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Humble submission

In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 CSB

Peter turns to the young men and writes the phrase “in the same way.” It follows that after Peter instructs the elders to demonstrate willingness to serve and to be examples to the believers, now he tells the young men to be submissive to those who are older. When we consider this verse, we see the clear lines of subordination. The cultural background is evident. The first-century Jewish writer Philo observes that the sect called the Essenes separated the older men from the younger. On the sabbath in their synagogues, “arranged in rows according to their ages, the younger below the elder, they sit decorously as befits the occasion.…” Peter teaches that in the church the elders are called to positions of leadership; he exhorts the junior men to be submissive to them. And he urges these young men to show respect and regard to those who are more advanced in age. By implication, they learn obedience and humility from their elders and at the same time are trained to assume leadership roles in church and community. For both the older and the younger generation, humility ought to be the hallmark of Christian living. Peter writes, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” This passage advises the act of putting on humility. The word “clothe” means to tie a piece of clothing to oneself. The suggestion is that Christians ought to tie humility to their conduct so that everyone is able to recognize them. Peter exhorts the readers to fasten humility to themselves once for all. In other words, it stays with them for the rest of their lives. Jesus invites his followers to learn humility from him. He invites all those who are weary and burdened to come to him and learn. For, he says, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Humility comes as an expression when we consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Humility is one of the Christian virtues, next to compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12). Scripture also warns against false humility, which has the appearance of wisdom and demonstrates its worthlessness in a show of “self-imposed worship” (Colossians 2:18, 23). Peter supports his exhortation with an appeal to Scripture: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” In this passage, Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34, which James also quotes this verse (James 4:6). The believer ought to know that God has provided for him everything he needs to live godly lives. God has bestowed every believer what they need out of His grace and generosity. This is why we do not attribute anything to ourselves for when we do this, we would not only rob God but also we become His adversary. This is why Christians live humbly with his God (Micah 6:8).


Isaac De Guzman


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