer of Col. and Eph., Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7. ὡς λογίζομαι, not as in the A.V. as I suppose, as though St Peter had any doubt about his faithfulness, but as in the R.V. as I reckon. In view of the fact that Silas had been St Paul’s companion and that Judaizers in Asia tried to represent that St Peter and St Paul were opposed to one another, such a commendation of Silvanus from St Peter would be an indication that he still “gave the right hand of fellowship to St Paul’s work.” If, as Dr Chase suggests, Silvanus was at the very time being sent to Asia Minor as St Paul’s delegate, St Peter’s commendation would have even greater importance.

διʼ ὀλίγων, cf. Hebrews 13:22. Even in so long and systematic an Epistle as Hebrews the writer feels that the vastness of his subject is but slightly represented by his letter. So here St Peter may be apologizing for the brevity of his letter and contrasting it in thought with the fuller teaching which Silvanus will be able to give by word of mouth.

ἔγραψα is the epistolary aorist, “I am writing.”

παρακαλῶν καὶ ἐπιμαρτυρῶν. St Peter here sums up his object in writing. His purpose is to encourage his readers and to give (or add ἐπι …) his testimony to the truth of God’s favour to them.

ἐπιμαρτυρεῖν occurs nowhere else in Biblical Greek but συνεπιμαρτυρεῖν is used in Hebrews 2:4 of God attesting the message of the Gospel by signs and wonders.

ταύτην. It is not quite clear what special aspect of God’s favour is here intended. The reading of the T.R., εἰς ἣν ἑστήκατε (KLP etc.), wherein ye stand, would seem to mean the position which you occupy is the true view of God’s free favour. So some critics regard it as a testimony to the truth of Pauline Christianity as taught and accepted in Asia Minor.

But in this case St Peter would surely have expressed himself more clearly. The best MSS. (אB and many cursives) read εἰς ἣν στῆτε, wherein (or to secure which, εἰς) stand fast. This leaves ταύτην undefined and we have consequently to discover what is intended from the Epistle itself. In the concluding chapter St Peter has urged humility as the condition for receiving God’s favour (χάριν) 1 Peter 5:5, and such humility must be exercised not merely towards fellow-Christians but towards God by patient endurance of sufferings as a prelude to final glory. The God of all favour (χάριτος) called them to share His glory by passing through a discipline of sufferings. Such sufferings are not inconsistent with God’s favour but rather are signs of it, even though they are made use of by Satan to tempt them to apostasy. In 1 Peter 1:10 St Peter had spoken of the extension of God’s favour to the Gentiles (τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος), as predicted by the prophets and watched by angels, and in 1 Peter 1:13 he urged his readers to set their hope upon the favour (χάριν) which is being borne to them in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Probably therefore St Peter means that the object of his letter is (a) to encourage his readers in their trial by fire, exhorting them to lead lives consistent with their faith and hope, and (b) to assure them that their position as the new Israel of God is no accident but the fulfilment of God’s eternal purpose of loving favour. Their very sufferings are part of that same loving favour. Therefore he urges them to stand fast to secure (εἰς) its final consummation in eternal glory.

Verse 13

13. ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτή. She that is elect together with you. Some commentators explain this as referring to St Peter’s wife. The arguments in favour of this view are

(a) that we know from 1 Corinthians 9:5 that she accompanied St Peter in his missionary work.

(b) Clement of Alexandria (Strom. vii. 11) tells a story that she suffered martyrdom before her husband, and was encouraged by him to “remember the Lord” as she was led away for execution. Therefore, it is urged, she must have been a well-known personage in the early Church.

(c) that the accompanying salutation from Mark, “my son,” makes it more probable that ἡ συνεκλεκτή also refers to an individual, whereas such a metaphorical description of a church would be hardly intelligible in a letter, though it might be used in Apocalyptic literature.

In answer to the last objection, it may be urged, that Babylon is most probably used in a metaphorical sense and this would suggest that ἡ συνεκλεκτή is also metaphorical, especially as other words in the Epistle, e.g. διασπορά in the opening salutation, seem also to be metaphorical.

It is therefore better to explain ἡ συνεκλεκτή as referring to a church. This is the interpretation of א, in which ἐκκλησία is added, as also in the Vulgate, Peshito and Armenian Versions and in Theophylact and Oecumenius.

In support of this view it may be urged that “the elect lady” κυρία ἐκλεκτή in 2 John and “the children of thy elect sister” almost certainly refer to churches. Clement of Alexandria describes 2 John as addressed “ad quandam Babyloniam Electam nomine, signifiat autem electionem Ecclesiae Sanctae.”

The Rev. J. Chapman O.S.B. (Journal of Theological Studies, July 1904) suggests that 2 John was addressed to the Church in Rome, in which case it is a plausible conjecture that Clement identified the Κυρία ἐκλεκτή of 2 John with ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτή in 1 Pet. Clement in his Hypotyposes makes no comment on these words of St Peter, but in commenting on the next words “Mark my son” he says that the Romans persuaded Mark to commit to writing what Peter preached. Therefore there is little doubt that he regarded 1 Peter as being written from Rome.

In the Book of Henoch ὁ ἐκλεκτός (xl. 5, xlv. 3, 4, etc.) is used as a title of the Messiah. It is therefore just possible that ἡ συνεκλεκτή might denote the Bride of ὁ ἐκλεκτός. In Ephesians, from which St Peter so frequently borrows, St Paul describes the Church as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-32). In the Apocalypse the New Jerusalem is described as the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, and in the Shepherd of Hermas the Church is represented as a woman.

Βαβυλῶνι. For the three interpretations of this name cf. Introd. pp. xxix ff., where arguments were given to shew that Rome is almost certainly intended.

΄άρκος ὁ υἱός μου. υἱός does not necessarily imply that St Mark was a convert of St Peter, though this is possible, as it was to the house of St Mark’s mother that St Peter went on his release from prison. The more usual word for a convert would be τέκνον. υἱός may merely mean that he has been like a son to St Peter. In early tradition Mark is constantly described as the companion of St Peter.

The attitude of St Mark towards Gentile Christians has been discussed in the Introduction (p. xlix f.).

St Mark was certainly in Rome when Colossians was written, towards the close of St Paul’s first imprisonment, and may have remained there as St Peter’s companion until just before the outbreak of the Neronian persecution. But he was again in the East when 2 Tim. was written, as St Paul asks Timothy to bring him with him to Rome. This visit in company with St Peter must therefore be placed either soon after St Paul’s release or after St Paul’s death.

Verse 14

14. φιλήματι ἀγάπης. “A holy kiss” is ordered as a Christian greeting by St Paul in Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26. At first it was used as a personal greeting, but in the second century it became part of the Eucharistic service and is referred to by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, the Apostolic Constitutions, Cyril of Jerusalem and Chrysostom. Afterwards it was used as a greeting in the services for Baptism, Marriage and Ordination.

εἰρήνη was the regular Hebrew greeting. Our Lord instructed His disciples to use it on arriving at a house, and Himself employed it when He appeared to them after the Resurrection. As a farewell greeting however the usual form was “depart in peace,” cf. Acts 16:36. St Paul uses it together with χάρις in the opening salutations of all his epistles, but his farewell greeting is usually χάρις. He does however use εἰρήνη in Ephesians 6:23 and εἰρήνη σοι occurs in 3 Jn 15.

ἐν Χριστῷ is a very favourite phrase of St Paul to denote the position of Christians as members of Christ, and the same idea has already been expressed by St Peter in 1 Peter 3:16 and 1 Peter 5:10. Such language evidently implies a full belief in the divinity of Christ.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Peter 5:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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