Shepherd the Flock (1 Peter 5:1-4)

Shepherd the Flock (1 Peter 5:1-4)


  • Same themes continue to emerge as Peter encourages his suffering readers with hopeful reminders of Christ’s return and their eternal inheritance that awaits.
  • Specifically addresses the elders > your future session.

Read 1 Peter 5:1-4

  • What about those of you who aren’t elders (all of you)? Do you get to tune out?
  • You’re overhearing Peter’s instruction to fellow-elders. He’s not speaking to you, but he’s speaking loud enough for you to hear.
  • In fact, he knows you’re there. You don’t have to keep hiding. Why has he invited you to hear this?
    1. Not shocked when elders begin to oversee.
    2. Accountability for elders to oversee well.
  • All of us need oversight.
  • God has given to his Church qualified, but fallible men to exercise the oversight that every believer needs.
    1. The Role of Elders (1)
    2. The Responsibility of Elders (2-3)
    3. The Reward of Elders (4)

The Role of Elders (1)

  • Elders = Spiritual leaders of churches (Acts 14:23). Bishop/Presbyter used synonymously (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus & 1 Tim.).
  • “Fellow elder” Peter knows what they are going through on two levels. Emphasizing his/their experience of Christ’s suffering and glory.
  • This motivates Peter’s ministry. Therefore he prefaces his exhortation to his fellow elders with a reminder of them. This motivation strengthens leadership resolve to carry out their calling with careful adherence.
  • Spurgeon’s struggle with depression is well documented.

Lecture’s To My Students Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between…It is not necessary by quotations from the biographies of eminent ministers to prove that seasons of fearful prostration have fallen to the lot of most, if not all of them.

  • Prepares them to care for a hurting flock.
  • Barna: Almost 1/5 young adults leave church because their faith isn’t helping them cope with depression or other emotional problems.
  • US: 16M affected with depression, most between 18-25.
  • Every shepherd must learn to care for those who suffer emotionally. But how can they lead when they suffer in the same manner?
  • Every believer, including the shepherds, need oversight. All are called to follow the example of the “Man of Sorrows”.

Christ’s calling motivates, but how?…

The Responsibility of Elders (2-3)

  1. Not out of compulsion > Freely, willingly. Although, the task is not easy, they shouldn’t dread doing it. Not always fun, but necessary.
  2. Not for shameful gain (greedy power/wealth) > Eagerly (Rom. 1:15; time & money for civic duties). Elders don’t do it for the money (1 Tim. 5:17-18).
  3. Not domineering > Living as examples prevents him from becoming authoritarian.

M’Cheyne My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.

  • NOT “Keep everyone happy!” or “Discover their needs.”
  • Leadership provides accountability through feeding and tending (John 21:15-17).
  • Spurgeon spoke of the tremendous weight preaching gave him, even after 30yrs:

“Often, in coming down to this pulpit, have I felt my knees knock together, not that I am afraid of any one of my hearers, but I am thinking of that account which I must render to God, whether I speak his Word faithfully or not.”

  • Peter knows elders are fallible, which is why he exhorts them NOT to be reluctant, greedy, or domineering.
    • He knows some will get into these positions for the wrong reasons.
    • And some may need to be removed from their position, either for a season or permanently.
  • The sincerity of your submission to authority is revealed when your autonomy is challenged. Your response reveals submission/rejection of authority God has established (2:13-17).

Their ultimate motivation is…

The Reward of Elders (4)

  • Elders are under-shepherds submitting to the Chief Shepherd. God is the owner of the flock (1). The shepherd provides oversight in reliance upon him.
  • God doesn’t want elders who begrudge their calling, so the Chief Shepherd promises to reward them.

Grudem Peter promises no earthly reward but rather directs the elders to look beyond this present world…

  • Eternal but particular (1 Cor. 3:10-15; Rev. 4:4, 10).
  • Why are so few churches willing to exercise oversight? Why are so few Christians willing to submit to that oversight?
  • God’s instruction regarding the responsibility and reward of elders are not hidden! It would seem that few take God’s Word seriously.
  • You might say, “Well they just don’t know any better.” But that proves my point. If they don’t know any better, then they clearly aren’t taking the bible seriously enough to actually read it.
  • God has given me a new sense of both the weight of responsibility as well as the incredible blessing that awaits my faithful completion of his calling.
  • Not that I can do this in my own strength. The weight of responsibility forces me to trust in Christ alone to fulfill this work through me by His Spirit.
  • My response to various trials with an eternal perspective is the hard work of shepherding.

Role > Responsibility > Reward


  • God has given to his Church qualified, but fallible men to exercise the oversight that every believer needs.
  • Imagine this letter’s impact upon congregations where tensions existed between members and elders.
  • Offenses might need to be apologized for. Forgiveness might need to be extended. Attitudes would most likely need to be adjusted. And that would apply to the elders as well as the members.
  • Peter’s words apply to all of us.
  • Peter’s witness of Christ’s suffering is a painful reminder of his greatest failure.Yet, it defined his role, responsibility, and pointed to his reward. In humility, Peter leads by example.