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Our churches are a source of support

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Today’s bible study is 1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

In this passage, Paul is writing to Peter about the church as a support group, structured for mission. Many Christians, even today, cherish these feelings and see their churches as a tremendous source of support as well as their mission to the community, the nation, and the world at large.

In Chapter 5, verses 1 through 5, the author is a presbyter, or elder, in the Roman church, who writes with apostolic authority, Peter. More references to this can be found in Acts, Titus and 1 Timothy. Witness of the suffering of Christ does not mean that the author claims to have been present at the crucifixion, but that he bears witness to the meaning of the cross, as all Christians are called to do, and as he has done in this letter.

The churches addresses are led by elders who, like the author, participate in the apostolic authority, but all are subordinate to Christ the chief shepherds (verse 4). Their temptation to exercise their ministry for sordid gain may refer to their responsibility for church funds, or that by the time of 1 Peter elder was already a salaried office. We are reminded that good church leaders exercise their authority by example in the spirit of humility.

‘The younger’ in verse 5 probably refers not to youthful members, but to the rest of the congregation, which is divided into ‘elders’ and ‘younger,’ or leaders and followers. While there is a structure of authority in which some are subordinate, all are to be subject to one another.

In verse 7, Paul reminds us that He cares for you. Literally, ‘It matters to him (God) what happens to you.’ How many times we have heard these comforting and sustaining words, and how grateful we are, as Christians, to believe in the validity and power of them.

Finally, Paul speaks of our brothers and sisters in the entire world. The little house churches in Asia are members of the one church, a worldwide community of faith. Suffering does not refer to official persecution, but to the harassment and discrimination all Christians suffer wherever they are. This is no longer as valid as it was at the time this letter was written. There is little persecution today, and Christians are generally accepted and looked favorably upon in the world.

May we ever me mindful of the suffering of Christ and the meaning of the cross. And may we ever bear witness to that meaning. Help us to exercise out authority for the good of others and to the glory of God, and never for personal gain or self-satisfaction. Gracious and glorious God, make of ever mindful of our mission to the world and the oneness of all followers of your son Jesus Christ. Glory be to you, O Father, and to your son, Jesus our risen Lord.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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