We continue our sermon series on 1 Peter. And we now turn to the final chapter.
After exhorting the Christian servants in chapter 2, the husbands and the wives in chapter 3, Peter now turns to the elders—to the leaders and even members of the church—here in chapter 5.
Verse 1 reads, “So I exhort the elders among you…” Since kasama yung elders sa kanyang letter, may implication agad na dahil may trials and needs na hinaharap ‘yong church—all the more na kailangan nila ng leaders. And not just leaders, but properly-functioning leaders.
The same reality applies to us, brothers and sisters. At bagama’t hindi natin nararanasan ‘yong parehong trials and persecutions ng mga Christians noon, marami pong needs ang church. So we will always need leaders, and leaders who function accordingly.
Now, before we go to Peter’s exhortation, it’s good for us to ask first, “Bakit ‘elders’ lang yung na-mention ni Peter dito?… Applicable lang ba ‘to sa mga elders?… Or sila lang ba ‘yong mahalaga bilang leaders ng church?”
This is not a lecture but a sermon, so I’ll just discuss this briefly. Yung ibang references and explanations ay mada-daanan naman natin sa Sunday School.
The context is this: It was typical for the New Testament churches to have elders as rulers of the church. ‘Yon na yung structure na in-adopt nung church mula pa sa Old Testament structure of Israel. For every community of believers, may mga appointed elders.
And in many cases, elders do both the teaching and diaconal work. They also preach. In Acts 6:1-6, there were seven men chosen by the church to “serve tables”—to take care of the widows. Many say that the seven here were appointed as official “Deacons.” Pero lalabas, hindi po. ‘Yong verb na “serve” ay pareho ng root
word for “deacon.” Pero it doesn’t necessarily mean that they held the Office of Deacons.
For instance, Philip was one of the seven, but later in Acts 8 and 21, we learn that Philip is an evangelist—technically, a direct assistant of the Apostles. He preached and performed signs in Samaria. He also baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. Most likely, siya na yung naging pastor sa Caesarea.
So even scholars agree that the seven men in Acts 6 are not Deacons officially, but mostly evangelists and elders who will simply shared diaconal responsibilities para yung apostles ay mas makapag-focus sa ministry of the Word. That was typical for many elders back then—they both teach and serve the needs of the congregation.
Nevertheless, when we look at other texts, mayroong distinction between elders and deacons. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul gives guidelines kung ano yung qualifications ng elders at deacons. So it is assumed that there are elders and deacons sa Ephesus (kung saan nagpa-pastor si Timothy). Sa letter din ni Paul to the Philippians, he makes the introduction:
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers (elders) and deacons.
Mag-kasama yung dalawa as offices in that church.
So ano yung ma-o-observe at assume natin dito? It appears that many churches who were just starting were led and served by Elders only. Ito ‘yong case ni Titus; the reason Paul left him in Crete is to “put things in order” (Titus 1:5)—so hindi pa established and organized yung church. And his duty was to appoint elders first.
But for the churches who are more established, they have both Elders and Deacons—katulad na lang nung sa Philippi and Ephesus. Organized church na sila: ‘Yong dalawang offices (elders & deacons) magkatulong para sa overall ministry ng church.
Given that context, going back to our text, it is highly possible that the churches Peter is addressing are mostly smaller or new churches. Lalo na sa panahon ng Apostles, kaka-simula pa lang ng missionary work at malamang konti pa lang yung organized churches in the region. That is why Peter mentions “elders” only, rather than “elders and deacons.”
Now, why go through all of that discussion and historical context? Simply put, so we will not think that the principles in Peter’s exhortation here apply only to our Elders or to our Pastors.
For example, nabanggit ni Peter, “Elders… exercise oversight… not for shameful gain.” And Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:8, “Deacons… must be not greedy for dishonest gain.”
You see, bagama’t may pagkakaiba ‘yong official function ng Elders at Deacons, the biblical instructions on the manner by which office-bearers fulfill their functions is the same. Bagama’t yung direct exhortation ay in-address sa Pastors and Elders, they also apply to Deacons and those who aspire to be office-bearers.
So that historical context will help us properly apply this to ourselves today.
Now, let’s proceed to our text:
Verse one, Peter says, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed…”
Here, Peter is simply relating with his audience. He’s like saying, “I’m one of you. I witnessed the suffering of Christ, and I understand the suffering that we all face.
And we share the same hope and glory in the future…”
But the main focus of Peter’s message here begins with verse 2. At ito yung exhortation niya: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you…”
This is the function of church leaders. At kahit sa Old Testament pa, yung parating ginagamit na image for leaders is “Shepherd.” ‘Yong mga kings, elders, and even religious leaders ay tinuturing na “Shepherds.”
Anong meron sa function na ‘to? What do “shepherds” do?
- As “shepherds,” leaders are to protect, govern (direct), and foster ( provide/nurture). Gaya nung overview natin sa Sunday School last Sunday, the elders “maintain” and “nurture” the growth of the people’s covenant life with God.
- And Peter adds, “exercising oversight.” It means not simply to make sure that everything is in proper order, but to take responsibility over others. As leaders, responsible and accountable tayo para sa buhay ng mga taong niligay ng Diyos sa iglesiyang ito.
That’s the job description, the function of office-bearers. To shepherd, to oversee.
And since it is “the flock of God” whom we shepherd and oversee, we don’t do it our own way or based on our preferences. Ever since the Old Testament, God is concerned with the leaders of his people. Nabasa natin ‘yon sa Ezekiel 34 kanina. Actually it’s a long passage, but there God was against the leaders of Israel who were unjust and harsh towards the people. Instead of guiding and caring for the people, the leaders were oppressing them. ‘Yong mga leaders pa mismo ‘yong gumagawa ng masama.
So God is always concerned about how leaders of his people lead, until the New Testament, and even until today. Those of us who lead shall be accountable to God. And here, Peter gives instructions on how we office-bearers should fulfill our duties. He’s saying, “Shepherd the flock of God… not this way, but this way… not this way, but this way.”
At may tatlo po siyang sinabi dito:
- Not under compulsion, but willingly
- Not for shameful gain, but eagerly
- Not domineering over, but being examples. So let’s look at them.
First, Peter says…
1. Lead… “Not under compulsion, but willingly”
Half of verse 2 reads, “not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you.”
Or “according to God, or as God would direct or allow you.” In short, ang ministry po ay “voluntary… hindi sapilitan.”
Posible po kasi sa isang leader na nag-se-serve dahil napilitan lang. “Eh lagi kasi akong kinakantyawan nung iba. Sige na nga, try natin”… “Nakakahiya kasi kay Pastor or kay elder.” So pwedeng pinilit ka lang ng iba.
Or pwedeng napilitan ka kasi nakita mo ‘yong need na mag-serve. Now, the need can be a valid consideration. Mas lalo kang na-bu-burden na mag-serve kasi kailangan, and you believe you have what it takes to fulfill that need.
But at the end of the day, kaya ka nagse-serve eh kasi gusto mong mag-serve. Malaki man o maliit yung needs, mahirap man o madali—you serve in the ministry because you want to serve God and others… “willingly.”
Now here’s a good question: “Who will be so willing, 100%, to enter the ministry, when the ministry is so hard?”
In the first place, maiisip mo, “Who am I to serve?” ‘Yon din agad tanong ni Moses eh, nung sinabihin siya ng Diyos that he will lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Kahit sa moral qualifications pa lang, maiisip natin agad, “I’m not qualified.” And then kapag ico-consider mo yung responsibility, ang laki, ang dami. Favorite expression nga ni Elder Gani kapag naka-flash na yung mga dapat namin pag-meeting-an, “Nakakalula ‘yong ministry.”
I remember nga nung January 1, New Year na New Year, kailangan namin
mag-meeting. Simula pa lang ng taon, pagod ka na, masakit na ulo mo. CLARIFY: I don’t mean to discourage you po as a congregation. Hindi naman puro problema lang napag-uusapan namin. May tawanan din po kami sa meeting.
But that’s just the reality. Because the church is still imperfect in this side of eternity, because sin still exists among ourselves—ministry is hard.
Kaya nga exhortations ni Paul kay Timothy, “Be strengthened… endure.” Kasi mahirap yung ministry. Especially concerning pastors, Burk Parsons note: “… it is a hard calling. It’s not simple, it’s not easy, and it will bruise you and burden you every hour of every day of your life.”
One time napag-usapan nga namin ni Yeng, sa isang banda—concern ka sa mga members ng church. Sa kabilang banda naman—may mga criticisms and oppositions. Tapos, sa sarili mo pa—may mga responsibility ka rin sa pamilya mo, may mga temptations ka rin na kailangang labanan. Bakit di na lang sarili mo isipin mo, di ba?
Hence, it is not surprising for any man to hesitate (one way or another) before entering the ministry—whether as a pastor, an elder, or a deacon.
And therefore, at the end of the day, it is God who calls men to the ministry and makes them willing to serve. Ephesians 4:11-12, “Christ gave men… including pastors and teachers… for the building up of his body—the church.” 2 Timothy 1:6, the calling in the ministry is a “gift of God.”
By his Spirit, God is the one who raises men and calls them to serve in the ministry. Kaya nga po ni-re-recognize natin yung “internal calling” and “external calling.”
- Internal calling, ‘yong inner conviction, burden, and desire ng isang tao na mag-serve in the ministry. That’s what the Holy Spirit works within a man. And in God’s providence, circumstances will allow that person to fulfill his desire to serve.
- External calling naman ay ‘yong pagtawag ng Diyos do’n sa tao na ‘yon through the church. Makikita ng church na qualified ‘yong tao na ‘yon na mag-serve as officebearer, and they will call him and appoint him.
Both internal and external calling go hand in hand. Hindi pwedeng may desire ka maging pastor, elder, or deacon. Pero hindi naman nakikita ng church na qualified ka para dun. But it all starts with internal calling. God gives the desire and gifts to the person, and then the church will recognize that God has indeed called that man to the office.
In the end, it must come from God. Because as office-bearers, we shepherd and oversee—not under compulsion, but willingly.
Next, Peter exhorts office-bearers to…
2. Lead… “Not for personal gain, but for service”
The end of verse 2 reads, “not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”
Nabanggit din ni Paul ‘yon na may ibang nag-se-serve sa ministry kasi may pera do’n. Dahil may financial support, gusto nila mag-serve, gusto nila mag-preach. Kahit sa panahon po natin ngayon, maraming gustong mag-pastor at mag-elder lalo na sa mega-churches… do’n sa mga churches na tithes na, prosperity gospel pa.
Pero pag Reformed church, lalo na sa Pilipinas—naku, offering ‘yan. Mababa lang funds niyan. Baka negative pa nga.
CLARIFY: Just to clarify lang po, we are exhorted by God’s Word to support the ministry even financially. Every Lord’s Day, that’s part of our worship. We must support the needs particularly of our minister and future ministers.
Pero ‘yong tinutukoy ni Peter na “shameful gain” dito ay ‘yong greed for money. ‘Yong tipong kaya ka nasa ministry eh dahil sa pera, o dahil may advantage para sa’yo. Perhaps, even reputation. Para sikat ka.
But Peter says, “No. You lead, you shepherd… not for gain, but eagerly.” Meaning, with exceptional interest to be of service to others. In short, ‘yong desire ng isang officebearer ay ‘yong paglilingkod mismo, hindi ‘yong anumang personal gain.
Kapag maghahanap tayo ng trabaho, ang natural instinct natin, “What’s in it for me?” Magkano sweldo? Ano benefits? May bonus ba? May career growth ba?
But when it comes to the ministry, that’s not the case. Ang mindset ng isang office-bearer ay hindi, “What’s in it for me?” But rather, “What has God given me that I can give to others? Paano ko mas paglilingkuran ‘yong iba?”
Kaya nga po, para sa mga aspiring na maging officebearers someday, especially aspiring pastors—my encouragement is start serving now. ‘Wag mong intayin na bigyan ka ng teaching duty saka ka mag-serve… Find other ways to serve. Mag usher ka, tumulong ka mag-ayos psalters or upuan, mag-assist ka sa children, join ka sa ibang committee, etc.
Whatever capacity you have, gaano man ka-simple ‘yan, use it to serve others. Kasi ang mahalagang ma-cultivate sa heart mo ay ‘yong love for others more than yourself, seeking the needs of others more than yourself.
And for us office-bearers, we serve not for personal gain… because ultimately, our reward is Christ himself. Lalo na para sa mga elders and deacons, you don’t get any financial gain here. Wala sa’ting yayaman dito. In fact, you make sacrifices.
Aside from your regular work, you spend extra hours and strength to serve.
Pero gano’n pa man, although there’s no earthly gain, you have a greater reward in Christ! Kahit mahirap, kahit may disappointments, we still have joy within. We still want to serve. We have the inner satisfaction that we are serving Christ, our Master. Pa’no nangyari ‘yon? It is the Holy Spirit who gives us this joy and satisfaction in Christ.
And the same Spirit testifies to us that there is a future reward. As Peter said that in verse 4, “There is an unfading crown of glory” that we will receive when Christ returns. However that crown looks like, that’s what we will gain in the end.
So as officebearers, we shepherd—not for shameful gain, but eagerly.
Third and lastly, Peter exhorts office-bearers to…
3. Lead… “Not in a domineering way, but by example”
Verse 3 reads, “… not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Domineering means to “lord over,” to “subdue.” ‘Yong tipong iu-utos mo na lang lahat ng gusto mong i-utos, at ide-demand mo lahat ng gusto mong i-demand mula dun sa mga taong nakapasa-ilalim sayo. Time and again, that is how people in authority often lead.
But Peter says, “No. Don’t lord it over. Instead, be an example to them.”
Paul also says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” And friends, one reality na makikita po natin dito ay yung principle na ‘yong buhay po natin—at hindi lang ‘yong mga katotohanan na pinapahayag natin—ang mas nakaka-encourage sa ating mga kapwa Kristiyano.
CLARIFY: Of course, none of us perfectly reflect Christ and his Word in our lives. Kahit bilang mga Kristiyano, may mga kasalanan at wrong attitudes pa rin tayo. At ‘yong kapangyarihan ng Salita ng Diyos ay hindi naman nakasalalay sa’tin.
But Bryan Chapell puts it well, “It is the ordinary pattern of the Holy Spirit to affirm and further the purposes of his Word by the testimony of our lives.”
Imagine this, for example, may dalawang pastor. Both of them preach about patience and gentleness. ‘Yong unang pastor, magaling mag-preach, very eloquent, and moving. Mala R.C. Sproul. Pero kapag kausap mo na, ‘pag kasama mo sa meeting or fellowship—mainit lagi ulo. ‘Yong isang pastor naman, medyo malumanay at nakaka-antok mag-preach. (Hindi na ako mag-sabi ng example). Pero kapag kausap at kasama mo—you see that what he says is consistent with how he lives.
Sino pakikinggan mo? Kanino ka susunod? Definitely, the second one.
CLARIFY: Not to say na mag-se-settle na lang tayo sa mediocre preaching. But the point is this, and I quote Bryan Chappel again: “The credibility and compassion of a minister more than the excellence of the message preached determine the quality of the message heard.”
That’s the same thing for us office-bearers. “Not domineering, but being examples.” Certainly, may mga times na kailangan natin maging “firm,” especially when we stand against sin and error. May times na kailangan natin i-exercise ang ating authority in church discipline. But we do not force people to change or to do something for us; we do not go beyond the authority that Christ has given us.
We guide others in the Scriptures, we share the gospel, and we encourage them. We demonstrate with our own lives what it means to trust God, to follow Christ, and be holy. And when they see God’s work and grace in us, the Spirit uses that to teach them and nourish them.
Christ himself taught about this, at malamang ito rin ang naalala ni Peter. In Matthew 20:25-27, Christ said:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave…”
Being in the office, being leaders in the church, is not about dominion. It’s not about power. It’s about reflecting Christ.
Christ himself set an example to his disciples. In John 13:14-15, nang hinugasan Niya yung paa ng mga disciples Niya, sabi Niya:
“If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Hindi lang niya sinabi, “Serve one another.” Christ taught it by example.
So as Peter exhorts, officebearers must lead, “Not domineering over… but being examples to the flock.”
Implication and Application
Now, friends, if we consider the exhortation of Peter, we get an idea of how office-bearers should lead.
Of course, this calls for self-examination, lalo na po tayong mga existing office-bearers—pastor, elders, and deacons. Are we serving willingly, eagerly, and as good examples?
But as we examine ourselves, we also ask together with Paul, “Who is sufficient for all these things?” Who among us can serve this way perfectly? No one.
- For sure, may mga times na napapagod tayo at “napipilitan” na lang tayo na gawin ‘yong duties natin…
- May mga times na tinatamad tayo na mag-serve…
- May mga times na hindi tayo good examples and reflections of Christ.
This brings us to humility before God. We must confess our failures and insufficiencies before him. And the more we understand ‘yong mga duties natin as officebearers, all the more na humingi tayo ng grasya at tulong ng Diyos.
And brothers, Christ encourages us with his own servant-leadership. In verse 28 of Matthew 20 (yung binasa po natin kanina), Christ added, “… the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Christ served willingly, not complaining, but voluntarily submitting to the will of the Father and giving his life for us sinners
- Christ served eagerly, even to the point of losing his honor as the Eternal Son of God, even to the point of being put to shame, yes, even losing his life on the cross.
- And Christ served not in a domineering way, but he was gentle and lowly. He taught and guided his disciples with much patience.
In fact, Christ continues to serve us his people today by his Spirit. He is our Good Shepherd who will guide us and enable us to serve as his undershepherds. And so as leaders of the church, let us pray, “Lord, help me serve like Christ?”
And what is our further encouragement and assurance? Peter said in verse 4:
“When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
We already mentioned the reward that we shall gain in the life to come. But notice it says, “When he appears,” not “if he appears.” “‘Pag dating Niya…” hindi “Kung darating Siya…” And that gives assurance that he will surely come.
At ano po isa pang pangako ni Cristo? “I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18). And since Christ will return, it means he will finish his work among his people.
This must be our comfort as office-bearers and aspiring ones. Kung ia-assess natin ang ministry, nakakatakot talaga. Nakaka-hesitate talaga. Nando’n lagi ‘yong question, “Kaya ko ba ‘to?” We don’t have all the knowledge and gifts to make this ministry “work.” We don’t have everything figured out. In fact, no one has.
May mga basic qualifications syempre bago maging officebearer. But it’s unrealistic to expect that once we become office-bearers, we have everything figured out. That our service will be perfect.
No, our service will never be perfect. And no matter how great our efforts are as undershepherds, it is so small compared with how Christ—the Chief Shepherd—feeds and nourishes his people even through our weaknesses.
Let me share an example. One Lord’s Day, as usual, pagkatapos ko mag-preach, alam ko sa sarili ko, “I didn’t do well.” Marami akong gustong sabihin na hindi ko nasabi. “How I wish sinabi ko ‘to. How I wish ganito ‘yong pagkakasabi ko.” That’s always the struggle of preachers… But when I joined a Prayer Meeting group, and listened to how people shared their learnings and reflections from the sermon—I was confronted in my heart. My service may be imperfect, but it is Christ’s Spirit who works and will complete it.
At the end of the day, we are mere undershepherds. Christ is the Chief Shepherd. The ministry is not our ministry. It is Christ’s ministry. It is not our kingdom, but God’s kingdom. And since Christ will build his church, he will provide everything we need to be faithful as office-bearers… one step at a time… one day at a time… until he returns.
As Charles Bridges said, “Admitting that we are called to a difficult and costly service, yet we have abundant cause to be satisfied with the sustaining support and consolation provided for every [need].”
Because Christ is our Chief Shepherd who will surely come, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Finally, let me briefly exhort the rest of our members. Obviously, sa office-bearer’s lang naka-address yung text natin. We’ll learn more next Sunday about our duty as members to the office-bearers. But are you thankful to God for your office-bearers? Are you thankful to the Chief Shepherd for giving you undershepherds—weak and imperfect they may be?
Are you praying for us? Today, nakita po natin kung paano dapat kami mag-lead. Please pray for us and encourage us. That we will not just throw our towels and quit, but willingly, eagerly, and sacrificially serve the church in full reliance on God.
Mga magulang ko’t kapatid, Christ is the Chief and Good Shepherd who leads and cares for all of us—both office-bearers and members. Even though we face various trials as exiles in this life, Christ will protect us, govern us, and nurture us until he returns. May we all find our needs and hope in him even as we serve one another. Amen.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.