In exhorting the church to conduct themselves faithfully during a time of intense trial, Peter weaves the themes of humility and suffering together. Humility emphasizes the need for submission to both God-appointed leaders and God Himself in prayer. Suffering emphasizes the need for standing firm. Here’s some help working through these verses from the Bible Knowledge Commentary.

1 Peter 5:5

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Young men … be submissive (hypotagēte; cf. 3:1) to those who are older. Church leaders were usually older members. The younger members were to place themselves willingly under the authority of those who had been given the responsibility of leadership. Peter exhorted both young and old alike to clothe (enkombōsasthe, “clothe or tie on oneself”; an enkombōma was the apron of a slave) yourselves with humility. True humility is attractive dress (cf. 3:8). Peter may have alluded to Christ’s girding Himself with a towel and teaching the disciples that humility is the prerequisite for service and service is the practice of humility (John 13:4-15).

Peter quoted Proverbs 3:34 to emphasize God’s different attitudes toward the proud and the humble. God opposes (lit., “sets Himself against”) the arrogant but grants favor and acceptance to the humble.

1 Peter 5:6-7

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Knowing God’s attitude should cause Christians not only to be subject to others but also to subject themselves deliberately to God’s sovereign rule. The command humble yourselves (tapeinōthēte) could be translated “allow yourselves to be humbled.” Those who were suffering persecution for Christ’s sake could be encouraged by the fact that the same mighty hand that let them suffer would one day lift (hypsōsē, “exalt”) them up (cf. James 4:10).

Peter then referred to Christ’s classic words of encouragement in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:25-32), while quoting Psalm 55:22: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” All a believer’s anxieties can be cast … on Him. Christ sustains because He cares. A Christian’s confidence rests in the fact that Christ is genuinely concerned for his welfare.

1 Peter 5:8-9

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Be self-controlled (nēpsate; cf. 1:13; 4:7) and alert (grēgorēsate; cf. 1 Thes. 5:6, 10). Christians should be constantly alert because the enemy (antidikos, “adversary”), the devil (diabolos, “slanderer”), is always actively seeking an opportunity for a vicious attack. This verse could also be a veiled allusion to the horrors of the Neronian persecution in the Roman Coliseum, in which lions mauled and devoured Christians. Satan desired to do the same thing spiritually, to defeat believers’ testimonies.

The devil can be and should be resisted. Resist (antistēte means “withstand,” used also in James 4:7, cf. antidikos, “enemy” in 1 Peter 5:8). It is a term of defense rather than attack. Christians may stand firm against Satan only if they depend wholly on Christ, standing firm in the faith (cf. v. 12; Col. 2:5). Peter also encouraged his readers by reminding them that they were not alone in their suffering. The knowledge that other Christians, your brothers throughout the world, were suffering, would strengthen their resolve to continue to stand firm.

1 Peter 5:10-11

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Peter had encouraged his readers to endure suffering in such a way that the grace of God would be made manifest in their lives. Now in a closing word of benediction he committed them to the God of all grace (cf. 4:10). The benediction briefly summarizes Peter’s message of encouragement. Christians’ suffering will last only a little while, while their glory in Christ, to which they were called, will be eternal (cf. Rom. 8:17-18; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). (This is Peter’s last of eight uses of “glory” in this epistle: 1 Peter 1:7, 11, 21, 24; 2:20; 4:14; 5:1, 10.) God Himself would restore them and make them strong (stērixei; cf. 2 Thes. 2:17), firm (sthenōsei, used only here in the NT), and steadfast (themeliōsei, “established”; cf. Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:23).

To Him be the power (kratos, “might”) forever and ever. Amen. In this benediction, similar to the one in 4:11, Peter praised Christ who has all power for all time (cf. Rom. 11:36; 1 Tim. 6:16). Certainly He has the power to strengthen His own as they undergo persecution.

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