Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 55
I Peter 4:1 – 5:14 – Part 2
All we want to do as we teach is to just open the Book and let people begin to study on their own. And I think the Lord is doing that in a lot of hearts. He’s is showing them how to read and enjoy and study the Book on their own. It’s so thrilling when people write or call and tell us, “For the first time, I’m studying my Bible and enjoying it.”
Okay, let’s pick right up where we left off in the last lesson, and we are now in I Peter chapter 5. And, again, for review, these little epistles are written to Jewish believers who had been scattered out of the area of Jerusalem and Judea, probably by Saul’s persecution – and they have established little congregations around that part of the eastern Mediterranean. But I think that these little letters that Peter writes are primarily written to Jewish congregations in the western end of Turkey.
Now the book of James, on the other hand, was probably written to one larger congregation of Jewish believers, but not necessarily at Jerusalem – maybe Alexandria or maybe one of the areas up in northern Galilee.
Now, we don’t want to leave the impression that Peter is associating the salvation of these Jews as being accomplished by their martyrdom. I hope that didn’t come across like that in the last lesson because we’re all aware now that the idea behind the Muslim suicide bombers is that, if they can become a martyr, they’re going to immediately go to Paradise. Well, that is not at all what we teach – that when you go through martyrdom you are guaranteed an eternal life.
But for the believer, for the true saved individual that is martyred, yes, he is going to be instantly in the Lord’s presence just like anyone who dies a natural death. So the martyr’s death does not, in itself, guarantee salvation, as that is accomplished when you believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again. We call that Paul’s Gospel of salvation found over in I Corinthians 15:1-4.
Now then, as we come into chapter 5 this is pretty much along the same line that Paul teaches for establishing his Gentile churches. And no doubt a lot of this was patterned after the synagogues of Israel, and it just falls in line that the Jewish believers are under the same God that we Gentile believers are. Never forget that. We’ve got the same God Who is dealing with both sides – the Jew and the Gentile. And then, of course, when we get to Paul, there is a breakdown of the distinction between Jew and Gentile. The middle wall of partition has been broken down. And now in this Age of Grace, there is no difference between black or white, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile – we are all one in the Body of Christ!
Iris and I experience it all the time. We can go into a home that’s as modest as can be, and the spiritual camaraderie is just as good as it is on up the scale. We’ve gone into black families’ homes and we have just thoroughly enjoyed that because we’re all members of the Body of Christ and there are no distinctions. All right, so now then, coming down into chapter 5, dealing with these Jewish congregations, you have the same kind of language, where Peter says in verse 1:
I Peter 5:1a
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder,…” (speaking of himself). Now I’ve pointed this out in other times (but we certainly know) that, at Pentecost, and even during Christ’s earthly ministry, Peter was the headman. Peter spoke for the Twelve invariably and, at Pentecost, everybody recognized Peter as the head of the Jewish Jerusalem church. But now come back with me to Galatians chapter 2, where some of you have heard me teach this. Galatians chapter 2, and I want to bring you down to verse 9, because you may have never seen this before.
Now the setting is the Jerusalem counsel. After several years of Paul’s ministry, false teachers emanating from the Jerusalem church were coming in behind Paul and telling Paul’s Gentile converts that they had to keep the Law and circumcision in order to be saved. You can read that over in the first 5 verses of Acts chapter 15. And, Paul and Barnabas meet with Peter, James and John up there in Jerusalem to refute that. But, the point I want to make here is that Peter has now lost that place of ‘top man’ authority. It is now James who is in charge.
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John, who seemed to be pillars,…” In other words, they had lost a lot of their authority because Israel is continuing to reject everything and they are sliding on down to the dispersion of 70 AD. But just like Peter shows in his epistles back here, they’re not aware of that yet. They think everything is still ‘A-OK.’ They still think Israel is going to go into, and through, the Tribulation and have their King and their Kingdom in short order. But, here it’s obvious now that James, who was not even the James of the Twelve (he’s been beheaded); but this James is now the moderator of this meeting.
“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived (or understood) the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision. (Jews)
All right now the companion passage is Acts 15, and let’s go back there where it’s more obvious that James is the moderator. Acts 15 verse 13. We were here, I think, in one of the previous programs for a different reason, but now it’s to show that Peter is no longer the head honcho of the Jewish equation. James is.
“And after they had held their peace, James (the moderator) answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:” And then you come down to verse 19 and James continues:
“Wherefore my sentence is,.…” So James is the one who is making the authoritative statement, not Peter, and that should be sufficient. Now the same way with the order of how these little Jewish epistles (and I think the Holy Spirit did it purposely), where James is first, not Peter. It’s James’ epistle, and then we go to I Peter and II Peter and then John, and Jude.
Okay, here we are now in I Peter chapter 5, and we’re going to have the organization laid out much as it was in the Jewish Synagogue, but also in Paul’s instructions to the Gentile churches in I Timothy chapter 3. All right, verse 1 again:
I Peter 5:1
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, (he doesn’t claim to be the head man; he’s just merely one of the elders) and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,(in other words, Peter was there at the crucifixion) and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:” Now what in the world do you suppose he was talking about? Well I think he was talking about the Transfiguration. And you remember what happened at the Transfiguration? Let’s go back and look at it in Matthew 16 verse 28, where Jesus is speaking now to the Twelve. And He says:
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here (not all of them, only three) which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Quite a statement wasn’t it? Now chapter 17 and verse 1.
“And after six days (six days later) Jesus taketh Peter, (now there he’s in first place) James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2. And was transfigured before them: (now here was the glory that I think Peter is referring to in his little epistle) and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” Now that’s glorious in my book. It was almost blinding, okay, so that’s the Glory that I think Peter can make reference to, that he and James and John had witnessed it. And, of course, it was just a little preview of the glory that He will reveal when He comes and sets up His Kingdom – when again He will be that Light of the world. All right, back to I Peter chapter 5, and continuing verse 1.
I Peter 5:1b
“…who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:” In other words, when Christ returns, that glory of the Transfiguration will be fulfilled to its completeness.
I Peter 5:2
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” In other words, what’s Peter saying? You don’t enter into the Lord’s service with the idea of monetary return. That’s not a reason for serving. Naturally every servant has to have enough to feed himself and his family and so forth, but it is not the prerequisite for service. All right, so “Feed the flock of God,” be a shepherd, and again I think in the Synagogue there were the upper shepherds and the lower shepherds.
I Peter 5:3-4
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. 4. And when the chief Shepherd (capitalized) shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Now, come back with me to John’s Gospel. When we speak of sheep and the shepherd and the flock, what people are we generally speaking of? Israel! Israel is always referred to as sheep, Christ is always referred to as the Shepherd, and He uses the parables of the Shepherd. And I cannot find anything that pertains to Gentiles being called God’s sheep.
All right, John’s Gospel, chapter 21 (and you all know the account back here in John’s Gospel chapter 21, in His resurrected body and how He appears to the Eleven up there at Galilee). And after the miracle of the net full of fish that did not break, now come down to verse 15 (after they had eaten that delicious bread and fish). You know I referred to it several programs back. That must have been the most delicious meal ever served up to mortal man. That is if you like fish like Iris and I do. My, that’s one thing that we enjoy about our seminars in Florida. We eat fish until it comes out our ears and we love it. But I’ll bet this was super! Don’t you know that the Lord knows how to do everything better than any mortal? But He has fish ready for them to eat and He says:
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?…” Now some people think He’s talking about his fellow disciples. I don’t. I think He’s talking about fish because that was his business, he was a fisherman. He loved fish like I love cattle. Now that’s all there is to it – let’s be honest about it. But now he’s put on the spot. Peter do you love me more than your fishing business up on Galilee? Are you ready to turn your back on all that and be my servant?
“…He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my (what?) lambs.” Now what are lambs? Well they’re sheep. So who are the sheep in Scripture? Israel. So who was Peter to be feeding? Jews. And who does Peter feed? Jews. And always remember that. He’s obedient to what the Lord told him. Well, let’s just keep going while we’re here for a little bit.
“He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him Feed my sheep. 17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time. Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus said unto him, Feed my sheep.” What do you suppose those three commands set opposite? Peter’s denials. Three times when Peter said, “I don’t know that man.” Three times the Lord says, “Feed my sheep.” Okay now, this is exactly what he’s referring to now in his little epistle, then, that it’s his responsibility as well as the rest of the Jewish leadership to “feed God’s sheep,” and that’s Israel, the Jewish element. Verse 3 again.
I Peter 5:3
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” Now what is always the first thing you think of when you think of the word “flock?“ A flock of sheep. Verse 4.
I Peter 5:4a
“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear,…” See how all the language fits. Now Israel’s chief Shepherd (their Messiah, their King, their Redeemer, their Savior, but also their chief Shepherd and all those promises, the Old Testament), are finally going to be fulfilled and He will be the Shepherd of the sheep in His pasture. Now reading on.
I Peter 5:4-6a
“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, (those believing Jews, faithful to martyrdom even) ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6. Humble yourselves.…” In other words, humility is something that we have to generate ourselves. Humility is not a gift, it’s something that we have to precipitate.
I Peter 5:6-7
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, (and if we remain humble) that he may exalt you in due time: 7. Casting all your care upon him; (Now he’s drawing from the Old Testament promises) for he careth for you.” In fact let’s go look at it, that would be in Psalms 55. Let’s go back and check that one. The Holy Spirit has caused Peter to draw from this verse and, of course, David knew what it was to rely totally upon his God.
“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer (permit) the righteous to be moved.” Casting all your cares upon him. All right, back to I Peter chapter 5 again. Verse 8. If you’re going to cast your cares upon the Lord Jesus, then it behooves us to live accordingly. And we’re to:
I Peter 5:8
“Be sober, (we’re to) be vigilant; (in other words, we’ve got to be on top of it constantly) because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” But, as I was thinking this over last night, how does Paul depict Satan? II Corinthians, chapter 11, and let’s drop down to verse 14. Now remember what Peter just said, “Beware of Satan who is as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Paul depicts him:
II Corinthians 11:14-15
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed (not) into (a lion but a what?) an angel of light. 15. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Now as I was thinking of this, which form, if you had a choice, would you rather be confronted with, the lion, or the angel of light? I’ll take the lion any day because you know you’re in trouble with him. But with that angel of light, you’ve got to be wise as a serpent to see the difference, because it’s so subtle. And you know, we’re finding it out more and more about all the false teaching that’s coming in off the Internet and off television. My goodness, I just read an article the other night by one of the old Bible scholars of a by-gone day and he used the analogy of “steak laced with arsenic.” How does it taste? Delicious, but the more you eat of it the quicker you’re going to die. Well, you see, that’s exactly what Satan is doing today. He’s lacing gorgeous steaks with arsenic. And people are falling for it left and right.
I think I mentioned in our last taping, I had a fellow call and he was following this kind of stuff. And I said, “Man, you’re being ‘pied-pipered.’” And he didn’t know what I was talking about. But you all know the story of the pied piper. He piped and the rats followed to their doom. Well, that’s what’s happening today – these false teachers are up there, they’re piping the tune, and multitudes are following them. It’s unbelievable. Why? Because up there in verse 13, this is the reason,
II Corinthians 11:13
“For such are false apostles, (that’s what some of them claim to be, you know, that they’re apostles) deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” They’re false teachers, and we’re going to be looking at that more in the next taping when we get to II Peter chapter 3, which is almost word-for-word with the little book of Jude – and it just lays out the descriptive language of these false teachers. A good yardstick for us in the Body of Christ is to line it all up against the Apostle Paul’s teachings of Romans through Philemon and you can’t go wrong. Look at verse 14 one more time, because this is so important.
II Corinthians 11:14
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” Because that’s what Satan, and his ministers do all the time – he transforms himself into an angel of light. So that’s what we’re up against. Peter’s followers back here in the little epistle are up against a lion “seeking whom he may devour.” Now, of course, we can use both analogies and hopefully I’ve made my point. The lion aspect is relatively easy to recognize. You know you’re in trouble when a lion confronts you, but when an angelic light appears, people fall for it. They just fall for it because, if it’s a light, it must be God. No. It’s a false angel of light. All right, back in I Peter 5.
I Peter 5:9
“Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” In other words, we all are confronted with these same things.
I Peter 5:10-11
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11. To him (that is to Christ) be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Now he’s winding down the letter and he says:
I Peter 5:12
“By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.” Now, remember, Grace did not start with Paul. Paul becomes the more eminent Apostle of Grace, but God has always dealt in Grace. When He saved Adam and Eve, it was in Grace. When He helped Noah escape the flood, it was Grace. When He brought Israel out of Egypt, it was Grace. So that’s nothing new. The only thing is that, it is so much more epitomized when we get to Paul, that God can pour out His Grace on ungodly, unregenerate Gentiles. And that was hard to comprehend for the Jews. Now closing with verse 13.
I Peter 5:13-14
“The church that is at Babylon, (I think the Babylon here is Jerusalem and not Iraq). elected together with you. saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. 14. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity, (love) Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.