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
Previously we noted how Peter described 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. We are now going to consider how the seed is truly the word of God and how the seed and the word of God is the good news. By way of reminder the terms are: “seed”, “the word of God” and “the good news”.
Last week I mentioned how Peter changed Isaiah’s “the word of our God” to “the word of the Lord” so he applied the text to Jesus Christ. I explained how that could either refer to the word spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ or to the word spoken about the Lord Jesus Christ. In which sense are we to take it? Well it becomes clear when we go on to see the third of Peter’s parallel terms. Having spoken of seed and then of the word of God Peter next goes on to speak of:
The Good News
We see that as he continues in verse 25 by saying: “And this word is the good news that was preached to you”. By “this word” he means what he’d previously called the “living and abiding word of God” in verse 23 or what he’d referred to as “the word of the Lord“ that “remains forever” when amending Isaiah 40 in verse 25. Now Peter has gone on to describe it as “the good news that was preached to you”.
It wasn’t Jesus who had preached to Peter’s hearers.
So we must take it that “the word of the Lord” was the word spoken about the Lord Jesus Christ rather than the word spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the word is the message about Jesus Christ that had been preached to them and was described as “good news”. What was that message of “good news”? Well, if you remember, Peter had already mentioned the “good news” that had been preached to them. If we just look back to 1 Peter 1v10-12 we read: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look”.
So, what is The Good News?
It’s the message of salvation by the grace of God through “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories”. It had been predicted by the Holy Spirit and foretold by the prophets of old but now it had actually come to pass. Peter had referred to “the sufferings of Christ” back in verse 19 where he spoke of “the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot”. Jesus had died as a perfect sacrifice to pay the price of our sin once and for all. Peter had also referred to “the subsequent glories” in verse 21 where we read “who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God”. You see, having died that death, Jesus was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven and given glory.
So, “the living and abiding word of God” is ultimately the word about Jesus.
It’s the message about who Jesus is and what He has done.
That’s why He’s spoken of as “the Word” at the beginning of John’s gospel. We read in John 1v1-2: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God”.
Then, we read in verse 4:”In him was life”. He is the “imperishable seed” that we were thinking about earlier because He is the source of new life.
So, we go on to read in verses 12-13: “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”.
If we look at Acts 13v26-39 we see an example of this Good News being preached.
“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses”.
That is the “good news” through which we are born again and, if others are to be born again, that is the “good news” that we must preach.
Well, that brings us to the end of the first chapter. We’ll make a start on the second chapter next time.
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!