Living Hope

Leading Others into Living Hope

 

1 Peter is a letter aimed at giving hope, a living hope to those in life and especially to those who suffer. Did you ever wonder how Peter and some of the other early leaders in the church died?  Foxes’ Book of Martyrs states the following:

                         
St. Stephen
St. Stephen suffered the next in order. His death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. " The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the Passover which
succeeded to that of our Lord's crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the following spring Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet. We are immediately told by St. Luke, that "there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;" and that "they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the "persecution that arose about Stephen"

James the Great
The next martyr we meet with, according to St. Luke, in the History of the Apostles' Acts, was James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord; for his mother Salome was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea than, with a view to ingratiate himself with
them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked; that, as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle's extraordinary courage, and fell down at his feet to request his pardon, professing himself
a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. Timon and Parmenas suffered martyrdom about the same time; the one at Philippi, and the other at Macedonia. These events took place in AD 44.

Philip
Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name of "disciple." He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A. D. 54.

Matthew
Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer, was born at Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd [i.e. an ax] in the city of Nadabah, AD 60.

James the Less
[The half-brother of Jesus by Mary] . . He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller's club.

Matthias
Of whom less is known than of most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.

Andrew
Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew's Cross.

Mark
Was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he served as an amanuensis, and under whose inspection he wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands.

Peter
Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city.
Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, "Lord, whither dost Thou go?" To whom He answered and said, "I am come again to be crucified." By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified his head being down and his feet upward,
himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

Paul
Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.

Jude
The brother of James was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, AD 72.

Bartholomew
Preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

Thomas
Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, which exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.

Luke
The evangelist was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries, and supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece.

Simon
Surnamed Zelotes preached the Gospel in Mauritania Africa, and even in Britain in which latter country he was crucified, AD 74.

John
The "beloved disciple," was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian after wards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent
death.

Barnabas
Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about AD 73. And yet, notwithstanding all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the Church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered plenteously with the blood of saints.THE CALL AND CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO LEAD OTHERS INTO LIVING HOPE – 5:1-4

  • THE CASTING OF THOSE WHO LEAD OTHERS INTO LIVING HOPE – 5:5-7
  • THE COMBAT AND CONSIDERATION OF THOSE WHO LEAD OTHERS INTO LIVING HOPE – 5:8-14

 

THE CALL AND CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO LEAD OTHERS INTO LIVING HOPE

 

1 Peter 5:1-4 – “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: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;4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 

Peter addresses the “elders” or leaders who are among the saints reading his letter. The word “elders” here is PRESBYTEROS (Strong’s #4245) and literally means, “senior, old man” and refers to those who are mature in their faith and who have been placed in a position of leadership among the people of God. The person who leads should be someone who has lived his faith in an exemplary way. They are battle tested. They are not only theoretically mature in the faith but actually mature in their faith.

Peter tells these spiritual leaders to “shepherd the flock of God.” This is the call of a leader in the church. The word “shepherd” is a translation of the Greek term POIMAINO (Strong’s # 4165) and is also used to refer to pastors (Ephesians 4:11). The word “pastor’ and “shepherd” come from the same Greek term POIMAINO. A shepherd does not only feed the flock but cares for it and protects it. This is the rudimentary nature of all leaders in the church, not only the pastor, (though especially the pastor). From these verses we should note a few characteristics that should exist in church leaders.

CHARACTERISTICS OF CHURCH LEADERS

The following characteristics should exist in church leaders:

First, “serving.” (5:2b)

To shepherd God’s flock first and foremost means to serve them. Jesus taught His disciples to have a servant’s heart. Jesus said:

  • Mark 10:45 - “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

  • Matthew 23:11 - “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
  • Luke 17:5-10 – “And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.7 “And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?8 “But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?9 “Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.10 “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”
  • John 13:15-17 - “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.16 “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.17 “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
  • Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The servant’s heart is aught throughout the Scriptures as in the following additional verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 9:19,22-23 – “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; . . .22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” 

  • 2 Corinthians 4:5 – “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” 
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 

Second, “oversees.” (5:2c)

The leader “oversees” the flock of God. This word is translated from the Greek EPISKOPEO (Strong’s # 1983). This term means to “diligently watch over, to beware.” In other words, church leaders are not to wait for problems to come to them, but oversee or watch out for potential problems to nip them in the bud before they happen. A church leader actively looks out for needs in the flock of God and then takes action to bring the resources of the church to meet that need.

Third, “willingly.” (5:2d)

Peter says a leader should not have to be forced to lead. One of the basic characteristics of a leader is that they have to desire to lead (See 1 Timothy 3:1 “desires”). If a person doesn’t want to lead in the church, then they should not be in a position of leadership. Leaders should not be coerced into leadership but offered opportunities to lead and then if they choose to answer God’s call to lead they should get involved.

Fourth, “eagerly.” (5:2e)

Peter says, “not for dishonest gain.” In other words, the leader in the church should not be looking to profit by fleecing the flock. The leader should not decide to lead because he is thinking, “Wow! Imagine all the contacts I can make for my business.” Or, “Wow! Imagine how many insurance policies I can sell to these people.” The church leader should “eagerly,” or simply because they have a servant’s heart and want to be used by God to bring glory to Him (Colossians 3:17-23).

Fifth, “being examples to the flock.”(5:3)

The church leader is not one who tells others what to do ordering them around. The church leader is one who leads by example, whether that means cleaning church grounds, windows, carpets and yes, even toilets or any other thing. The church leader should not ask anyone to do anything that they themselves are not willing to do.

There is a time when the pastor is to put priorities in place so that he can devote himself to prayer and the teaching of God’s word (Acts 6). But this does not excuse the pastor from continuing with a servant’s heart. There should be no ivory tower leaders in the church. The church leader is a servant! Set the example!

Sixth, ready to receive the crown of glory. (5:4)

The reward of the church leader is the crown of glory to be received from the Chief Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. This is the hope of leaders. This is what motivates them. And this is what is to be modeled to the flock of God. All the previous characteristics of leaders should be modeled in a way that communicates that the leader works and serves in this life because of the hope he has in the next life. The hope of being with Christ in the future drives the leader today. We serve for Jesus first and foremost (Colossians 3).

THE  CASTING OF THOSE WHO LEAD OTHERS INTO LIVING HOPE

1 Peter 5:5-7 – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 1 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 

Peter says that the flock should submit to the leaders God has called to lead them (5:5a). Notice that Peter says “all of you be submissive to one another,” which means there should not be anyone exalting themselves as better than others (5:5b). Instead the church should be characterized by mutual submission and humility.

There is no Biblical basis for a separation between clergy and laity in the church. A pastor is simply a member of the flock called and spiritually gifted by God to serve that flock and do so in a full time capacity if the need demands. The flock then financially supports the pastor, but the pastor is not separate from the other members, but one of them still.

The pastor or clergy is not a super spiritual class of people that is above everyone else. The pastor or leader may be in a more visible position, but that is only because they are the first in serving others. The church is to be a place where everyone lives in mutual submission to one another. This means everyone can learn from everyone else and everyone should be open to hear what anyone else has to say. There should be no partiality in the church! (Romans 2:11; James 2:1-13). Those leaders who are characterized by the qualities listed above should have little difficulty with those they are serving. It is the “proud” that are resisted by God as well as the flock of God (5:5c).

Everyone in the church should humble themselves before God (5:6), as well as cast their cares upon the Lord (5:7). The word “casting” is EPIRRHIPTO (Strong’s #1977) in the original language and means to, “throw upon.” The idea here is that the leader as well as those being led should throw upon God that which is a source of anxiety and troubling one’s heart. Leaders continue to lead and don’t burn out by learning to cast their burdens upon God. Remember what Jesus said?

  • Matthew 11:29-30 - “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus is the hope of the leader. When we cast our cares on Jesus, we begin to trust in His Spirit to do the work of ministry and we stop trusting in our flesh to get things done. Burnout in the church comes when people do things in their own strength rather than God’s. Cast your burden on the Lord! If He wants something to happen, it will happen, don’t swet it, it’s His church, let Him handle it.

THE COMBAT AND CONSIDERATION OF THOSE WHO LEAD OTHERS INTO LIVING HOPE

1 Peter 5:8-14 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” 

We are in a spiritual war; do you realize that? Satan is prowling around looking to intimidate with his roar those who seek to be used by God. Satan is looking for people he can feed on and nourish his evil plans (5:8). Peter implies that some of the suffering experienced by the brethren is due to satanic devices and the believer should resist these attacks with certain specified attitudes and armor. And this is not only true for the leaders of the church but this is something all Christians should be aware of. What are these?

First, "be sober." "Sober" (Greek nepho) means to abstain from wine, be discreet, be watchful, be in control of your senses. The idea here is to be on the top of your game and not hindered or have your sense diminished in any way. A fighter entering the octagon or ring doesn't down a few shots of liquor or get high on drugs of some kind. No, to do so would be suicidal. A fighter must be ready to fight and in full control of their senses. A fighter must not be clouded in mind or heart if they are to fight at their best.

The same is true in spiritual warfare. There are a lot of things that can cloud our mind and heart and make us vulnerable to enemy attack. Indulging in alcohol or other drugs can cloud our thinking. But sin in all its forms does this as well. A wrong relationship, a compromising situation, a less than honest or truthful action, a lowering of holy standards to live by, these and other things can make us drunk spiritually.

Second, "be vigilant."  "Vigilant" (Greek gregoreuo) means to keep awake, watch, be vigilant, to give strict attention to something. The idea here is to be aware and awake to possible attack. In hockey a skater needs to skate with their head up even if they are carrying the puck because if they skate with their head down, they make themselves vulnerable to a blind side hit. Hits received when one isn't looking are hits that hurt because we don't defend our brace ourselves against them. We need to be ready and watchful for the devil's strikes.

Third, be aware you are in a war - "because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." It is said that the roar of a lion is the loudest sound in the jungle. A lion's roar can be heard miles away. When you go to the zoo you can hear this. And the lion roars because he is hungry! He wants to "devour" (Greek katapino) or to drink down, gulp whole, swallow up. The devil wants to feast on you, swallow you whole. He wants to remove you completely feeding off of you.

The devil "walks around" from place to place; he is not omnipresent. But he has demons to extend his reach. Know that the enemy is always stalking you, hiding in the brushes, waiting to pounce and devour you.

Fourth, "resist him" the devil. "Resist" (Greek anthistemi) means to stand against, oppose, withstand. It means to put up a fight. Don't give up! Don't let down! Stand in the strength of the Lord and fight this prowler! (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). With every resource of God and fiber of your being fight the enemy.

Fifth, be "steadfast in the faith.”  “Steadfast” (Greek stereos) means, stable, sure, strong, sturdy, immovable, solid, hard, rigid. And the basis of our steadfastness is "the faith." This means our personal faith in the Lord. But it also refers to "the faith" of the gospel in particular and God's word as a whole. The enemies' strategy is to get you separated from the flock of God and "the faith." If he can isolate you from fellowship and God's word, then you're easy prey for him. Be stable, sure and strong in the shoulder to shoulder battle lines of God's army. Be immovable from the truth of God. Be rigidly committed and loyal to Jesus. Do this and you will effectively ward off enemy attacks.

Sixth, know you're not alone or that such spiritual attacks are unique to you - "that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." No testing or trial is unique to us. Everyone is under attack in some way. But God is faithful and won't allow us to be attacked beyond what we are able. God sets the parameters of battle and limits to what the enemy can do. The Holy Spirit will show us an effective response strategy so that we can escape and continue to stand against the enemy (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13).

Seventh, depend on "the God of all grace." Paul was inspired to write that all he was could be attributed to God's grace working in and through him (1 Cor. 15:10). That must be our understanding and assertion too. Depend on God's grace and the provision of His grace. Nothing more is needed. Nothing less will help us succeed to victory.

Eighth, remember your calling - "who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus." We are called and commissioned by God to bring Him glory. That calling is manifested in Jesus in that the ministry of Jesus testifies to the glorious provision of God. Give God glory as you benefit from His grace in Jesus!

Ninth, understand your suffering is temporary - "after you have suffered for a while." No matter how bad the enemy attacks become or how serious and severe our suffering becomes, it will end. Satan's attacks are limited to this life and even in this life they are transient and temporary. God sets limits to devilish attacks and suffering. God is merciful. Suffering now only reminds us of the blessedness of heaven with Christ to come. And for that we give Him glory.

Tenth, understand what good God can bring in and through you from such spiritual warfare and suffering - God will "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." "Perfect" (Greek katartidzo) means to thoroughly complete us. God uses trials and spiritual warfare to make us what we need to be in order to do what He calls us to do. God uses suffering and trials to test us in order to finish what was begun in us, to bring us to maturity or completion.

"Establish" (Greek steridzo) means to turn resolutely in a certain direction, to confirm, to strengthen. Faith is like a muscle and for a muscle to grow in strength it must be tested and exercises. Trials are a workout for our faith. It is in the battle that we learn to stay true to the Lord and where we learn the reliability and reality of God's truth.

"Strengthen" (Greek sthenoo) means to strengthen, build vigor, give vitality. God brings us through trials with an awareness of the energy and power He supplies. Someone has said, "That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger" We become stronger in our faith and relationship with God as we see the truth that God is right and just and faithful; that all God has told us in His word is reliable and true. That is confidence building.

"Settle" (Greek themelioo) means to lay a basis, to erect, to consolidate, to ground, to settle. The idea is the setting of a firm foundation. God will bring us through trials in a way that sets in place a firm and reliably sturdy foundation for our faith. A faith untested cannot be trusted. But a faith tested can be trusted.

Eleventh, give God glory - "To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." Peter wrote this epistle to exhort the persecuted pilgrim to keep their focus on God and give Him glory no matter what. We can weather the storms of life and anything the devil and his minions throw at us if we will just keep our eyes of faith on the Lord.

Twelfth, stand in God's grace - " By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand."If we try to stand in our own strength we will be reduced to unsteady steps like an aging senior relying on a walker. But by His grace we throw away the walker and run to victory. God's grace is always sufficient for whatever we encounter in life (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10). That is the living hope we have in Him.

In the final verses Peter points to Silvanus as the faithful carrier of this letter which contains “the true grace of God in which you stand” (5:12). In verse 13 Peter speaks of “she who is in Babylon, elect together with you.” This is likely a reference to the church that is in Rome. Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment in this regard:

“There are those who take this as literal Babylon, that Peter was in Babylon. Other scholars believe that he was referring to Rome, which in the book of Revelation was also referred to as Babylon. It is my opinion that it was probably Rome. There is nothing that we know of that would indicate that Peter was ever in Babylon, the place there in Euphrates, but strong evidence that Peter was in Rome. And so it is generally accepted that he is referring to Babylon of Rome, the church that is in Babylon. Paul wrote to the church of Rome.” [3]

“Forty brave soldiers for Christ,” could you, would you sing that song in the face of persecution? When the hot baths of this world are paraded before you, will you stay the course and be sustained by Jesus’ joy, or will you run from your Savior to the comfort of this world? What would you do, what will you do? I pray you choose to remember the inspired words of Peter who closed this first epistle with the words:

            Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring             lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that     the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.10 But may             the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you             have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.11 To Him be the       glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 


[2] Chuck Smith, Word For Today, (P.O. Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628) audiotape #8228

[3] DC Talk and voice of the Martyrs, Jesus Freaks, (Tulsa, OK: Albury Pubs., 1999) pgs. 96-97.