Translation & Notes

1 Peter 5:1-4

5:1 Πρεσβυτέρους τοὺς ἐν ὑμῖν παρακαλῶ ὁ συμπρεσβύτερος καὶ μάρτυς τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθημάτων, ὁ καὶ τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης κοινωνός·

I urge the elders who are among you, as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and a partner in the glory which is going to be revealed;

While Πρεσβυτέρους could be understood to be a reference to older individuals within the church, it seems as if Peter has a particular group of people in mind. We should understand the use of πρεσβυτέρους to be a reference to church officials, a group with which Peter identifies as a συμπρεσβύτερος or fellow elder.

The use of ἐν ὑμῖν further specifies Peter’s audience for this particular exhortation. These elders have been set apart by their local bodies for the purpose of leadership.

Peter provides three identifiers for himself: συμπρεσβύτερος or fellow elder, μάρτυς or witness, and κοινωνός or partner. Each of these three nominatives stand in apposition to the understood subject of παρακαλῶ or I urge.

This is the only occurrence of συμπρεσβύτερος in the New Testament. Peter likely coined this term to further establish the credibility and authority of his exhortation to the elders.

Peter claims to be a μάρτυς, an eyewitness, of Christ’s suffering. The genitive τῶν παθημάτων or sufferings is used in an adverbial sense to describe what Peter witnessed. While many doubt that Peter was an eyewitness to Christ’s crucifixion, the fact remains that Peter was present for the mistreatment of Jesus prior to his death. Peter remains a reliable source for testimony concerning Christ’s suffering, a testimony which should encourage Peter’s readers in their own suffering (1 Pet. 4:13).

τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης or “the glory which is going to be revealed” points forward to a future hope of glory. Peter expects to share in this future glory. Commentators seem to be divided concerning whether Peter is describing himself as a κοινωνός or partner of Christ or of the elders in Asia Minor. Perhaps both are true. On the one hand, Peter will share in the same glory experienced by all those who are in Christ. On the other hand, Peter will share in Christ’s glory in a unique way on account of his apostolic status.

5:2 ποιμάνατε τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίμνιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπισκοποῦντες μὴ ἀναγκαστῶς ἀλλʼ ἑκουσίως κατὰ θεόν, μηδὲ αἰσχροκερδῶς ἀλλὰ προθύμως,

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, caring for them, not because of obligation, but voluntarily in accordance with God, not because of the shameful pursuit of money, but eagerly,

Ποιμάνατε or shepherd is a second person plural command addressed to the elders. As the only imperative in this passage, ποιμάνατε functions as Peter’s primary charge to the elders. The driving metaphor of shepherding outlines Peter’s expectations. See the word study section on this passage for further discussion.

The accusative τὸ ποίμνιον or the flock clarifies who the elders are to shepherd. The ἐν ὑμῖν or among you functions in the same way as in 5:1. The elders are to care specifically for their local flock. While the elders have some responsibility for their flock, the genitive τοῦ θεοῦ communicates that the flock is God’s possession.

The adverbial participle ἐπισκοποῦντες, overseeing or exercising care, describes an aspect of the shepherding task. μὴ ἀναγκαστῶς or not because of obligation introduces the first of two complementary adverbial statements in this verse concerning the intentions behind exercising the watchcare of a shepherd. Watchcare should be given not because of obligation (μὴ ἀναγκαστῶς), but freely (ἑκουσίως). Watchare should be given not for the purpose of obtaining money (μηδὲ αἰσχροκερδῶς), but eagerly (προθύμως). The elder should have a great desire for caring for his flock.

The phrase κατὰ θεόν or in accordance with God is an adverbial use of the accusative which provides the reason for an elder’s willingness to serve in this way. Such serve is in accordance with the will of God.

5:3 μηδʼ ὡς κατακυριεύοντες τῶν κλήρων ἀλλὰ τύποι γινόμενοι τοῦ ποιμνίου·

Not as those who lord it over those who have been allotted to you but as those who are examples for the flock;

This verse continues the complementary pattern which began in 5:2. The use of the adverbial participles κατακυριεύοντες or those who lord it over and γινόμενοι those who are (examples) further describes the nature of a shepherd’s oversight.

The use of τῶν κλήρων or who have been allotted to you is interesting seeing that Peter seems to be thinking of τὸ ποίμνιον, the flock. In speaking of the churches in this way, Peter emphasizes the fact that these flocks belong to God. Only God has given these elders their allotment.

While γινόμενοι could be translated as “becoming,” it does not appear that Peter intends anything beyond the semantic range of the participle form of εἰμί, hence the translation “are examples.”

5:4 καὶ φανερωθέντος τοῦ ἀρχιποίμενος κομιεῖσθε τὸν μαράντινον τῆς δόξης στέφανον.

And once the Chief Shepherd has been made known, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade.

In this verse Jesus Christ is referred to as the ἀρχιποίμενος or Chief Shepherd. This reference to the Chief Shepherd should remind the elders that they are called to submit to Christ. Their delegated authority does not afford them warrant for thinking too highly of themselves. Additionally, they should be reminded that they share in the work of Christ, the one who shepherds all the people of God.

This verse is eschatological in nature. Φανερωθέντος or has been made known points to Christ’s second coming, after which the faithful pastors will receive the unfading crown of glory. Peter and Paul use the future verb κομιεῖσθε to speak of eschatolgoical reward or punishment (1 Pet. 1:9; 2 Cor. 5:10). Peter likely has in mind the crowns of victory given in celebration of athletic or military success.

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