Humility, it doesn’t get much airtime; our celebrities, our politicians, they don’t really seem to go in for it, do they? What Peter is telling us here, is about the importance of humility. When we are humble, we let God into our lives, so that when he chooses we may be exalted. And when we are humble, that is when we can cast our cares upon God, secure in the knowledge that God cares for us.
Who wrote 1 Peter 5:6-7?
This is the last chapter of the first Epistle of Peter, an epistle that begins with Peter introducing himself.
‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.’ 1 Peter 1:1 KJV
There is dispute among scholars about the authorship of the second epistle but though he was uneducated there is some agreement that Peter was the author of the first epistle and that he probably dictated the letter ‘with the help of Silas’.
Peter is one of the most prominent figures in the Acts of the Apostles and the gospels and some scholars argue that the Gospel of Mark was based closely on Peter’s experience. Peter, initially called Simon, and his brother Andrew, were fishermen who were called by Jesus to join the disciples.
‘And he saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Matthew 4:19 KJV
Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, meaning ‘rock’ and Peter became one of Jesus’ closest companions. Jesus said of Peter:
‘And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ Matthew 16:18 KJV
Peter was martyred by the emperor Nero, around 64 AD, reputedly, he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt that he was not worthy to die in the same way as Jesus.
What is the meaning of 1 Peter 5:6-7?
1 Peter 5:6-7 New International Version.
‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’
These are two extraordinary sentences and they both use visual images to help us understand God’s grace. God made the world and all that is in it, we are literally ‘under God’s mighty hand,’ by what foolish arrogance could we delude ourselves that we can be anything other than ‘humble’. That same mighty hand, beneath which we strive to live our Christian lives, is the same hand that will lift us up to heaven and the life eternal, ‘in due time’. The second sentence urges us to ‘cast’ our anxiety upon God, another physical image which suggests an act of liberation, as we give ourselves entirely over to the protection of God, secure in the knowledge that each of us matters to him.
1 Peter 5:6-7 King James Version
‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’
The powerful play on the words care/careth has been blunted with time, which is why modern versions of this text opt for the less ambiguous ‘anxiety’.
1 Peter 5:6-7 New American Standard Bible
‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, having cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares about you.’
The NASB always remains close to the KJV and only modernizes grammar or diction when necessary. With this verse, the single sentence has been retained, creating a closer link between humility and the casting away of anxiety. The NASB also retains the word ‘exalt’ which carries with it the idea of transformation into something greater, a sense that is lost in the phrase ‘lift you up’.
1 Peter 5:6-7 The Message
‘So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is upon you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.’
Is the contemporary reader squeamish about the word ‘humble’? This first sentence seems to me to have travelled too far from KJV. What do you think? Being ‘content with who you are’ seems to me at odds with so much Bible teaching, which urges us to be the best Christian that we can. Again, what is gained by diminishing ‘mighty’ to ‘strong’? And ‘he’ll promote you at the right time’ is in danger of making God sound like a regional manager. Interestingly the MSG version retains the KJV play on words with carefree/careful, which to me seems an excellent updating of the KJV.
1 Peter 5:6-7 in context
Peter is addressing a wide range of recipients:
‘…To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.’ 1 Peter 1
He lists provinces in Roman Asia Minor, possibly in the order in which the messenger carrying the letter would have visited them. He writes to encourage Christians to hold fast to their faith despite persecution from the state and fellow citizens. Peter spoke from personal experience, having been beaten and imprisoned for his faith many times.
Reflections on 1 Peter 5:6-7
‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.’ Attributed to Rick Warren
Pride is a sin and humility is its corresponding virtue. It feels like it’s in short supply these days, smothered by our suffocating social media and materialism. Here is a verse that reminds us that humility is a door to our salvation. What do you think?
Read next: Discover more Bible verses meaning or read the next article : Meaning of Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”