COMMENTARY ON FIRST PETER
" 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
(1 Peter 5:5-7 NKJV)
Every kingdom has its laws, or principles, by which it is maintained. Those laws form a perimeter within which favor and well being are promoted. The Kingdom of heaven also has principles that govern its affairs and constituents. They are a framework within which the favor of God is guaranteed, and within which personal advancement in grace is realized. These laws differ from those at Sinai. They are for those who have been reconciled to God, whereas the Law from Sinai was to people whose heart was far from the Lord. Those in Christ have a basic bent toward God. His laws are written upon their minds and put into their hearts. They delight to do His will, and find great blessing in doing so. If this aspect of Kingdom life is not seen, or if the mind of the flesh dominates the individual, the things required of believers will appear unreasonable. Our text provides a classic example of this. It is a strong appeal to your faith.
SUBMISSIVENESS AND HUMILITY
" 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble'" NKJV Everyone in Christ has responsibilities before God. No one is exempt from duty, or put into a position where only the duty of others is to be considered. This is contradictory to the flesh, which thinks only of self, and wishes to impose restrictions and obligations upon others, while accepting none itself.
The Younger People. While addressing the "elders," the Spirit is careful not to create an environment in which all of the attention is turned upon the obligations of those so placed by God. Here is one of the solemn exhortations for the "younger" among the saints. Those of inferior age are to submit themselves to those advanced in the Kingdom. While this may appear quite elementary, it is virtually unknown in our part of the world, and especially among those who profess the name of Christ. Rather than submitting to their elders, younger believers are actually being encouraged to isolate themselves, having special leaders and a special agenda. But this is not wise. A young Christian is to be "an example of the believers, in word, in conversation [conduct], in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim 4:12). This very requirement is why they are to submit themselves to their elders. This submission is not a formal and legal one, but a practical and believing one. The submission is not simply because the elders are older, but because they are more experienced in the manner of the Kingdom. This arrangement is provided by God Himself to allow for the development of young spirits in Christ Jesus. While there is to be a wholesome respect and honor for the aged among us, this text goes further than that. It teaches the younger to seek, through their submission, to gain a better understanding of spiritual life by humbly submitting to the elders among them. Too, their submission becomes an encouragement to "the elders" to enter more heartily into their good work.
All of You. Submissiveness is not only for the younger. Wherever grace from God has been given for a ministry to the saints, all of them are to be submissive to that ministry. God has "dealt to every one a measure of faith" designed to profit the other saints-to bring spiritual resources to them (Rom 12:3-7). Submitting to one another is yielding to the edification other members are gifted to provide. It is clear from this, that the people of God do not function under a one-man rule. There are various gifts placed within the body, and all members are to submit to them. When submissiveness is found throughout the body of Christ, significant spiritual growth will be realized. This submission is described in Romans 12:10 as "in honor preferring one another." Ephesians 5:21 refers to it as "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." This is the opposite of agitation, turmoil, and fightings among professed believers, as in James 4:1.
Be Clothed with Humility. Humility is like an over-garment that covers every aspect of our persons. It involves modesty and "lowliness of mind," which is not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. It is the opposite of strife and the insistence of having ones own way, and moves one to "esteem others better" than self (Phil 2:3; Rom 12:3). Men are not naturally humble, and are thus admonished to put it on as a cloak. One has said that everyone by nature has "the soul of a king." Humility is the defeat of that propensity, and the appropriation of a considerate and submissive spirit. True humility recognizes the poverty of nature. Thus it seeks benefit from God alone, who often ministers that benefit through the other members of the body.
The Attitude of God. In order to assist us in our determination to be humble and submissive, the Spirit reminds us "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." To "resist the proud" means God is opposed to them-militantly resistant. Thus the NIV and NASB read "opposes the proud." God is the enemy of those who champion their own cause and interests, and do not submit to Himself and those He has endowed with grace. On the other hand, God gives loving favor, or grace, to the humble. It is as though God had two hands. With one He crushes the proud, and with the other He gently holds and cares for the humble. We must never allow ourselves to drift into theological notions that rob us of this perspective. God is mindful of how we conduct ourselves among His people.
HUMBLE YOURSELVES UNDER THE MIGHTY HAND
" 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." NKJV The exhortation to be "clothed with humility" is now extended. It is not enough to speak in generalities. "Humbleness of mind" (Col 3:12) is more than a mere obligation. First, it is wise. Second, it brings us into an area where good things can be expected from God.
Under the Mighty Hand of God. The idea here is that if we do not humble ourselves, God will do it for us. This is His manner, and He is faithful to do as He says. Everyone will be humbled. They have opportunity to do it themselves, or God will do it for them. The latter is not a good option, and is fraught with danger. For example, God "humbled" Israel in the wilderness, removing all hope of receiving bread except from Him (Deut 8:3). The "mighty hand of God" speaks of His Sovereignty and power. When His hand is directed against an individual, no one can "resist His will" (Rom 9:19). Such men as Pharaoh (Psa 136:15) and Herod (Acts 12:23) provide us with notable examples of this. Swift judgment was also brought upon Ananias and Sapphira when they did not cloth themselves with humility (Acts 5:1-10). To humble ourselves "under the might hand of God" is to live with an acute awareness of His presence and will. His hand can be either against us or for us. If it is against us, there is no personality above, in, or below the earth that can protect us. If His hand is for us, there is none that can be effectively against us.
The association of this with our text is arresting! When we do not submit to one another, we are actually rebelling against God, and not humbling ourselves under His mighty hand. When the younger do not submit to the elders, they are refusing to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. When the sheep do not submit to those who have been given of God to feed them, they are declining to humble themselves under God's all-powerful hand. When "the elders" do not feed the flock of God willingly and with an eager spirit, they have rejected the admonition, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God." This is a poignant text, indeed!
That he May Exalt You. Humility is not an end of itself. It is an appointed means to an end-a tree from which good fruit will be realized. When humility is approached as a mere obligation, it is exceeding difficulty to attain, although it is an obligation. But when the precious promise of God accompanies the exhortation, it makes it more doable, and the saints can joyfully and expectantly enter into humbling themselves under the mighty hand of God.
The Lord has determined to exalt those who humble themselves, and do not need to be humbled by Him. Jesus said, "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Matt 23:12). He also provided a vivid example of the exaltation of which He spoke. Our Lord discoursed about a certain Pharisee and a certain publican who prayed. The Pharisee was filled with pride, and thus "prayed with himself," boasting of his disciplined behavior. The publican stood ashamed before God, and confessed his need for mercy. Of that man Jesus said, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 18:14).
The time of exaltation is coming for every who humbles themselves under the mighty hand of God. The supreme example is seen in the Lord Jesus Christ. He "humbled Himself" more than any other man. Consequently, He was "exalted" higher than any other. Scripture says like this: "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name" (Phil 2:8-9).
In this, Jesus became the pattern for us all. During our tenure in this world, we have been given a work to do. We have also been given Kingdom men and women who will minister to us. Our humility involves fulfilling our own ministry, and submitting to the ministries God has appointed toward us. In that humility, there is a guarantee of being exalted. It will be public, obvious, personally gratifying, and honoring to God and Christ.
CASTING ALL YOUR CARE UPON HIM
" 5:7 . . . casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." NKJV Here is an aspect of humility that is most precious. Notice that verses six and seven are a single sentence. Verse seven is nothing less than an enlargement of humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. When it comes to Kingdom practicality, men are prone to become either too general or too specific, thereby missing the intent of the truth. Notice how the Spirit speaks. He delivers the exhortation in such a manner as to exclude no one. He does not classify our cares, assigning a greater value to some than others. He does not speak of a plurality of cares, but of "care," or "anxiety" (NASB,NIV) in the singular.
"CAST" your care. The word "casting" does not denote an action like throwing a net into the sea, or throwing a stone at a target. Rather, it describes making provision for something or someone to be carried. This precise word is used one other time in Scripture. That usage provides a vivid illustration of what is meant here. "And they brought him [the colt] to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon" (Lk 19:35). Thus, the casting of "care" upon Jesus is an act of faith, whereby we rely upon Him to carry our "care," managing it and relieving us of it weakening effects. In casting care upon the Lord, we confess to our inability to resolve life's concerns. By that act, we also confirm our trust in Him "with Whom we have to do" (Heb 4:13).
Cast your "CARE." Some versions use the word "anxiety." Other more broad translations read "troubles,"BBE "worries and cares,"NLT and "burden."NJB On one occasion, Paul said he bore up under "the care [same word] of all the churches" that came upon him "daily" (2 Cor 11:28). How does this harmonize with our text, which admonishes us to throw our "care" upon the Lord? Very simply! The care came on Paul daily, but it did not end with Him. He did, in fact, throw it upon the Lord. This is evidenced by his many prayers for the churches (Rom 1:9; Eph 1:16-20; 3:14-19; Phil 1:9; Col 1:9-11; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Tim 1:3; Phile 4).
Care is distracting concern or trouble. It is anxiety, worry, or distress that pulls the heart away from the Lord, and tries to open the door for the entrance of "an evil heart of unbelief" (Heb 3:12). The emphasis in the word "care" is DISTRACTION. Such care can range from undue concern about food and clothing, to fretting about the condition of the churches. "Care" is like a spiritual whirlpool that pulls us down to an earthly view of things. It tempts us to conduct our lives as though everything depended upon us and nothing depended upon God. "Care" can descend upon the heart in a moment of time, transforming our entire personality, causing us to make foolish statements and hasty decisions. It is one of Satan's principle "fiery darts," and is constantly employed by him to turn us "away from the faith" (Acts 13:8).
What a wide range of matters is covered in "care." Food, clothing, housing, resources, children, spouses, business, careers, government, social trends, enemies, appearance, popularity, etc., etc. Because of this vast variety, such things are called "cares." They compete with the Word of God, and will choke it out if they are entertained (Mk 4:19). From the standpoint of our text, they are "care"-singular, because of thissingle common characteristic: they are distracting! In faith, we must relinquish such care to Jesus!
Cast Your Care KNOWING. We do not simply abandon our "care" as though it were an imagination, and there was nothing about which to be concerned. The "care" itself is very real, and is justified. There are legitimate concerns, but we are not to bear the burden of them! Faith tells us the Lord has a genuine concern for us: He "cares for you." Although the same English word is used, it has a different meaning. Here it means the Lord has a genuine interest in and concern for US. Not only that, He is fully capable of addressing all matters that concern us. It is infinitely better to settle it in your heart that the Savior cares for YOU, than to be pulled away from Him by a concern for things and circumstances. In Christ, God is determined to "do good" to His people, and "bless" them (Jer 29:11; Acts 3:28). This is no idle word: "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose"NASB (Rom 8:28). When we are convinced of this, we will "cast all" our "care upon Him!"