Throughout this letter, Peter addresses Christians as they face persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ. He addressed them first as a collective body of Christians throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. As the living stones who were all part of that one spiritual house that God was building.
Then he addressed individual Christians, the slaves, the wives, and the husbands.
Then he addressed them once again as that collective body of believers.
But now in this final chapter, I think he addresses them as individual churches. When the whole church is going through suffering, how should it respond?
It starts from the top and the example the leaders set. Peter tells them to be shepherds who really care for the flock, especially in this time of trial.
It’s easy in times of trial to look out for number one. But leaders especially are not to do that. Nor are they to lord it over their sheep. Rather, they are to put their sheep and their sheeps’ needs above their own.
I’m not sure, but I think perhaps Peter was recalling God’s condemnation of the bad shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel 34, the ones whom God had charged to lead his people, but who instead only lived for themselves.
And it’s possible Peter was saying, “Don’t be like those shepherds. Care for your flock. God will hold you accountable for what you do. But if you are faithful, then,”
When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (4)
Peter then addresses the young men, telling them to be submissive to those in leadership. (5)
It’s easy, especially for those who are younger, to think they know all the answers and to criticize those in leadership. But Peter says, “Submit. Your leaders may not always be right, but submit. Don’t divide the church through your pride.”
Then he said,
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. (5-6)
Like I have said before, in times of trial, it can be easy for people to turn against each other, particularly because of pride. But Peter says, “Be humble in your dealings with each other. And more importantly be humble before God. And if you do so, he will lift you up out of those sufferings.”
Verse 6 is actually part of one longer idea found in verse 5. Humble yourself before God. Don’t think you can solve all your problems on your own. You can’t. Instead, cast your anxiety on him because he does care for you.
So many times, we can’t find peace in our lives because we fail to do just that. In our pride, we take all these burdens upon ourselves because we can “handle it.”
But God tells us, “Trust me. Humble yourself before me and lay these things in my hand. And I will handle it.”
Peter then tells the church to be on the alert. Satan would destroy them through these trials if he could. But Peter says, stand firm in faith. Remember you’re not alone in your sufferings. Other brothers and sisters are struggling too. So encourage one another.
He then concludes,
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (10-11)
And so we have come full circle. God has called you. He’s sanctifying you each day that you might become more like his Son. Part of that sanctifying process is the sufferings you endure. And God’s purpose in all things is that we might live for Jesus Christ.
But the thing to remember is we don’t have to do this in our own strength. Humble yourself before him. Trust him. And in the end you will come out strong, firm, and steadfast, to his glory.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (14)