1 Peter Message #16 Spiritual Nature of Elders Ed Miller June 1, 2022

Listen to audio above while reading along with transcript below (also available to download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

As we come to look in the word, I remind my heart and yours that we’ve come to behold the Lord Jesus.  I want to begin with this verse from Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  That expression “little flock”, in the world probably the most vulnerable association you can have is to be a little flock, but in the Lord there is no safer place than in His fold.  We went through a study recently and we saw that He called us His “little ones”, and now He calls us His “little flock”.  Let’s thank the Lord that, “There’s no need to fear, little flock, He gladly gives you the kingdom.”  So, let’s pray.

Father, thank You so much for Your word.  Thank You for the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.  We ask, Lord, that You would turn our eyes and our hearts again to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We know that when we see Him, we’re like Him.  So, we just pray for a heart revelation of Jesus.  Thank You, Lord, for the book of 1 Peter, and as we wrap it up we ask that You would clinch all these truths in our hearts.  We ask in Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.

We’ve come to what will be our final look, and I’m sure there’s a lot more that we’ve missed in the book, but I’m referring to 1 Peter 5, and especially the first five verses.  We’ve touched verses after that in an earlier lesson.  I’m actually going to take time and read these first five verses, so follow along, please.  “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, a partaker, also, of the glory that is to be revealed.  Shepherd the flock of the God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily according to the will of God, not for sordid gain but with eagerness, nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you’ll receive the unfading crown of glory.  You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders, all of you clothe yourself with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

If you look at those five verses, you see that he’s summarizing now, and it’s all about elders, it’s about a flock of sheep, verse 4 is about the Chief Shepherd who will return some day, and then in verse 5, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders.”  In other words, he’s carrying on the message of willingness to be done unto. I want to begin with the word “elder” and the word “elders”, 1 Peter 5:1, “I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder.”  Now, you realize as we get close to the end of 1 Peter, we’re getting close to the end of the New Testament.  This is not the first time the word “elder” has appeared.  It’s not the first time the word “elders” has appeared, but Peter, by using this word, has opened the door to two important topics, or themes or matters.  Some have made issues of them, but they are two different things.

The first, the word “elders” suggests the matter of spiritual gifts because they are listed in one of the lists of spiritual gifts.  Ephesians 4:11-14, “He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, unto the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  So, the Lord spells out why elder and pastor and others are gifts to the church, to promote the unity of the body of Christ, to build up the body of Christ, and to instruct Christians in the exchanged life, so that you can be equipped for service to be used by the Lord, and then finally to lead them into maturity, the fullness of the knowledge of the Son of God.  So, the first matter that the word “elder” opens is spiritual gifts.  We’re not going to go into that, but it’s a precious provision for God’s church.

The second word suggested by “elder” is more of an issue than a Bible theme, and I’m referring to what has been called, and I personally think wrongly understood, that when you think of an elder you think of one of the officers of the church.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time here, but I want to mention it since Peter brought it up.  He called himself an elder, a fellow elder, and he called those he was writing to and encouraging, the suffering saints, elders.  In connection with this, just to get it before you, I want to place six words before you.  I’ll just call out the word.  I’ve already looked up the Greek on these words, but I don’t want to embarrass myself trying to pronounce those words, so I’ll just give you the English equivalent. 

The first is elder, and the second is bishop, or overseer, and the third is pastor, or shepherd, and the fourth is the word steward, and the fifth is the word deacon, and there’s a female part of that, or deaconess, and finally the word evangelist.  It may surprise you to know that these six words do not describe different people.  All of those words are describing the very same person.  Acts 20:17, as an example, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.”  So, there’s the word “elder”.  In the same context, talking about the elders, verse 28, he says, “Be on guard for yourself and for all the flock, which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer.”  That’s the Greek word, “bishop”.  “To shepherd,” that’s the word “pastor”, “his church, the church of God, which He purchased with His blood.”  So, in that verse the word elder, bishop, presbyter, and pastor are all the same person.  It’s not separate offices.  It’s all one person.  Titus 1:5-7 does the same thing.  He addresses the elders and then in verse 7, “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward,” and now he brings in the word “steward”, and it’s the same person.  It’s consistent all throughout the New Testament.  The seven words that people call “officers of the church”, are all referring to the very same person.

Let me pick on somebody, it doesn’t matter who, if Lex were here, I would have picked on him, but he’s not here today.  Anyway, let’s use Lex, since he’s not here.  He can’t fight back.  He has many hats.  He’s one person.  He’s a husband, he’s a father, he’s a son, he’s a friend, he’s a golfer, he’s a businessman, he’s an engineer.  At different times, if you looked at Lex you’d see him functioning with a different hat.  It’s the same person, but his activity would be different.  One time you look at him he might have a golf club in his hand, and his romantic moments he might have a bouquet of flowers in his hand.  It’s the same person.  As a businessman he might have a pad and a pen in his hand.  Sometimes when he comes here, he has a Bible in his hand.  It’s the same person.

If you looked up the meaning of those words as I did, you would find Bible principles.  For example, the word “elder” is a mature person.  That’s what an elder is.  He’s a mature person.  A bishop is one who oversees, who manages, who supervises.  A pastor is a shepherd, somebody who feeds.  A steward is one who is faithful.  A deacon, the word just means servant, somebody who serves.  The word evangelist means it’s one who proclaims.  That’s what the word means.  Even the word apostle just means an ambassador.  A prophet is one who has a vision.  It’s one who is fruitful. 

There’s meaning to those words.  Someone may ask or wonder, “If those all referred to the same person, why are there portions of scripture that give qualifications for elders, qualifications for bishops, and so on.  It sounds, when you read those, that there are certain titles that meet special qualifications.  You need to know, and I’m sure you do, that God is not a respecter of persons.  He doesn’t have one list of qualifications for somebody called “elder” and another list of qualifications for the average Christian.  He has one standard for everybody.  All the qualifications for elders and bishops and deacons and stewards are His qualifications for every Christian.  He simply is saying, “Before I can use you to edify others, you should at least have entered that stage of maturity,” and that’s why He singles those out, but His standard is the same. 

Christ must fully possess us before He can use us.  These precious titles apply to every Christian.  They are not officers in the local church.  These are words that describe every Christian.  It’s not somebody who is elected.  An elder is actually somebody who is recognized.  Sometimes they’re pointed out and sometimes they are recommended as somebody who is Godly and mature.  Let’s say that some church, it doesn’t matter what church, has say eight elders that have been elected, ordained, they’re set up, and they’re on the board, and they’re elders, and someone comes along that has a spiritual problem.  Are they going to say, “Who has been elected that I can call?”  You see, an elder is recognized.  He’s not elected.  He’s recognized.  If you had a spiritual problem, you know the Godly man or woman you would call.  If I had a spiritual problem, I know the Godly man or woman I would call.  It wouldn’t matter if they had a title or an office.  If I knew they were walking with Jesus, and they knew the Lord and they had some ability and some wisdom to help me, that’s who I would call.  We know who they are.  They are recognized.

From the beginning, Satan has bent over backwards trying to make an organization out of an organism.  The church is an organism, and the more intimately you’re acquainted with God’s heart, that we are His body and are the church…  Everyone in the organism, depending upon maturity…  Do you realize you are a Christian, then you’re a bishop?  You’re a Christian, you’re a pastor.  You’re a Christian, you’re an elder, you’re a deacon, and it’s not some position, “Well, I’m a deacon for two years, and then I can resign.”  You can’t resign maturity.  That’s who you are.  At any given moment you might be proclaiming Christ.  At that moment you’re an evangelist.  At any moment you might be feeding a brother or sister some truth, and in that moment you’re a pastor, you’re an elder.  At any moment you might be serving somebody in the body of Christ, and in that moment, you are a deacon or a deaconess.  At any moment you might be hosting.  Actually, the word “office” means “to host” or “to visit”.  God never intended that there be a clergy and a laity.  That is not God’s heart; a hierarchy, some organization with a slate of officers.  That is not God’s heart and it never has been.

The only reason I’m bringing this up is that we need to understand what Peter is saying when he said, “I, your fellow elder, am writing to elders,” and you might think he’s writing to somebody else, and not you.  He’s not writing to some hotshots that have gone to school and been ordained, and all that kind of thing.  It’s important that we understand this.  I know I may have opened up a bag that some would have preferred I left closed but blame Peter.  He mentioned the word “elders”.

I want to look closer at these five verses.  I want to bring them back to the context.  For several sessions we’ve been meditating on submission, willingness to be done unto.  You remember 1 Peter 2:23 with the Lord Jesus who was submissive, “While being reviled,” being done unto, “He did not revile in return.  While suffering,” being done unto, “He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  So, He kept entrusting Himself to the One who lived inside Him. 

Peter reminds these suffering pilgrims to do what Jesus did, so 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether as to a king as one in authority, or to governors sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and the praise of those who do right.”  Submit to the government, and then he addresses servants.  Verse 18, “Servants, be submissive to your masters, not only those who are good and gentle, but those who unreasonable.”  1 Peter 3:1, same way, “Wives, be submissive to your husband, even if any of them are disobedient to the word.”  Then he turns it around and addresses the husbands, verse 7, “You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way.”  His message has been throughout to submit, and to be willing to be done unto, or rather, let the One who lives in you, who is living redemptively, He wants to submit to reach others.  That’s when He was in first body, He submitted to reach others, and He lives in you, and He submits to reach others. 

The whole point I’m saying is, now that he’s come to the end of the epistle, he hasn’t changed subjects.  Jesus submitted to the Father.  We submit to the government.  Servants, submit to the masters.  Wives submit to the husbands.  Husbands submit to the wives.  Christians submit to one another.  Now he comes to this, 1 Peter 5:5, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders.”  It’s the same message.  He hasn’t changed the message just because he’s come to the last part of it.  It’s interesting that in those earlier illustrations of submission, probably this isn’t a Bible word, but they were acting like jerks.  “Submit to the government even if they’re oppressive, and you slaves submit to your masters, even if they’re unreasonable, and you wives submit to your husbands, even if they don’t believe or are disobeying the word, and you husbands, even if the wife happens to be the weak, submit.”  I wonder when I read 1 Peter 5:2&3 if the elders were being addressed because they were acting like jerks.  1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, not for sordid gain, but with eagerness, nor yet not lording over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”  Were those elders at that time just doing it out of duty and doing it for worldly honor or financial gain.  Were those elders at that time trying to lord it over the flock and have authority and gain a following to themselves?  Whether they were guilty of that, or whether they were in danger of becoming guilty of that, which is a possibility, in any case, God’s word to the younger is the same.  1 Peter 5:5, “Younger men, likewise be subject to your elders.  All of you, clothe yourself with humility toward one another.  God is opposed to the proud.  He gives grace to the humble.” 

If the younger were going to be redemptive and let Christ live through them, they had to submit, and those three things that Peter exhorts the elders about, don’t do it out of duty, don’t do just to get rich, and don’t do it to show that you have some kind of power and authority, all those things are a matter of the heart.  It’s not something you wear on your sleeve that you can see.  There’s no sign tattooed to your forehead.  In other words, I can’t look at somebody, any Christian, and say, “I know you are only doing that out of obligation.”  I can’t see your heart.  I don’t know if you’re doing it out of obligation, and I can’t say, “They’re only in it for recognition and they’re in it for the money.”  I don’t know that.  You can’t see that.  And I can’t say, “He’s just trying to be a big deal, and wants to be a leader, and wants to be show-off, and wants to have authority and wants to have power and exercise power and control.  We can’t see that, and we don’t know.  So, he says, “We don’t know, and submit and trust the Lord.  The Lord knows about that.”

That wisdom will work if in your mind you understand that the church is an organism. It is a living, breathing, living members of the body of Christ.  Then you submit, and it would work.  If the church is an organism, that is beautiful, but if Satan can convince somebody that it’s God’s will that there be this organization that has leadership, and then you’re told, “Submit,” and he can convince somebody that they’re obligated, no matter how many rules that organization puts on you, and no matter whether they’re doing it for money and worldly gain, and to be popular, or no matter how much authority, and Satan would like you to see that you can never be free of that, “God wants to submit to that organization, because they’re the authority, and if you in any way try to break free from that organization, you’ve sinned against God.”  We need to see that the church is an organism.  It’s living.  We ARE the church. 

Somebody says, “Are you going to church?”  You ARE the church.  I Am the church.  We ARE the church.  I’m not saying in any way that God doesn’t use gathering together in local assembly.  He does.  Praise God for that.  I attend.  I want to attend.  I want to be there.  His church, His people are there.  His flock is there.  1 Peter 5:8&9, “Be of sober spirit, and be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith,” and Christ is the object of your faith.  In other words, trust the Lord, and if you’re serious, and are really walking with the Lord, you know when it’s not from God, and to resist.

There are two great pictures in these five verses that bring us to the heart of God, and to the end of this great epistle.  Those two pictures are connected by life; they’re vital.  1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God among you.”  I’m referring to the word “flock”.  That’s how we began, “Fear not, little flock.”  We often compare people, one another, to some characteristic of an animal, like somebody is as stubborn as a mule, strong as an ox, sly as a fox, harmless as a dove, those afraid are likened to chickens, just a big chicken, wise as owls, bold as a lion, quick as a cat, he eats like a pig.  We compare them to animals; proud as a peacock, he’s a snake in the grace.  We just use animals and reptiles.  The reason I call attention to that is because when God compares us to an animal, it’s a sheep, it’s a lamb, a needy sheep, a helpless defenseless lamb, can’t defend itself.  It doesn’t have a shell and it doesn’t have a tough hide.  It has no way to ward off an enemy.  It’s not fleet of foot, and it can’t run quickly.  It can’t squirt ink or even an offensive odor.  The only hope for the sheep is a good shepherd.  That’s the hope for the sheep. 

That’s why I love John 10:11, “Jesus said, ‘I’m the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” 1 Samuel 17:34&35, “David, the shepherd, said to Saul, ‘Your servant was tending his father’s sheep, when a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock.  I went on after him and attacked him and rescued the lamb from its mouth, seized him by the beard, and I struck him and killed him.”  That’s a good shepherd.  David is a good shepherd.  Without a shepherd the sheep will surely die, probably of hunger and thirst.  They can’t find that still water by themselves and can’t find that green pasture by themselves, or else they’ll become a prey.  Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray.  Each of us has turned to his own way.  The Lord has caused the iniquity of all of us to fall on Him.”  We are like the sheep, prone to wander.  There’s a hymn, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel, prone to leave the God I love.”  Isn’t that amazing, but that’s our nature.  That’s the first picture I want you to see, the flock, the sheep, you and me, sheep.

The second picture is in 1 Peter 5:1&2, “I exhort you, the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the suffering of Christ, partaker of the glory to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you.”  The word is “shepherd”.  The first is “sheep” and you’re a flock, and the second is “shepherd”.  This had to be a big deal for Peter, because almost the last words that he heard from the Lord Jesus, do you remember after he denied the Lord and he was being restored?  John 21:15, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  He said, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.’   And He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’  He said again to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.’  He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’  He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ and he said to Him, ‘Lord, you know all things.  You know that I love You.’  And Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”

Being a faithful shepherd had to be big on Peter’s heart because he denied the Lord, and the Lord said, “I want to make a shepherd out of you.  Feed My sheep.”  And now, God comes to this chapter and it’s not a surprise that at the end of 1 Peter that He mentioned the shepherd and mentions the sheep.  God comes on pretty hard on false shepherds.  Jeremiah 23:1, “’Whoa to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture,’ declares the Lord.”  There’s a wonderful promise, as well, verse 4, “’I’ll raise up shepherds over them.  They will tend them.  They’ll not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the Lord.”  That word “shepherd” had to be precious to Peter.

So, that double picture, on one side the flock and on the other side the shepherd, Paul had that same passion.  When he met with the mature Christians at Ephesus, Acts 20:28, “Be on guard for yourselves, and for all the flock among who the Holy Spirit has made you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.  I know after My departure, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” 

That’s the double picture, the flock and the shepherd.  Let me give it to you as a principle, tying in what we said earlier about the organic church. Do you realize this, every elder, every shepherd, every mature Christian is also a sheep?  Every elder is also a sheep, and every sheep is also an elder.  Every sheep is also a shepherd.  We all need to be fed.  We’re sheep, and we all need to feed.  We’re shepherds.  As a flock, we’re going to be fed, and as a shepherd, we’re going to become feeders, “Tend My sheep, feed My lambs.”  All of our needs will be met.

There’s a wonderful passage pointing to the Lord Jesus, bringing together shepherd and sheep, and it’s in eternity.  He’s in His glory, and He’s describing heaven.  I love Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb,” now that’s the sheep, right? “in the center of the throne will be their Shepherd.  He’ll guide them to springs of water of life, and God will wipe all tears from their eyes.”  How precious is that?  The Lamb will be the Shepherd, and He’s the One that lives in your heart.  He lives in your heart to be the Lamb, and to be the Shepherd, guaranteed that you’ll be fed and to use you to feed others.  He lives in us for that purpose.  Every Christian, not just the so-called officers of the church, every Christian is a sheep and a shepherd.  We are His flock.  We need each other.  You need me, and I need you.  I want to feed you, but I need to be fed.  You feed me.  That’s God’s heart.  That’s why He’s ending this in this way. 

Pay attention, please, to verse 4, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you’ll receive an unfading crown of glory.”  Why does Peter call attention to the coming of the Lord Jesus as, “the Chief Shepherd who will give an unfading crown of glory?”  Some would have us believe that all faithful pastors have a special crown which they’re going to receive called, “the unfading crown of glory.”  In fact, those who lean in that direction have done a study and they take all the crowns and they say that they go to different kinds of people.  There’s not only the unfading crown for pastors, then there’s a martyr’s crown that’s mentioned in the Bible for those who love the Lord and who are steadfast.  Then there are some who especially love His appearing in 2 Timothy 4, and then there’s a crown of righteousness for them.  Then there’s a crown for soul winners called “the crown of rejoicing”, in 1 Thessalonians 2.  There’s the incorruptible crown for those who exercise self-control, in 1 Corinthians 9.  So, they take all the crowns and say, “This is a crown for you, and a crown for you, and a crown for you.”  Whatever those crowns mean, or rewards mean, I want to bring you back to where we began.  He’s not isolating certain spiritual hotshots who know Greek and have been to college and have been ordained and have a degree and have all that kind of stuff.  He’s talking about every Christian; every Christian has a crown, and every Christian is a shepherd, and every Christian is a deacon, and every Christian is a presbyter, and every Christian is a steward.  It’s for every one of us.

Let me give you my two favorite crown verses.  We know what we do with the crown.  Let me start there.  Revelation 4:10, whatever it means, “The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne.”  So, don’t try to make a doctrine or word from the word “crown”.  Whatever rewards, whatever honors and privilege the Lord gives you, you’re just going to pour it at His feet in glory.  Isaiah 28:5, “In that day, the Lord of Hosts will become a beautiful crown, a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people.”  I’m not looking for a crown of glory or righteousness or imperishable.  I’ll tell you my crown; the crown is the Lord Himself, the Lord of Hosts will become a crown for His people.  Here’s my other favorite verse, Isaiah 62:3, “You will be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.”  He’s my crown and I’m His.  I’m His crown of beauty in His nail pierced hands.  You’re His crown of beauty.

Why did Peter bring it up?  Why does he say, “Some day the Chief Shepherd will appear?”  I don’t think it was to get us all excited about rewards, “I’ll be a better Christian if I know I’m going to earn a reward.”  It’s not about that.  He’s calling attention to something far more practical and far more precious.  I think there’s never been a time on the planet earth when a flock of sheep has turned back to the shepherd and said, “I want to thank you for protecting me from that hawk or wolf or that fox.  Yesterday you led me to green pastures.  Thank you, shepherd, for doing that.  Last week you guided me to some quiet, still water.  How I appreciate that.  Thank you for fighting off my enemies.  I wandered away for a season, and you, Shepherd, brought me back.  I want to give you thanks for that.  I’m going to acknowledge how good you are.”  That doesn’t happen.  No sheep is going to go to the Shepherd and say, “Thank you.  I appreciate what you’ve done.”

Peter is saying, “You shepherds who are feeding the flock, don’t look for your rewards from the flock.  Minister to them, but don’t think that you’re doing it just for reward or gain.  Don’t do that.  A reward, if there is one, will come when the owner of the flock returns.  That’s why he brought that up.  When the chief shepherd returns, then there will be reward, but don’t try to get a reward.  Don’t think that you’re helping me and I’m helping you, and then we’re going to build each other up.  It’s not about us.  It’s about the Lord working in us, feeding me, feeding you; feed the flock of God over which you have the influence.  1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily according to the will of God.”  It shouldn’t be a labor and it shouldn’t be a duty and it shouldn’t be an obligation.  Pour yourself out to God’s people, unto the Lord.  Don’t do it for money or gain or having a following.  1 Peter 5:3, “…nor yet is lording it over those allotted to your charge.  Prove yourself examples.” 

Peter gives the secret, both of being a shepherd to the flock, and the flock.  1 Peter 5:3, “…proving yourself to be examples.”  Up until this time in the book of 1 Peter, we have seen the theory.  We got the theory.  Under the Lord I hope I was able to give you the recipe.  These are the ingredients, and this is how He lives in you, and this is how He suffers in you, and this is how He is redemptive and works through you.  You’ve got the theory, but Peter is closing His epistle saying, “Don’t keep it a theory.  Be an example.  Make it real and embrace it.”  He doesn’t want to just give us doctrine and He doesn’t want to just teach us about the exchanged life.  He says, “Be an example.”  1 Peter 5:1, “I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder, witness of the suffering of Christ, partakers of the glory.”  Those two things, witness of the suffering of Christ, and partaker of the glory.  Many commentaries, in fact most of them believe that’s referring to historical event.  In other words, “Witness of the sufferings of Christ, Peter is saying, ‘I was there when Jesus died, and I stood at the cross, and I saw Him suffer.  I’m a witness of the sufferings of Christ.”  And then it says, “Partaker of the glory.”  They say that means that he was at the Mount of Transfiguration, and he saw Him when He was transfigured in His glory, and then later again at the ascension.

Those things are true.  He did stand at the cross and witness the suffering, and he was at the mountain and beheld the glory, but I don’t think that’s what he’s saying.  I don’t think that’s what is on his mind.  What he’s saying is, “I am a witness of the suffering of Christ,” in the sense of Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.”  “I’m a witness of the suffering because I’m willing to be done unto.  I’m allowing Him to live in me.  I’m letting Him submit Himself in me.”  He’s testifying of the experience that he has, “I am a witness.  Everything I’ve taught you as theory is true in my life,” says Peter. “I’m one of those and it’s real.”  And in the same way, he says, “I am also, not just preaching it and teaching it, but I’m living it, and just so, I am right now a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.  In theory I told you that you can have joy unspeakable and full of glory.  I have it,” says Peter, “and I’m enjoying it.  This is real for me.”  He’s encouraging elders to make it real for them.  “All mature Christians, make this real, and don’t let it just be theory.  Let Him live in you and through you.  Be willing to be done unto and watch how redemptive it is.  Meanwhile, enjoy a present foretaste, progressive knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Have the joy in your life.” 

To be an elder, to be a mature Christian, you don’t need to go to Bible School, and you don’t need to know Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic.  You don’t need to be ordained.  I was ordained.  What a time that was!  A bunch of empty hands were laid on my empty head, and they said a few words.  It was nothing.  You don’t have to take a course or have some board backing you up.  You just need to be part of the flock, and be a shepherd, and experience the Lord Jesus.  Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He’ll give you the desire of your heart.”  Do you want to be a blessing to your husband and to your wife and to your kid and grandchildren, neighbor, boss, coach?  The best thing you could ever do for anybody is to delight yourself in the Lord.  If you delight yourself in the Lord, He’ll give you the desires of your heart. 

The flock of God feed more off your example than anything you’ll ever say.  Let’s just say there’s a brother or sister that has a need, and they’re going through stuff.  We all go through stuff.  Somebody comes along and says, “I’ve got just the verse for you, and quotes a Bible verse.”  Someone else comes along and says, “We need to pray right now.  Let’s pray.”  And they pray.  I’m not saying to not do that.  Another comes along and says, “I have a financial gift for you.  I’m going to help you,” or, “I’ll carry you to your necessary appointment, or whatever.  Along comes someone, he probably doesn’t even know your problem, and he’s just been in the presence of the Lord Jesus.  He’s been enjoying the Lord, and his heart is full, and his life is overflowing with joy, and he comes into your life, and he doesn’t give a Bible verse necessarily, and he doesn’t pray.  I’m not saying to not give a verse or don’t pray, but he just comes in, and when he leaves or she leaves, who has blessed you?  The answer is it’s the one who is in the presence of the Lord.  You delight yourself in the Lord, you’re going to minister.  You delight yourself in the Lord, you will feed others.  They’re going to feed off of that, and that’s how Peter ends this wonderful epistle.  You don’t know, your smile or your handshake, your grip, your presence, that can minister so much, more than any verse or prayer.\

The book ends with a strange benediction.  I’m going to read the benediction, but I’m going to leave part of it out, on purpose, and then I’ll read it with the part I left out, and you’ll see why it’s a strange benediction.  1 Peter 5:10&11, “The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”  Isn’t that a wonderful benediction?  Now let me give you the full benediction.  Same verse, but this time I’ll read the first part, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”  If you’re going to give me a benediction, I say leave that first part out, “after you’ve suffered a while.”  But he understands the message.  “After you’ve suffered a while, you’re going to see the redemptive results of all Christ has done.” 

That ends 1 Peter.  We will meet next week, and what I’m going to do is give an overview of 2 Peter.  I want to give you a taste for 2 Peter, and then Lord willing we’lll pick that up in the fall. 

Father, thank You for Your word.  Thank You that You’ve called us all to be sheep and shepherds.  Thank You, Lord, that it’s spiritual, and it’s all about relationship with You.  We pray as we come to the end now of 1 Peter that none of us will walk away with just the theory, but that we might become partakers of the sufferings of Christ, and partakers of the glory to be revealed. Work that in us, we pray.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.