1 Peter 5:1-4

Christian writer Phillip Keller said in his book “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23”, “It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep.” He went on to say, “The reason being the behavior of sheep and human beings are similar in many ways. Sheep do not just take care of themselves as some might think; they require more attention than any other class of livestock. They require endless attention and meticulous care. We are told by sheep herders that God created most animals with an uncanny instinct to find their way home. But if… a sheep strays off into unfamiliar territory, they become completely disoriented and cannot find their way back.


We know that this is true by what Jesus’ said in His parable found in Luke’s gospel. “So he told them this parable.” What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:1-7


This is the shepherds joy when he finds his wandering sheep. Why? Sheep need a shepherd to guide them, provide for them, protect them, and sometimes also rescue them from harmWe are told, sheep left to themselves, will eat both healthy and poisonous plants or overgraze and ruin their own pasturesWe are told that sheep are much in need of other assistance. Because their wool secretes a large volume of oily lanolin that permeates their fleece, much dirt, grass, and windblown debris clings to it. Since they have no ability to clean themselves they remain soiled until the shepherd shears them. We are told that between shearing that dirty, sticky accumulation must be cut away from under their tails or they cannot proper eliminate waste and become sick and even die. We are told because sheep are naturally passive and virtually defenseless, when attacked their only recourse is flee in panic.

This means the shepherd must continually be on guard to defend and rescue the sheep from attack; we know this true when Jesus talked about Himself as “the Door” as it pertains to salvation. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:1-15


See! The shepherd would lead the sheep to safe places to graze and make them lie down for several hours in a shady place. Then, as nightfall came, the shepherd would lead the sheep to the protection of a sheepfold. Let’s put ourselves in time of these shepherds! There were two kinds of sheepfolds or pens. One kind was a public sheepfold found in the cities and villages. It would be large enough to hold several flocks of sheep. This sheep pen would be in the care of a porter or doorkeeper, whose duty it was to guard the door to the sheep pen during the night and to admit the shepherds in the morning. The shepherds would call their sheep, each of which knew its own shepherd’s voice, and would lead them out to pasture. The second kind of sheep pen was in the countryside, where the shepherds would keep their flocks in good weather. This type of sheep pen was nothing more than a rough circle of rocks piled into a wall with a small open space to enter. Through it the shepherd would drive the sheep at nightfall. Since there was no gate to close—just an opening—the shepherd would keep the sheep in and wild animals out by lying across the opening. He would sleep there, in this case literally becoming the door to the sheep.


Sheep without a shepherd will not spiritually feed themselves, as Isaiah compared humanity’s lost condition to that of a “straying sheep” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6. In the closing of this letter Peter “exhorts the elders” to shepherd their own flocks. (v1-v4) “Exhort” literally means, “to call alongside” or in a general sense to “encourage or compel someone in a certain direction.” Peter gives this appeal to the elders/shepherds, as his duty of feeding and teaching the truth of God’s Word. Peter exhorts the shepherds/elders to remain and stand firm in God’s truth by being an example to the flock of God. According to Peter, he has seen the sufferings of Christ first hand. (v1) Peter is in a position to supply the shepherd to lead well by being an eyewitness testimony to Jesus’ passion for the Word and His people.


This would include …..

Peter’s own inability to “watch and pray” in the garden before Jesus’ arrest. Matt 26:37

Peter cutting off the guards’ ear in garden.  Matt 26:47

Peter following Jesus from a distance after His arrest. Matt 26:57-75

Jesus looking at Peter in his denial the third time. Luke 22:61 “went outside and wept bitterly.”


Peter, reminds the shepherds that they are entrusted with spiritual leadership; which is to be marked by great care and pastoral sensitivity. Peter instructs/exhorts the shepherds, counting himself as one of the elders. “as a fellow elder..” (v1) He does this by passes on the same instructions Jesus gave to him: to feed and shepherd Christ's sheep. The under shepherd, of the Great Shepherd, is to feed God’s people and direct them to Him as they walk this journey into His glory. ”When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17

That is the role of an elder/ a man of God, in the local church: to serve as a shepherd of the "flock of God."


Peter argues that strong, spiritual; leadership is essential to thriving in this world. Why? Jesus did not tell the shepherd to entertain the sheep but feed the sheep with the Word of God; and Paul affirms that truth when he wrote to Timothy. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Tim 4:1-5


Paul’s instruction here, as with Peter, exhorts the shepherds; they certainly did not tell the shepherd to poison the sheep. Peter says, “Shepherd the flock of God that is under your care” this is the responsibility of the shepherd, as Paul made this same charge to the Ephesus elders with tears. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:28-32. The shepherd has the privilege and responsibility to edify and strengthen the flock with the deep truths of solid spiritual food.

Why? This produces….. 

Discernment… to test all things in accordance with the Scriptures.

Conviction….the Scriptures bring you to repentance and restoration.

Consistency….so that you’re not swayed by the flattery of men and their words.

Power….so your able to stand on the promises and truth of God’s Word alone.

Effective Testimony……to proclaim to others the effectual call on your life in His salvation.


Understand, this important calling

has been placed on the shepherd.

And this goes all the way back to the Old Testament! When Israel’s spiritual shepherds failed to feed God’s people or care for God’s people. God, through His prophets, He rebuked them. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.” Jer 23:1-4


We see even a more severe warning and judgment to those who are to spiritual  lead and shepherd God’s people. “The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand. "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” Eze 33:1-9


The task of the shepherd carries with it an unparalleled responsibility before the Lord of the church and your response is equal important. “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Heb 13:17. What is the Hebrew writer asking you to think about? This passage insists that grumbling pastors are of no benefit to their people. I came across a blog post that asked this question as it pertains to this passage of Scripture, “Dear Pastor, Do You Groan When You Think of Me?

Pastoral ministry is to be a joy, painful at times, but a joy that blesses. And the pastor’s greatest joy is to see God’s people growing in grace. It’s a greater joy to see you talking about the importance of God’s Word. The greatest service a shepherd can do for you is to feed you, not with my opinions but with the Word of God.


God calls pastors to oversee and care for His flock by…. 

Teaching the Word of God with divine authority. “Thus says the LORD”

Zealously guarding the doctrine and worship of the church from false ways and teachings.

Do what is unpopular by offending a few/many along the way with the Word of God.


And though you might find this personally offence at times because it goes against what you thought to be true or who you like, what you listened to, or a book that you thought to be good.


The Word of God is the beginning and the standard of all things, so we obey His Word, because God sets the standard. And it’s the shepherd’s job to love you with that standard, to lead, and direct you, to God, Himself with this standard. So, Peter exhorts the shepherd to how they are to lead and do this.

Not Under Compulsion, But Willingly. (v2)


His first attitude is one of willingness, because compulsion implies something being forced. Peter understands that it can become a chore for pastors to motivate themselves to maintain this level of ministryThe obvious point Peter is making here is that shepherds must be diligent and not lazy, heart motivated rather than forced to be faithful. Passionate about his privileged duty rather than indifferent. It’s along the lines of what Paul said, For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” 1 Cor 9:16-19. This is what God would have me do in ministry over God’s people. “as God would have you” (v2)

Not For Shameful Gain, But Eagerly. (v2)

Peter contrasts true excitement for ministry with financial motivation“shameful gain” implies a motivation of greed, it means focusing on what the sheep can do for them, rather than what they can do for the sheep. Titus 1:10-11 illustrates this idea, “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” We see that in the charlatans of this age who are empty talkers and deceivers of the truth. The shepherd is to be free from the love of money. “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” 1 Tim 3:1-3. The shepherd is to avoid the temptation to be motivated by money or material benefits as Paul prepares Timothy for ministry. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Tim 6:6-11

John MacArthur wrote, “Ministry for money and personal gain is a prostitution of the calling of the Lord. No true shepherd should need personal wealth to motivate him, but should serve with eagerness.”


The true shepherd should have an attitude of self-sacrificial zeal for the things of God, not merely a willingness to serve. But an enthusiastic love for God and His word that springs from a heart to serve others.But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1 Thess 2:7-12


Not Domineering, But Being An Example To The Flock Of God. (v3)


The shepherd should lead first and foremost by example, showing others in the church how to follow Christ by doing so themselves. Servant leadership is completely polar opposite to lording leadershipWe are never to manipulate, force, play tricks, or cause you to fall into sin. This is sin; this is sinful domineering over others and it’s a perversion of the overseer’s office. Peter here condemns unreasonable exercise of power, “Lording it over them” is the echo what Jesus said to His disciples. “But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matt 20:25-28. And to make his point even stronger he says those who are “Allotted to your charge” (v3 that which is given to another’s care by the Lord Himself.  How are the children of God/believer to be treated by the shepherd? "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matt 18:5-14


Humility and meekness are to be the traits of the shepherd as it pertains to those who are under His care. (v5) Why? When Christ returns, He will reward those shepherds with an unfading crown of glory. (v4) The source of our joy is God Himself. He is our great reward and strength for ministry. Jesus serves as the model of how His earthly shepherds are to serve; Christ is the perfect model of ministry. According to Peter we will receive an unfading crown of glory from Christ at His return. Jesus serves as the Chief example and the shepherd is to follow in His footsteps as he leads God’s people into His arms of grace in the gospel. Christ is the source of true hope in hurtful times when the going gets tough in ministry. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.” 1 Cor 3:10-14


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