The original recipients of Peter’s first epistle were no strangers to trial. They had been grieved by various trials (1:6), and could expect what Peter calls “the fiery trial” to come upon them (4:12). Since Christ suffered persecution, they should not be surprised as Christians when it happened to them.
During times of persecution, followers of Christ need leadership and encouragement. Peter exhorted the elders among these suffering Christians to shepherd and care for the church especially during the troubled times in which they lived (1Pe 5:1-4). These men were to serve the Lord and his people willingly and eagerly. They were not to serve out of obligation or be motivated by money. They were not to rule over the flock as lords, but lead those entrusted to them by example. And when the Lord Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, returns they will receive the crown of life that does not fade away.