Page 12 - May 2023 - Truth & Tidings
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God has designed the local church to be   suffering for righteousness, with strong
        guided, led and fed by a plurality of quali-  pastoral leadership from their elders being
        fied men (1Ti 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), called   a necessity for all Christians, especially
        elders or overseers. These words empha-  those experiencing persecution.
        sise different aspects of the qualifications   The basis for Peter’s exhortation is as
        and function of these men. Shepherding   follows: “So I exhort the elders among
        the Lord’s people is an apt description of   you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the
        an elder/overseer’s service for the Lord.  sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker
          There are plenty of examples in the   in the glory that is going to be revealed”
        OT of good and bad spiritual shepherds.   (5:1). Peter appeals to elders as one of
        The  ultimate  shepherd  is  God  (Psalm   their own. He has already established his
        23) and He is the standard by which   apostolic authority (1:1), but now we learn
        His under-shepherds are measured. He   that he also functioned as an elder of a
        is the example for every elder who is   local church. He is making the point that
        tasked with shepherding the people of   he understands the challenges of spiritual
        God. Then there are the imperfect, yet   leadership; he can relate to them.
        good, examples of Moses and David. In   He also knows about suffering as a wit-
        contrast, Jeremiah and especially Ezekiel   ness of the sufferings of Christ. It must
        (34:1-10) had strong words for the elders   have been a deep regret for Peter that the
        of Israel and their abject failure as spiritual   Lord’s sufferings would always remind
        shepherds. The list is long and includes   him of his own denial of the Lord. As a
        leading the people into sin, ignoring the   beneficiary of the Lord’s pastoral care
        sick and wounded, leaving the scattered   following his failure, Peter has taken his
        sheep to fend for themselves, and behav-  place as a public witness to the sufferings
        ing harshly.                          of Christ. He understands their challenges,
          It is interesting that God’s answer to the   knows the blessing of pastoral care fol-
        failures of His under-shepherds is direct   lowing failure, and reminds them that he
        intervention Himself (34:11-17). In con-  shares the same secure hope of glory in
        trast to Israel’s failed shepherds, the Lord   the face of persecution.
        will search for the sheep when they are   Next, we find Peter’s exhortation to be
        scattered, deliver them from danger and   a shepherd: “Shepherd the flock of God
        recover them to feed them; He makes sure   that is among you” (v2a). With empathy
        that they are safe, fed and rested.   and authority Peter commands elders to
          The NT picks up the same theme of pas-  take care of the Christians that are their
        toral care which the Lord provides for His   immediate responsibility. Their pastoral
        people through elders overseeing the local   care is for the sheep under their care and
        church. Peter, who was himself an elder,   those sheep alone. Could Peter be remem-
        provides instruction for elders to lead the   bering the command of the Lord to him
        people of God as shepherds should lead   on resurrection ground (“Shepherd My
        their sheep (1Pe 5:1-4). It is worth noting   sheep,” Joh 21:16)? What he had received
        that Peter moves from the inevitability of   directly from the Lord, he now commands
        persecution for the Christians in chapter   his fellow shepherds.
        4 to his instruction to elders in chapter 5.   How does this translate into the ordi-
        Peter was preparing his readers to endure   nary week-to-week routines of a local

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