1 ¶ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
First, we need to establish for our understanding what an elder is. We know from our language that an elder is an older person who is hopefully wiser by virtue of his or her age. Paul commanded Timothy to show them certain respect.
1Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Do you see how elder is contrasted with younger in those two verses showing the definition there? Some elders are in authority in the church. Of those, some do preaching and teaching.
1Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Paul ordained such elders in every city, for instance in Crete, to oversee the churches that met in peoples’ homes, as churches did in the first century.
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
It follows then that a bishop is an elder who leads a congregation. He must be an elder member of the congregation because the admonition against him being a novice in the faith is clearly mentioned.
1Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
A bishop would have been then what today we call a pastor, although the meaning of pastor in the first century was a teacher.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
By the context here, Peter is referring to elders who spiritually rule over the congregation, who have oversight of the Christian’s faith to ensure that sound doctrine is preached and a good example of Christ is set.
Peter establishes his credibility, not only as an elder, but a witness to Christ’s suffering and to His transfiguration on the mount. See Mark 9 and Matthew 17. Peter is an elder worth listening to and now is about to give a warning and instructions that will not sit well with fundamentalist pastors today in many cases. If you’re thinking, “uh-oh,” you’re right.