1 Peter 5:5-7 Christian Humility

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1 Peter 5:1–7 ESV
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


Peter here is finishing up his letter to a group of suffering people.
He is writing to believers who have been scattered throughout the known world because of persecution.
In the beginning of the book he addresses them as the diaspora.
They were running for their lives, and it was an extremely difficult time for them.
So he writes this letter explaining what they have been given in salvation.
That what they were going through was worth it.
1 Peter 1:6 ESV
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
He goes on and tells them in verse 7
1 Peter 1:7 ESV
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
He builds up this salvation that we have been given along with the early believers, and then like most of the other epistles, or letters gets real practical.
He starts telling them how they should live in light of this great salvation.
In the end of chapter 2 he tells them they should be subject to the government, even the government of Rome.
He tells the slaves to be subject to their masters, even those who weren’t nice.
Then He tells the wives and husbands how to act towards each other, even if your spouse is not a believer.
Each time pointing to Christ and how He behaved as an example.
Yes they were suffering, but Christ suffered as well.
So He gets to the end of his letter and gives his final thoughts, and in those thoughts he speaks of humility.
Of all the things he could teach and encourage and exhort them to do, he calls them to be humble.
Peter’s final lessons for the suffering church, is that...

Every believer must humble themselves

By Subjecting Ourselves to Others v.5a

1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
As we look at the first part of verse 5, we see that it connects with the previous passage, which is Peter continuing his exhortation to the church to thrive during times of suffering.
In the first verses of this chapter, Peter speaks to the elders of the churches, reminding them of their duty to the flock.
1 Peter 5:1 ESV
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
He shows that he is in the same position as they are, a fellow elder, and calls them to shepherd the flock that God has given them.
There is a natural feeling to take pride and advantage of your position in leadership, but Peter warns against this.
He calls pastors to check their motives against desiring wealth and domineering over the flock, but to care for them in humility.
With this goal and end in mind,
1 Peter 5:4 ESV
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Elders are under shepherds of the chief Shepherd, and He will reward them in the end for caring for His flock, their reward is not here.
This is the test for the elder/pastor, are you shepherding the flock in humility, understanding your place under the true Head of the church? Are you waiting through the hardship and suffering of this life, for the reward of the next?
That is the brief context of our passage today. That has to be understood to move into our passage.
Verse 5 starts with the word “Likewise,” which connects the first part of the verse with the previous passage.
1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.
He is calling the younger people in the church to subject and humble themselves to the pastors of the church.
There is much debate over the terms elder and younger in this passage. But I believe it is clear that elder means pastor, not just older.
But why does he single out younger members?
I believe that Peter is dealing with with an age old problem of youthful foolishness. Ed Clowney said,
Our culture did not invent the generation gap!
Edmund P. Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 209.By Putting On Humility v. 5b
I am learning in real time that the young know everything about everything!
Spurgeon said this on a sermon from this passage.
Little children sometimes think they are wise, but they know nothing: wisdom is with their father, not with them.
On Humbling Ourselves Before God, Volume 29, Sermon #1733 -1 Peter 5:6
Charles Spurgeon
Age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom, but the experience of living usually does.
It is a part of human nature since the fall of Adam for the young to be proud and foolish at times!
Proverbs 22:15 “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child...”
So there is a group that is generally proud and a group that is supposed to be wise.
This is not a call for the younger to blindly follow the leaders of the church, but it is a call to the way they are supposed to follow them.
With subjection, with humility.
This world misunderstands subjection and submission.
The word translated subject means to put underneath.
If the elders are called by God through His church, meeting the qualifications that God has given.
If they love the church, and want to see it prosper in grace and love, in knowledge of Christ and His word.
If the pastors want to guide the church through this time until the time to come.
If they are not in it for sinful gain, but are waiting for the prize Christ has for them in the next life.
Who better to put yourself under? Who better to submit to?
One of the problems with youthful lack of experience, I believe, is the need to experience things for themselves.
Wisdom can learn from others counsel or example.
Proverbs 12:15 ESV
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 19:20 ESV
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
This takes humility, understanding that another may have the right answer without having to experience it for yourself.
A stubborn, hard heart, full of pride, has to see for itself. It draws its own conclusions and assumptions.
A humble heart leaves room for grace and understanding.
This is good for all of us, not just the younger and not just towards the elders.
In the broadest sense, we are to be a group of mutually submissive people.
We are to treat each other with grace, always ready to learn from one another.
Always treating conflicts and misunderstandings with humility, understanding the realities of sanctification and the realities of living in a fallen world.
There is enough struggle and suffering out there, that we don’t need to bring any in here due to foolish pride and lack of grace.
We are to be a humble people by subjecting ourselves to others.

By Serving One Another v.5b

1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
One of the things I love about the book of 1 Peter, is that you can see it as Peter’s obedience to Christ.
In Christ’s great commission, He commands the apostle to go and make disciples of all nations. To baptize them, and in the last verse of the Gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 28:20 ESV
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
You can draw direct lines to many of the things that Peter teaches to lessons that Christ had taught them recorded in the gospels.
If you just begin at the beginning of Peter’s letter and look at the cross references as you go that go back to the gospels, you can see how much Peter is just repeating what he had learned directly from Christ.
With this in mind, we look at our next piece of scripture and see an important fact.
We are to clothe ourselves with humility.
Literally, to tie on the apron of a slave in humility.
Who wears an apron? The king? The master of the house? The boss?
No, the slave does. The one who is lower in class. The employee.
Except in one case, our Lord and King Jesus Christ.
And in Christ’s humility we see where Peter learned this truth.
Christ and His disciples were at the last passover meal they would experience during His time on earth.
And during that supper Christ did a strange thing in the eyes of His disciples.
John 13:2–4 ESV
During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.
Listen to how John puts it in verse 3.
John 13:3 “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,”
What would you do if you knew that God the Father, almighty King of everything, had given everything into your hands?
Naturally, you wouldn’t do what Christ did.
John 13:4–5 ESV
rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
The King clothed Himself as a slave and began doing what the lowest of the slaves’ job was, to wash dirty, nasty feet.
The feet were not honorable parts of the bodies in their culture, and in the middle east, they are still considered dishonorable.
Remember the time W. Bush was in Iraq and a reporter threw his shoes at him? This is considered a great insult.
But Christ, in humility, washed His disciples feet.
Look what happens when He gets to Peter.
John 13:6–10 ESV
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
Peter knew the implications of what Christ was doing, and in typical Peter fashion, spoke up without fully understanding. (This is why I relate to Peter in so many ways.)
But Christ, in His patience, explained.
John 13:12–17 ESV
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
There is no doubt, Peter had this in his mind when writing his letter.
Christ was not giving us an ordinance of feet washing, He was giving us a lesson in humility.
And Peter took it to heart.
Christ, the King of Glory, humbled Himself to serve His disciples and thereby His church.
Philippians 2:8 ESV
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
This is the spirit with which we are to interact with one another.
To tie on the apron of humble service, help each other through this life.
Peter gives us 2 reasons:
1 Peter 5:5b “...God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
God opposes the proud.
This is a quote from the greek translation of Proverbs 3:34
Proverbs 3:34 ESV
Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
Would the one who wants the infinitely powerful and holy God to be against you?
Nebuchadnezzar was proud with his kingdom, and God made him act like a ox for 7 years and eat grass.
Daniel 4:29–32 ESV
At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
King Herod gave a speech and the people praised him for his words, saying he had a voice of a god.
Acts 12:23 ESV
Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
God will not share His glory with a mere man. He is against the proud.
Our pride is no different, humble yourself before Him, because,
God gives grace to the humble.
James also quotes the same verse from Proverbs that Peter does in
James 4:6 ESV
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Whereas the proud seek to glorify themselves, the humble seek to glorify God.
The humble realize their true position in need of grace, and know where the supply of grace comes from.
Our Lord proved this as we have seen, and we are to have the same mind as Him.
Just like God the Father looked onto His son with favor, He will look down on us in the same way.
These are pretty compelling reasons to be humble towards one another.
Let us tie on our servant’s aprons and serve one another in humility, as Christ served us.
We humble ourselves before God, by subjecting ourselves to one another, by humbly serving one another, and by...

By Resting in God’s Power v. 6-7

1 Peter 5:6–7 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Here in this third call to humility, Peter tightens the scope to humility before God.
We are to be humble towards our leadership, humble towards others, and now we are humble before God Himself.
This one seems to be the easy one.
It may seem easier to humble ourselves towards God, as to opposed to our leadership or fellow man, but we will see that due to the flesh, this is not the case.
verse 6 calls back to verse five where it say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
That is what the therefore is there for.
So verse 6 could be read, “Humble yourselves, because it’s true that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, so that at the proper time He may exalt you.”
We are so concerned with this present life, no?
This is all we know by sight, the next life we take by faith.
So we hold onto our comfort and control in this life with all that we have.
Not trusting in the wisdom of God to do His will or that His will is good.
And we can see that on the grand scale when we look at our culture. I will use our culture as an illustration as to how we are tempted to feel ourselves.
Our culture is absolutely scared of pain and discomfort.
We don’t believe anyone should be put out except for maybe our political enemies.
Our culture has taken individuality as an idol in some cases, and a demon in others.
We actively try to put away humility and pursue pride.
Piper says that,
Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) (Are You Humble Enough to Be Care-Free?)
Humility is not a popular human trait in the modern world. It’s not touted in the talk shows or celebrated in valedictorian speeches or commended in diversity seminars or listed with core values. And if you go to the massive self-help section of... Barnes and Noble you won’t find books on humility.
This is true, because our culture no longer submits to or believes in God, this is the only way that real humility can survive.
When God goes, humility goes. Piper again says,
Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) Are You Humble Enough to Be Care-Free?

In fact you might say that humility follows God like a shadow. We can expect to find humility applauded in our society as often as we find God applauded—which means almost never.

An op-ed in the Star Tribune summed it up nicely
Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) Are You Humble Enough to Be Care-Free?

There are some who naïvely cling to the nostalgic memory of God. The average churchgoer takes a few hours out of the week to experience the sacred … But the rest of the time, he is immersed in a society that no longer acknowledges God as an omniscient and omnipotent force to be loved and worshiped … Today we are too sophisticated for God. We can stand on our own; we are prepared and ready to choose and define our own existence.

We want to stand on our own, but the reality is we cannot.
We dispense anti-depressant pills more now than ever. Not that there is never a use for them, but that does not mean that they cannot be over used.
In a world of more comfort and more wealth than has ever been no before, we find ourselves less happy. This is a symptom of false pride.
In Canada, they now allow euthanasia, the nice way of saying murdering people, where people who just feel like it can be assisted in their own suicide by smart people in white coats who go home to nice houses and families.
We have no room for providence, for God’s hand in our lives. We are so special and valuable, that we should never experience any pain or things should never not go our way.
But Peter is calling us away from that. We do believe in an almighty, sovereign God.
So we fall prostrate, and bow before His inherent goodness and wisdom and holiness.
We say, “though my flesh and my heart, and my job and my wealth and my health and my expectations may fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!”
We say with the psalmist in Psalm 3:3 “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
Do you see the difference? We believe in God, we trust in God, we know that He is sovereign, so we are humble before God.
Look at verse 6 again
1 Peter 5:6 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
We are to humble ourselves so that His mighty hand can exalt us at the proper time.
This is where the hard part comes in. Instead of taking control of our own lives, we are to let Him be in control.
We have to trust that His hand is the mighty hand.
And that He has the wisdom to exalt us at the proper time. That is not the proper time as we see fit, but the proper time that He sees fit.
That may be in our lifetime, that may be in the next.
This is where the rubber meets the road for us, brothers and sisters.
The world will not have it. They will not let this God rule over them.
William Earnest Henley was a poet in late 19th century England. If you are familiar with the book Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, you may recognize the name of the pirate Long John Silver. Henley and Stevenson were friends and it is said that Long John was based on Henley.
Long John and Henley had peg legs, Long John because he was a pirate, Henley because he had tubercular arthritis and had to have one of his legs amputated right below the knee.
As he laid in the infirmary, healing from a surgery on his other foot, he wrote a poem called, “Invictus”
I will read it for you now.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Henley was determined, in his pride that he was not going to let his arthritis get the better of him. He was going to be the master of his own fate, not this disease.
If William Ernest Henley did not find humility before the real captain of his soul before he went on, no matter how well written this poem is, he found that it was not true.
Our fate and situations are not determined by clutches of circumstance or bludgeonings of chance, but by the mighty hand of God Himself.
And we as believers see this as a good thing.
Look at verse 7,
1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
This is a continuation of verse 6. They go together.
It’s a sub-ordinate clause for you grammar nerds. That means that casting all of your anxieties on God, is a way that you humble yourself before Him.
It can also be said that a barrier to casting all your anxieties on Him is pride.
So unlike Henley, don’t take the suffering all by yourself, trust God.
Peter said earlier in
1 Peter 4:19 ESV
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
This is the beautiful part of all of this serious discussion, the sovereign, almighty, holy God that we have been talking about, cares for us!
His mighty hand isn’t there to harm us, it is to do us good, ultimate good. It may not seem like it in the middle of the suffering, but God will exalt us at the proper time! His time!
This phrase in verse 7 is taken from
Psalm 55:22 ESV
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
And that word for burden in the Greek Old Testament, is the same word for anxieties in our passage today.
And you my brother and sister, may be going through the worst suffering of your life right now.
The worst suffering of your life may still be coming.
The worst suffering of your life may have happened long ago.
Whatever the case may be, the God of revelation, the creator and sustainer of the universe, the all-knowing and all powerful, not only knows about the suffering, but He cares for you.
He is continuously caring for His own.


Believer, I don’t know what you are going through, but I know who cares for you.
Push down the pride that wants to only have its way, and humble yourself to your leaders by God’s grace, humble yourself before others.
And when that sin of pride starts bubbling up in your heart and trying to carry its own anxiety and worry, preach to it.
Say to it, “Heart, who do you think you are to be afraid of the future and ignore the promises of God? No! I will not exalt my pride and my control over it and worry. I will humble myself and bow before God’s sovereignty. I will trust His promise that He cares for me, and He is not allowing me to suffer for no reason. He will lift me up in His time.”
And you today who have not come to Jesus in saving faith and biblical repentance. Turn to Him. The only way that this works out for you is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t carry your burdens all by yourself. Don’t let pride put you on the opposing side of an almighty, holy God. Humble yourself before Him today.
Matthew 11:28–30 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
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