by Richard Mansel, managing editor
Peter speaks to the elders to implore them to be serious about their responsibilities. He urges them to be leaders, physically and spiritually.
Ezekiel writes about the watchers who must protect the people of God (Ezekiel 33:1-11).
Shepherds must watch over the flock and be ready always to warn Christians about the dangers facing them. Elders immerse themselves in the Word of God and remain alert to the dangers of society and attuned to the waves of heresy in the Lord’s church.
Elders are to be shepherds and lead the people of God to heaven. The “chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4) watches over his flock and the elders watch over their souls. Elders are working for the Master and they have serious roles in God’s kingdom. This is a “reminder that elders serve under the ‘Chief Shepherd’ to whom they, also, must someday give an account.”/1
These elders serve as spiritual overseers. “They exercise oversight of the flock of God, bishops and elders are obligated to superintend and direct the affairs of the congregation committed to their care.”(cf. Hebrews 13:17)./2
They lead, but not in an overbearing spirit. “The word ‘overseer’ implies that those who lead the church are to exercise authority. Their authority is not that of swords or guns, but rather the force of their spiritual and moral example.”/3
Elders must stand for truth, regardless of whether people will follow. Their ultimate responsibility is to God and they must attempt to instill this singular attitude in the children of the Master.
Elders lead by example (1 Peter 5:3). The word “example” refers to “an architect’s plan or a sculptor’s or painter’s model.”/4 An example is a pattern to follow and means “an impression left by a stroke.”/5 Elders make a difference with their leadership and moral example as protectors and passionate warriors for God’s plan.
Driven by godliness and duty, rather than power and greed, pastors are mentors and men of prayer and righteousness. They have authority from God to serve under the Word of God.
“To deny elders the proper exercise of authority in the oversight of the church is as much a perversion of the New Testament teaching as it is for the elders to abuse their rights and privileges through improper seizure of authority.” /6
However, the elders are not to be bullies. They are “warned against the unseemly ambition and abuse of power.”/7 If they will fulfill their duties as watchers, they must never waver from the horizon and the souls of men. If Satan can divert their attention, he will exploit it with all of his might. These godly men must “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1, NKJV).
Satan is always watching for a way to steal the flock from the Shepherd (John 10:10). “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The Devil is an adversary and he is relentless (Job 1:7; Revelation 12:10). His roaring evidences the “howl of a beast in fierce hunger.”/8 He has an insatiable appetite to pull the saints away from the Lord, if we will allow him to deceive us (Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29; Ephesians 6:10-11).
1/ Guy N. Woods, A Commentary On the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John and Jude (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1966),123.
2/ Woods, 124.
3/ Duane Warden, 1& 2 Peter and Jude in the Truth for Today Commentary Series edited by Eddie Cloer (Searcy: Resource Publications, 2009), 265.
4/ Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Peabody: Hendricksen, n.d.), 1:666-667.
6/ Woods, 126.
7/ Woods, 125.
8/ Vincent, 1:669
by Richard Mansel, managing editor