These small group studies of 1 Peter 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 5:1-5 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Commentary
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)
- 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?” Who does the flock belong to? (God not the elder) How should understanding that the flock is God’s affect the elder’s 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.
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’ sufferings. Seeing Christ face to face was one qualification for being an apostle. Secondly, 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. So he was not only an apostle, but one of the chief three apostles. When Peter wrote to them, they should listen.
2. Elders. The elders’ job here is two-fold.
a) Shepherding – Elders were to shepherd the flock. What does this entail. Referring Psalm 23 and John 10 gives 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. This requires boldness. The elder must not be timid to deal with problems that arise in the church. (Romans 1:16)
Notice here whose flock they are shepherding. It is not their own flock. That means it is not Macarthur’s church, Piper’s church, Moses’ fellowship, or Tony’s group. 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 a lot of ways.
1. It motivates elders to encourage the flock to depend on and follow God, not a person.
2. It motivates elders to stop being selfish and thinking of themselves, since God is the one who owns the flock.
3. It motivates elders to take this job seriously since they will have to give an account of how well they performed in their stewardship.
4. 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.
Oversight – This is quite similar to shepherding. It is an active, not passive role. To oversee (and 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. See Ephesians 4:11-12. 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?)
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.
3. 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.
4. 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. I’m not really sure what this is. Crowns were given to athletes as a symbol of victory. So it would seem to be an eternal glory. So perhaps a mark or sign of God’s favor on the shepherd who serves well, which will last for all of eternity. Pretty good reward if you ask me!
Applications: For elders, the application is very clear. How about for us. There are two sides.
Firstly, 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.
Secondly, we need to consider not only how we lead, but also how we follow. See 1 Peter 5:5. The young men (they are named by group probably since young men tend to be prideful and less likely to obey, but women certainly need to follow this as well.) are to submit themselves to the elders in humility. Or what? Or God will be opposed to you!!
It doesn’t matter if you think you know a better way or if you think you know more than the elder. God has placed them in that sphere of leadership. You need to respect authority. That means following in such a way that will give grace to the leader and make their job easier. We have probably all seen cases where leaders have been hassled by those under them and given them grief. It happens with teachers/students, bosses/employees, parents/children.
Hopefully none of us have been the ones causing the grief. If you have been this type of person go to the authority and confess. If not, resolve not to be that type of person in the future. If you are in a group, encourage your peers to respect and follow the authority.
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