Commentary on 1 Peter 5:1–14
Week 5 (August 7, 2022)
Preaching text: 1 Peter 5:1–14; accompanying text: Matthew 20:25-28
First Peter cultivates Christian identity defined by mutuality and kinship across cultural, social, and geographical differences. For example, 1 Peter 3:8-9 says, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, lovers of your fellow believers, compassionate, and modest in your opinion of yourselves. Don’t pay back evil for evil or insult for insult. Instead, give blessing in return. You were called to do this so that you might inherit a blessing.”
In its final chapter, 1 Peter makes the imperative plain: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9). The letter writer works overtime to assert an identity of fellowship and collective response to mistreatment.
The diverse local Christian communities are “sharers” in both the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13) and the glorious apocalyptic revelation of Christ (1 Peter 5:1). The letter deploys a description about the elder-youth relationship that makes it a distinction of Christian community arrangement. Located in 1 Peter 5:1–5, rather than within the stylized household code in 2:11–3:7, the elder-youth relationship is cast a reciprocal exchange. While the elders have responsibilities to the overall community, the letter clarifies that “the youth” have obligations, too. In fact, the letter flattens the elder-youth hierarchy more by asserting that God outranks both (5:2, 5).