Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1 Peter 5:1-11 Exegetical Notes

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5.1 Πρεσβυτέρους οὖν ἐν ὑμῖν παρακαλῶ συμπρεσβύτερος καὶ μάρτυς τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθημάτων, καὶ τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης κοινωνός, 2 ποιμάνατε τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν ποίμνιον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐπισκοποῦντες μὴ ἀναγκαστῶς ἀλλὰ ἑκουσίως κατὰ θεόν, μηδὲ αἰσχροκερδῶς ἀλλὰ προθύμως, 3 μηδʼ ὡς κατακυριεύοντες τῶν κλήρων ἀλλὰ τύποι γινόμενοι τοῦ ποιμνίου· 4 καὶ φανερωθέντος τοῦ ἀρχιποίμενος κομιεῖσθε τὸν ἀμαράντινον τῆς δόξης στέφανον. 5 ὁμοίως, νεώτεροι, ὑποτάγητε πρεσβυτέροις. πάντες δὲ ἀλλήλοις τὴν ταπεινοφροσύνην ἐγκομβώσασθε, ὅτι θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.
6 Ταπεινώθητε οὖν ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃ ἐν καιρῷ, 7 πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρίψαντες ἐπʼ αὐτόν, ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν. 8 νήψατε, γρηγορήσατε. ἀντίδικος ὑμῶν διάβολος ὡς λέων ὠρυόμενος περιπατεῖ ζητῶν τινα καταπιεῖν· 9 ἀντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει, εἰδότες τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων τῇ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ὑμῶν ἀδελφότητι ἐπιτελεῖσθαι. 10 δὲ θεὸς πάσης χάριτος, καλέσας ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ δόξαν ἐν Χριστῷ, ὀλίγον παθόντας αὐτὸς καταρτίσει, στηρίξει, σθενώσει, θεμελιώσει. 11 αὐτῷ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων· ἀμήν.

Critical

v2 ἐπισκοποῦντες μὴ ἀναγκασῶς ἀλλὰ ἑκουσίως κατὰ θεόν / ἐπισκεύοντες (variations with omissions)
There is some doubt whether ἐπισκοποῦντες is original at all, I consider it more likely than the NA27 editors.

v3 μηδ´ ὡς ... ποιμνίου / omit
The verse is omitted in Vaticanus, but should stand.

v6 καιρῷ / καιρῷ ἐπισκοπῆς / καιρῷ ἐν τῳ μέλλοντι αἰῶνι
The shorter reading to be upheld. ἐπισκοπῆς likely from 2:12

v10 ὑμᾶς / ἡμᾶς
Overwhelming mss support for ὑμᾶς against Byzantine ἡμᾶς

v10 ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ / ἐν Χριστῷ
Ἰησοῦ is found in many mss, but absent in an early few. Without better data, it is uncertain; on principle, the shorter reading may be preferred.

Translation

Therefore I exhort the elders among you, as a co-elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and as a partaker also of the coming glory to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, over-seeing not by compulsion but by volition, according to God, nor eager for shameful profit, but eagerly, not lording it over [your] lot, but becoming exemplars of the flock; and you will obtain for yourself the unfading wreath of glory, with the appearing of the Arch-Shepherd. Likewise, younger men, submit to elders. You all, clothe yourselves with humility to one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that he might exalt you at the right time, cast all your anxiety upon him, because he cares about you. Be sober-minded, be vigilant. Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks around seeking to devour someone; against whom, resist! firm in the faith, knowing that the same, of sufferings, is occuring to your brotherhood in the world. But the God of all grace, the one calling you into his eternal Glory in Christ, [you] having suffered for a little, will restore, confirm, strength, and establish [you]. To him be th epower forever and ever; amen.

Commentary

In this final section before closing Peter addresses the elders int he community. Another οὖν signifies a logical connection to the preceding section; in one sense it addresses how elders in particular should conduct themselves in ‘good deeds’ as their enaction of entrusting themselves to the faithful Creator. It’s interesting to note that the content of the exhortation is delayed until verse 2 while Peter identifies himself in two (three) noun phrases, giving a persuasive basis for his particular exhortation to the elders. Peter identifies himself as a “co-elder”, “witness”, and “sharer”. As to the first, the term is unusual and difficult to translate. I say unusual because Peter is not among their communities at present. The sense may then be “I am an elder like you are”. Despite the single article covering both συμπρεσβύτερος and μάρτυς, it is difficult to read them completely as a unit since the sense of the two does not seem to permit this. Specifically, Peter identifies himself as a “witness of the sufferings of the Christ”. Does Peter mean this in a generic sense, as a believer who has experienced in his own life suffering for the sake of Christ? Or does he mean that he is an (eye-) witness to Jesus’ sufferings and death? It seems like the later is more probably. Thirdly, Peter describes himself as someone who shares in the glory that is to be revealed. In doing so he reinforces the immediacy and certainty of the eschatological hope that runs through the letter, as well as expressing that Peter’s share in this is an act of solidarity with those who share the same hope.

On this basis he exhorts the elders to shepherd the flock of God. This is further qualified by an adverbial participial phrase itself qualified by 3 sets of paired adverbial phrases. The structure could be broken down as:

Imperative
               epexegetical participle
               A             Not adverb,
                              but adverb
               B             Not adverb
                              but adverb
               C             Not adverb
                              but adverb

ἐπισκοποῦντες does not, in my view, add a great deal to “shepherd” except to express the pastoral metaphor in a different way, “watching over”; it does, however, contribute to the position that there is no real differentiation of rank in the NT between ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’. The first set of adverbs contrasts volition – the work of looking after God’s people should be done of one’s own free will. This seems to concur with Paul’s teaching in 1 Tim 3:1, about aspiring to be an overseer. While the idea of being forced into leadership may seem strange to us, in light of the Late Antique practice of reluctance to be ordained and ‘godly coercion’, it is not so unthinkable. Moreover, there are many subtle ways in which people are pushed into the work of eldership that may be described as “unwillingly”. The second set of constraints is that it should be undertaken not for greed, but προθύμως. The first term αἰσχροκερδῶς, which could be translated as “eager for shameful profit”, and then nicely contrasted with “eagerly”. It is an eager willingness for the task itself, not for what may be obtained by means of the role, that should prompt pastoral ministry. The final set depicts the relation of the elder/shepherd to the flock, not “lording it over” them, but as exemplars. For the first term, we may compare with Jesus’ words in Luke 22:25. The pattern of leadership for elders is not modelled on the practice of benefaction nor on the Gentile models of lordship. Rather, leaders are to be paradigmatic examples for the rest of believers. This is, of course, the way Peter has employed Christ as an ethical model.

Verse 4 then gives positive motivation for the work of pastoring in terms of reward. It begins with a genitive absolute phrase, the appearance of the Arch-Shepherd (Chief Pastor, however you like to translate it). It is helpful to remember in today’s climate that Jesus in this letter is called both Top-dog Pastor (5:4) and Bishop (2:25). There is no higher office in the church than Jesus. His appearing will be the time, and to some extent the cause, of elders receiving “the unfading wreath of glory”. The term ἀμαράντιον relates tho the amaranth flower, which was known for its red blossom that did not fade. A wreath-crown of flowers was typically given to winners of athletic competitions, while a gold version of the same was given to civic benefactors (Jobes, 306; Llewelyn 1994, p240). The image of unfading glory compares with 1:24, and the glory of the flowers of the field. Faithful service leads to reward and honour from Christ himself.

A much briefer exhortation attaches in v5, moving from “elders” to “youth”. It is not primarily a contrast between “offices” since no such office existed, nor between older and younger men, but those who are qualified as ‘elders’ and those who are not (all other church members). Their role involves submission to the elders.

Moving from two groups, elders and non-elders, πάντες signifies general instruction (cf 3:8), and the need to clothe themselves with humility toward one another. This ethical instruction is grounded in the character and practices of God himself, who “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” It is a direct quotation of Proverbs 3:34 LXX, substituting θεός for κύριος which preserves the sense of God (the Father) rather than transferring its reference to Jesus (as Lord). It also appears in James 4:6. Humility was wisely despised in Graeco-Roman cultures, an attitude unworthy of the free citizen and only befitting slaves. However believers are not first citizens of this world, but citizens of God’s people, among whom humility is a virtue that is contingent upon God.

Verse 6 continues on from the closing thought of verse 5. However the section contains three main imperatives (v6, v8, v9), marking Peter’s final exhortations. The first of these is to be humble, or humble oneselves, under the mighty hand of God. Metaphorical use of ‘hand’ in the scriptures typically refers to God’s manifestation of his power in activity, and the phrase ‘mighty hand’ is used repeatedly to refer to God’s act of salvation from Egypt. Thus the phrase here may be understood in light of God’s salvific NT act of deliverance through Christ, in which Peter’s readers participate, and for which they suffer, and so in relation to which they should “humble themselves”. Jobes puts it succinctly, “To “be humbled” implies a decision to remain faithful to Christ even knowing that humiliation will result” (Jobes, p312). Christians should accept this, but their willingness to accept this is completed by the purpose clause, God will exalt them. This is consistent with the theme of future vindication already seen in Peter’s letter. However Peter’s concern is not only future, but is complemented by verse 7 and its participle clause (… ἐπιρίψαντες …). In their present circumstances believers should cast their anxieties upon God, because he cares. It is another way of saying they should entrust themselves to God as the faithful creator or as the just judge. God is not indifferent to his people.

The second of these concluding imperatives comes in v8, with actually two imperative verbs that are related, “be sober-minded, be vigilant”. While I would not translate as hendiadys, the thought is not far from it. Peter calls for spiritual awareness and diligence among believers, in relation to prayer (earlier in the letter), and moral conduct.

This is furthered in the following phrase, with the only reference to hostile spiritual powers in the letter (excepting perhaps 3:18-22). Peter does not directly connect those preceding imperatives with the reality of the devil and his activities, but the connection may be considered logical if not grammatical. We should, however, be wary of making it causal. In any event, the slanderer is portrayed as a lion, a symbol of wild power. Particularly the choice of a lion is fitting with the shepherd-flock imagery already established.

Peter has already taught that suffering for believers is an anticipatory work of the eschatological discrimination. Here he introduces a new notion, that it is also the work of Satan. Satan is an immediate agent opposing God’s people, but still situated as ultimately under God’s jurisdiction.

And so Peter’s third injunction here is to stand firm against the devil. This is not an abstraction. The temptation is to avoid persecution and suffering by abandoning Christ, their beliefs and behaviours, and embracing the world opposed to Christ. Against this, and against him, they must resist, by holding instead to Christ, His Gospel, His People, and His way.

This is further reinforced with the participle εἰδότες and its clause. The same type of persecution happens throughout the world. It is not unique to Peter’s addressees. It cannot be fled by mere geographic relocation, only altered. But then, neither are they alone. The experience of sharing in the sufferings of Christ is that of sharing in the sufferings of the brotherhood.


Verse 10-11 provide a proper close to the (extended) body of the letter, echoing 1:1-17, with doxology. Even here Peter affirms the reality of Christian suffering, but notes that compared to eternal glory, it is “a little while” (cf 1:6). This is immediately followed by four, somewhat synonymous future verbs. God will put all things right and establish believers firmly. Not only is there vindication for believers, there is rectification for a world gone-wrong. For believers weak and wobbly, God grants strength and security. Fittingly, then, all power belongs to him (v11).

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