Monday, 23 December 2019
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
Peter now turns from the elders to those younger in the congregation. As he says, “Likewise you younger people.” This, however, can include those younger in the faith, even if older in years. The word signifies young and youthful, but also new. Rather than new in quality, it is something new in time. This would be inclusive of all who are not elders then. Even those in subordinate offices, such as deacons and the like.
Peter says to them to “submit yourselves to your elders.” This is the same word that was used in 5:1 when speaking of the elders, and so it is a confirming note that this is referring to all who are younger in the faith in relation to those who are more mature. Submission to them does not mean blind obedience, but a respectful attitude concerning their authority and the position they hold. Paul, when writing to Timothy, said that those in such positions are to “be counted worthy of double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17). This is the general idea that Peter now also puts forth.
Peter then goes further by saying, “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another.” This is directed to all, from the elders down to the newest member in the congregation. There should be a humble spirit which permeates all. Those of wealth should not assume they have a more important position than those who are poor. And those who hold high secular office are to be submissive even to those who clean bathrooms. Paul speaks in the same way several times, such as in the following verses –
“…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:20, 21
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3, 4
Peter then says to all to “be clothed with humility.” The word translated as “clothed” is found only here in Scripture. It signifies girding oneself. Figuratively then, it signifies the apron which was worn as a badge of servitude, even that worn by a slave. Peter must have been thinking of the last supper as he wrote out these words –
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5
He had seen God’s Messiah do exactly what he is now telling his reader to do. The scholar Bengel writes of these words, “Put on and wrap yourselves about with humility, so that the covering of humility cannot possibly be stripped from you.”
Finally, Peter says –
‘God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.’”
Like in Chapter 4, Peter goes to the wisdom of the Proverbs. This is the same quote that was made in James 4:6. It is a quote from Proverbs 3:34. The idea is that by dropping one’s prideful attitude, and by pursuing the course laid out by God, rather than that of this world, God’s grace can and will be fully realized. This thought looks to the working of the Spirit in the person, when he is walking as he should, in a covenant relationship with God. Such a walk includes walking in humility before others, dropping all sense of pride, and acting in the same humble manner as Christ did by acting in service of others.
Life application: All of us are to submit to one another and give honor and respect in all directions. We should keep in mind that not everyone is going to follow this advice, and many people, due to a lack of knowing the Bible, would think this a foreign idea. However, submission has to start somewhere. Because of this, it is up to those who know God’s word, and have taken Peter’s advice to heart to be the initiators.
Submission doesn’t mean allowing oneself to be abused or misused by others, but it does include overlooking slight offenses and unintentional breeches of courtesy towards one another. In the quote from Proverbs, we see the reason for this congenial and meek attitude – it is because God resists the proud. He does this actively. Pride is the great destroyer of fellowship with Him, and between us and others. When pride steps into the room, a joyous and happy atmosphere quickly fades away.
In contrast, God gives grace to the humble. This means that God’s unmerited favor rests on those who are humble and contrite in spirit. We still fall short of His merit; thus, the term “grace” is used. But God notices our attitude and lavishes His caring and guiding love upon us when we act in this manner towards others. If we receive it from acting this way in a sympathetic environment, how much more in an unfriendly one! Be humble, submit to one another, and love the Lord your God with all your heart. God attends to those who act in such a way.
Lord Jesus, you know how hard it is for us to be submissive at times, especially when it involves someone who is less than kind in his demeanor. But God, give us grace to act in the way Your word tells us to act. May our lives be a testament to the grace shown us at the cross and the grace You continue to show us as we act properly towards those around us. Amen.