The Book of I PETER
James J. Barker
EXHORTATION TO ELDERS
- First Peter 5
begins with an exhortation from Peter to his fellow elders
identifies himself as an elder, not as a priest or a
- I emphasize
this because the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Peter was their first pope
and the so-called "vicar of Christ."
- As a humble
elder, Peter "exhorts" (5:1) and "beseeches" (2:11). But the pope of Rome commands.
- When the triple
crown is placed on the head of a new pope at his "coronation" ceremony, the
ritual prescribes the following declaration by the officiating cardinal:
"Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns, and know that thou art the Father
of Princes and Kings, Ruler of the World, the Vicar of our Saviour Jesus
Christ..." (National Catholic Almanac, cited by Loraine Boettner,
- The New York
Catechism says: "The pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on
earth...By divine right the pope has supreme and full power in faith and morals
over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true Vicar of Christ, the
head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians. He is the
infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of
councils; the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme
judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God himself
on earth" (cited by Loraine Boettner, Roman
- And pope Leo
XIII, in his encyclical, "The Reunion of Christendom" (1885), declared that the
pope holds "upon this earth the place of God Almighty" (cited by Loraine
Boettner, Roman Catholicism).
Boettner, a Protestant, whose book, Roman Catholicism, is an excellent
expose on the Roman Catholic religion, wrote, "Thus the Roman Church holds that
the pope, as the vicar of Christ on earth, is the ruler of the world, supreme
not only over the Roman Church itself but also over all kings, presidents, and
civil rulers, indeed over all peoples and nations. The fact is that on numerous
occasions the popes have exercised that authority in countries where the Roman
Church was strong. They have excommunicated and deposed kings and governors,
and, as in the cases of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and Emperor Henry IV of
Germany, they have attempted to arouse rebellions by releasing subjects from any
allegiance to their rulers" (Roman Catholicism).
- Obviously, this
is all quite contrary to Scripture!
Yet many foolish Protestants, and even some mixed-up Baptists, are now
claiming the pope is a great Christian leader!
- Unlike the pretentious priests and haughty popes of
Rome, Peter never claimed any authority for himself. There is no evidence that Peter
ever lived in Rome. Some say
"Babylon" in I Peter 5:13 is a reference to Rome, but that is
- When Paul greets his fellow believers in Romans 16, he
first mentions a woman named Phebe, then Priscilla and Aquila, and then 26
- But he does not mention Peter. This would be strange if Peter were
living in Rome. Especially if he
was "the bishop of Rome"!
- Furthermore, according to Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke
4:38; and I Corinthians 9:5, Peter was married.
- We need to read the Bible in order to discern what is
true and what is not. For
example, in I Peter 5:1, Peter states that he was a "witness of the sufferings
of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed" (cf. II
Peter 1:16-19; Matt. 17:1-9).
- But first, he states that he was an "elder" (5:1). And that is what we will look at
I. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AN
II. DUTIES OF AN ELDER
III. REWARD OF THE ELDER
QUALIFICATIONS FOR AN
identifies himself as "an elder," thereby placing himself on the same level with
the other elders (5:1).
- The apostle
Paul had the same humble attitude, often referring to himself as a "fellow
helper" and a "partner" (II Cor. 8:23), a "companion in labour, and "fellow
soldier" (Phil. 2:25), a "yokefellow" and "fellowlabourer" (Phil. 4:3), a
"fellowservant" (Col. 1:7), and a "fellowworker" (Col.
- Worldly and
unscriptural titles are not found in the New Testament. Peter, Paul, and the other preachers
simply referred to themselves as brothers in Christ (cf. I Peter 5:12; II Peter
- In I
Corinthians 16:12, Paul says, "As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you
with the brethren."
- In II
Corinthians 2:13, Paul says, "I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not
Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I
went from thence into Macedonia."
- In Ephesians 6:21 and Colossians 4:7, Paul refers to
Tychicus as "a beloved brother."
- In Philippians 2:25, Paul refers to
"Epaphroditus, my brother."
- In Colossians 1:1; I Thessalonians 3:2; and Philemon 1,
Paul refers to Timothy as brother.
(Hebrews 13:23 also.)
- In Colossians 4:9, Paul refers to Onesimus as "a
faithful and beloved brother."
- Many other examples could be cited. Preachers are never addressed as
"reverend." The word "reverend" is
only found once in Scripture, and it is referring to God.
- "Holy and reverend is His
name" (Psalm 111:9).
- The Roman church calls their priests "father." There are no priests in the New
Testament Church. All believers are
part of the priesthood of believers (cf. I Peter 2:5, 9).
- Our Lord said in Matthew 23:9, "And call no man your
father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." He obviously meant not to call men
"father" in a spiritual sense.
- The word "pope" means "father," and worldlings call the
pope, "Holy Father." But the
only time that term is found in Scripture is in John 17:11, where it refers to
God the Father.
- Different denominations use the word "elder" in various
ways, but strictly speaking it refers to the office of pastor.
- Like the word "brother" it can be used in different
ways. For example, in I Peter
5:5 it refers to an older man, in contrast to a younger
- We determine the meaning of a word according to the
context. In the context of I Peter
5:1-4, the word "elder" means "pastor."
- The New Testament teaches there are only two Biblical
offices in the local church: pastor (also called bishop or pastor) and
- For example, Philippians 1:1 says, "Paul and Timotheus,
the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at
Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."
- In I Timothy 3, the qualifications are given, first for
the bishop (elder or pastor), and then for the deacon.
- The words "bishop," "elder," and "pastor" are used
interchangeably in the New Testament (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Titus
- First Peter 5:1 refers to the "elder." In I Peter 5:2, the elder is to "Feed
the flock of God." That is what the
pastor does. Strong's
Concordance says the word translated "feed" means, "to tend a flock, keep
- By the way, a pastor not only has to feed the flock; he
also needs to protect the flock from wolves.
- Then in I Peter 5:2, Peter goes on to say, "taking the
oversight thereof." "Taking the
oversight" is the job of the "overseer" (i.e., bishop).
- Ephesians 4:11 and 12 says, "And he gave some, apostles;
and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ."
- Some churches have what they call a "plurality of
elders." They point out that in the
New Testament, the word "elder" is generally used in the
- In large churches there very well may be a plurality of
elders, but usually one man is recognized as the senior pastor. For example, John MacArthur in
California has popularized the plurality of elders doctrine, but he is the
pastor of his church and he does most of the preaching. He can call himself whatever he
wants, but everybody knows he is the pastor.
- Charles Ryrie wrote this: "In his epistles, Paul
generally mentions elders in the plural (Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5), but in I Timothy
3:1-7 the elder is spoken of in the singular while a plurality of deacons is
mentioned in the same passage (cf. vs. 8).
This might possibly indicate that as time went on a single elder led each
assembly with the help of several deacons" (Bibliothea Sacra, Jan. 1958,
pp. 65, 66).
- One of the Baptist distinctives has always been that of
two offices: pastor (elder) and deacon.
- The qualifications for the elder (bishop or pastor) are
clearly laid out in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. In the apostolic era, before the New
Testament was in written form, elders were appointed by the apostles and their
representatives (cf. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5).
THE DUTIES OF THE ELDER
- "Feed the flock
which is among you" (5:2). Not "under you."
- We pastors are
to feed the "flock of God." Some
pastors are not doing a good job, and so many church members are starving
- "Taking the
oversight thereof" (5:2). Somebody has to be in charge and that is the
- Not a
- This is how J.
Vernon McGee defined a committee: "A committee is a group of incompetents,
appointed by the indifferent, to do the unnecessary."
- Here's another
definition: "A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing,
and who collectively decide that nothing can be done."
- The pastor has
to "take the oversight," but he is to do it with the right attitude (cf. Matthew
- "Not by
constraint, but willingly" (I Peter 5:2).
Men cannot be coerced into preaching. They cannot be placed into the
ministry by others. God has to call
- The Holy Spirit
gives them a strong desire to preach and to win souls (cf. I Tim. 3:1). The apostle Paul said, "Woe is unto me,
if I preach not the gospel! For if
I do this thing willingly, I have a reward" (I Cor. 9:16, 17). "Not by constraint, but
willingly" (I Peter 5:2).
- "Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind" (I Peter
5:2). Making money should never be
a motive for entering the ministry. First Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 says, "not
greedy of filthy lucre."
- Churches have a responsibility to pay their pastor (Luke
10:7; I Cor. 9:7-14; I Tim. 5:17, 18). But a man with a greedy, materialistic,
or mercenary spirit is not qualified to preach the Gospel.
- In Acts 3:6, Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none."
- Most of these television preachers are nothing but
wolves in sheep's clothing.
- "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being
ensamples to the flock" (I Peter 5:4).
Pastors are to be examples to the flock, not dictators. They should be
out front leading, not driving from behind.
- Churches need leaders who serve, and servants who lead.
- I heard about a pastor in Queens who told members they
could not buy a house. He ordered
them to give the money to the church.
They wisely left that church, but when I met them knocking on doors they
did not want to go to any church.
- Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." Not, "Fleece my sheep."
THE REWARD FOR THE ELDER
- A pastor's work
involves a tremendous expenditure of physical and emotional energy. Pastors must preach and teach,
sympathize and counsel, disciple and exhort, reprove, rebuke, and warn, and much
- It is certainly
not a "9 to 5" job!
- There are times
when it seems like a thankless job.
- Here in verse
4, Peter says the pastor will get his reward "when the chief Shepherd shall
appear" (5:4). This will be at the
judgment seat of Christ.
- There will be
various crowns given at the judgment seat -- an incorruptible crown (I Cor.
9:24-27), a crown of rejoicing (I Thess. 2:19, 20), the crown of life (James
1:12; Rev. 2:10), and a crown of righteousness (II Tim. 4:8).
- This crown of
glory (I Peter 5:4) seems to be a special reward for pastors. Men may forget to reward the
pastor, but God does not forget.
- Despite the
trials and troubles, and despite the hardships and difficulties, there is no
greater joy than preaching the Gospel.
- It is truly the
greatest job in the world.
- Every preacher
I know would say the same, and would truly not want to swap places with
- When John
Bunyan was in Bedford Jail, he was offered liberty if he would agree to stop
preaching. He replied, "If you let
me out today, I shall preach again tomorrow!"
- A pastor friend
of mine was scheduled to conduct a service at a nursing home. When he arrived, one of the nurses told
him about a retired pastor who was nearly 100 years old. She said he had been a pastor for nearly
70 years till poor health forced him to retire.
- He decided to
stop by the retired pastor's room before the service. He saw the old man sitting in a
wheelchair reading his Bible.
- He said, "Good
morning, sir. I heard you used to
be a preacher?"
- The old man
looked up and said, "What do you mean, used