1 Peter 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you…
One of the blessings God has provided to help us stay strong during difficult times is the local church. The necessity for believers to be regularly involved in a local church is not something men have devised or developed. It has always been a part of God’s plan for caring for His people. Notice what happened immediately after the Day of Pentecost –
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…
…44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
From the very beginning, the church was a close-knit community where fellow believers did all they could to help each other physically and spiritually. Scripture says that the early Christians met together ‘daily’ for fellowship and support, and to study God’s Word and pray. Support and encouragement became even more important once the believers began to experience persecution. Not only did they need to cry on each other’s shoulder, they needed to hear words of truth and encouragement. Much of their encouragement came from the preaching and teaching of the Apostles. As the church continued to grow and expand, there became the need for more than the Apostles. Thus the Lord initiated the calling of men we today call ‘Pastors.’
Originally these men were probably called ‘Elders’ vs. ‘Pastors.’ Paul told Titus – ‘ordain elders in every city.’ (Titus 1:5) Every local church needs spiritual leadership. Peter, who himself was an Elder, wrote these words to his fellow servants – 1 Peter 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
What can we learn from Peter’s words?
1. It is God’s Plan for His People to be Shepherded by Godly Leaders.
In the next verse Peter says – “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.” (vs 6) We read from the book of Hebrews – “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls…” (Heb 13:17)
2. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (Pastor), and All Other Pastors Are His Under-shepherds.
Again turning to the book of Hebrews we read – “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” (Hebrews 13:17) Not only are pastors accountable to their people, they are accountable to their Master.
3. True Leaders Must Lead First and Foremost by Their Personal Example
Paul wrote – “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (see 1 Corinthians 11:1)