1 Peter | 1:1-9 | 1:10-12 | 1:13-25 | 2:1-12 | 2:13-25 | 3:1-7 | 3:8-22 | 4:1-11 | 4:12-19 | 5:1-5 | 5:6-13 | PDF |

These small group studies of 1 Peter 5 contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Peter 5 Bible Study Commentary And Questions – Shepherding The Flock


I. Leading with humility and service (1-5)
II. Submit to God and resist the devil (6-11)
III. Closing farewell (12-14)

I. Leading with humility and service (1-5)

Discussion Questions

• What is an elder?
• Why did Peter have authority to tell them this?
• In what way was Peter a partaker of the glory that is to be revealed?
• What is the job of elders? What other titles are given to the people with the same job in the church?
• Who is the “flock of God?” To whom does the flock belong? (God not the elder) How should understanding that the flock is God’s affect the elders’ service?
• Describe the way elders were to lead?
• How does this differ with the reasons and methods leaders in the world lead?
• What kind of things do you think an elder should do to oversee the flock?
• What motivation did Peter give them to inspire them to this type of service?
• Do you have any elders (or spiritual authorities?) What can you do to help make their job easier?
• Are you an elder? If not, are there any principles from this passage that you can apply in your own life?
• What do you need to do to obey this passage?
• Why do you think Peter includes this instruction in verse 5 towards young men? What about the young women?
• Do you want God to be opposed to you? Then what do you need to do?


1 Timothy 3:1-4 – Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

1 Timothy 4:12 – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Acts 20:28 – Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Mark 10:44 – And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Luke 22:26 – But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Peter here begins addressing the elders among the churches to which this epistle would circulate. In case they hesitated to obey, he appealed to his authority and the fact that he was one of them (a fellow elder). His authority as an apostle comes from the fact that he himself witnessed Jesus’s sufferings. Seeing Christ face to face was one qualification for being an apostle.

Second, he appealed to the fact that he was a “partaker of the glory that is to be revealed.” This likely refers to Peter’s witnessing the transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1-13) This showed Jesus in His natural glory, the same way we will see Him one day in the future.

Peter was one of only three people to see this event, making him not only an apostle, but one of the chief three apostles. When Peter wrote to them, they should listen.

2. The elders’ job here is two-fold.

A. Shepherding – Elders were to shepherd the flock. What does this entail? Psalm 23 and John 10 give a good picture of what a shepherd does. The biggest job of a shepherd is to feed the sheep.

This is also the most important job of an elder. They do this by teaching God’s Word, hence the requirement in 1 Timothy that every elder be able to teach. It doesn’t say every elder must have the gift of teaching. Some elders could be better at it and some worse, but every elder must be able to open the Bible and explain it accurately.

Beyond this, they lead the sheep. Elders are to prayerfully provide direction and guidance for the sheep. They search the Scriptures and pray for God’s will. Then they try to encourage the whole group to follow. Since they are helping the whole flock use their own gifts and abilities for God, that could include casting vision and ministry direction.

They also protect the sheep. Elders need to protect the sheep from false teachers (Luke 17:23). This means they need to be ready all the time to openly confront any false teaching that infiltrates the church.

2 Timothy 4:2 – Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

This requires boldness. The elder must not be timid to deal with problems that arise in the church.

Notice here whose flock they are shepherding. It is not their own flock. That means it is not Macarthur’s church, Piper’s church, or your church. It is God’s church, God’s fellowship, God’s group. The flock and everyone in it belong to God. The elders are just acting as stewards to watch over what God has entrusted to them for a period of time. Having this attitude will help leaders in many ways.

A. It motivates elders to encourage the flock to depend on and follow God, not a person.

B. It motivates elders to stop being selfish and thinking of themselves, since God is the one who owns the flock.

C. It motivates elders to take this job seriously since they will have to give an account of how well they performed in their stewardship.

D. It will help elders to be more even-keeled. That is when numbers are increasing and people’s lives are being transformed the glory goes to God, not them. And when numbers decrease or people reject their teaching, they are really rejecting God not them.

3. Oversight – This is quite similar to shepherding. It is an active, not passive role. To oversee (overseer is one title given to elders), the leader must be involved with the fellowship. It is very difficult to oversee from afar. The leader must get to know the flock individually. He must keep his eyes and ears open for any danger that could affect the health of the sheep. At the same time, an overseer is not the person doing everything. The overseer is like a supervisor. Do most supervisors do everything? No, they manage others to do what needs to be done. They delegate authority and tasks.

Ephesians 4:11-12 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

It is unhealthy for a leader to try to do everything himself for a variety of reasons. Why?

A. He cannot possibly do it all himself. A local church simply has too much to do.

B. He will burn himself out. An elder who tries to do too much will end up like Moses in Exodus, who was overwhelmed by trying to settle every dispute for the entire nation of Israel by himself. What was Jethro’s solution? See Exodus 18.

C. He will alienate those who want to participate. It will cause factions within the church.

D. He will not allow others’ gifts to develop or train up other leaders who can eventually take his place or help lead other churches.

E. It may cause him to be prideful and value himself over others.

4. Motivations for the elder –

A. It should be voluntary. It should not be to please people. It should be because of pressure. It is a volunteer position.

B. Not under compulsion.

C. According to the will of God. An elder should do it because he has been led by God to do it.

D. Not for sordid gain. An elder should have no secret personal motivations for self-benefit. Unfortunately, throughout history many leaders of the church have led for personal benefit. Some have done it because it is a stable job. Some have done it because they wanted to outright fleece the sheep. Churches should make finances transparent with accountability to discourage this.

5. Attitudes in serving –

A. Eagerness – An elder should not approach this job reluctantly. He should not feel it is a burden. He should be excited that he has the privilege and blessing to help take care of God’s sheep. The flock should see this earnestness and fervent love.

B. Not lording it over. This is another reminder about the biblical leadership model. Biblical leadership is not dictatorship or tyranny. It is not about the leader sitting on his cushy throne and commanding everyone else what they can do for him (a lot of cult leaders break this part). There is a time and a place for giving instruction and even for giving commands, but elders should not delight in giving commands. They do it out of necessity to combat evil.

C. Be examples of the flock – This is the key aspect of biblical leadership. Elders are to lead by example just as Christ led by example. As others see the leader serving Christ faithfully, they will be inspired to do it as well.

5. The reward – Christ is the Chief Shepherd. We are only helper shepherds. (Note that in the Bible, Christ is the light of the world, but we are lights. Christ is the living stone, and we are living stones.) The reward is not an earthly one, although it is a great joy to be part of God’s work on earth. Those who do well in leadership will receive the unfading crown of glory. We cannot be one hundred percent sure what this is. Crowns were given to athletes as a symbol of victory. So it would seem to be an eternal glory.

Perhaps it is a mark or sign of God’s favor on the shepherd who serves well, which will last for all of eternity. What reward could possibly be better?

6. Applications: For elders, the application is very clear. How about for us? There are two sides.

First, even though you may not be an elder you are still probably a leader in some capacity. And the same biblical model of leadership extends to all areas of life (family, work, school, etc.) Therefore, everyone can take something from this and apply it to their own lives. Think what area of your life you need to change to obey this biblical model of leadership.

Second, we need to consider not only how we lead, but also how we follow.

1 Peter 5:5 – Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

The young men (they are nam