1 Peter 5: 1 – 5
Church leadership (5:1–4). Leaders, generally called elders or overseers (bishops) and deacons are to follow Christ’s example and function as servants in the Christian community (Matt. 20:25–28; cf. 23:11). Their general responsibility is defined in Eph. 4:12 and in this passage. Leaders are “to prepare God’s people for works of service” as ministering members of the body (1 Cor. 3:1–9; 2 Cor. 10:8). And leaders are to “shepherd” (guard, and guide) the local community of faith (cf. Heb. 13:17). Leaders must be men who are equipped for these tasks, in part by gift, but essentially by character (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). Leaders in fact “shepherd” by both teaching (Titus 2) and by modeling, or serving as an example (1 Tim. 4:11–16; Titu. 3:10, 14). The shepherding ministry does not mean leaders exercise control of believer’s behavior. It does mean they focus on nurture, encouraging maturity so that believers’ acts of service will be an expression of love-motivated desire and Holy Spirit enablement. When leaders do shepherd, and do so because they want to serve rather than for financial gain or status, Christians will mature.
Shepherd (5:2). The imperative poimanate involves protecting, leading, guiding, feeding, and generally watching out for the welfare for members of the church.
“Be submissive” (5:5). Here as earlier in this letter Peter calls for voluntary submission. But this is interpersonal rather than situational submission. What makes interpersonal submission easy, whether in marriage or in the church, is the respect won by husband or leader through love and example. If we are sure a leader loves us, it is far easier for us to be responsible to his guidance. If we are also confident the leader is a godly person, whose example has won our respect, it is easier still. Let’s apply this in our relationships. Rather than demand children or others obey because of our role, let’s win their respect by love and example.
Why be humble (5:5). Not just because it’s right. We should be humble rather than arrogant in our relationships with others because, according to Prov. 3:34, God “gives grace to the humble.” If we want to grow, and have strength to overcome despite suffering, we must remain dependent on God.
Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 883). Wheaton: Victor Books.