Introduction: When I first moved away from home, I joined a church
that seemed to be perfect. It was wonderful! I liked the people. I
liked the pastor. There were no divisions in the church. The next
year, I got married and my wife started teaching in the school
associated with this church. Once I started seeing the “inside”
picture of the church, I realized that not all was calm, peaceful and
unified. Peter has been advising us on various relationships, and
this week we study his direction on relationships between the church
and its leaders. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn

  1. Elders

    1. Read 1 Peter 5:1. When Peter writes to “elders” is he
      talking about those who hold a church office, or those of
      an advanced age? (Read 1 Peter 5:5. I’ve always assumed
      that Peter is talking about an office in the church, but
      looking more closely it appears Peter is talking about
      older people.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 5:2. What is Peter asking of the older
      people? (To be “shepherds of God’s flock. This is clearly
      a reference to holding an office or position in the

      1. Think about this. Is it logical to link older members
        and those who hold a position of leadership in the
        church? Re-read 1 Peter 5:1 to see if you find any
        clues about this. (Peter says the older people were
        eye witnesses to the sufferings of Jesus. The idea is
        that older people know more, they have more
        experience, and therefore it is logical to make them
        leaders – shepherds.)

      2. The commentators I read explained that the word
        “elder” meant an old person, but they also thought
        that in the early church it often referred to those
        who held high offices in the church. Why? Because of
        the link between age and holding these offices.
        Robertson’s New Testament Word Pictures says that an
        early inscription used the term translated “elders,”
        for town leaders – “alderman.” Do you think there
        should be such a link in the modern church?

    3. Look again at 1 Peter 5:2. Why would Peter write “not
      because you must, but because you are willing?” (This
      convinces me that Peter is talking primarily about age,
      not office. It makes sense that he would write that the
      older members should serve as “overseers,” not because it
      is mandatory, but because they want to do it.)

      1. In general, people get wiser with age. The problem is
        that I’ve known “knuckleheads” who do not change as
        they age. Is age the primary factor to consider?
        (Let’s keep reading because I think Peter answers
        this question.)

    4. Read 1 Peter 5:2-3. We have discussed that older people
      have witnessed important history and should have gained
      wisdom. What other job requirements does Peter place on
      older people before they are qualified to hold the office
      of “overseers?”(They should be eager to serve. They should
      not be in it for the money. They should not “lord” it over
      the flock. They should be good examples.)

      1. I’ve been an “Elder” in the various churches where I
        was a member for most of my adult life. No one ever
        paid me any money. Is this a problem in your church?

        1. If money is not a problem, is there a parallel
          problem that does not involve money? Do any of
          the Elders benefit personally from holding a
          leadership position?

    5. Look again at 1 Peter 5:3. Is “lording it over” others a
      personal benefit? (Peter is describing a character trait
      that should be disqualifying for an overseer. You should
      not be doing the job because of personal benefit, whether
      that is financial, or a matter of ego, or authority. Peter
      allows Elders to be paid for the job, and enjoy the
      relative pride and authority that comes with it. However,
      he writes that you should do the job to benefit others,
      and not because you are “greedy” to feed your pride or
      assert authority.)

      1. If you have been an Elder, have you derived personal
        satisfaction from it? (Helping others gives great joy
        when they react positively. That is one of the
        blessings of the position.)

      2. Over the years I’ve seen a pattern that seems most
        natural, but is a cause for concern. Church members
        whose occupations do not reward them with leadership
        positions, find that the church fills that need. The
        problem for these leaders is that losing the church
        position feels like being fired from a job – and the
        result is very difficult for the person and the
        church. Is this an unavoidable problem?

      3. For a time I was concerned about my own motives. Was
        I teaching, preaching and leading because I liked
        being up front, or because I was trying to bring
        glory to God? Who was my primary object of glory? If
        you lead, have you thought about this issue? (Dr.
        William Shea, one of my denomination’s leading
        theologians, became a member of my local church. He
        is an extraordinary example of a humble saint. One
        day I asked him, “Bill, when you teach and preach, do
        you do it in part because you like being in front?”
        He said, “Sure, that is a part of it.” The fact that
        this humble man should appreciate that part of the
        job calmed my concerns. The goal is to advance the
        Kingdom of God. But enjoying the honor that comes
        your way is not sin. John 12:26.)

    6. Read 1 Peter 5:4. What is the ultimate reward of being an
      overseer? (Heaven! “The crown of glory.” If your reason
      for leading is glory here, then you have already been paid
      in full here.)

  2. Youth

    1. Read 1 Peter 5:5. Why do you think it was important for
      Peter to write this? (Youth do not always realize that
      experience is important.)

      1. What overall mutual attitude does Peter command?
        (That we all, young and old, act with humility
        towards each other.)

      2. What is the payoff for mutual humility? (If you are
        proud, God will resist you. If you are humble, God
        will give you grace.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 5:6. When is the “due time” that God will
      lift us up? (Young people will get old! At least, that is
      the goal. This also bolsters the point we studied earlier,
      that God desires to honor us.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 5:7. What does anxiety have to do with being
      humble, and accepting direction from elders? (Ask yourself
      how much of your worry and fear has to do with losing
      face? Losing something that makes you appear important?
      Humility is a shield against anxiety.)

  3. Satan vs. God

    1. Read 1 Peter 5:8. Do you have a role in not being
      “devoured” by Satan? (Yes. Be “self-controlled and

      1. What do you think it means, as a practical matter, to
        be “devoured” by Satan?

    2. Read 1 Peter 5:9. Fighting Satan does not seem, on the
      face of it, to be a good idea. Look at what he did to Job.
      What, exactly, do you think Peter means when he tells us
      to “resist” Satan? (The key is the phrase, “standing firm
      in the faith.” We put our trust in God. We have faith in
      God. The battle is between God and Satan, we are not
      standing alone against Satan.)

      1. Why is it important to know that other Christians are
        suffering? (It gives you comfort that you are not

      2. Why does Peter mention “suffering” in the context of
        resisting Satan and keeping him from devouring us?
        (This context is extremely important. The battle has
        to do with trials and suffering. Satan brings
        difficulty into our life, and standing firm in our
        faith in God is the answer to this attack.)

      3. Does our extensive discussion of humility have any
        application here? (If we are proud, we are less
        likely to immediately turn to God for help.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 5:10. On the one hand we have Satan who would
      like to “devour” us, who do we have on the other hand?

      1. What is God’s attitude towards us? (Grace! He is the
        “God of all grace.”)

      2. What is God’s plan for us? (To restore us from
        whatever injuries Satan causes, and to make us
        “strong, firm and steadfast.”)

    4. Friend, do you desire to be “strong, firm and steadfast?”
      Understanding the right relationship with your government,
      your employer, your spouse, your suffering, your fellow
      church members, and the conflict between Satan and God,
      will put you on the path to being a Christian confident in
      God. Why not ask God today to help you, through the power
      of the Holy Spirit, to continue on the path of right

  4. Next week: Jesus in the Writings of Peter.