HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (Jan 2008)

Elders as leaders in 1 Peter and the early Church

  • John H. Elliott

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 64, no. 2
pp. 681 – 695


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Addressing a hostile situation that called for courageous and exemplary leaders, the letter of 1 Peter employed in 5:1-5 a cluster of vocabulary and images (elders, verseers/exercise oversight, shepherds, flock) representing a growing coalescence of terms for leaders and their functions in the early Jesus movement. As one of the earliest witnesses to this constellation and its symbolization of community leaders as elders-pastors-overseers, the text of 1 Peter 5:1-5a deserves more attention than it has hitherto been accorded in the study of early Christian ministry and church order.