Clothe Yourselves With Humility- 1 Peter 5:5

In this passage, Peter has been giving instructions to the elders, or leaders, of the church. He then, in the verse at hand, provides instruction for the leaders and those whom they lead. He begins, in verse 5, with an admonition to “all of you”, here in reference to the entire church, an admonition to all believers. This admonition begins with the command to “clothe yourselves” with something. The Greek clothe yourselves is the aorist middle imperative of enkomboomai, a word used only here in the New Testament. This word refers to the putting on of a garment which is to be tied, and is used to refer to an outer garment, a garment which covers over other garments, which is the first thing others see of us. The use of the imperative makes this function as a command, and the middle voice shows that this is something we must do to ourselves. What all of this means is that Peter here commands all believers to make the conscious choice to clothe ourselves with something, in such a way that this something is the first thing others see, and we are to clothe ourselves with “humility”. The Greek word humility is tapeinophrosune. This is a compound word in the Greek, combining here tapeinoo- humble, phroneo- thinking and sune- roughly equivalent to the English suffix “ness”. This word, therefore, basically could be translated as “humblemindedness”, and refers primarily to one’s thinking, to one’s attitude. Peter admonishes all believers here to choose to let the first thing others see of them be their humblemindedness, to let humility of mind be a defining characteristic of their existence. So what does Peter mean by humility of mind? We can see what he means by looking at what he contrasts it with, and he contrasts it here with being proud. The Greek word proud here is hyperephanos, arrogant or haughty, and it describes one who sees himself or herself as being above others, an attitude which looks down on others as being “needy”, who think of themselves as superior, as one who has all they need and needs nothing from anyone else, even God. So we find that the basic difference between arrogance and humility here has to do with need, that the humble acknowledge their need, while the arrogant feel they have need of nothing. This is why Peter then tells us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. Grace is commonly defined as unmerited favor, as a free gift which cannot be earned or deserved. What this means in context here is that God gives grace to the humble because it is the humble who acknowledge their need of it. The humble are those who acknowledge and freely admit their need, who come to God with their need, who will receive the grace to meet their need. The proud do not acknowledge or admit their need, and therefore do not receive grace to meet their need. We also find here that God actively opposes the proud. The Greek word opposes is antitasso- to set onesself against. God “sets Himself against” the proud, actively working in their lives to bring them to the place of humility, to show them again and again of their need in order that they would acknowledge their need and clothe themselves with humility. The reason humility is so important is that Jesus Himself “clothed Himself with humility” (Philippians 2:8), and Peter here encourages all who desire to be His disciples to clothe themselves with humility as well, for it is the humble who will receive grace, who will receive all they need to be all God calls them to be.

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