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1 Peter chapter 5

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What does 1 Peter chapter 5 mean?

Peter closes out his letter to the scattered Christians in the churches of Asia Minor with some final instructions. He counsels the elders about how to lead, includes how and why to live in humility with each other, and gives a final warning to be clear-minded and alert.

Peter counts himself as one of the elders. And so, he passes on the same instructions Jesus gave to him: to feed and shepherd Christ's sheep. That is the role of an elder in the local church: to serve as a shepherd of the "flock of God." Peter insists that those who accept the job do so because they want to and not just for money or power. They should lead first and foremost by example, showing others in the church how to follow Christ by doing so themselves. When Christ returns, He will reward those shepherds with an unfading crown of glory.

In the same way, those who are younger are called to be subject to these shepherds. Newer believers should see more experienced Christians as a God-given authority in their lives. This, of course, also puts additional responsibility on those older Christians to live in a way deserving of this respect.

Peter then addresses all Christians with this: Put on humility toward each other out of submission to God. God is God, and we are not. We are to humble ourselves under His hand, understanding that our only significance is found in Him. We can freely stop promoting ourselves, because He will exalt us, when the time is exactly right. One such act of humility is this: cast your cares on the Father who cares for you. It is only in pride that we would insist on continuing to carry those burdens ourselves.

Peter then instructs his readers for the third time to be clear-minded (or sober-minded) and alert. The reason he offers this time is that we have a mortal enemy prowling around and seeking to devour us. The devil is portrayed as a lion, and we are instructed to engage in resisting him. This is to be done by focusing on staying firm in our faith, both in Christ, and in God's plan for us. That plan may include suffering for the brief course of this life. And yet, it also includes a permanent end to suffering and a future in which our Father—forever powerful—will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us forever.

Finally, Peter signs off with a commendation for Silvanus, who will likely deliver this letter to the churches, as well as greetings from the Christians where he was, including his son in the faith, Mark.
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