For ye were as sheep going astray - Formerly ye were not in a better moral condition than your oppressors; ye were like stray sheep, in the wilderness of ignorance and sin, till Christ, the true and merciful Shepherd, called you back from your wanderings, by sending you the Gospel of his grace.
Bishop of your souls - Unless we consider the word bishop as a corruption of the word επισκοπος episcopos, and that this literally signifies an overseer, an inspector, or one that has the oversight, it can convey to us no meaning of the original. Jesus Christ is the Overseer of souls; he has them continually under his eye; he knows their wants, wishes, dangers, etc., and provides for them. As their shepherd, he leads them to the best pastures, defends them from their enemies, and guides them by his eye. Jesus is the good Shepherd that laid down his life for his sheep. All human souls are inexpressibly dear to him, as they are the purchase of his blood. He is still supreme Bishop or Overseer in his Church. He alone is Episcopus episcoporum, "the Bishop of bishops;" a title which the Romish pontiffs have blasphemously usurped. But this is not the only attribute of Jesus on which they have laid sacrilegious hands. And besides this, with force and with cruelty have they ruled the sheep: but the Lord is breaking the staff of their pride, and delivering the nations from the bondage of their corruption. Lord, let thy kingdom come!
For ye were as sheep going astray - Here also is an allusion to Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” See the notes at that verse. The figure is plain. We were like a flock without a shepherd. We had wandered far away from the true fold, and were following our own paths. We were without a protector, and were exposed to every kind of danger. This aptly and forcibly expresses the condition of the whole race before God recovers people by the plan of salvation. A flock thus wandering without a shepherd, conductor, or guide, is in a most pitiable condition; and so was man in his wanderings before he was sought out and brought back to the true fold by the Great Shepherd.
But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls - To Christ, who thus came to seek and save those who were lost. He is often called a Shepherd. See the notes at 2 Timothy 1:12.
(3) as, therefore, he has shown his regard for us in seeking us when we were wandering and lost; as he came on the kind and benevolent errand to find us and bring us back to himself, let us show our gratitude to him by resolving to wander no more. As we regard our own safety and happiness, let us commit ourselves to him as our great Shepherd, to follow where he leads us, and to be ever under his pastoral inspection. We had all wandered away. We had gone where there was no happiness and no protector. We had no one to provide for us, to care for us, to pity us. We were exposed to certain ruin. In that state he pitied us, sought us out, brought us back. If we had remained where we were, or had gone further in our wanderings, we should have gone certainly to destruction. He has sought us out; be has led us back; he has taken us under his own protection and guidance; and we shall be safe as long as we follow where he leads, and no longer. To him then, a Shepherd who never forsakes his flock, let us at all times commit ourselves, following where he leads, feeling that under him our great interests are secure.
(4) we may learn from this chapter, indeed, as we may from every other part of the New Testament, that in doing this we may be called to suffer. We may be reproached and reviled as the great Shepherd himself was. We may become the objects of public scorn on account of our devoted attachment to him. We may suffer in name, in feeling, in property, in our business, by our honest attachment to the principles of his gospel. Many who are his followers may be in circumstances of poverty or oppression. They may be held in bondage; they may be deprived of their rights; they may feel that their lot in life is a hard one, and that the world seems to have conspired against them to do them wrong; but let us in all these circumstances look to Him “who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philemon 2:7-8; and let us remember that it is “enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord,” Matthew 10:25. In view of the example of our Master, and of all the promises of support in the Bible, let us bear with patience all the trials of life, whether arising from poverty, an humble condition, or the reproaches of a wicked world. Our trials will soon be ended; and soon, under the direction of the “Shepherd and Bishop of souls,” we shall be brought to a world where trials and sorrows are unknown.
(5) in our trials here, let it be our main object so to live that our sufferings shall not be on account of our own faults. See 1 Peter 2:19-22. Our Saviour so lived. He was persecuted, reviled, mocked, condemned to die. But it was for no fault of his. In all his varied and prolonged sufferings, he had the ever-abiding consciousness that he was innocent; he had the firm conviction that it would yet be seen and confessed by all the world that he was “holy, harmless, undefiled,” 1 Peter 2:23. His were not the sufferings produced by a guilty conscience, or by the recollection that he had wronged anyone. So, if we must suffer, let our trials come upon us. Be it our first aim to have a conscience void of offence, to wrong no one, to give no occasion for reproaches and revilings, to do our duty faithfully to God and to people. Then, if trials come, we shall feel that we suffer as our Master did; and then we may, as he did, commit our cause “to him that judgeth righteously,” assured that in due time “he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noon-day,” Psalm 37:6.
The apostle exhorted the believers to study the Scriptures, through a proper understanding of which they might make sure work for eternity. Peter realized that in the experience of every soul who is finally victorious there would be scenes of perplexity and trial; but he knew also that an understanding of the Scriptures would enable the tempted one to bring to mind promises that would comfort the heart and strengthen faith in the Mighty One. AA 521.1
“All flesh is as grass,” he declared, “and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evilspeakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” AA 521.2
Many of the believers to whom Peter addressed his letters, were living in the midst of heathen, and much depended on their remaining true to the high calling of their profession. The apostle urged upon them their privileges as followers of Christ Jesus. “Ye are a chosen generation,” he wrote, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. AA 521.3Read in context »
Our workers—ministers, teachers, physicians, directors—all need to remember that they are pledged to co-operate with Christ, to obey His directions, to follow His guidance. Every hour they are to ask and receive power from on high. They are to cherish a constant sense of the Saviour's love, of His efficiency, His watchfulness, His tenderness. They are to look to Him as the shepherd and bishop of their souls. Then they will have the sympathy and support of the heavenly angels. Christ will be their joy and crown of rejoicing. Their hearts will be controlled by the Holy Spirit, and they will have a knowledge of the truth which merely nominal believers can never gain. CT 284.1
We do not half comprehend the significance of the Saviour's lessons. We do not realize how much they mean to the beings He has created. He loves the human race. Do you ask how much? I point you to Calvary. But earthly cares and earthly interests hide from our view the things of heavenly origin, so that their importance is not understood. If ministers and teachers had a deeper sense of their spiritual need, they would enter upon their work filled with the realization of the sacredness of their trust, and a higher life would circulate through our churches and institutions. CT 284.2Read in context »
Tithes and offerings for God are an acknowledgment of His claim on us by creation, and they are also an acknowledgment of His claim by redemption. Because all our power is derived from Christ, these offerings are to flow from us to God. They are to keep ever before us the claim of redemption, the greatest of all claims, and the one that involves every other. The realization of the sacrifice made in our behalf is ever to be fresh in our minds and is ever to exert an influence on our thoughts and plans. Christ is to be indeed as one crucified among us. 6T 479.1
“Know ye not that ... ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. What a price has been paid for us! Behold the cross, and the Victim uplifted upon it. Look at those hands, pierced with the cruel nails. Look at His feet, fastened with spikes to the tree. Christ bore our sins in His own body. That suffering, that agony, is the price of your redemption. The word of command was given: “Deliver them from going down to perish eternally. I have found a ransom.” 6T 479.2Read in context »