Today’s reading: 1 Ptr 5
My footnotes define “Presbyters” as “official appointed leaders and teachers of the Christian Community”. Many translations use the term “elders”.
Peter speaks about them today in chapter 5 of his first letter:
So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, [overseeing] not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters …
1 Peter 5:1-5
Notice all the things Peter conveys in this passage.
First, there are presbyters or elders who are officially appointed leaders. That shows hierarchy and it’s in the bible and it’s in the infant new Church from the beginning.
Second, Peters says, “as a fellow presbyter”! In other words, the presbyters appointed in the local Churches are like Peter. We know that Peter is a priest, thus it follows that they are priests. We know that Peter has authority, thus it follows that they have authority.
Third, the presbyters are to “tend the flock of God in their midsts”. In other words, presbyters are shepherds. Just like Jesus told Peter three times to “tend his sheep” and “feed my lambs” so Peter is telling his presbyters that they have the same job, the same role as him. The presbyters are shepherds of the congregation.
Fourth, Peter then switches to the “young members” and he tells them to “be subject to the presbyters”. So that means there are some people who are presbyters and some who aren’t. And those that aren’t are under the authority of those who are.
So what we have here is Peter, who everyone agrees Jesus made the head of the Church, clearly identifying and instructing the leaders of the local churches. We have authority and hierarchy in the Bible from the beginning of the Church. We can see that those leaders are the same as Peter that means that they are priests. This is the Church the same today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Tomorrow: 2 Ptr 1