Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1 Peter 5

1 Peter concludes with encouragement for "Elders". The role that is described here would be that of the Pastoral leader of a congregation. In the United Methodist tradition we who are called, trained and ordained to the pastoral office are called Elders -- probably because of this and other New Testament passages. The Elders are to tend to the flock of God that is in our charge -- imagine what all of that means. It means teaching and preaching, it means organizing, it means comforting the afflicted and it probably also means afflicting the comforted. It is a caring role and it is also a prophetic role. We must do this with humility and to fully trust in God. Verse 7 is popular and I just noticed, for the first time, that it is written in the context of giving the Elders directions: "Cast all you anxiety on him, because he cares for you." It is good that the worries, fears, anxieties and struggles of the congregation are not mine to carry -- I cast them all on God as God cares for me.

The letter concludes, as do most of the New Testament epistles with a blessing and a greeting. Notice that the sister church is said to be in Babylon (5:13). Babylon is the ancient evil of Old Testament times and has long been destroyed. The early Church (and many Jewish authors during this time as well) used the title "Babylon" to describe any evil empire or government that was oppressive. Since the Christian movement is being persecuted by the Roman Empire at this point in history it is pretty clear that the author means Rome. Your sister Church in Rome sends you greetings. It is a way to for the author to say where he is without really saying where he is. Is Babylon the city of Rome or is it the entire empire?

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