“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).- 1 Peter 2:25
Our study of Isaiah 53 over the past few days has focused on the significance of the name “Servant of the Lord” as a name for Jesus. We did not discuss Isaiah 53:6 in great detail, but we will look at this verse briefly today as an introduction to the final name of Jesus we will cover: “Overseer.”
If you have ever seen a flock of sheep in the field, you will understand how easy it is for sheep to wander about. Without a shepherd to guide them, individual sheep can end up far away from their flock and in great danger.
Isaiah 53:6 tells us that we are like sheep that have gone astray. Like sheep we are prone to wandering about aimlessly. We sin and lose our way. Like sheep, we are in need of a shepherd to guard us and to keep us in the fold.
1 Peter 2:25, among many other passages, tells us that Jesus is this Shepherd. He is the one who protects us and guides us. He is the one who restores us when our sin takes us far from His presence.
This passage also tells us that Jesus is the “overseer.” This term, as it used by the New Testament writers, has a meaning close to that of “shepherd.” Overseer is a translation of the Greek word episkopos. In the ancient world, the episkopos was like the general of an army. His task was to review the troops and gauge their readiness for battle. Oftentimes he would arrive unannounced and either discipline or reward them depending on the state of their encampment.
Christ as the episkopos, or Overseer, certainly has this duty as part of His work. But this is not the primary way in which the word is used by the New Testament authors. They tend to use it more as a way to describe Christ’s intense concern for His children. It is more of a “tender” usage, similar to the way shepherd is used to convey the loving care in which Jesus keeps us.
As our Overseer, Jesus watches us to make sure we are secure. He looks after us intensely so that our souls will be preserved and so that we will fulfill the purpose that He has for us. Just as our Father in heaven knows every hair on our heads (Matt. 10:30), so too does the Son have His eye on us every second. He loves us deeply and is therefore intimately concerned with even the smallest details of our lives.
As the Overseer of our souls, Jesus keeps guard over us so that we will persevere in faith and inherit all the promises He has given to us. Even though Scripture constantly reminds us to persevere in the faith, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ will preserve all those the Father has given Him.
Passages for Further Study
1 Tim. 4:16