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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
1 Peter 5

 

 

Verse 1

1 Peter 5:1. οὖν, therefore—since your suffering is according to God’s will and calls only for the normal self-devotion, which Christ required of His disciples—go on with the duties of the station of life in which you are called.— πρεσβυτέρους, not merely older men as contrasted with younger (1 Peter 5:5), but elders, such as had been appointed by Paul and Barnabas in the Churches of Southern Asia (Acts 14:23). The collective τῶν κλήρων (1 Peter 5:3) and the exhortation, shepherd the flock (1 Peter 5:2) prove that they are the official heads of the communities addressed. Similarly St. Paul bade the elders of the Church (Acts 20:17) at Ephesus take heed to themselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit appointed you overseers. The use of the term in direct address here carries with it a suggestion of the natural meaning of the word and perhaps also of the early technical sense, one of the first generation of Christians Both Jews and Gentiles were familiar with the title which was naturally conferred upon those who were qualified in point of years; the youthful Timothy was a marked exception to the general rule (1 Timothy 4:12).— ἐν ὑμῖν. Peter does not address them as mere officials, your elders, but prefers a vaguer form of expression, elders who are among you; cf. τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίμνιον, which also evades any impairing of the principle, ye are Christ’s.— συμπρεσβύτεροςκοινωνός. This self-designation justifies Peter’s right to exhort them. He is elder like them, in all senses of the word. If their sufferings occupy their mind, he was witness of the sufferings of Christ; of his own, if any, he does not speak. He has invited them to dwell rather on the thought of the future glory and this he is confident of sharing.— μάρτυςπαθημάτων. Such experience was the essential qualification of an Apostle in the strict sense; only those who were companions of the Twelve in all the time from John’s baptism to the Assumption or at least witnesses of the Resurrection (Acts 1:22) were eligible; as Jesus said, the Paraclete shall testify and do you testify because ye are with Me from the beginning (John 15:27). That he speaks of the sufferings and not of the resurrection which made the sufferer Messiah, is due partly to the circumstances of his readers, partly to his own experience. For him these sufferings had once overshadowed the glory; he could sympathise with those oppressed by persecution and reproach, who understood now, as little as he then, that it was all part of the sufferings of the Messiah. He had witnessed but at the last test refused to share them.— κοινωνός. Peter will share the future glory which Christ already enjoys for it was said to him, Thou shall follow afterward (John 13:36). St. Paul has the same idea in a gnomic form, εἴπερ συνπάσχομεν ἵνα καὶ συνδοξασθῶμεν (Romans 8:17; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:10) which presupposes familiarity with the teaching of the risen Jesus that the Christ must suffer and so enter into His glory, Luke 24:46; cf. Luke 1:5; Luke 1:13; Luke 4:13.


Verse 2

1 Peter 5:2. The command laid upon St. Peter, shepherd my sheep (John 21:19) became the charge delivered to succeeding elders (v. Acts 20:28) and a familiar description of the Christian pastor (e.g., 1 Corinthians 9:7) who must copy the good Shepherd who obeyed where His predecessors fell short (Ezekiel 34).— τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίνιον τοῦ θεοῦ. Christendom is God’s flock among you—not yours but God’s.— ἀναγκαστῶς. As a matter of constraint contrasted with ἑκουσίως, willingly—not as pressed men but as volunteers. In times of persecution lukewarm elders might well regret their prominence; hence the need for the aphorism if any aspire to oversight he desireth a noble work (1 Timothy 3:1). So of gifts of money St. Paul requires that they be μὴ ἐξ ἀνάγκης (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is possible that St. Paul’s words, ἀνάγκη μοι ἐπικεῖται (1 Corinthians 9:16) had been wrested.— αἰσχροκερδῶς. If the work be voluntarily undertaken, the worker has a reward according to St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:16 f.). Base gainers are those who wish to make gain whence they ought not (Aristotle, Nic. Eth., ver 1, 43).— προθύμως. The adverb occurs in 2 Chronicles 29:34, LXX, where the Levites eagerly purified themselves; Heb. the Levites upright of heart to … The verb προθυμεῖν is used in Chron. to render נדב offer freewill offerings.

1 Peter 5:3. Application of the saying, the reputed rulers of the nations lord it ( κατακυριεύουσιν) over them … not so among you; but whosoever would be great among you he shall be your servant … for the Son of Man came … to serve (Mark 10:42 f.).— τῶν κλήρων, the lots, i.e., the portions of the new Israel who fall to your care as Israel fell to that of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 9:29, οὗτοι λαός σου καὶ κλῆρός σου). The meaning is determined by the corresponding τοῦ ποιμνίου. and supported by the use of προσεκληρώθησαν were made an additional portion in Acts 17:4. So it is said of God’s servant that He κληρονομήσει πολλούς. (Isaiah 13:12). The Vulgate has dominantes in cleris, and Oecumenius following the usage of his time explains the phrase likewise as equivalent to τὸ ἱερὸν σύστημα, i.e., the inferior clergy.— τύποι γεινόμενοι, i.e., as servants according to Mark l.c.; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:12.


Verse 4

1 Peter 5:4. φανερωθέντος τοῦ ἀρχιποίμενος, at the manifestation of the chief Shepherd, i.e., Christ, ἀρχιποίμην is the equivalent of ποίμην μέγας of Hebrews 13:20, being formed on them analogy of ἀρχιερεύς = בהן הגדל; else it occurs only as Symmachus’ rendering of נקד (LXX, νωκηδ) in 2 Kings 3:4 and in a papyrus. Cf. appeal to Jehovah, ποιμαίνων τὸν ἰσραὴλἐμφάνηθι of Psalms 80:1τὸνστέφανον = the crown of life which He promised (James 1:12). The metaphor is probably derived from the wreath of fading flowers presented to the victor in the games (cf. ἀμαράντινον); but it may also be due to the conception of the future age as a banquet, at which the guests were crowned with garlands (Sap. 1 Peter 2:8, στεψώμεθα ῥόδων κάλυξιν πρὶν μαρανθῆναι). See on 1 Peter 1:4.


Verse 5

1 Peter 5:5. νεώτεροι, the younger members of each Church were perhaps more or less formally banded together on the model of the σύνοδοι τῶν νέων, which are mentioned in inscriptions as existing distinct from the Ephebi in Greek cities, especially in Asia Minor (Ziebarth Die Griechische Vereine, 111–115). Compare the modern Guilds and Associations of Young Men. In 1 Timothy 4:1, these natural divisions of elders and youngers are also recognised.— πάντες δὲ … Elders must serve; youngers submit. May all be lowly-minded towards one another—there is no need to add detailed commands.— ἐγκομβώσασθε is explained by Oecumenius as ἐνειλήσασθε περιβάλεσθε (wrap yourselves in, put round you), so the command corresponds to ἐνδύσασθεταπεινοφροσύνην of Colossians 3:12. But the choice of this unique word must have some justification in associations which can only be reconstructed by conjecture. The lexicographers (Hesychius, Sindas, etc.) give κόμβος κόσυμβος and ἐγκόμβωμα as synonyms. Pollux explains ἐγκομβ. as the apron worn by slaves to protect their tunic; so Longus, Pastoralia, ii. 35 f., in “casting his apron, naked he started to run like a fawn”. Photius (Epistle 156) takes George Metropolitan of Nicomedia to task for his suggestion that it was a barbarous word: “You ought to have remembered Epicharmus and Apollodoru … the former uses it frequently and the latter in the ‘Runaway’ (a comedy) says τὴν ἐπωμίαν πτύξασα διπλῆν ἄνωθεν ἀνεκομβωσάμην.” But the LXX of Isaiah 3:18 has τοὺς κοσύμβους = front-bands and Symmachus τὰ ἐγκομβώματα in Isaiah 3:20 for bands or sashes. Peter is therefore probably indebted again to this passage and says gird yourselves with the humility which is the proper ornament of women. If the word be taken in this sense a reference to John 13:4 ff., Taking a napkin He girded Himself, may be reasonably assumed— θεὸςχάριν = Proverbs 3:34, LXX ( θεός being put for κύριος, which to a Christian reader meant Christ); the Hebrew text gives scoffers he scoffs at but to the humble he shows favour. The same quotation is employed in similar context by St. James (1 Peter 4:6); the devil (see below) is the typical scoffer.


Verse 6

1 Peter 5:6. ταπεινώθητε οὖν echoes the exhortation and its accompanied scripture in 1 Peter 5:5—obey in order that the promise (Luke 14:11) may be fulfilled for you, he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (sc. by God). So too St. James, subject yourselves therefore to God (1 Peter 4:7).— τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα. God’s mighty hand is a common O.T. expression; see Exodus 3:19, etc. for connexion with deliverance and especially Ezekiel 20:33 f., ἐν χειρὶ κραταιᾷ καὶἐν θυμῷ κεχυμένῳ βασιλεύσω ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς.


Verse 7

1 Peter 5:7. τὴν μέριμναναὐτὸν comes from Psalms 55:12, ἐπίριψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου, which is the source of part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25 ff.).— ὅτιὑμῶν substituted for καὶ αὐτός σε διαθρέψει of Ps. l.c. in accordance with Jesus’ amplification and application of the metaphor. God cares for His flock as the hireling shepherd does not ( οὐ μέλει αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν προβάτων, John 10:13).


Verse 8

1 Peter 5:8. νήψατε γρηγορήσατε, cf. 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 4:7. So St. Paul, γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμενἡμέρας ὄντες νήφωμεν (1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8) drawing upon the common source in the Parables of the Householder and Burglar, etc. (Matthew 24:42 ff.) which set forth the sudden coming of the Kingdom.— ἀντίδικος ὑμῶν διάβολος, your adversary, Satan. (properly adversary in law suit) is used in the general sense of enemy in LXX. Of the description of Satan, as a roaring lion comes from Psalms 22:14, ὡς λέων ἁρπάζων καὶ ὠρυόμενος; walketh from Job 1:7, where Satan ( διάβολος LXX, σατάν, Aq.) περιελθὼν τὴν γῆν καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσας τὴν ὑπʼ οὐρανὸν πάρειμι; seeking to devour identifies him with Hades the lord of death; cf. Proverbs 1:12, where the wicked say of the righteous man, καταπίωμεν αὐτὸν ὥσπερ ᾅδης ζῶντα. The present sufferings of the Christians are his handiwork as much as the sufferings of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8) and of Job.


Verse 9

1 Peter 5:9. ἀντίστητε. St. James adds the same exhortation to his quotation of Prov. The connexion is not obvious but is perhaps due to the traditional exposition of לץ = ὑπερηφάνοις as referring to the Devil and his children. As God ranges Himself against scoffers, so must Christians resist the Devil who is working with their slanderous tempers. Oecumenius and Cramer’s Catena both appeal to an extract from Justin’s book against Marcion (?) which is preserved in Irenæsus and quoted by Eusebius. The main point of the passage is that before Christ came the devil did not dare to blaspheme against God, for the prophecies of his punishment were enigmatic; but Christ proclaimed it plainly and so he lost all hope and goes about eager to drag down all to his own destruction.— στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει, rock like in your faith, abbreviation of ἐπιμένετε τῇ πίστει τεθεμελιωμένοι καὶ ἑδραῖοι, Colossians 1:23; cf. τὸ στερέωμα τῆς εἰς χριστὸν πίστεως, Colossians 2:5 and Acts 16:5, αἱἐκκλησίαι ἐστερεοῦντο τῇ πιστει. The metaphorical use of στ. in a good sense is not common. Peter perhaps thinks of the στερεὰ πέτρα ( צור) of Isaiah 51:1 and warns them against his own failing.— εἰδότεςἐπιτελεῖσθαι. The rendering (first suggested by Hoffmann) knowing how to pay (that you are paying) the same tax of sufferings as the brotherhood in the world is paying seems preferable to the common knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being accomplished for (by) … it assumes the proper idiomatic force of ἐπιτελεῖσθαι and accounts for τὰ αὐτά (sc. τέλη) followed by the genitive. Xenophon who is a good authority for Common Greek uses . thus twice:—Mem. iv. 8. 8, “but if I shall live longer perhaps it will be necessary to pay the penalties of old age ( τὰ τοῦ γήρως ἐπιτελεῖσθαι) and to see and hear worse …” Apol, 33 nor did he turn effeminate at death but cheerfully welcomed it and paid the penalty ( ἐπετελέσατο). For the dative with τὰ αὐτά. same as, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:5, ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ τῇ ἐξυρημένῃ.


Verse 10

1 Peter 5:10. Your adversary assails you, but God has called you to His eternal glory; first for a little you must suffer, His grace will supply all your needs. 1 Peter 5:9 is practically a parenthesis; θεός stands over against ἀντίδικος (1 Peter 5:8) as δέ shows.— καλέσας, for the promise of sustenance implied in the calling; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 f.; 1 Corinthians 1:8 f.— ἐν χριστῷ goes with δόξαν; God called them in Christ and only as they are in Christ can they enter the glory; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, εἴ τις ἐν χριστῷ καινὴ κτίσιςθεὸς ἦν ἐν χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ.— ὀλίλον παθόντας, after you have suffered for a little while. The same contrast between temporary affliction and the eternal glory is drawn by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17, τὸ παραυτίκα ἐλαφρὸν τῆς θλίψεωαἰώνιον βάρος δόξης κατεργάζεται, where in addition to the antithesis between eternal glory and temporary suffering the weight of glory (play on meanings of root יקר) is opposed to the lightness of tribulation.— αὐτός has the force of πιστὸς καλῶν (1 Thessalonians 5:24).— καταρτίσει, shall perfect. When Simon and Andrew were called to leave their fishing and become fishers of men James and John were themselves also in a boat mending— κατατίζοντας—their nets (Mark 1:16-19). The process was equally necessary in their new fishing and the word was naturally applied to the mending of the Churches or individual Christians who by their good behaviour must catch men (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:10). Only God can fully achieve this mending of all shortcomings; cf. Hebrews 13:21.— στηρίξει, shall confirm; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:17, etc.; when the Kingdom of Heaven was stormed the stormers needed confirmation (Acts 18:23). This was the peculiar work assigned to St. Peter—thou having converted confirmστήρισονthe brethren (Luke 22:32).— σθενώσει is only apparently unique, being equivalent to ἐνισχύσει or δυναμώσει (Hesychius) cf. Colossians 1:11, ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει δυναμώμενοι κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ and Hebrews 11:34, ἐδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας (parallel to ὀλίγον παθ. above).


Verse 11

1 Peter 5:11. Liturgical formula, adapted in 1 Peter 4:11 ( ἐστιν), which occurs in 1 Timothy 6:16; Judges 1:25; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:13.


Verses 12-14

1 Peter 5:12-14. Postscript in St. Peter’s own handwriting, like Galatians 6:11-18 ( ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμεῇ χειρί); 2 Thessalonians 3:17 f. ( ἀσπασμὸς τῇ ἐμῇ χειρὶ παύλου).— διὰ σιλουανοῦ, by the hand of my scribe S.; so Ignatius writes διὰ βύρρου to the Philadelphians (11:2) and the Smyrnaeans (12:1), but wishes to keep him with himself (Ephesians 2:1). That S. was also the bearer of the Epistle is indicated by the recommendation which follows. There does not seem to be any good reason for refusing to identify this S. with the companion of St. Paul and Timothy who wrote with them to the Church of Thessalonica and preached with them at Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:19).— τοῦ πιστοῦ ἀδελφοῦ ὡς λογίζομαι. One main object of the postscript is to supply S. with a brief commendation. He is presumably the appointed messenger who will supplement the letter with detailed application of its general teaching and information about the affairs of the writer. So St. Paul’s Encyclical ends with that ye may know my circumstances how I fare Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord shall make known all things to you (Ephesians 6:21 f.). S. was known probably to some of the Churches as St. Paul’s companion: in case he was unknown to any, St. Peter adds his own certificate. For this use of λογίζομαι compare 1 Corinthians 4:1, οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος; 2 Corinthians 11:5, λογίζομαι γὰρ μηδὲν ὑστερηκέναι τῶν ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων.— παρακαλῶνθεοῦ, motive and subject of the Epistle. St. Peter Wrote exhorting as he said I exhort you (1 Peter 2:11, 1 Peter 5:1) and the general content of his exhortation may be given by the subordinate clause which follows: “That you stand in the grace, which I bear witness is truly God’s grace”. The acquired sense of the verb comfort (LXX for נחם) is not directly contemplated. The Epistle is a λόγος παρακλήσεως in the sense of παρακαλῶν ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει, Romans 12:8.— ἐπιμαρτυρῶν, testifying to … not … in addition. The verb does not occur elsewhere in O.T. (LXX has ἐπιμαρτύρομαι) or N.T.; but Hebrews 2:4 has the compound συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ.— ταύτηνθεοῦ, that this is true grace of God, i.e., the grace—in the widest sense of the word which is theirs (1 Peter 1:10) which God gives to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). St. Peter was witness of the sufferings of Christ which they now share; he witnesses from his experience that the grace which they possess is truly God’s grace, though sufferings are a passing incident of their sojourn nere.— εἰς ἣν στῆτε, paraenetic summary of τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐσχήκαμεν εἰς τὴν χάριν ταύτην ἐν ἑστήκαμεν (Romans 5:2), from which the easier reading ἐστήκατε is derived.— συνεκλεκτή. As the co-elder exhorts the elders so the co-elect (woman) greets the elect sojourners (1 Peter 1:1). The early addition of Church represents the natural interpretation of the word, which indeed expresses the latent significance of ἐκ- κλησία, the called out, compare St. Paul’s use of ἐκλογή in Romans 11:7. In 1 Peter 5:1 ff. Peter addresses bodies rather than individuals and in 1 Peter 5:9 he uses a collective term embracing the whole of Christendom. Accordingly the woman in question is naturally taken to mean the Church—and not any individual (see on ΄ᾶρκος). Compare the woman of Revelation 12:1 f. who is Israel—a fragment which presupposes the mystical interpretation of Canticles (see Song of Solomon 6:10) and generally the conception of Israel as the bride of Jehovah, which St. Paul appropriated, as complement of the Parables of the Marriage Feast, etc., and applied to the Church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:2). So in Hermas’ Visions the Church appears as a woman, ἐν βαβυλῶνι, in Rome, according to the Apocalyptic Code, the use of which was not merely a safeguard but also a password. Compare Revelation 17:5, on the forehead of the woman was written a mystery, “Babylon the great”, Revelation 14:8, Revelation 16:19, Revelation 18:2; Apoc. Baruch, xi. 1 So Papias reports a tradition (“they say”) that Peter composed his first Epistle in Rome itself and signifies this by calling the city allegorically Babylon. The point of the allegory is that Rome was becoming the oppressor of the new (andold) Israel, not that it was the centre of the world (Oec.). Literal interpretations (i.) Babylon, (ii.) Babylon in Egypt are modern.— ΄ᾶρκος υἱός μου. Oecumenius interprets son of spiritual relationship and adds noting that some have dared to say that M. was the fleshly son of St. Peter on the strength of the narrative of Acts 12 where 2 Peter is represented as rushing to the house of the mother of John M. as if he were returning to his own house and lawful spouse. So Bengel, “Cöelecta sic coniugem suam appellare videtur; cf. 1 Peter 3:7, Erat enim soror; 1 Corinthians 9:5, Et congruit mentio filii Marci”. But granting that Petronilla (?) was missionary and martyr and that Peter may well have had a son—though Christian tradition is silent with regard to him—what have they to do sending greetings to the Churches of Asia Minor in this Encyclical?


Verse 14

1 Peter 5:14. φιλήματι ἀγάπης. So St. Paul concludes 1 Thess. with greet all the brethren with an holy kiss (1 Thessalonians 5:26; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 16:16). “Hence,” says Origen, “the custom was handed down to the Churches that after prayers (so Justin Apol., i. 65) the brethren should welcome one another with a kiss.” Chrysostom (on Rom. l.c.) calls it “the peace by which the Apostle expels all disturbing thought and beginning of smallmindedness … this kiss softens and levels”. But the practice was obviously liable to abuse as Clement of Alexandria shows, “love is judged not in a kiss but in good will. Some do nothing but fill the the Churches with noise of kissing … There is another—an impure—kiss full of venom pretending to holiness” (Paed., iii. 301 P.). Therefore it was regulated (Apost. Const., ii. 57, 12, men kiss men only) and gradually dwindled.— εἰρήνη. The simple Hebrew salutation is proper to Peter’s autograph postscript and links it with the beginning.— τοῖς ἐν χριστῷ, cf. 1 Peter 3:16, 1 Peter 5:10, and the saying, Thus have I spoken to you that in me ye might have peace: in the world ye have tribulation but be of good cheer I have conquered the world (John 16:33).

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Peter 5:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-peter-5.html. 1897-1910.

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