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To Elders and Young Men June 29, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Peter 5:1-11.

Summary: Peter begins by exhorting pastors to feed Christ’s followers; he is qualified to make this exhortation, as he:

  • is also a minister of the Gospel message
  • was an eyewitness of Christ’s sufferings
  • will receive a rich inheritance at Christ’s Second Coming.

They should not:

  • be reluctant to feed Christ’s followers
  • exercise their authority in a tyrannical fashion.

Instead, they should:

  • choose to obey their calling
  • take delight in feeding Christ’s followers
  • be a pattern with which Christ’s followers will stamp their spirits.

In this way, they will be kings at Christ’s Second Coming.

Peter then exhorts younger believers to respect and obey their pastors; he also exhorts all believers to work hard to be the lowest. To support the latter point, he quotes from Proverbs 3:34, where it is stated that while God singles out those who flatter themselves as His enemies, He shows His divine favor to those who abase themselves. Thus, they should abase themselves before God – who is all-powerful – and He will refresh them in His wisely appointed time. Moreover, they should lay their desires and cares before God, since He orders everything for their benefit.

Now Peter exhorts his readers to be sober-minded and watchful, since Satan – who is strong, diligent and cruel – wants to destroy their souls. They must not allow Satan to destroy their souls; they must take hold of God’s promises. Moreover, they should be encouraged by the fact that Satan wants to destroy the souls of all believers; thus, they are not being singled out for temptation.

Peter then prays that God, who:

  • is the spring of divine favor
  • has united them to Christ
  • allowed them to behold and enjoy Him forever

would:

  • enable them to progress toward perfection
  • allow them to grow in their graces
  • support them against Satan’s attacks
  • help them to fix on the sure foundation of Christ.

Peter concludes by praising God, stating that He has everlasting authority and royal sovereignty.

Thoughts: In verse 8, Peter states that Satan wants to destroy the souls of believers. Leighton offers some warnings on this point:

He usually hides himself and lies hidden until he attacks us when we are least expecting it…He studies our nature and attacks with suitable temptations. He knows our bias toward lust and worldly ways and pride…He waits for his opportunity and then pounces with a fierce assault…He goes around and spots their weak points and then attacks them where they are least able to resist.

I have found that Satan often attacks me after I experience a “spiritual high,” e.g. after I have strengthened and encouraged a new believer. Before each of those attacks, I was confident that I was making progress in my spiritual walk; some of those attacks caused me to stumble, though. Thus, this passage is a helpful reminder of the importance of being sober-minded. Also, I should stress that I need the help of the Holy Spirit when repelling the assaults of Satan, as Satan preys on my inherent sloth and complacency. Lastly, I should stress that I have achieved some victories over Satan in these battles, which is a great encouragement in this lifelong struggle.

In verse 10, Peter reminds his readers that God has called them to share in an awesome inheritance that He has prepared for them in heaven. Leighton offers some interesting thoughts on this point:

Notwithstanding all the mercies multiplied upon us, where are our praises, our songs of deliverance, our ascribing glory and power to our God who has gone before us with loving-kindness and tender mercies? He has removed the strokes of his hand and made cities and villages populated again that were left desolate of inhabitants. [This was most probably written in 1653. The years 1652 and 1653 were remarkable for fine weather and plentiful harvests; and under Cromwell the country was enjoying a security and peace it had never known before and was already beginning to recover from the desolating influences of sword, pestilence and famine. – Editor’s note.]

In light of the pestilence and other above-mentioned troubles, Leighton and his readers had many reasons to praise God. I am eager to meet Leighton’s readers in the next life and see how they responded to Leighton’s challenge. Did they offer genuine praise to God in light of His external blessings? Did they later fall into complacency after experiencing His blessings for a long stretch of time? Did they endure subsequent “sword, pestilence and famine” and praise God in the midst of those difficulties? Leighton offers many challenges in his commentary, and hopefully his readers responded positively to them. On a somewhat-related note, it would be neat to meet other believers in the next life who, while not belonging to the set of Leighton’s contemporaries, read his commentary and were strengthened by his exhortations.

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