“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (I Peter 5:5).
Peter now turns his attention from the shepherds to the sheep. Good leaders need good followers. While it is certainly true that elders must not hurt the church, it is equally true that the church must not hurt its elders and pastors. Those who are led are responsible to be in subjection to not only God, but also to men of God.
The word “likewise” (ὁμοίως; homoios) means in a similar way. Peter directs this thought to those who are younger (νέος; neos) than the elders the apostle has been addressing in his previous remarks. What are these younger believers in Christ to do with respect to the elders and pastors of their congregation?
The younger ones are to be subject to the elders. Peter returns to the issue of submission (ὑποτάσσω; hypotasso) which we previously studied in I Peter 2 & 3. Younger people in the congregation are to follow the Lord’s command of obeying and being under the biblical authority of elders and pastors.
One pastor writes, “The elders are the pastors, the spiritual leaders of the church (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The church members, especially the young people, are to give honor, deference, and respect to spiritual leadership. Submission is a fundamental attitude of spiritual maturity (I Corinthians 16:15; I Thessalonians 5:12-14; Titus 3:1-2; Hebrews 13:7, 17).”
Younger people are to submit to pastors as they follow an additional command to clothe themselves (ἐγκομβόομαι; enkombosasthe) or to show and demonstrate in a personal and obedient way the attitude and behavior of true humility. The meaning of “to clothe’ comes from the idea of tying around oneself the apron of a slave. Humility (ταπεινοφροσύνη; tapeinophrosyne) means to have a non-arrogant attitude about oneself and toward other people. In this context, to have an arrogant attitude towards a pastor, or anyone else for that matter, violates a command of God.
Humility means to possess an attitude that you are not too good to serve. This attitude is not only to be displayed towards the elders, but Peter goes on to say that humility should characterize our relationship with one another, or fellow believers. Notice that this command is for “all” believers. Not just a few, but everyone who claims Christ as their Savior and Lord is responsible to display humility.
The apostle then quotes from Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” God opposes (ἀντιτάσσω; antitasso) or is hostile toward the arrogant. However, God continually gives grace (χάριςl charis) to the humble, lowly and downhearted. Peter’s quote from the Old Testament indicates his understanding that it was, and is, the Word of God.
Submission and humility were not considered virtues in the ancient world. Neither are they today. However, the Scriptures clearly indicate that these attitudes are pleasing to the Lord (John 13:3-17; Philippians 2:1-4; Proverbs 6:16-17; 8:13; Isaiah 57:15).
Many times it is uncomfortable to be submissive and humble to those in leadership and to fellow believers. We don’t want to allow ourselves to become vulnerable and expose ourselves to hurt or pain: emotional or physical. Yet this is what God commands His church to do. Let us not give into fear.
I encourage you today to trust in the Lord that He will honor your obedience to His will and His word.
Soli deo Gloria!