The Book of  I PETER
James J. Barker


Lesson 15
EXHORTATION TO ELDERS

Text: I PETER 5:1-4


INTRODUCTION:


  1. First Peter 5 begins with an exhortation from Peter to his fellow elders (5:1).
  2. Peter identifies himself as an elder, not as a priest or a pope.
  3. I emphasize this because the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Peter was their first pope and the so-called "vicar of Christ."
  4. As a humble elder, Peter "exhorts" (5:1) and "beseeches" (2:11).  But the pope of Rome commands.
  5. 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, Roman Catholicism).
  6. 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 Catholicism).
  7. 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).
  8. Loraine 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).
  9. 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!
  10. 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 speculative.
  11. When Paul greets his fellow believers in Romans 16, he first mentions a woman named Phebe, then Priscilla and Aquila, and then 26 others.
  12. But he does not mention Peter.  This would be strange if Peter were living in Rome.  Especially if he was "the bishop of Rome"!
  13. Furthermore, according to Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38; and I Corinthians 9:5, Peter was married.
  14. 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).
  15. But first, he states that he was an "elder" (5:1).  And that is what we will look at tonight.

 

I. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AN ELDER

II. DUTIES OF AN ELDER

III. REWARD OF THE ELDER

 

I. QUALIFICATIONS FOR AN ELDER.

  1. Peter identifies himself as "an elder," thereby placing himself on the same level with the other elders (5:1).
  2. 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. 4:11).
  3. 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 3:15).
  4. In I Corinthians 16:12, Paul says, "As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren."
  5. 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."
  6. In Ephesians 6:21 and Colossians 4:7, Paul refers to Tychicus as "a beloved brother."
  7. In Philippians 2:25, Paul refers to "Epaphroditus, my brother."
  8. In Colossians 1:1; I Thessalonians 3:2; and Philemon 1, Paul refers to Timothy as brother.  (Hebrews 13:23 also.)
  9. In Colossians 4:9, Paul refers to Onesimus as "a faithful and beloved brother."
  10. 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.
  11. "Holy and reverend is His name" (Psalm 111:9).
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Different denominations use the word "elder" in various ways, but strictly speaking it refers to the office of pastor.
  16. 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 man.
  17. 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."
  18. The New Testament teaches there are only two Biblical offices in the local church: pastor (also called bishop or pastor) and deacon.
  19. 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."
  20. In I Timothy 3, the qualifications are given, first for the bishop (elder or pastor), and then for the deacon.
  21. The words "bishop," "elder," and "pastor" are used interchangeably in the New Testament (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-9).
  22. 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 sheep."
  23. By the way, a pastor not only has to feed the flock; he also needs to protect the flock from wolves.
  24. 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).
  25. 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."
  26. 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 plural.
  27. 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.
  28. 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).
  29. One of the Baptist distinctives has always been that of two offices: pastor (elder) and deacon.
  30. 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).

 

II. THE DUTIES OF THE ELDER (5:1-3).

  1. "Feed the flock which is among you" (5:2). Not "under you."
  2. We pastors are to feed the "flock of God."  Some pastors are not doing a good job, and so many church members are starving spiritually.
  3. "Taking the oversight thereof" (5:2). Somebody has to be in charge and that is the pastor.
  4. Not a committee.
  5. This is how J. Vernon McGee defined a committee: "A committee is a group of incompetents, appointed by the indifferent, to do the unnecessary."
  6. 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."
  7. The pastor has to "take the oversight," but he is to do it with the right attitude (cf. Matthew 20:25-28).
  8. "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 them.
  9. 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).
  10. "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."
  11. 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.
  12. In Acts 3:6, Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none."
  13. Most of these television preachers are nothing but wolves in sheep's clothing.
  14. "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.
  15. Churches need leaders who serve, and servants who lead.
  16. 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.
  17. Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."  Not, "Fleece my sheep."

 

III. THE REWARD FOR THE ELDER (5:4).

  1. 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 more.
  2. It is certainly not a "9 to 5" job!
  3. There are times when it seems like a thankless job.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Despite the trials and troubles, and despite the hardships and difficulties, there is no greater joy than preaching the Gospel.
  2. It is truly the greatest job in the world.
  3. Every preacher I know would say the same, and would truly not want to swap places with anyone.
  4. 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!"
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. He said, "Good morning, sir.  I heard you used to be a preacher?"
  8. The old man looked up and said, "What do you mean, used to"?


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