The living and abiding word of God
1 Peter 1:23-25
Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you. ESV
Last time in 1 Peter we looked at verses 22 and 23 of chapter 1 and we saw Peter’s fourth command of the Christian life. That command is to: “love one another earnestly from a pure heart”. We saw that the command didn’t stand alone. It was actually a love sandwich because the command was sandwiched between two reasons. The first reason preceded the command. Peter said: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love”. So, it’s “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth” that you’re commanded to “love one another”.
We understood “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth” to mean having heard the gospel of salvation and received it by believing in Jesus Christ. The second reason followed the command. Peter went on to say: “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable”. You see, Peter’s command for them to “love one another” was “since you have been born again”. The command to love one another presupposes new life through a new birth into a new family.
So, to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” you need to have first “purified your souls by your obedience to the truth” and to obey the truth you need to “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable”.
We didn’t have time to consider in any detail what Peter went on to say about this being “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable” but that is what he goes on explain so that’s what we’ll look at today from the remaining verses of the chapter. He describes the cause of being “born again” or the source of being “born again” by means of three terms that are parallel to one another but also, I think, progressively more illuminating.
Those terms are: “seed”, “the word of God” and “the good news”.
So, firstly, we have this term:
The word that has been translated in verse 23 as “seed” could equally well have been be translated as “sperm”. The idea is of that which fertilises so that life comes into being. It is that which initiates life. In physical terms, a birth comes about as a consequence of a sperm fertilising an egg. Now, the being “born again” that Peter has been speaking of is also the consequence of the action of a “seed” or a “sperm”. However, Peter emphasises that this is not “perishable seed” but “imperishable”. This contrast between “perishable” and “imperishable” is something of a recurring theme in Peter’s letter. They are terms that he frequently uses.
Back in 1 Peter 1v3-4 he said: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”. So, when speaking of the inheritance that is kept in heaven for those who have been born again he described it as being “imperishable”.
Then in 1 Peter 1v6-7 he said: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. He was stressing that even pure gold perishes but genuine faith is much more precious than gold. Why? Well the implication is clearly that such faith does not perish.
He said in 1 Peter 1v18-19: “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot”. Speaking of our ransom he said that it was not with anything perishable but with the precious blood of Christ. Again, the clear implication is that that is not perishable.
In 1 Peter 3v3-4 he’ll go on to say: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”. The imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to God is being contrasted with external things that are perishable.
So, Peter had this acute awareness that there are things that are “perishable”, passing, fading, transient and there are things that are “imperishable”, lasting, enduring, eternal and it is such “imperishable” things that are precious and of real value. As we’ve seen, those things which are “imperishable” include our faith, the blood of Christ by which we’re ransomed, our Christian character and our eternal inheritance.
Now, when it comes to the seed by which we are born again, he makes it very clear that it is “imperishable seed” that is involved. There is nothing transient or earthly about this seed. It is not “perishable seed”. Rather it is “imperishable”. It’s lasting and eternal. It’s not of man but of God. We see that emphasised in John 1v12-13 where we read: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”. You see, those who believe in Christ do so because they have been born not as a result of any human activity but born of God.
God seed abides
We’re told more about those who have been born of God in 1 John 3v9 where we read: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God”. John says that God’s seed abides in those who have been born of God. You see, human sperm is perishable. Yes, it might produce living children but they too will die eventually. Those who have been born again have received life by means of an imperishable seed and that is nothing other than God’s seed that is eternal and produces a life that is everlasting.
Now, what is God’s seed? What is this “imperishable” seed through which believers in Christ have been born again? Well, as we continue we see that Peter goes on to tell us that it is: The Word of God
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!