Ver. 1. The ancients, therefore, that are among you, I beseech, who am myself also an ancient,† &c. According to the letter, the senior, I, a fellow senior; or, the elder, I, a fellow elder. Mr. Nary, and also the French translators, commonly put, the priest, I, your fellow priest. Or even it might be, the bishops, I, your fellow bishop. The Latin word, senior, and the Greek word presbyteros, which here are in the text, if we should follow their derivation only, signify elderly men, or men advanced in years; but since by a received use, they signify and represent to us offices and dignities, either ecclesiastical or civil, either belonging to the Church or state, which in other languages are now generally known by other words, we may however be permitted to use, even in translating the holy Scriptures, those words and names by which now are represented to us those offices and dignities. It cannot be doubted but the Greek and Latin words, which we find in this verse, were applied, after the establishment of the new law of Christ, to signify such ministers of God and the Church which are now called priests and bishops: and it is for this reason that I judged it better to put the word priest, and fellow priest, (meaning priests of the higher order, commonly known by the name of bishops) than to use the words seniors, elders, or presbyters. I should not blame the Prot. translators for translating always the Greek word, presbyter, by the English word elder, nor the Rhemes translators for putting it here senior, if these words were sufficiently authorised by an ecclesiastical use and custom to signify priests or bishops; which I think can scarce be said, to say nothing that the word elders hath been used by fanatical men, who admit of no ordination of bishops or priests by divine institution, and who have affixed it to their lay elders, who are appointed and degraded as it seemeth good to their congregations. Though the Protestants of the Church of England always translate elders for presbyters in the New Testament, yet I do not find this word once used in their liturgy or common prayer book, when any directions are given to those that perform the church office, who are called priests, bishops, curates, or ministers.
--- And a witness of the sufferings of Christ. S. Peter being called and made the first or chief of the apostles soon after Christ began to preach, he was witness of what Christ suffered, both during the time of his preaching and of his passion.
--- Glory. Some think that S. Peter only means, that he was present at his transfiguration, where was shewn some resemblance of the glory which is to come in heaven. Others think, that he expresseth the firm hopes he had of enjoying the glory of heaven. Wi.
[†] V. 1. Seniores, presbuterouV; consenior, sumpresbuteroV. It is certain that in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and in other languages, such as have a superiority and command over others, in the Church or in the commonwealth, have been called by words that by their derivation express men advanced in age and years; because men chosen to such offices were commonly, though not always, advanced in age. Yet whether old or young, we give them the names which use and custom hath affixed to their dignities; for example, in English, the chief magistrate of a town we call the mayor or major, not the greater of such a town; those who rule with him, we call the aldermen, not the elderly men according to the derivation. The like might be said of senate, senators, and many other names of offices and dignities; and, as the authors of the annotations on the Rhem. Test. observed, it would be ridiculous to translate such words according to their etymologies. We must not translate pontifex, a bridge-maker; lapis, a hurt foot, &c. ApostoloV, by its derivation, signifieth only one sent, or a messenger; episkopoV, an overseer, or inspector; diakonoV, a servant, or waiter; yet Protestants as well as Catholics translate, apostles, bishops, deacons; and where presbuteroi, or seniors, signify men now known by these words, priests or bishops, why may we not in translating give them these names? It is true a particular difficulty occurs, because (as S. Jerom, S. Chrys. and others have taken notice) the Greek word, o presbuteroV, is used in the New Testament sometimes for those who by their dignity were priests only, sometimes for bishops, and many times in the gospels for those who were governors among the Jews, or members of their great council or sanhedrim and sometimes only for those who by their age were elder or more advanced in years. This makes it impossible, in translating, to represent the signification of this Greek word always in Latin or in English by the same Latin or English word, which a translator should endeavour to do as much as possible. The Prot. translators have indeed always rendered the Greek presbuteroV by the English word elder; they adhere to the derivation of the word without regard to the different offices signified by that one word, and for which we have different words in English. I take notice that the Latin interpreter of the old Vulgate, though generally very exact, has not followed this rule of translating presbuteroV by the same Latin word: for example, Acts xv. 2. he puts presbyteros, and yet in the same chap. (v. 4, 6, 22, and 23) he puts seniores. Acts xx. 17. for presbuterouV he puts majores natu; and these same persons, by the 28th verse, are called episcopi, episkopoi. In the epistles to Timothy and Titus, as also in those of SS. James, Peter, and John, for the same Greek word we sometimes find presbyteri, and sometimes seniores. A late English translation from the Latin, (an. 1719. by C. N.) for seniores and presbyteri sometimes puts elders, sometimes priests, whether it be seniores or presbyteri in the Latin; and when mention is made of the ministers of the gospel, (as Acts xv. 4.) for seniores he translates elders, and yet in the same chapter (v. 6, 22, and 23) for the same word he puts priests, &c. The translators of the Rhem. Testament were more exact, for generally speaking of seniores they put the ancients, when mention was made of those who were presbuteroi among the Jews; when seniores were applied to the ministers of the gospel, they put seniors; and for presbyteri, they translate priests. Yet they have gone from this in one or two places; for Acts xi. 30. where we read mittentes ad seniores, they put to the ancients; and also, Acts xvi. 4. for senioribus we again find ancients. For my part I judged it best, for distinction sake, to put elders in the gospels for seniores, or presbuteroi of the Jews. I had put in the Acts of the Apostles seniors where I found seniores, speaking of the ministers of the new law; and where I have found the Latin, presbyteri, I have translated priests; and Acts xx. 17. I have translated the seniors. I have also been in a doubt here in this place of S. Peter, and also in the 2d and 3d of S. John, whether to put seniors or priests: I have put ancient priests, not doubting but that S. Peter and S. John speak of themselves as priests of the first order, or as they were bishops.
Ver. 2. Feed the flock. This shews he speaks of bishops and priests, and not of elders in years only.
Ver. 3. Neither as domineering over the clergy.† This may not only signify over the inferior ministers, who were subject to the bishops or priests, but also over the particular flocks which fell to their share, or to their lot to take care of. See the Greek. Wi.
[†] V. 3. In cleris, twn klhrwn. Though I have followed the Rhem. Testament, and translated over the clergy, I believe klhroi, in the plural number, is scarce used for clerici, or men, but rather for shares and parts of Christ's flock, to signify that every bishop or priest should not domineer over those under him, whether inferior ministers or lay persons.
Ver. 5. Ye young men, not only younger in age, but employed in offices inferior to those of the bishops and priests, be subject to the ancients. But even all of you by your carriage insinuate, practise, and give examples of humility one to another: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. S. James (C. iv. 6.) repeats the same doctrine and the same words. See also James ii. 12. Wi.
Ver. 12. I have written briefly, considering the importance of such mysteries, and necessary instructions. Wi.
Ver. 13. The church, which is in Babylon, (at Rome, say Euseb. S. Jerom, &c.) so called not only on account of the extent of its empire, but also for its idolatry and vices.
--- Mark, my son: generally thought to have been S. Mark, the evangelist. Wi.
--- See the unjust prepossession of certain seceders. In this text, where all the lights of antiquity understand Rome by Babylon, they deny it; and in the book of Revelation, where all evil spoken of Babylon, there they will have it signify nothing else but Rome: yes, and the Church of Rome, not (as the holy Fathers interpret it) the temporal state of the heathen empire.