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Sermon: First Peter 5.1–4

Listen to this Sermon: 07292012FirstPe5.1-4DonRuhl

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How to Receive a Crown of Glory

Working among the flock of God

First Peter 5.1–4

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 29, In the year of our Lord, 2012

Scripture Reader and Reading: Gene Tomlinson – First Peter 4.17–19


  1. People endure suffering when they have proper leadership. 
    1. Therefore, I am not surprised that right on the tail of speaking of suffering,
    2. Peter exhorted the elders to shepherd the flock.
  2. With leaders doing their job, 
    1. the church can do great things, but
    2. if leaders get distracted doing other things,
      1. even the greatest of churches
      2. will stumble and fall.
  3. Let the elders hear what Peter said, and 
    1. let the congregation cooperate with the elders
    2. that they may do what the Lord called them to do.


  1. First Peter 5.1 – Elder to Elder

    1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: (1Pe 5.1).
    1. Peter has singled out groups in the church before.
      1. He spoke to servants in 2.18ff.
      2. He spoke to wives in 3.1ff.
      3. He spoke to husbands in 3.7.
      4. Now he has a special message for elders.
    2. Interestingly, Peter just assumed the churches would have elders.
      1. I know many Christians who see no need for elders.
      2. Do they have a better plan than that of the Holy Spirit?
    3. Also, many people hinge everything on a few things, or qualifications,
      1. such as the desire to serve as an elder, which Peter will mention, but
      2. what many forget is what is God’sdesire.
        1. Our desire for ourselves and
        2. what we do in the church
          1. should be God’s desire.
          2. Let our desire be to do God’s desire for us.
    4. Do not forget what Paul told the Corinthians,

      18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased (1Co 12.18).

      1. Most Christians just say there is no problem if you do not want to do it.
        1. That is like saying, Well, God only wants people to be Christians who desire to be Christians, and if you do not desire to be one that is okay.
        2. No, it is not.
      2. Remember Moses had no desire to lead Israel out of Egypt, and
        1. the Lord would not accept any of the excuses of Moses.
        2. Truly Moses angered the Lord.
      3. This congregation started on March 4, 1923 and by November 14, 1926 appointed two men as elders.
        1. Many men have served as elders during that time, and
        2. ten years ago we had four men serving as elders.
          1. During the 89 years we have been a congregation,
          2. surely there are more men who have prepared themselves as elders.
    5. Peter exhorted the elders, after giving three qualifiers for himself.
      1. First, Peter was an elder.
        1. This means that
          1. Peter was both a husband and father, hence not a pope, and that
          2. He was both a preacher and an elder simultaneously.
        2. He knew from experience the wisdom of elders doing their job.
        3. He did not ask these men to do something that he was not doing.
        4. He did not appeal to his apostleship.
      2. Second, Peter was a witness of the sufferings of Christ.
        1. Peter had been discussing the suffering of Christians and
        2. how that suffering imitates the sufferings of Jesus Christ.
      3. Third, Peter would partake of the glory that was to be revealed.
    6. To those men who dedicated themselves to being elders of a local congregation,
      1. Peter issued an exhortation, putting himself on their level.
      2. He understood the problems and challenges of being an elder.
  2. First Peter 5.2, 3 – Shepherd the Flock of God

    2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; (1Pe 5.2, 3).
    1. First, shepherd the flock of God.
      1. They were not to shepherd other congregations.
      2. Truly, they were to shepherd the flock without being distracted.
        1. The church cannot be like sheep without a shepherd.
        2. I know that there are many Christians who think it is no big deal to go without elders, and that is because they like to throw barbs out at people, and the preacher, working without elders, has to shoulder that load, and those barb-throwing Christians have no idea of the damage they do, nor of the burden they place on a preacher.
      3. It is the flock of God, not of the elders.
        1. Peter referred to it as the flock of God, but then
        2. clearly spoke of Jesus in verse 4 as the Chief Shepherd,
          1. equating God with the Chief Shepherd.
      4. Elders, you are not merely a decision-making board.
        1. Even as a shepherd pastors his flock, so
        2. Peter says you have to do so with the church.
          1. Solomon showed the diligence that shepherds must give to the flock,

            23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
            And attend to your herds…
            (Pro 27.23)

          2. Being a pastor, overseer, or elder means dealing with people!
      5. The Lord has strong words for elders, or shepherds,
        1. who neglect the flock, and
        2. by implication you can see what they should have been doing,

          10 His watchmen are blind,
          They are all ignorant;
          They are all dumb dogs,
          They cannot bark;
          Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
          11 Yes, they are greedy dogs
          Which never have enough.
          And they are shepherds
          Who cannot understand;
          They all look to their own way,
          Every one for his own gain,
          From his own territory.
          (Isa 56.10, 11)

          2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? … 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them”’” (Eze 34.2, 4).

    2. Second, the shepherds serve as overseers, or bishops.
      1. It does not say that they do our dirty work.
      2. It does not say they do all the work.
        1. They oversee the work
        2. that we are supposed to be doing.
          1. Having elders does not release us from our obligations, no,
          2. it just helps to facilitate things better.
    3. Let the men who serve as shepherds do it willingly and not by compulsion.
      1. God wants us to do the work, but
      2. He wants you to do it because you want to do it.
        1. Just like you want your children to love you, but
        2. you want them to want to love you.
    4. Let them not do it for dishonest gain, but eagerly.
      1. They cannot use their position to cheat others, nor
      2. expect preferential treatment in businesses.
        1. This implies that some congregation will pay their elders
        2. just as some congregations do with preachers,

          17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine (1Ti 5.17).

      3. Guy N. Woods,

        “The duties of elders are so varied and pressing that the church will never make the growth it should until this practice—of supporting elders fully that they may devote their entire time to the work of the church—is adopted” (p. 124).

    5. Third, the shepherds are not lords, but
      1. the Lord has entrusted to them His flock, and so
      2. they are examples to the flock.
        1. Elders, show us how to live Christianity.
  3. First Peter 5.4 – The Appearance of the Chief Shepherd

    4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away (1Pe 5.1–4).
    1. Peter had already alluded to Jesus in this way,

      25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1Pe 2.25).

      1. Jesus let us know who is the Shepherd,

        14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10.14).

      2. Hebrews 13.20 refers to Him as “that great Shepherd of the sheep.”
    2. At some point, since He is the Chief Shepherd,
      1. He will appear and
      2. He will want His flock,
        1. which means that He will require an accounting of His flock
        2. from the under-shepherds.
    3. Hebrews 13 also has a similar message, but
      1. the writer there also addressed the flock,

        17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you (Heb 13.17).

      2. Elders will have to give an account to the Chief Shepherd for themselves,
        1. just as each one of us will have to do for ourselves, but
        2. they will also give an account to the Chief Shepherd
          1. for how they dealt with us, and
          2. the Chief Shepherd expects our full cooperation with them.
    4. If the elders have shepherded the flock to the best of their ability,
      1. the Chief Shepherd will give them a crown of glory that does not fade away.
      2. Elders, focus on that crown of glory, and
        1. it will help you do your job, and
        2. it will help you deal with difficult sheep.


  1. The beginning of verse 2 has something significant. 
    1. It indicates local church membership.
    2. Nowhere does the Bible sanction floating church membership.
  2. For elders to do their job, 
    1. we have to be available,
    2. we have to submit.
      1. We cannot do those things with uncommitted local church membership.
      2. The Chief Shepherd shall judge sheep who fail to do this.
  3. While some elders will have to give an account to God for 
    1. their poor leadership or even lack of leadership,
    2. there are plenty of members who will have to give an account to God for
      1. their criticisms of elders and for
      2. failing to respect them and for
      3. failing to submit to them.
  4. Whether you are an elder, a potential elder, or one of the sheep, 
    1. reconsider your devotion to this congregation, and
    2. reconsider your devotion to
      1. the Lord’s way of having elders and
      2. your relationship to them.
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