As Peter concludes his first letter, he turns his thoughts to those who are the leaders of the church – the elders. The term elder means “overseer”. They are given the responsibility to be like a shepherd caring for his flock of sheep and to be an example to them.
They are implored to do this well, not just for pay (do we pay our elders? – if not, should we?) but from a desire to serve their “flock”. In our own church we have one appointed “Elder” and several “Deacons”. The term deacon derives from the word which means servant. We also tend to have a “Pastor” who generally is the one who is salaried, but it is clear that the term Pastor/Overseer/Elder are interchangeable. The Pastor tends to be the one who does the preaching and is generally given responsibility for the running of the church but from what Peter is saying here, they could equally be called and Elder. Paul in 1 Timothy 3 says that the elder must be able to teach. Some churches treat and expect their “Pastor” to live as a pauper on a low wage on the basis that he should be doing the work for God not for money, but as we have seen elsewhere, a worker deserves his pay, they should (if the church can afford it pay an appropriate wage. I.e: a large church with a wealthy congregation should not be paying their Pastor/Elder a pittance, similarly they should not be paying an over inflated wage that the Pastor is living in luxury while his congregation are struggling.
I think Agur sums this well in Proverbs 30 v 8 & 9
Keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much food as I need. If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if i am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace on my God.
In verse 3 Peter tells them not to try and rule over them but to serve and be an example. If they do this well then they will receive reward when Christ returns as the “Chief Shepherd”
We remember that after Peter denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus told him 3 times to “Feed my sheep” in John chapter 21.
In verse 5, he tells the young men to submit to their elders. Now I have always interpreted this to mean “older” but clearly it can be both the men that are older and therefore (hopefully) wiser and the people who hold the position of “Elder”
They are not to be proud, but humble .
Humble yourselves then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.(v6 & 7)
He will help us at just the right time if we continue to trust Him.
Be alert, be on the watch! Your enemy the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (8)
There is a big clue here – not only are we to be alert and wise to his schemes to lead us away from God, but he roars – if we are alert, we will hear him coming and can send him on his way. Jesus scolded the disciples for their lack of ability to stay awake when it was needed. We need to be alert to the things which may tempt us and lead us away from God.
But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who calls you to share his eternal glory in union with Christ, will himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation. To him be the power forever! Amen. (v10 -11)
Quotes from the Good News Bible