By Whose Authority?:I Peter 5:1-14

So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, (overseeing) not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen. I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

In this section of sacred Scripture, Peter addresses the presbyters. I noticed in researching this, the actual word in the Greek language is presbuteros. In short, this word carries with it a connection with Jewish religious leadership; the Sanhedrin. In Matthew 23:2, Jesus references this style of leadership: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. This word chair (also seat in some translations) is the Greek word kathedra. We as Catholics see the connection instantly with the authority of the office of Moses in the Old Testament, and with that of the authority of the office of Peter in the New Testament.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism. This fulfillment is called Christianity. Would Jesus really tell us to toss the baby out with the bath water? I doubt it. There was already a hierarchical system in place. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraphs 1539-1541:

The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance. A special rite consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The priests are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayer, this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish.
The liturgy of the Church, however, sees in the priesthood of Aaron and the service of the Levites, as in the institution of the seventy elders, a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant. Thus in the Latin Rite the Church prays in the consecratory preface of the ordination of bishops:
    God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .
    by your gracious word
    you have established the plan of your Church.From the beginning,
    you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.
    You established rulers and priests,
    and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. . . 

 All this to say, our presbyters [priests] are here to lead us and we are to follow their example as they willingly oversee God’s flock. Peter reminds them that upon their faithful service, they will receive the unfading crown of glory when the Chief Shepherd is revealed.

Peter then turns to us, the flock [the younger members] and commands us to be subject to the presbyters. With all due respect to the sacred Scriptures, he doesn’t say “be subject to the Scriptures” but to the presbyters. They are assigned to us by God through His Church the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15).

This submission to the truth can only come about as we choose to clothe ourselves with humility. It is so easy to hide behind scripture as my only authority. After all, my relationship with God is my own business…right? Wrong! My relationship with God is personal, but it should never be private; especially to those in my own community. If we won’t humble ourselves God opposes us. If we do [humble ourselves] He bestows favor on us, and will exalt us in due time. God knows humility hurts, He experienced it on the cross. So cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

We must also be sober [straightforward in character] and vigilant [watchful] for the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. So what do we do? Resist him! As we learned in the James study, Whose Lover Are You?:

By allowing God’s Spirit to work within us we submit ourselves to God. If we think to highly of ourselves, God will resist us; “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” When we submit to God (give Him the authority over our lives) several things happen. He bestows a greater grace because of our humility. With this greater grace we are also able to resist the devil, assured that when we do, he (the devil) will flee from us! How amazing is that grace!

We are not alone; there are others suffering all over the world; but we must remember the God of all grace… will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you after you have suffered a little. The Holy Spirit through Peter, wants us to read, listen and hear these words; this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it.

So this week, let us submit to the presbyters who oversee us willingly and not by constraint, not for shameful profit but eagerly, for they are our examples to follow. Being humble in spirit before God and His Holy Church, as well as being sober and vigilant; steadfast in faith, to the God of all grace.


One Response

  1. I need sermon Out line of 1 peter 5:1-11.
    Please help me. May God bless you!


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