“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:” (I Peter 5:1).
We have thus far seen that the word elder comes from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος; presbyteros. Our English word Presbyterian comes from this Greek noun. The word’s root meaning is an old, or an older man. Elder also means a person of responsibility and authority in matters of religious concerns. This was not only the case among the Jewish nation, but also the New Testament Church, which consisted of both Jews and Gentiles.
I Peter 5:1 begins with the statement, “So I exhort the elders among you…” The Apostle Peter wants to exhort (παρακαλέω; parakaleo) or continuously and actively appeal to and encourage the elders who were among the people to whom he was writing.
Peter identified himself as a fellow elder (συμπρεσβύτερος; sympresbyteros). It is obvious I’m sure to most people that if you want to encourage or motivate someone, it helps when you and they can relate to similar issues and problems. Peter could understand the pressures and challenges facing these church leaders. Peter was a church leader himself, Many would say that along with the Apostle Paul, he was “the” church leader.
Along with being a fellow-elder, Peter indicated that he was a witness (μάρτυς; martys) or one who testified to the truth of the painful sufferings (πάθημα; pathema) Jesus Christ experienced while on earth. Peter could motivate these elders because of his authority in having been an eyewitness of the person and work of Christ.
Peter also motivated the elders because of the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ. Peter referenced this glory of Christ in I Peter 4:13. See also Matthew 17:1-8 and 2 Peter 1:16. Realizing that church leaders will one day receive rewards for faithful service, Peter is saying that this should stimulate a leader to want to serve with a fervent heart.
You may, or may not, serve as an elder within your local church. If you do, let me exhort you to continue in your faithful service. If you are not an elder, then take the time today to personally encourage those who serve in that capacity in your church. Let them know their labor is not in vain in the Lord. At the same time, resolve within your own heart to serve God with a holy fervency. Your work for God matters.
Soli deo Gloria!