“For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
For you were like sheep going astray
Peter contrasts their present and former relationship to Christ. Before they became Christians they “were like sheep going astray.”
Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Sheep wander astray. “Going astray” means to move about without definite destination, to cause to wander off the path. Before we became Christians we held wrong views of God and thus led a mistaken life. We were deceived and misled (Mt 24.4; II Tim 3.13; I Jn. 4:6). Our thoughts were twisted. What was false seemed true. We made lies appear true. We were mistaken.
John 10:16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
but have now returned
“Returned” means to turn about, turn towards. This is conversion. “Returned” is in the passive voice showing that our return to God is an act of grace. The return is to Christ who cares for them as sheep.
“Returned” means to change one’s belief with focus upon that to which one turns. We turn to truth. We accept the truth as it is in Jesus.
to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls
The “Shepherd and Overseer” stress the providential management of our souls by the Lord Jesus (cf. 5:4; Jn 10:11; Heb 13:20).
The shepherd was a familiar image to the people of the first century. Sheep could fall over jagged cliffs with deep precipices. Sheep wander in grasslands without walls so they could easily become lost. Wild animals roamed seeking their prey. A shepherd mainly feeds, protects and sustains. Jesus as the Shepherd seeks for lost sheep. He tends sick sheep. He vigilantly guards from wild beasts. He leads to good pasture.
The “Overseer” is one who cares for spiritual concerns. He is a guardian or keeper. An overseer mainly guides and directs. Jesus is the Guardian of our souls. The Overseer makes the Shepherd more emphatic. Jesus is the supervisor of our soul.
Jesus is concerned about supervising our soul, not just saving it.
Jesus will nourish our soul all the way to glory. We are soul and our body transports our soul. Our soul will go on long after our body is dead and gone. Jesus shepherds and supervises our soul until we go to be with him.
Hebrews 13:20 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”