1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2. Read 1 Peter 5:1-2
3. Peter begins the conclusion to his letter with some personal comments. In 5:1-4, he turns his focus to the leadership of the church. The grace that God gives to followers of Jesus living in this hostile world INCLUDES servant-leaders leading His church well. Peter wanted to remind the leaders of the church what their leadership should look like. Peter begins this exhortation to church leaders by addressing them as a “fellow elder.” What strikes you about how Peter relates to other leaders in the church?
4. Peter here calls the leaders “Elders.” This is a common title for the leaders of local churches in the New Testament. Paul instructed Titus to appoint Elders in each city in Crete (Titus 1:5). The church in Ephesus was led by a group of Elders (Acts 20:17ff). Qualifications for Elders (called “overseers” in 1 Timothy) are given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. From what you see in 1 Peter 5, Titus 1, 1 Timothy 3, and Acts 20, what is the job of an “Elder” in a local church?
5. As was seen above in question 4, those serving in the role of Elder were called different things. Sometimes “Elder,” sometimes “overseer,” and sometimes “Pastor” or “Shepherd.” In the churches you have been a part of, what have the leaders been called? (NOTE: The diversity of titles used for elder/overseer/pastor should prevent us from judging churches based on the names they call their leaders.)
6. Notice that the plural form, “Elders,” is used here and in other parts of the New Testament. What is the benefit of a multiplicity of leaders (as opposed to one dominant leader)?
7. STUDY NOTE: Peter also says in 5:1 that he is a “witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker of the glory that is going to be revealed.” Part of what leaders in the church have in common is a current experience (being persecuted in Jesus’ name) and future promise (sharing in glory when Jesus returns). Certainly Peter saw Jesus suffer, but suffering in Jesus name continued as the church experienced persecution. Peter was well acquainted with this, and he reminded all fellow Elders that He was in the fight with them, and awaited the same future glory as they did. Peter did not think he would receive an extra special place at the “pearly gates.” He knew that in Christ, all Christians would share in the same glory when Jesus returned.
8. In 5:2, the Elders are charged with “shepherding” or “pastoring” the “flock of God that is among you.” What stands out to you about this charge? Specifically:
- In what way is a “shepherd” a good model for a church leader?
- Notice that the “flock” (the people) are not described as the possession of the church leader, but as connected to God. Why is this important (in your opinion)?
- The flock was “among” them. What does this mean about nature of church leadership?
9. Leaders are to provide oversight willingly, not under compulsion (5:2). What do you think this means?
10. Leaders are to provide oversight “eagerly,” not for “selfish gain (5:2). What do you think this means?
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