Peter’s Infectious Humility

30 Jan

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Peter concludes his first epistle by first addressing the elders of the church in each community (1Peter 5:1) and then the younger believers (1Peter 5:5). At first this may seem like he is merely referring to the aged and young believers, but this isn’t exactly true, because Peter reminds the elders of their responsibilities as shepherds (1Peter 4:2-4) Although it was usually the case that a church leader was elderly, this wasn’t always the case (1Timothy 4:12), so Peter begins his concluding remarks by addressing the officers of the local church bodies in the five Roman provinces of Asia Minor (cf. 1Peter 1:1).

Some translations omit the Greek word oun (G3767), meaning therefore at the beginning of 1Peter 5:1. Whenever this word is used in the New Testament, it connects the preceding thought or theme with what follows. Therefore, Peter addresses the elders (and everyone else) in the context of the persecution. In other words, Peter’s main thought hasn’t changed to describing the responsibilities of the offices of the church, as some might claim. Rather he is speaking of one’s responsibilities during the difficult seasons of life.

Peter describes himself as a fellow-elder, as a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and as a partaker of the glory that should be revealed (1Peter 5:1). He could have mentioned his office as an apostle at this point, but he didn’t (cf. Mark 10:42-45). Rather he expressed himself as one of the officers of the church—he in his local body and they in theirs. His humility at this point calls out the same from the elders as they administer the responsibilities of their office. Certainly, Peter was a witness of all that occurred to Jesus (John 15:27; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8), but a witness is not only one who testifies to what he has seen and heard, he is also a witness to the same when he is willing to suffer the consequences of making such a claim (Acts 4:18-19; 5:28-29, 33, 40-41; 12:1-4). Peter meant to address the officers of the local church bodies in Asia Minor concerning their responsibilities during persecution. Therefore, he was reminding them of his own witness under such circumstances.

Peter speaks of sharing in the elders’ glory that will be revealed (1Peter 5:1), but what does he mean by this statement? He first mentions glory in his epistle in the context of the unveiling or revelation of Jesus Christ (1Peter 1:7). He doesn’t have our spiritual salvation in mind here. That salvation cannot be lost, marred or destroyed as is concluded in 1Peter 1:4. Nevertheless, we can lose our reward (cf. 1Corinthians 3:11-15 and Matthew 10:33), which is the praise Jesus intends to give the believer for the inner commitment he demonstrates by trusting God during the trial of his faith.

The prophets wondered at and sought to know the time when such glory would be unveiled (1Peter 1:11). Peter claimed that this glory took place after the church had participated in the sufferings of Christ, and vindication of the believer occurred when Christ was vindicated in his promise of coming judgment upon Jerusalem and the Temple (1Peter 4:13-14; cf. Matthew 26:64; see also Matthew 24:29-30). At that time it became evident to anyone who cared to really know the truth that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah. It was evident to all, because Jesus had to have reached passed the grave to punish those who showed themselves to be the enemies of the Gospel and the enemies of God.

Thayer’s first two definitions of glory (G1391 – doxa) pertain to judgment or opinion, and estimate or reputation (good or bad) of God or man. For example, even the dignity of the most honorable men will fade away (1Peter 1:24). The dignity with which men hold God can be changed to his dishonor (Romans 1:23). Paul testifies that we who first trusted in Christ are the praise his glory (Ephesians 1:12). In other words, the regard with which unbelievers hold us reflects upon Christ. Therefore, a good reputation (glory) can be changed to shame (Psalm 4:2; Hosea 4:7), and we can lose our reward, if we don’t participate in persecution in a manner in which honors God. The wise or the faithful believer will be rewarded with a good reputation (glory), but fools, or those who mind earthly things, will be given an evil one (Proverbs 3:35; Philippians 3:19). Peter claims that he is a partaker of this judgment with the elders in Asia Minor (1Peter 5:1). He, like they, will be judged or rewarded for their commitment to Christ, or the lack thereof, during the times when their faith is tested.

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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Epistles of Peter


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