Sunday, 6 October 2019
…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 1 Peter 1:18
Evaluations of this verse tend to miss the point of what Peter is conveying. The focus is normally on the idea of being holy, and of living a holy life. This was stated in verse 1:16. It is true that those who are in Christ are to live holy, but that is not actually what Peter is focusing on. The next verse, verse 1:17, focused on judgment and living our lives in fear.
As noted, this is not a fear of condemnation, but a fear of the judgment for reward and loss at the Bema Seat of Christ. Though condemnation is not a consideration, there is still judgment ahead, and for this, we are to fear. The Father will judge without partiality, and He will do so as Peter said, “according to each one’s own work.” Because of this, he said we are to fear while we stay here in this life.
Understanding that, we can then insert the thought of living in a holy manner. If we fear, we will do what will keep us from the effects of the fiery judgment we would expect to face. With this in mind, we can better understand Peter’s thought concerning fear and why he is focusing on it. And so, he says, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things.”
The word translated as “redeemed” is found only here and in Luke 24:21 and Titus 2:14. It signifies to release by paying a ransom. It gives the idea of restoring something back to its rightful owner, having been rescued from an alien possessor. Man originally belonged to the Lord God. He was taken over by the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and he fell under the devil’s control. However, for those who are in Christ, they have been rescued from this alien possessor.
This thought alone speaks of eternal salvation. We were lost, we were bought back, and we now belong to the Lord God once again. There is no provision in Scripture that speaks of how that reacquired state could somehow be lost a second time. The transfer is made, and it is effective for all time. In Peter’s words, he also states that the redemption is not with corruptible things. It is with something incorruptible, and thus it can never be diminished again. The incorruptible nature of that which effected the purchase likewise speaks of an eternal salvation.
Peter then speaks of that which is corruptible in order to set up a contrast to that which is incorruptible. The corruptible things he chooses are “silver and gold.” The things that man tends to put the highest value on are those things which can buy other things. Here, the “silver and gold” are described in words which signify pieces of money. This isn’t just silver or gold, but it is silver or gold which is fashioned into that which is then used for currency. It has the power and the right to be used to make purchases, including the redemption of slaves, for example. But it is still corruptible. It can erode, be divided, be melted down, be lost, and etc.
Because it is corruptible, it cannot be fully trusted. There is a chance that it has eroded to the point where it is not heavy enough when placed on the scales. It may be a false coin, which is a lesser metal merely covered with silver or gold. The fast fingers of the cheating seller may swap out the money handed to him with a forged coin. The value may change on the commodities market, and so the coin may suddenly be reduced in value. And so on.
However, none of this will be the case with what was used to purchase God’s people, as Peter says, “from your aimless conduct.” The word translated as “aimless” gives the sense of something which is vain, unreal, ineffectual, and so on. It can even mean “godless.” There is no true purpose behind the manner of life which the believer was redeemed from. And more, Peter shows the true futility of this life by saying that it was “received by tradition from your fathers.”
This is a rather clumsy translation. The Greek word is patroparadotos. This is the only time it is seen in Scripture. It signifies something which is handed down from one’s fathers. In other words, the very manner of life which man lives in is not only vain, but it is an inheritance, meaning that those who came before also possessed the same vain existence. This is true even if they were redeemed. In other words, the concept of original sin is seen in what Peter is referring to.
A person is either in Adam and thus he belongs to the devil, or he is in Christ and redeemed. However, the children of a redeemed person are not automatically redeemed. The manner of life that they receive is that of the father’s original nature, which was unredeemed. Redemption, therefore, is not an inherited trait, but rather condemnation is (see John 3:18). This must be the case, because Peter speaks of the redemption of those he is writing to. This would not be necessary if their state was already acceptable to God.
Understanding Peter’s words so far, the question as to why they now are referring to the concept of fear of judgment, rather than some other main subject has not yet been explained. That must wait until his thought is finished. Coming soon to a Bible verse evaluation near you.
Life application: The manner of life for man is one of futility because man is born under the authority and control of the devil. However, this can be changed. Christ has made it possible. For those who have come to Christ, they are given a new nature and an eternal hope. But those same redeemed people have an obligation to share their hope with the next generation, and indeed with all people.
What type of tradition will you hand down to your children? What type of legacy will you leave behind for others to see and evaluate? You are still in the fallen world, and you are still in a fallen body. Will you live out your life as if that was all there was of your life, or will you live out your life as if a real change has taken place which transcends the fallen world and the fallen body in which you live? Be sure to let Christ shine through you for all the world to see.
Lord, we know that we are accountable to You for our doctrine. Therefore, please provide us with wise teachers who can properly instruct us, the desire to learn Your word on our own, and – above all –filling us with Your Spirit to guide us and enlighten us to the truth of Your word. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.