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1 Peter 5:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Neither as being lords over God's heritage - This is the voice of St. Peter in his catholic epistle to the catholic Church! According to him there are to be no lords over God's heritage, the bishops and presbyters who are appointed by the head of the Church are to feed the flock, to guide and to defend it, not to fleece and waste it; and they are to look for their reward in another world, and in the approbation of God in their consciences. And in humility, self-abasement, self-renunciation, and heavenly-mindedness, they are to be ensamples, τυποι, types, to the flock, moulds of a heavenly form, into which the spirits and lives of the flock may be cast, that they may come out after a perfect pattern. We need not ask, Does the Church that arrogates to itself the exclusive title of Catholic, and do its supreme pastors, who affect to be the successors of Peter and the vicars of Jesus Christ, act in this way? They are in every sense the reverse of this. But we may ask, Do the other Churches, which profess to be reformed from the abominations of the above, keep the advice of the apostle in their eye? Have they pastors according to God's own heart, who feed them with knowledge and understanding? Jeremiah 3:15. Do they feed themselves, and not the flock? Are they lords over the heritage of Christ, ruling with a high eclesiastico-secular hand, disputing with their flocks about penny-farthing tithes and stipends, rather than contending for the faith once delivered to the saints? Are they heavenly moulds, into which the spirits and conduct of their flocks may be cast? I leave those who are concerned to answer these questions; but I put them, in the name of God, to all the preachers in the land. How many among them properly care for the flock? Even among those reputed evangelical teachers, are there not some who, on their first coming to a parish or a congregation, make it their first business to raise the tithes and the stipends, where, in all good conscience, there was before enough, and more than enough, to provide them and their families with not only the necessaries, but all the conveniences and comforts of life? conveniences and comforts which neither Jesus Christ nor his servant Peter ever enjoyed. And is not the great concern among ministers to seek for those places, parishes, and congregations, where the provision is the most ample, and the work the smallest? Preacher or minister, whosoever thou art, who readest this, apply not the word to thy neighbor, whether he be state-appointed, congregation-appointed, or self-appointed; take all to thyself; mutato nomine de Te fabula narratur. See that thy own heart, views, and conduct be right with God; and then proceed to the next verse.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Neither as being lords - Margin, “overruling.” The word here used ( κατακυριεύω katakurieuō) is rendered “exercise dominion over,” in Matthew 20:25; exercise lordship over, in Mark 10:42; and overcame, in Acts 19:16. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It refers properly to that kind of jurisdiction which civil rulers or magistrates exercise. This is an exercise of authority, as contradistinguished from the influence of reason, persuasion, and example. The latter pertains to the ministers of religion; the former is forbidden to them. Their dominion is not to be that of temporal lordship; it is to be that of love and truth. This command would prohibit all assumption of temporal power by the ministers of religion, and all conferring of titles of nobility on those who are preachers of the gospel. It needs scarcely to be said that it has been very little regarded in the church.

Over God‘s heritage - των κλήρων tōn klērōnVulgate: “in cleris” - over the clergy. The Greek word here ( κλῆρος klēros) is that from which the word “clergy” has been derived; and some have interpreted it here as referring to the clergy, that is, to priests and deacons who are under the authority of a bishop. Such an interpretation, I however, would hardly be adopted now. The word means properly:

(a)alot, die, anything used in determining chances;

(b)apart or portion, such as is assigned by lot; hence,

(c)an office to which one is designated or appointed, by lot or otherwise; and,

(d)in general any possession or heritage, Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12.

The meaning here is, “not lording it over the possessions or the heritage of God.” The reference is, undoubtedly, to the church, as that which is especially his property; his own in the world. Whitby and others suppose that it refers to the possessions or property of the church; Doddridge explains it - “not assuming dominion over those who fall to your lot,” supposing it to mean that they were not to domineer over the particular congregations committed by Providence to their care. But the other interpretation is most in accordance with the usual meaning of the word.

But being ensamples to the flock - Examples. See the notes at 1 Timothy 4:12. Peter has drawn here with great beauty, the appropriate character of the ministers of the gospel, and described the spirit with which they should be actuated in the discharge of the duties of their office. But how different it is from the character of many who have claimed to be ministers of religion; and especially how different from that corrupt communion which professes in a special manner to recognize Peter as the head, and the vicegerent of Christ. It is well remarked by Benson on this passage, that “the church of Rome could not well have acted more directly contrary to this injunction of Peter‘s if she had studied to disobey it, and to form herself upon a rule that should be the reverse of this.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle Peter does not command, but exhorts. He does not claim power to rule over all pastors and churches. It was the peculiar honour of Peter and a few more, to be witnesses of Christ's sufferings; but it is the privilege of all true Christians to partake of the glory that shall be revealed. These poor, dispersed, suffering Christians, were the flock of God, redeemed to God by the great Shepherd, living in holy love and communion, according to the will of God. They are also dignified with the title of God's heritage or clergy; his peculiar lot, chosen for his own people, to enjoy his special favour, and to do him special service. Christ is the chief Shepherd of the whole flock and heritage of God. And all faithful ministers will receive a crown of unfading glory, infinitely better and more honourable than all the authority, wealth, and pleasure of the world.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 347-59

[The articles in this section are from Special Testimonies, Series A 9:3-15 (1897).]

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW), 1149

17. See EGW on 1 Samuel 2:26, Vol. 2, p. 1010. 3BC 1149.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 477-8
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 485-505
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