1 Peter 5
Vincent's Word Studies
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Also an elder (συμπρεσβύτερος)

Only here in New Testament. Better, as Rev., fellow-elder. The expression is decisive against the primacy of Peter.

Witness (μάρτυς)

The word is used in the New Testament to denote (a) a spectator or eye-witness (Acts 10:39; Acts 6:13). (b) One who testifies to what he has seen (Acts 1:8; Acts 5:32). (c) In the forensic sense, a witness in court (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:63). (d) One who vindicates his testimony by suffering: a martyr (Acts 22:20; Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 17:6). The first three meanings run into each other. The eye-witness, as a spectator, is always such with a view to giving testimony. Hence this expression of Peter cannot be limited to the mere fact of his having seen what he preached; especially since, when he wishes to emphasize this fact, he employs another word, ἐπόπτης (2 Peter 1:16). Therefore he speaks of himself as a witness, especially in the sense of being called to testify of what he has seen.

Partaker (κοινωνός)

This use of the word, expressing a present realization of something not yet attained, occurs in no other writer in the New Testament. See on 2 Peter 1:4.

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Feed (ποιμάνατε)

Better, Rev., tend, since the verb denotes all that is included in the office of a shepherd - guiding, guarding, folding, no less than feeding, which latter is expressed by βόσκω. There is, doubtless, a reminiscence in the word of Christ's charge to Peter (John 21:15-17). Both words are used there: "Feed (Βόσκε) my lambs" (John 21:15); "tend (ποίμαινε) my sheep" (John 21:16); "feed (βόσκε) my sheep" (John 21:17). The A. V. obliterates the distinction by rendering all three feed. Bengel rightly remarks, "Feeding is part of tending." See on Matthew 2:6.

Taking the oversight

The best texts omit. Rev. retains.

By constraint (ἀναγκαστῶς)

Only here in New Testament.

Willingly (ἑκουσίως)

Only here and Hebrews 10:26.

For filthy lucre (αἰσχροκερδῶς)

From αἰσχρός, disgraceful, and κέρδος, gain. Only here in New Testament. The word filthy is intended to convey the idea which lies in αἰσχρός, base or dishonorable; becoming such if it is made the motive of the minister's service. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:14.

Willingly (προδύμως)

Not strong enough. The word is compounded of πρό, forward, and θυμός, heart or spirit. Hence Rev., with a ready mind; a forward spirit; denoting not mere willingness, but zeal. Only here in New Testament. Compare the kindred adjective πρόθυμος, ready (Romans 1:15; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38), and the kindred noun προθυμία, readiness (2 Corinthians 8:11, 2 Corinthians 8:12, 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 9:2).

Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
As lording it (κατακυριεύοντες)

See Matthew 20:25; Acts 19:16. Other words are used for the exercise of legitimate authority in the church: προΐ́σταμαι, to be over (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17); ποιμαίνω, as 1 Peter 5:2, tend. But this carries the idea of high-handed rule.

Heritage (κλήρων)

Plural. Κλἤρος means a lot. See on inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4. Froth the kindred adjective κληρικός comes the English cleric, contracted into clerk, which in ecclesiastical writings originally signified a minister; either as being chosen by lot like Matthias, or as being the lot or inheritance of God. Hence Wycliffe translates the passage, "neither as having lordship in the clergie." As in the Middle Ages the clergy were almost the only persons who could write, the word clerk came to have one of its common modern meanings. The word here, though its interpretation is somewhat disputed, seems to refer to the several congregations - the lots or charges assigned to the elders. Compare προσεκληρώθησαν, were added as disciples; A. V., consorted with (Acts 17:4). Rev. renders charge. Why not charges?

Examples (τύποι)

Peter uses three different terms for a pattern or model: ὑπογραμμός, a writing-copy (1 Peter 2:21); ὑπόδειγμα, for which classical writers prefer παράδειγμα, an architect's plan or a sculptor's or painter's model (2 Peter 2:6); τύπος (see on 1 Peter 3:21), of which our word type is nearly a transcript. The word primarily means the impression left by a stroke (τύπτω, to strike). Thus John 20:25, "the print of the nails." Used of the stamp on coin; the impression of any engraving or hewn work of art; a monument or statue; the figures of the tabernacle of Moloch and of the star Remphan (Acts 7:43). Generally, an image or form, always with a statement of the object; and hence the kindred meaning of a pattern or model. See Acts 23:25; Romans 5:14; Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 8:5.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The chief Shepherd (ἀρχιποίμενος)

Only here in New Testament. In harmony with 1 Peter 5:2. "The last thing Peter could have dreamed of as possible would be its misapplication to himself or his so-called successors" (Cook). Compare Hebrews 13:20, great Shepherd; and John 10:11, John 10:14, good Shepherd. Also, Ezekiel 34:15, Ezekiel 34:16, Ezekiel 34:23.

Ye shall receive

See on receiving, 1 Peter 1:9.

Crown (στέφανον)

From στέφω, to put round, encircle. It is the crown of victory in the games; of military valor; the marriage wreath, or the festal garland, woven of leaves or made of gold in imitation of leaves. Thus it is distinguished from the royal crown, which is διάδημα, of which diadem is a transcript. In Paul, στέφανος is always used of the conqueror's crown, not of the king's (1 Corinthians 9:24-26; 2 Timothy 2:5). Though it is urged that Peter would not have employed a reference to the crown of the victors in the games, because of the abhorrence of the Palestinian Jews for heathen spectacles, yet the reference to the crown of leaves seems to be determined by the epithet unfading, as compared with garlands of earthly leaves. The crown of thorns woven for Jesus is called στέφανος with reference rather to its being twined than to its being a caricature of a kingly crown.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Be clothed with humility (τὴν ταπεινοφροσύνην ἐγκομβώσασθε)

The last word is a very peculiar one, occurring only here. It is derived from κόμβος, a roll, band, or girth: a knot or roll of cloth, made in tying or tucking up any part of the dress. The kindred word ἐγκόμβωμα, from which the verb is directly formed, means a slave's apron, under which the loose garments were girt up. Compare Horace's "puer alte cinctus," a slave girt high. Hence the figure carries an exhortation to put on humility as a working virtue employed in ministry. This is apparent from the evident reminiscence of that scene in which Peter figured so prominently - the washing of the disciples' feet by the Lord, when he girded himself with a towel as a servant, and gave them the lesson of ministry both by word and act. Bengel paraphrases, "Put on and wrap yourselves about with humility, so that the covering of humility cannot possibly be stripped from you."

Resisteth (ἀντιτάσσεται)

A strong and graphic word. Lit., setteth himself in array against, as one draws out a host for battle. Pride calls out God's armies. No wonder, therefore, that it "goeth before destruction."

The proud (ὑπερηφάνοις)

See on pride, Mark 7:22. Compare James 4:6.

To the humble

See on Matthew 11:29.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Mighty hand (κραταιὰν χεῖρα)

A phrase found nowhere else in the New Testament, but occurring in the Septuagint, Exodus 3:19; Deuteronomy 3:24; Job 30:21. The adjective κραταιὰν, mighty, is, moreover, used only here. Compare Luke 1:51, Luke 1:52.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Casting (ἐπιῤῥίψαντες)

The aorist participle denoting an act once for all; throwing the whole life with its care on him.

All your care (πᾶσαν τήν μέριμναν)

The whole of your care. "Not every anxiety as it arises, for none will arise if this transferrence has been effectually made." Care. See on Matthew 6:25, take no thought. Rev., rightly, anxiety.

He careth (μέλει)

Meaning the watchful care of interest and affection. The sixth and seventh verses should be taken together: Humble yourselves and cast all your anxiety. Pride is at the root of most of our anxiety. To human pride it is humiliating to cast everything upon another and be cared for. See James 4:6, James 4:7.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Be sober (νήψατε)

See on 1 Peter 4:7.

Be vigilant (γρηγορήσατε)

Rev., be watchful. See on Mark 13:35; and 1 Thessalonians 5:6, where both verbs occur: watch and be sober. A reminiscence of the scene in Gethsemane: Could ye not watch with me? (Matthew 26:40, Matthew 26:41).

Adversary (ὁ αντίδικος)

The article points to a well-known adversary. From ἀντί, against, and δίκη, a lawsuit. Strictly, an adversary in a lawsuit. Here an adversary in general. Compare Zechariah 3:1-5. Only here, in New Testament, of Satan.

The devil

See on Matthew 4:1.

Roaring (ὠρυόμενος)

Only here in New Testament. The word conveys somewhat of the sense by the sound (oruomenos). It denotes especially the howl of a beast in fierce hunger.


Augustine says, "Christ is called 'a lion' (Revelation 5:5) because of his courage: the devil, because of his ferocity. The one lion comes to conquer, the other to hurt." Seven Hebrew words are used for this animal; six to describe his movements and four to describe his roar. He is mentioned in the Bible about one hundred and thirty times. In Job 4:10, Job 4:11, five different words are used for him. In Judges 14:5; Psalm 21:13; Psalm 103:21 (Sept.), the same word as here is used for the roaring of the lion as a translation of the Hebrew word for the thunder in Job 37:4.

Walketh about (περιπατεῖ)

Compare Job 1:7; Job 2:2. This word gave name to that sect of Greek philosophers known as Peripatetics, because they walked about while teaching or disputing. "St. Peter calls Satan the Peripatetic" (Cox, on Job). The Arabs call him the Busy One. It was to Peter that Christ said, "Satan hath desired to have you," etc. (Luke 22:31).

Devour (καταπιῃ)

Lit., swallow down. See on Matthew 23:24.

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Resist (ἀντίστητε)

The Rev., very judiciously, substitutes withstand; resist having been already used in 1 Peter 5:5 for ἀντιτάσσεται. Withstand is, moreover, the more accurate rendering; as the verb means rather to be firm against onset than to strive against it. With in withstand is the Saxon wid, against, which appears in the German wider.

Steadfast (στερεοὶ)

Compare 2 Timothy 2:19; and the kindred verb στερεόω, to strengthen (Acts 3:7, Acts 3:16; Acts 16:5). Paul, in Colossians 2:5, uses a cognate noun, στερέωμα, evidently as a military metaphor: "Beholding your order (τάξιν, compare ἀντιτάσσεται, 1 Peter 5:5) and your solid front or close phalanx" (στερέωμα). It might be difficult to find, on the whole, a better rendering than steadfast, yet it falls a little short of the meaning. Steadfast is Anglo-Saxon, stede, a place, and faest, fast; and hence means firm in its place; but στερεοὶ conveys also the sense of compactness, compact solidity, and is appropriate, since a number of individuals are addressed and exhorted to withstand the onset of Satan as one compacted body. Στερεός implies solidity in the very mass and body of the thing itself; steadfastness, mere holding of place. A rock is στερεός, firm, solid; but a flexible weed with its tough roots resisting all efforts to pull it up, may be steadfast. The exhortation is appropriate from Peter, the Rock.

The same afflictions (τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων)

Rev., better, sufferings. A very peculiar construction, occurring nowhere else in the New Testament. Lit., the same things of sufferings, emphasizing the idea of identity.

Are accomplished (ἐπιτελεῖσθαι)

More correctly, are being accomplished. The present infinitive denotes something in process of accomplishment.

Brethren (ἀδελφότητι)

Lit., brotherhood. Only here and 1 Peter 2:17.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
Who hath called us (ὁ καλέσας ἡμᾶς)

But the tense is the aorist, and the true reading is ὑμᾶς, you, instead of us. Render, therefore, as Rev., who called you; before the foundation of the world. See Romans 8:29, Romans 8:30, and compare unto his eternal glory and them he also glorified.

By Christ Jesus (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ)

The best texts omit Jesus. So Rev., which also renders, better, in Christ, denoting the sphere or element in which the calling and its results take place: "Christ as the life, head, and very principle of all existence to the Christian" (Cook).

Awhile (ὀλίγον)

Rev., more literally, a little while. See on 1 Peter 1:6.

Make you perfect, etc

The Tex. Rec. makes this and the three following verbs in the optative mood, expressing a wish. So the A. V. But the best texts make them all indicative future, and thus convert the wish or prayer into an assurance. Thus, then,

Shall himself perfect (αὐτὸς καταρτίσει)

The A. V. overlooks the αὐτὸς, himself, which is very significant as indicating God's personal interest and energy in the work of confirming his children.

Shall perfect. Rev. reads restore, in margin. The root of this word appears in ἄρω or ἀραρίσκω, to fit or join together. So ἄρθρον means a joint. The radical notion of the verb is, therefore, adjustment - the putting of all the parts into right relation and connection. We find it used of mending the nets (Matthew 4:21), and of restoring an erring brother (Galatians 6:1); of framing the body and the worlds (Hebrews 10:5; Hebrews 11:3); of the union of members in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11). Out of this comes the general sense of perfecting (Matthew 21:16; Luke 6:40; 1 Thessalonians 3:10).

Shall stablish (στηρίξει)

The word is akin at the root to στερεός, steadfast (1 Peter 5:9), and is the very word used by Christ in his exhortation to Peter, "strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). Possibly there is a reminiscence of this in Peter's use of the word here. Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; James 5:8; Revelation 3:2.

Shall strengthen (σθενώσει)

Only here in New Testament. Compare Ephesians 3:16.

Shall settle (θεμελιώσει)

Omitted by some texts, and by Rev. From θεμέλιος a foundation. The radical notion of the word is, therefore, to ground securely. It occurs in Matthew 7:25, of the house founded on a rock; in Hebrews 1:10, of laying the foundations of the earth. In Ephesians 3:18, it is joined with rooted. The messing of these expressions, unconnected by conjunctions, indicates strong feeling. Bengel thus sums up the whole: "Shall perfect, that no defect remain in you: shall stablish, that nothing may shake you: shall strengthen, that you may overcome every adverse force. A saying worthy of Peter. He is strengthening his brethren."

To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.

Probably the companion of Paul known in the Acts as Silas (Acts 15:22, Acts 15:27, Acts 15:32, Acts 15:34, Acts 15:40, etc.), and called Silvanus by Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.

A faithful brother

Brother has the definite article, the faithful brother, designating him as one well known for his fidelity. Rev. renders our, with the in margin.

Unto you

Construe, not as A. V., a brother unto you, but I have written unto you. So Rev.

As I suppose (ὡς λογίζομαι)

Too feeble, since the verb denotes a settled persuasion or assurance. See Romans 3:28, "we conclude" or reckon, as the result of our reasoning. Compare Romans 8:18; Hebrews 11:19. Rev., as I account him.

I have written (ἔγραψα)

Lit., I wrote. An example of what is known as the epistolary aorist. The writer regards the time of writing as his correspondent will do when he shall have received the letter. We say in a letter, I write. Paul, writing to Philemon, says ἀνέπεμψα, I sent; since to Philemon the act of sending would be already past. Therefore in using this form of expression Peter does not refer to the second epistle, nor to another now lost, but to the present epistle.

Briefly (δι' ὀλίγων)

Lit., through few (words). Compare Hebrews 13:22, where the expression is διὰ βραχέων, through brief words.

Testifying (ἐπιμαρτυρῶν)

Only here in New Testament. See on 1 Peter 5:1.

Wherein ye stand (εἰς ἣν ἑστήκατε)

The best texts read στῆτε, imperative. So Rev., stand ye fast therein. Lit., "into which stand," the preposition with the verb having the pregnant force of entering into and standing fast in.

The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
The church

The word is not in the Greek, but is supplied with the feminine definite article ἡ. There is, however, a difference of opinion as to the meaning of this feminine article. Some suppose a reference to Peter's own wife; others, to some prominent Christian woman in the church. Compare 2 John 1:1. The majority of interpreters, however, refer it to the church.


Some understand in a figurative sense, as meaning Rome; others, literally, of Babylon on the Euphrates. In favor of the former view are the drift of ancient opinion and the Roman Catholic interpreters, with Luther and several noted modern expositors, as Ewald and Hoffmann. This, too, is the view of Canon Cook in the "Speaker's Commentary." In favor of the literal interpretation are the weighty names of Alford, Huther, Calvin, Neander, Weiss, and Reuss. Professor Salmond, in his admirable commentary on this epistle, has so forcibly summed up the testimony that we cannot do better than to give his comment entire: "In favor of this allegorical interpretation it is urged that there are other occurrences of Babylon in the New Testament as a mystical name for Rome (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 18:2, Revelation 18:10); that it is in the highest degree unlikely that Peter should have made the Assyrian Babylon his residence or missionary centre, especially in view of a statement by Josephus indicating that the Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jews from that city and neighborhood; and that tradition connects Peter with Rome, but not with Babylon. The fact, however, that the word is mystically used in a mystical book like the Apocalypse - a book, too, which is steeped in the spirit and terminology of the Old Testament - is no argument for the mystical use of the word in writings of a different type. The allegorical interpretation becomes still less likely when it is observed that other geographical designations in this epistle (1 Peter 1:1) have undoubtedly the literal meaning. The tradition itself, too, is uncertain. The statement in Josephus does not bear all that it is made to bear. There is no reason to suppose that, at the time when this epistle was written, the city of Rome was currently known among Christians as Babylon. On the contrary, wherever it is mentioned in the New Testament, with the single exception of the Apocalypse (and even there it is distinguished as 'Babylon, the great'), it gets its usual name, Rome. So far, too, from the Assyrian Babylon being practically in a deserted state at this date, there is very good ground for believing that the Jewish population (not to speak of the heathen) of the city and vicinity was very considerable. For these and other reasons a succession of distinguished interpreters and historians, from Erasmus and Calvin, on to Neander, Weiss, Reuss, Huther, etc., have rightly held by the literal sense."


Rev., Mark. John Mark, the author of the gospel. See Introduction to Mark, on his relations to Peter.

My son

Probably in a spiritual sense, though some, as Bengel, think that Peter's own son is referred to.

Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Kiss of charity

Compare 1 Corinthians 16:20.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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