Gods Shepherds - 1 Peter 5
Gods Shepherds - 1 Peter 5
Among God’s people, Peter speaks of ‘elders’, ‘overseers’, and shepherds. The picture God and his people as sheep and shepherds is an ancient one. Of course, God is the ultimate Shepherd throughout the Old Testament. Jesus then claims to be ‘the good shepherd’, the promised coming one to look after God’s people. Peter here refers to Him as the ‘chief shepherd’.
We are not surprised to find that among God’s New Testament people, there were men appointed to shepherd the flock. They appointed elders in every church (Acts 14:23). Titus was left in Crete so that he “would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). You can see this same combination of words (shepherd, overseer, and elder) in Acts 20 (vs. 17 elders, vs. 28 overseer and shepherd). These shepherds are not only called shepherds but are referred to as ‘elders’ and are said to exercise ‘oversight’ (from the Greek ἐπισκοπέω, from which we get the word ‘bishop’ in English). An interesting paragraph from Mirriam-Webster:
“Did You Know? The Old English word bisceop, from which we get our English word bishop, comes from the Latin word episcopus. Like many other Latin words connected with religion and the church, this was borrowed from Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written. The Greek word episkopos, meaning “overseer,” was first used for officials in government, and later came to be used for church leaders. In the Bible, bishop and priest were used to identify the same thing. It was much later when a bishop became overseer of a large district, or diocese.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bishop
Such work of shepherding God’s people, as with all service unto God, is to be done voluntarily, freely, willingly, and with dedication.
The flock is God’s, not the shepherds.
They look after God’s people ‘according to the will of God’. Not only was it God’s will that the local church would have such men, they serve UNDER the teachings and instructions given by God in His word.
They must first partake and practice these teachings themselves, that is, they are to be examples to those whom they shepherd.
Such responsibility is daunting, all the more so as we look at the character of the sheep! But with all its challenges, Peter holds out a great reward for such faithful service: 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Pet. 5:4).
In our trying to follow the teaching of the New Testament, this is one area that we as a people struggle with. It is sad to realize how few men desire to do such work! It is also sobering to see so many of God’s people that do not want to submit to such men. And we might add, it is sad to see men who have been put into such a position who
Yet, there are among us such stalwart men of God. They are invaluable to the churches in which they serve as God’s shepherds. Have you known such men? Do you hold them in high esteem? Men, is such service to God the desire of your heart?