Saturday, 21 December 2019
… nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 1 Peter 5:3
Peter continues with his words of proper conduct for the elders that he is addressing. In this verse, he adds to what he has already said with, “nor as being lords.” The translation here is better stated as, “not lording it.” One who is a lord over another may or may not be heavy-handed. The intent of Peter’s words is that elders, though appointed over others, are not to act in a demeaning or tyrannical way towards those under them.
The phrase Peter uses, which is translated as “those entrusted to you,” is literally “over the lots.” In other words, it is an assigned portion. When Israel went into the land of Canaan, the land was divided by lots. The Lord oversaw the division (see Proverbs 16:33), so that everything was left to His providence, not mere chance. The same is true with each person who falls under the authority of an elder. The Lord provides the flock according to His wisdom.
For those who are so entrusted to an elder, Peter then says that rather than lording it over them, they should be “examples to the flock.” It is the same word for “flock” that he just used in the previous verse. This is its fifth and last use in Scripture. Jesus first used it in Luke 12:32. From there, Paul twice used it in almost the same way that Peter uses it now in Acts 20 –
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:28-30
Paul’s words were to those at Ephesus. Both Acts 18 and 19 make it clear that the gospel Paul preached went to both Jew and Gentile and it was received by both. There, the church at Ephesus was established as such. Peter’s words reflect the same gospel, and the same terminology, concerning the body of believers as Paul. There is one flock and one gospel which goes to both Jew and Gentile, and the elders of this body are given charge over all under them for care and right doctrine.
This then shows, once again, that the doctrine of dividing the church into two gospels, one for Jew and one for Gentile, is both false and heretical.
Life application: Power, even a little bit of it, is an intoxicant. When people come up to a pastor, week after week seeking resolutions to their problems, bringing compliments on a great sermon, or seeking favor within the church, it can certainly lead to a feeling of superiority over those under them. The larger the church, the more susceptible to this one will often become.
But it is not limited to larger churches. Congregations of 30 or 40 people can often be at the most risk of falling prey to charismatic leaders. The attendees willingly give up their identity and are led down the paths of evil conjured up by a devil with a stronger will. This was the case with cults such as Heaven’s Gate, the Branch Davidians, etc.
Congregants need to constantly evaluate the direction of the pastor to ensure he is sticking to the Bible and following the admonitions laid out for his position. Pastors likewise need to evaluate themselves and determine if they have strayed from what is sound and appropriate. Having a faithful confidant, who will be willing to call to account any diversion from the right path, is useful and wise.
The Old Testament kings had prophets and seers who would openly speak to them about what was right, to hopefully direct them back from wrong choices. Leading a congregation is a sacred trust, and the Lord holds those in authority to a higher standard of judgment. So, watch your elders, and help keep them humble while honoring them for their faithful service.
Lord, we certainly wouldn’t attend the churches we are at without respecting our pastors. We find them to be faithful leaders, and so we stay and faithfully attend. Today, we pray for those given to lead us. Keep their hearts humble and their eyes focused on You. Keep them faithfully proclaiming Your word. May our congregations be lights in the darkness of the communities around us. Amen.