The Christian Circle

1 Peter 5:1‑7  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The apostle returns to the Christian circle with special exhortation to two classes, the elder and the younger. The fact that he addresses the younger would clearly indicate that he uses the term elder, not in an official sense, but as characteristic of those who by age and experience are elder brethren.
The elders are exhorted to shepherd the flock of God. Shepherding is more than feeding; it implies guidance, and every form of care that is needed by the sheep. It is evidently the Lord's mind that His people should be visited and cared for. When on earth He was moved with compassion as He beheld the sorrowful condition of His earthly people, "scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matt. 9:3636But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)). Alas! It is still evidence of the low and weak condition among the people of God that there is so little of this shepherd care.
It is the "flock of God" that is to be shepherded. Scripture knows nothing of an elder speaking of any of God's people as his flock. What a privilege for an elder brother to be allowed, in any little measure, to care for God's flock! How solemn if the privilege is abused and the flock, instead of being shepherded, is used for selfish ends. The exhortations imply that it is possible to take up oversight as an irksome necessity, or for base gain, or in a domineering spirit, as if dealing with our own possessions. The elders are, therefore, exhorted to exercise this privilege with a ready mind, as models for the flock, rather than as lords of the flock.
The apostle is passing on to the elders the Lord's own word to himself, for had not the Lord said to Peter, "Shepherd My sheep"? (John 21:1616He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:16)). Moreover, this was said at the very moment the apostle had been brought to realize his own weakness and utter dependence upon the Lord. One has remarked,
"At the moment that the Lord convinced him of his utter nothingness, He entrusted to him that which was dearest to Himself'. It is evident that the one who attempts to take up oversight for gain or in a domineering spirit has never learned his own nothingness. It is only as we have learned by experience our weakness, and therefore our need of dependence on the Lord, that we can in any true sense take the oversight of others. Age and experience are needed for oversight &the flock of God. Moses must spend forty years in the desert to learn his own weakness and the greatness of God before, at the age of eighty, being sent to shepherd the people of God.
1 Peter 5:44And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4). For the encouragement of all who take up this happy service, we learn that faithfulness in its performance will have its reward. It is a service that may not bring the servant into prominence down here, and oftentimes meets with little appreciation from the Lord's people, but at the appearing of the Chief Shepherd will receive the "unfading crown of glory". The apostle has been speaking of "the sufferings of Christ", and of the glory that shall be revealed, so he implies that the spirit of self-sacrifice, with the necessary measure of suffering that shepherding the flock brings, will be rewarded with a crown of glory. Other Scriptures speak of a crown of righteousness in answer to a walk of practical righteousness, but "glory" is ever presented as the answer to suffering and self-denial.
1 Peter 5:5-65Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1 Peter 5:5‑6). The younger are to be subject to the elder, and all are to bind on humility towards one another. The working of pride that would lead us to exalt ourselves, and seek a place of prominence amongst the people of God, is destructive of true fellowship in the Christian circle. The allowance of pride leads to strife and division, but humility binds the saints together. Humility would keep the elder saints from lording it over God's flock, and hold the younger in subjection to the elder.
The proud man will ever find that, in the governmental ways of God, he is opposed, for God resisteth the proud. In taking a low place the humble will find that they have the support of the grace of God. The flesh loves to assert itself and seek a prominent place. If, however, we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, He will exalt us in due season.
1 Peter 5:77Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7). In the Christian circle God would have us free of care. This can only be as we cast all our care upon Him in the blessed consciousness that He careth for us. We, alas, may fail in our shepherd care of one another, but the compassion of God will not fail; "they are new every morning" (Lam. 3:22,2322It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22‑23)). If the under shepherds fail, and the sheep feel they are neglected, let each take comfort from this word, "He careth for you".