The Servant Who Knows Us Inside and Out
“You were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”- 1 Peter 2:25
Our final study of the character of Jesus based on the various names given to Him in Scripture brings us back to 1 Peter 2:25 as we consider what it means that Christ is the overseer of our souls. This verse, of course, is set within the context of Peter’s description of Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, the majestic prophecy of the Suffering Servant. As Peter has shown us in his allusions to Isaiah’s text, Jesus is the Servant who suffers for the sake of our righteousness and the Servant who is also our Good Shepherd who protects and guides us. In Peter’s description of Jesus as the Servant who oversees us, we see him further flesh out the meaning of Jesus’ servanthood and shepherding. In short, one of the ways that Jesus protects us and leads us is by knowing us inside and out.
We see this in Peter’s use of the name Overseer for Jesus. The English word “Overseer” in 1 Peter 2:25 translates a Greek term that appears somewhat rarely in the New Testament, episkopos. It is one of the words used in Scripture to refer to the office of elder in the church, and it carries with it connotations of leadership. Some theological traditions have a form of church government whose name comes from the word episkopos. Methodists and Anglicans, for example, follow a policy of episcopalian governance, or rule by bishops. We may debate the merits of that form of church polity, but the important thing to note is that the name Overseer, as a translation of episkopos, points to Jesus as the leader, indeed the head, of the church.
But what is remarkable about the use of the name Overseer is that the Greek word episkopos points to a leader who is not far off and distant from us but one who knows us intimately. In fact, the name implies that Jesus knows us even better than we know ourselves. It combines an intensive prefix, epi-, and a word meaning “look” or “view,” skopos. Essentially, the idea is that Jesus’ leadership is exercised, at least in part, by looking at or viewing us deeply. It is a leadership based on His perfect understanding of who we are and what we need. As the Overseer, He has His eye on us every second, even numbering the hairs on our heads (Matt. 10:26–30). And if Jesus is so concerned with us that He takes the time to count the hairs on our heads, how can we doubt that He takes the time to be concerned with all our needs, frailties, and everything else that must be addressed if we are to persevere? Having Jesus as our Overseer guarantees that we will be brought safely into His kingdom.
Our Lord knows all of creation inside and out. For those who have not been reconciled to Him, that is a frightening thing, for it means that their sins are known and being counted for the day of judgment. For those who do know Christ, however, our Lord’s intimate knowledge of us is the most comforting truth imaginable. Because He knows us perfectly, He can help and sustain us perfectly.
Passages for Further Study
2 Timothy 4:18