The Office, Spirit, and Reward of a Faithful Ministry
1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…

The apostle Peter, after various exhortations to strengthen the brethren, turns at the close of his Epistle to his fellow ministers, and gives them his parting counsel. St. Peter calls the Church "the flock of God." It is not man's flock, but God's, which He hath purchased with His own blood. Our Saviour spoke of the Church as His flock — My sheep, My lambs — and Himself as the Good Shepherd. Each believer will have his own history. There will be peculiarities in it, not found in any other — in what way he wandered; where Jesus found him — in the house of God, on the bed of sickness, at the grave of some one dear to him as his own soul. When thus brought home to the fold, he becomes one of those sheep to whom Jesus gives eternal life. He feels that he is not his own, that he has been bought with a price and can no longer live to his own will, but to the will of Him that loved him. But though thus made one of the flock of Christ, the believer has not yet reached heaven; he must be fed, cared for, guided on his way there, and it is for this end, as well as to add to this flock, that the office of the ministry was instituted. Jesus so loves the souls of men, for whom He died, that He commits them only to those who love Him, and will feed His flock. Having thus considered the office of the ministry, let us consider the spirit in which it is to be exercised — not of constraint, but willingly, of a ready mind, neither as lording it over your charge. There may be a constraint in taking upon us this office and ministry, but it is such a constraint as St. Paul had when he said, "Necessity is laid upon me; woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! The love of Christ constraineth me." We may shrink from it from a sense of our utter insufficiency for such a work. Isaiah said, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips." There may be a shrinking from the work from these causes, and at the same time a willing and ready mind. The constraint St. Peter speaks of is where there is no heart for the work, where there are secular motives of base gain or ambition. Where there is this constraint, a penurious, stinted service will be rendered. Christ praises the angel of the Church of Ephesus for labour unto weariness. This is what Christ praises in His servants. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, the Church. Our Saviour had warned His apostles against the spirit of ambition which was found in the world. "You know," He said to them, "that the great ones of this world exercise lordship over men, but it shall not be so among you." And last of all in the qualifications of the Christian minister, we are to be examples to the flock in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity. Having thus considered the office of the ministry, and the spirit in which it is to be exercised, let us now notice the reward of the faithful minister. "And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory which fadeth not away." The service of Christ in the ministry of the gospel is not without its reward. It has its reward, not only in prospect, after it is finished, but by the way, in the life which now is. Our work brings us in contact with Divine truth, which grows upon us in interest and delight, so that we are overmastered by its power and glory. This truth raises the soul above itself on the wings of faith and hope, and makes us heavenly minded, which is life and peace. There is a satisfaction growing out of the nature of our work, so that the labour itself is its own exceeding great reward. Our work, again, brings us into a loving sympathy with the Man of Sorrows. The gospel we preach began first to be preached by the Lord Himself. And as He was grieved at the unbelief and hardness of heart of those who heard Him, as He wept over Jerusalem, so does every faithful minister of Christ mourn over those who obey not the gospel and neglect its great salvation.

(J. Packard, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

WEB: I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed.

The Faithful Minister
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