1 Peter 5

1 Peter turns his attention to the people of the church, starting with the elders. "Elder" literally means "older one," and it is likely that those who were put in leadership positions were older men. Peter gently exhorts them, not as a superior, but as an equal with them. The only difference is that he notes that he witnessed Jesus' suffering. Peter undoubtedly remembers how Jesus was persecuted all throughout His ministry, even through His trial and crucifixion. He also qualifies himself to exhort them as one who was certain of his salvation and place in heaven. He was undoubtedly aware of the responsibility that such a declaration carries with it, which adds to the earnestness of this exhortation.
2 Peter encourages the older men to care for their fellow Christians as shepherds tend their flocks, that is, do whatever they can for the physical and spiritual welfare of the believers around them. Jesus charged Peter with these duties, and he asks other leaders to do the same (John 21:15-17). The motivation for such leadership is vitally important. Elders are to lead willingly and cheerfully, not as if they were resentful slaves doing some burdensome task. They should be motivated by the desire to do God's will. A shepherd is not to seek to use his ministry to attain money through extortion or other immoral means, but rather to serve with eagerness. After all, oppressing the people or bringing shame to the name of Christ is not going to benefit anyone. External motivations to lead, such as wealth and social status, are unacceptable within the Christian community.

Early in church history, the positions of "elder," "shepherd," and "overseer" were separated into different offices with different levels of authority. However, this passage uses all these terms to refer to the same group of people. Neither is there any evidence that there was to be a human authority higher than the elders in the Church, except the original apostles.

3 An elder must not use his position to flout his authority, bully others, take advantage of people, or seek social honors. Instead, he should be an example of servitude and humility with concern towards the welfare of others. A leader should ask himself, "Do I want everyone to behave as I do?" A shepherd should lead, not drive.

We derive the word "clergy" from the Greek word for "heritage" in this verse. However, the word does not refer to religious leaders at all, but is more along the lines of "a possession attained by chance." In other words, an elder is not to lord his position over the people whom God happened to entrust to him.

Several have noted that this passage leaves no room for the complex and rigid hierarchical authority structures found in many churches today.

4 Jesus alone is the Chief Shepherd, and all elders are answerable directly to Him for their conduct, be it good or bad. The "flock" belongs to Him, and the elders have been entrusted with their care. Christian leaders should seek the eternal crown of glory that comes from honoring Christ rather than the temporary crowns of wealth and distinction offered in this life. Unbelievers on earth may dishonor Christian leaders, but God will honor them in heaven.
5 As elders are subject to Jesus, so young people are to be to their elders. Young people should be able to trust the experience, accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and concern of an elder who is following the principles outlined in the previous verses. Young men in particular will eventually grow up and qualify to be elders if they have learned to follow Christ as their leaders have.

All people in the church are Charged to be humble towards one another. The Greek word for "clothe" here refers to an apron-like garment commonly worn by slaves in that day. Thus, humility will be obvious, and it makes one ready to serve. Christians are to help each other to better their relationships with Christ and others. We must remember that God is willing to forgive by grace those who admit their mistakes and shortcomings, but He is forced by justice to punish them who stubbornly refuse to believe in or follow Him. By following the example of a godly elder, one can learn to be a servant of God and those around them. The last part of this verse is quoted from the Greek translation of Prov 3:34.

6 Attaining God's grace should be the ultimate motivation in anyone's life. His mighty hand at times directs us to be persecuted or tested in this lifetime to discipline us and refine us, but at other times will guide us in the right way and shield us from danger. On the Last Day, however, His mighty hand will lift up those who have humbled themselves before Him, and bring them into His eternal kingdom where there will be no more suffering or pain.
7 When we see how much God loves us, wants us to be with Him forever, and the price He paid to make our salvation possible, we should fully trust Him no matter what happens to us in this life. Peter repeats this directive from Psa 55:22.The sense of the original language is that we should give all our worries to Him and not take them back again. In Phil 4:6, Paul suggests that we replace anxiety with prayer. We can go to God with our concerns and He will replace them with hope. Remember that God suffered with us so that one day our suffering would end and be replaced with unimaginable joy.
8 Some people try to drown their anxieties with alcohol or drugs, but Christians are to remain clear-minded and watchful. The devil, who constantly wanders the earth, is earnestly seeking those Christians (or possibly people in general) whom he can "swallow." This may entail either destroying someone physically, or hindering their witness and growth in the Lord. The devil is a formidable opponent, pictured here as a roaring lion, so he is not someone to be trifled with. Yet, at the same time we need not fear him because Jesus is our advocate, and has already proven that he can defeat all of Satan's weapons, including death.
9 Christians are to resist the devil and his attempts to get us to compromise or renounce our faith in Christ. Even the weakest person can successfully defend himself against the devil's schemes with God's help. It is a difficult task, but we can be encouraged in knowing that Christians all over the world are suffering, enduring, and triumphing in similar circumstances.
10 Finally, Peter ends with a benediction, again assuring his readers that God will eventually cause all their suffering to cease. In the time-scale of eternity, our suffering on earth is short-lived, and compared with the prospect of eternal separation from God, no suffering on earth could compare in magnitude. Christians can be assured that just as God has called us to follow Him, so He will bring us, through Christ's work on our behalf, to heaven where we will continually be in His glorious presence.

The next set of words all describe aspects of a building. The word usually rendered "perfect" refers to completing the joining of all the timbers in a building. Establish meaning to make something immovable. Strengthen refers to the binding of something to prevent warping or splitting. Settle refers to resting firmly on a foundation.

11 Peter again reminds his readers that God alone is the ultimate source of power in the universe. Certainly, we can be comforted in knowing that He can accomplish all the things He has promised us. His power will never end, and so it is both fitting and reassuring to trust in Him.
12 Silvanus, most likely referring to Paul's companion Silas (Acts 15:40), was at this time assisting Peter. He likely acted as a secretary for Peter in writing this letter, and possibly was the one who would deliver it throughout the regions listed in 1 Pet 1:1.

The first verse is worded in an obscure manner. Most feel that Peter is indicating that Silas is, "without a doubt, a faithful brother." Others, however, note that the sense could refer to the length of the letter, "I have written you, as I consider it, briefly."

Peter summarizes his purpose as one of exhortation and testifying concerning the true grace of God. He wants his readers to stand firm in the message of the Gospel and particularly not to become discouraged when persecution arises against them.

13 Peter passes along a greeting from "she who is in Babylon." Some have thought this to refer to his wife. However, most have noted that a single woman would not be considered a co-equal with a church body, and instead consider this a pronoun referring to another local church "in Babylon." There is a diversity of opinion as to what "Babylon" refers to. Most interpret this as a cryptic name for Rome, thinking that Peter needed to protect the church from persecution. However, it was already noted at the beginning that it is unlikely that Nero's persecution had started there yet. The Bible Knowledge Commentary suggests that historical evidence placed Peter and John-Mark in Rome. Tradition has Peter in Rome in the last years of his life. Paul's traveling companion, John-Mark, is commonly thought to be the "Mark" referred to here, and it is possible that he was in Rome after being denied going on his second missionary journey with Paul. The New Commentary On the Whole Bible goes as far as saying there is no evidence that Peter was ever in the original Babylon region. The Believer's Study Bible, however, argues quite vigorously the other way. There the author indicates that Peter did make one or several extensive missionary journeys in the east, giving him opportunity to write from Babylon. Furthermore, there is no Biblical reference to Peter being in Rome, most notably would have been Paul's omission of his name from letters to that region. It is also known that Peter was straightforward in his speaking, and not given to cryptic symbolism. Some others also agree that a church in Babylon by the Euphrates is what is being referred to here.

Church tradition has Mark as the secretary for Peter. It seems that at some point Peter took Mark in as a "spiritual son," and Mark took Peter's teachings and formed them into the Gospel according to Mark.

14 The "kiss of love" was apparently a common greeting among believers, probably in the same manner that kisses are still used in the East as a form of greeting and a sign of friendship. It is clear that this sign was not supposed to be merely courteous; it was to be given with heartfelt love. In other cultures, greetings might include handshakes, hugs, etc., but the same motivation should be found behind them all - true concern for the welfare and happiness of another.

Finally, Peter wishes them all peace in their time of persecution. Internal and eternal peace are available to those who have faith in Jesus.