Shepherd the Flock
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 [a]willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being [b]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’s letter written to the persecuted believers in five different regions of Asia Minor. Like several of the NT letters, Peter wrote to multiple churches through one letter that would be circulated throughout the regions.
This portion is unique in that Peter is not addressing the whole church, but certain people/positions in the church- the elders and or overseers. Pay attention, a lot of tonight is a teaching, mainly informative; but at the end I am going to ask you to apply three questions. So do not check out
We are all equal in salvation, but we have differing gifts and differing positions in the Body of Christ. We are one body with many parts-
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
God has a plan and an order for the church and the way in which the church operates. The five-fold ministry works together in the beautiful plan of God. These are gifts to the church
Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [a]edifying of the body of Christ,
There is not a lot of specifications or instructions for these giftings. The Greek says HE gave to mankind- these can be men or women, and they are gifted to the Body for the edification of the saints. This is why we have women pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, and apostles in a general sense. Throughout Scripture, God used women in these roles. But here is where is gets tricky. Peter is speaking to a particular group of men or a man who is the leader and has a certain authority over the church
Elders- from the Gr “presbuteros”, a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling class of Israel. Sanhedrin was a single body, combining political, religious, and judicial functions in a community where these aspects were inseparable. Therefore, the elders are responsible for the government of the church and function in a judicial kind of way.
Peter is addressing a group of men or a man who look after the church body, it’s role and function, as a representative of Christ. Just as Israel had the Sanhedrin, they also had a high priest. Just as Moses, Aaron and Miriam were all leaders of Israel, Moses was Israel’s overseer, and after him was Joshua. The church has elders, but also a bishop/ overseer
1 Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a [a]bishop (also overseer), he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not [b]given to wine, not violent, [c]not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not [d]covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a [e]novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Bishop and overseer are interchangeable terms in Scripture and mean “a superintendent in charge of the church”, it is from the root word “epistkeptomi” which means “to inspect, or inspection”
Then, a bishop by definition would be: “a man who is the superintendent responsible for the inspection of the church”. This office of bishop is a role and a position for a man (not woman) and it has high standards and restrictions. By Paul’s instruction to Timothy alone, many pastors should be disqualified from their position of leading God’s house because their own home is in disarray and chaos. You should be able to look at their lives and follow their conduct of faith
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” Hebrews 13:7
We know from history that James was the bishop of the church in Jerusalem. Timothy was the bishop of the church in Ephesus. Paul was an acting apostle, setting up churches and placing elders and overseers/bishops over the churches after he left. Peter and John were both acting elders. Scripturally speaking, Pastor Matt is the bishop of FVC. IN America, we call people in ministry positions “pastors” which just means a shepherd in a general sense. The only place this word is used in the reference to the five-fold ministry. Some churches have opted to only refer to the senior leader as “pastor” and all other ministry positions just have the title of leader.
We have today a church rich in history and hard fought to maintain its proper function and role in society. Want to know more about the history of the church, read Bruce Shelley’s “Church History in Plain Language”
Peter says to the elders/overseers/bishops- “shepherd the flock of God”
Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
God requires more from His overseers. Let’s take a look at the book of Revelation:
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou saw are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:19-20
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.
Stars- Gr. A star “aster” from base word “strōnnumi” the idea of positing, (put in position) strew, to spread or furnish
Same word used in Jude when talking about false prophets, “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Jude 1:13
False teachers are stars that have left their fixed position to wander and spread falsehood instead of truth.
Angel- Gk. “Aggêlôs”- to bring tidings, a messenger, pastor, angel. From 2 Gr. words: “agō”- to drive, lead, bring, carry, keep; and “Agêlē” – a herd
This word is used throughout the NT to not only represent an heavenly, angelic being; but also an earthly messenger/pastor (which means shepherd)/leader
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2
(Not necessarily heavenly beings)
The stars are the angels (messengers/shepherds that lead a herd) and have been positioned to “spread or furnish” something. When we read the messages to the seven churches, at no place in Scripture has God commanded the heavenly angels to “repent”. They do God’s commands without reservation and they will not answer to God for the affairs of man or the church. These letters are written to a person who has the ability and position to lead a congregation into further faithfulness or into repentance.
The messages to the seven churches are directed toward someone who must lead the congregation in a certain path and will give an account for that specific church for either obedience to the Lord’s commands or disobedience to His commands. Only those who lead the house of God will give an account of men’s souls. These 7 letters are letters of inspection. Let’s look at Jesus’ inspection of the church in Pergamos
12 “And to the [a]angel of the church in Pergamos write, (each letter begins the same, John is writing to the “angel”)
‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, [b]which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’
This “angel” to which John writes in his seven letters, each letter to a different church in the region, is responsible to God for the doctrine of the church, for its love of God or lack thereof, for its sin and unfaithfulness or its faithfulness and perseverance, for its lukewarmness or its fervent zeal for His Word and His name.
This angel is positioned to lead a herd in the things of the Lord, or into different paths that lead into destruction. WE see that he is responsible to GOD for the church doctrine and the church discipline. No heavenly angel is responsible for this, only the church’s leader who has been positioned by God, as
1 Corinthians 12:18
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
Bishop/overseer- responsible for doctrine, sin, faithfulness and the overall health of the church
Elders- church government, discipline
If you attend or have attended ANY church where the elders/overseers do not practice discipline of its members, it is not operating in authority to God. THIS is an important command from God when looking for a church to attend. Yes, it should have good doctrine and worship and a thriving church will have children’s ministry where kids are actually getting saved and transformed; but you better be sure the bishop has his family in order and that they discipline its members. Otherwise, it will be chaotic and the sheep will bite and devour one another. It will slowly destroy and decay the church from the inside out.
“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.” Hebrews 13:17
So Peter says to these overseers and elders, “shepherd the flock”. This includes two tools, tools of any shepherd- the rod and the staff.
Generally, rods and staff were two essential shepherd tools of biblical times to tend the flock. To control and protect the sheep, rods and staff were used. Rod and staff both are symbols of authority.
The purpose of Shepherd’s rod was to protect the flock from wild animals or predators. This tool was an essential tool of the shepherds of biblical times. This tool was also used as a weapon to provide safety for the flock. This heavy club-like device is generally short in length. To control the sheep and to maintain discipline, this tool played an important role in the lives of shepherds.
According to the Israelites culture and belief, the rod was a symbol of authority. Additionally, in the Biblical time, it was consistently used to protect and guide the flock. Therefore, the rod was undoubtedly a helping tool for a shepherd to maintain his flock. Rod has another elaborate Biblical interpretation. The rod was indeed considered as a tool to maintain the flock, but the rod was also a tool of protection and a symbol of love and care. The Holy rod of God is to protect us from evils. In the Bible account, David, who was a young shepherd, protected his sheep from a lion and a bear. The rod is not only a device to defend against the predators, but it also symbolically depicts the relationship between the shepherd and his flock. A loving shepherd takes care of his sheep and shows them the right path to go. Moreover, the rod was a valuable device for the shepherds of that time.
Staff is a long stick-like device with a hook at one end. It is long and has a curved structure like an umbrella. The staff was used to draw the sheep to gather. It also carries a symbol of authority and guidance. This tool was used by the shepherds of biblical times to guide and correct the flock. Staff was known as a useful shepherd’s tool of biblical times. The staff of Moses is symbolic. The first mention of the ‘staff’ of Moses comes at the time when God is calling him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. There was also a biblical account where Judah gave Tamar his staff as security. The main purpose of the staff is to guide the sheep and extracting them from bad situations. Additionally, the staff can be used to aid in walking, is the symbol of the king’s authority and can be used as a weapon. Shepherds also protect their sheep by using staff.
Gentle correction is very important to maintain discipline. Psalm 91 describes Christ as our Shepherd, and his promise is to protect us from all the evils. Moreover, staff was a helpful tool for the shepherds of biblical times to correct their flock.
There is a saying I used to hear in the church, from one lady in particular whom I imagine heard it from the hippy days- and she used to say that if a sheep kept wandering, the shepherd would break its leg and carry it. This sounds beautiful but it is not true.
There is another term for someone who has the position of an overseer, but is not a true shepherd. They are referred to as a “hireling”.
John 10:12-13 But a [a]hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
There are many hirelings in the church. They are not true shepherds of God’s flock. They flee when it gets hard. They flee when the enemy comes and tries to shut the church down or destroy it. The hireling does not smell like the sheep because he does not spend time with them. A shepherd will always smell like his sheep. I know hirelings. Their sheep are sick, diseased and dying in their sins and rebellion and the shepherd is living high on the hog. I know many “pastors” who are in dereliction of duty and will answer to God for the way in which they handled the church body assigned to them.
What does this mean to you? There are three responses to this message:
One: what is Jesus saying about His inspection of FVC? We are inspected as a whole body, not necessarily as individuals. He does notice the individuals, but what we allow here, happens to us all. We all have a role to play in His inspection. Have you ever lived with others? I lived in a house with four other people and we all rented a room. The owner also lived in one. Each of us were responsible to keep our room clean and the nearest bathroom. We took turns in the kitchen and you cleaned up after yourself if you cooked anything. The living room was all our responsibility. In all this, we were not responsible for the overall condition of the house- the owner was. PS Matt is responsible for the overall condition of this house, but are you keeping your parts of the house clean?
Jesus does a clean and thorough inspection, nothing gets missed from of His keen eye. He searches the hearts and the minds and He evaluates us on our part in the church. He sees your jealousy and selfish ambition. He sees your offense and divisive nature. How do we measure up as a Body? I do not think that if you leave our church you are not saved. That’s just stupid. But I will tell you I pray for all members and for our unity and I pray God removes everyone who is divisive or does not want to be changed.
Two: you are a sheep and therefore must submit to a shepherd. Someone is not your shepherd unless you allow them to shepherd you. Because of everything I have taught you tonight, this is why I hate and reject church hopping and individual Christianity that says, “I can attend where I want, do what I want, I eat off from the shepherds, but live life on my own terms”. You are not a sheep, but a goat. It is unbiblical. It lacks authority and is in direct rebellion to God. How are you responding as a sheep? Do you submit to the rod and staff of the shepherd placed over you?
Third: you are an elder or overseer responsible for the administration and governing of the church and/or inspection of the church. You have to shepherd God’s flock with love, care, compassion, and discipline. From both crowds, there must be a fear of the Lord. Sheep will answer for not submitting to the shepherd God has positioned over them and shepherds will answer to the Lord for how they took care of God’s holy church. Elders and shepherds, are you overseeing the flock with pure and right motives? Do you seek to honor the Lord above all? Not seeking to gain anything, or to lord your authority over people, but with pureness of heart and mind?
If we all do our part in the Body and follow His commands with a pure heart and in obedience, when the Chief Shepherd appears, we ALL will receive a crown of glory.
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