Friday, 11 October 2019
…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 1 Peter 1:23
In the previous verse, Peter spoke of the state of the believer in Christ – he is purified in soul. He now describes how that came about by saying, “having been born again.” More correctly, it says, “having been begotten again.” It is the same word used in verse 1:3, and this is its second and final use in Scripture. It signifies being born from above. It is the regeneration of the believer which occurs based on faith in Christ.
Peter next describes what this state of being begotten from above means by saying, “not of corruptible seed but incorruptible.” The word “seed” here is unique in Scripture, spora. It is a noun that signifies “a sowing.” In other words, “not of a corruptible sowing.” Peter is speaking of the process of generation in humanity. Our “sowing” is corruptible, and that results in a corruptible human. However, the sowing which is from above is incorruptible.
What this means is that it is imperishable, immortal, without the possibility of degradation. It is another of the countless appeals to the doctrine of eternal salvation. How can it be that God regenerates the believer through an incorruptible sowing if the salvation is not eternal? The thoughts are contradictory, and the theology is confused.
Peter then says that this comes about “through the word of God.” This is speaking not of Christ, the incarnate Word of God, but of the transmitted word of God. This will be seen in the next verse, but it is also referred to in verses 1:10-12. There Peter said, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.”
First, Peter equates the “salvation” noted there with “having been born again” here. Again, the two describe the same thing, and it cries out “eternal salvation.” Secondly, he speaks of their prophecies as “the word of God.” He then says that this word “lives and abides forever.”
Albert Barnes notes that the Greek provides an ambiguity which means that it could either be speaking of God who lives forever, or of the word which lives forever. The ambiguity may be purposeful. Peter may have wanted people to question his words and conclude that the word which issues forth from God is an expression of God. Thus, it is eternal, just as God is. Because it could have been expressed more clearly, this may be why he wrote it as he did.
Either way, Peter’s use of two different prepositions shows the source of the regeneration and the medium through which it is imparted. He says “of” seed and “through” the word. The seed is the source, the word is how that seed is transmitted. This is another biblical proof that the words of Scripture are necessary in order for conversion to take place. It speaks against visions and dreams as a means of conversion, despite the countless claims made throughout the ages that people have come to Jesus in such a manner.
Life application: In contrast to the traditions of men and false additions to true faith, we have the word of God – the Holy Scriptures which are given to us to guide our lives and give us a clear and pertinent understanding of the things of God. It is through this precious gift that we hear the message of faith which can save. Elsewhere, Paul states it like this –
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
The logical connection is made when we hear and receive the word properly relayed from the pages of the Bible. This is what stirs up our faith, and it is this faith which brings new life from above – that of being “born again.” Though a term only found here in 1 Peter, it is derived from the same root word that Jesus uses when speaking of being “born again” in John 3. Understanding this should make us realize the immense importance of reading and knowing the Bible.
If we are “born again…through the word of God,” and Jesus says you must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God, then it follows that misunderstanding the Bible can lead you to a false Jesus and a false gospel. But, when we understand the simplicity of the gospel, and accept Jesus as the incarnate Subject of the gospel, then we are truly born again – “not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible.”
Our acceptance of the gospel is a seed which shall never die, but which will continue to thrive in us, even to eternal life.
Have you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and grant you eternal life? If not, call on Him today. He is the precious gift of God for the salvation of all people who trust in Him. Let us thank God for Jesus today!
Almighty and most-wise Creator, praises and honor belong to You alone. In Your infinite wisdom, You sent us Jesus to lead us back to You and to bestow upon us eternal life. Our songs of praise and thanks will never end as we hail You for all eternity – Worthy is our God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.