Living in the last days, believers know that God’s judgment is near. Lest believers think that His judgment will only be upon the unregenerate, Peter said, “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). In other words, God’s judgment begins with the Church. In 1 Peter 5:1-5, Peter addressed the elders of the church in light of this coming judgment. Now in 1 Peter 5:5-9, he addresses the people in the church, with five exhortations, so that they too can be prepared for God’s judgment.
For the first time in his epistle, Peter directly addresses the local church’s elders or leaders. While it appears odd to shift from trials and judgment to church leadership, the segue is quite natural. In 1 Peter 4:17, Peter said that “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” Peter was alluding to Malachi 3 and Ezekiel 9, where God’s judgment began at the Temple. Presently, the Church is the Temple of God. Thus, God’s judgment begins with the Church. More specifically, in light of Ezekiel 9:6, God’s judgment upon His Temple starts with the elders. Hence, Peter addresses the elders of the church with a challenge so that they can avoid the judgment that the unregenerate will face. Peter will address the people of the church in light of this judgment in 1 Peter 5:5-9.
Peter has given believers a fourfold prescription for trials. Thus, when trials come, and they will, believers should be neither perplexed nor ashamed. The suffering associated with trials is an opportunity to glorify God and witness to a lost world of the work of redemption in one’s life. As such, believers can rejoice, knowing that their trials and suffering are not without merit. As well, believers can rejoice knowing that when they suffer for Christ’s sake, they will be counted worthy as suffering in the same manner He did.
Living in light of the coming judgment is recognizing that Jesus Christ is Lord. As believers submit to His Lordship they will discipline their minds to be serious and sober, display love that is fervent and forgiving, direct hospitality to those advancing the Gospel, and develop their spiritual gifts.