1 Peter 1:24-25

1 Peter 1:24‑25  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 10
What can be more apt for the apostle's purpose than the passage he cites from the prophet? In setting forth the blessedness of being born again he makes it more felt by contrasting with it universal nature, and nature at its best.
“Because all flesh [is] as grass, and all its glory as a flower of grass. The grass withered and the flower fell away; but the word of the Lord (Jehovah) abideth forever. And this is the word that as glad tidings was preached unto you (vers. 24, 25).
It is the twofold lesson of repentance and faith, which is thus appropriately attached to being born again. Hence in comforting His people it is not only the coming of a Deliverer that is in question, even if this Deliverer be Jehovah, but the necessity that the people should judge themselves in His sight. The voice of one crying in the wilderness needs the supplement of the second that cries so solemnly of fallen man, “all flesh is grass, and all its comeliness as the flower of the field.” Israel had flattered itself that they were wholly different from other men. But a voice which flatters not must cry that it is not merely the Gentiles that perish, but “surely the people is grass.” Where were the ten tribes? and why chased out of Immanuel's land? And where had Isaiah just announced to the king of David's house, that their treasures and their sons were to be carried away? Was it not to Babylon, the center of graven images and enchantments and sorceries, because of Judah's persistent love of idols? Which of human kind so guilty as the favored people, and its most favored tribe?
Nor was this all. For the scattered remnant to whom the apostle wrote knew of another sin still more heinous, into which they had lately fallen though long predicted by the same prophet (Isa. 49-57) with its terrible issue in receiving “the king,” the Anti-Christ of the last days, as must surely be accomplished in its time. Yes, “all flesh is as grass, and all its glory as a flower of grass.” Difference there is. Some are much fairer than others, refined, tender, generous, brave, affectionate, and religious after the flesh. There is not only the grass in general, but its flower. And men are apt to admire and even adore what is so pleasant to their eyes, their mind, and their feelings. But nothing is right truly, where God has not His rights: and He as plainly judged man's sin, as He clearly presented the only hope for the sinner in the woman's Seed, the virgin's Son, Immanuel.
Hence to believe in Him, now come and dead and risen and ascended, is the only salvation; and nothing more truly causes the penitent soul feelingly to own its natural ruin and its sins. For it is no light thing for man to sit in moral judgment on himself; and it is just what the Spirit of God works in him (not at first peace or liberty, far from either indeed but), the deep sense, not only of what he has done but what he is before God as a sinful man. That the Son of God is come from God, and by Him sent, not to condemn, but as a Savior encourages him to integrity in self-judgment. Without doubt it is deeply painful under the word and Spirit of God to be brought down in conscience of one's own evil in His sight into the dust of death; and the sight of Christ by faith by His very perfectness increases the self-loathing. How sweet then to have the testimony that the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from every sin! that He made peace by the blood of His cross! that He is not only the Living Bread, coming down out of heaven, but by His death gives us to eat His flesh and drink His blood, so that I dwell in Him, and He in me!
The Pauline teaching, of not only His death for us but of our death with Him, carries out the truth still more thoroughly; but even in its simpler form by our Epistle we are enabled to write death on all humanity, and forbear to boast of what seems fairest outwardly. Nor is it an idea or sentiment, but a reality personal and experimental for our everlasting profit henceforth, not only in distrusting ourselves, but in tenderness toward others, and in boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through Whom now we received the reconciliation.
The reason was certain and extreme. All flesh is as grass, and all its glory as a flower of grass. In human nature, fallen too as it is, there is no stability; its flower only and altogether evanescent. Withered the grass, fell away the flower. There can be no trust, no dependence on the creature. Are we then left to ourselves, our sins and our follies, just when we most evidently need the only true God, as good as He is great? Not so. We had no just claim; we shamelessly deserted Him when He showed us nothing but tender mercy; like Adam, we forgot His word and disobeyed Him, we believed the liar and the murderer, and hoped we might sin and not surely die. This was ruin now; and if this were all, it led to ruin everlasting. For sin breeds more sin; and such was and is the history of the race. But He spoke, even when judging the sin and sentencing the enemy, of One Who should vanquish him who wrought the mischief; and of the One to vanquish Satan keenly suffering as the woman's Seed, in the infinite compassion of God for the ensnared. If human nature at its best is feeble and failing, man needs what abides; and so in contrast with that which fades away, “the word of the Lord (Jehovah) abideth forever.”
Here, in ver. 25, it is not λόγος as in ver. 23; for the latter is used to convey the meaning or mind of God, whereas ῥήμα is the expression, what was actually said or written. Compare the distinction which our Lord Himself draws between His “speech” (λαλιὰ) and His “word” in John 8:4343Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. (John 8:43): they did not know His speech, because they were unable to hear His word. When the divine truth is received, the words that express it become understood, not before. Here ῥήμα “word” goes beyond “speech” and is applied to Jehovah's message; which not only withered up self-dependence, but gave them His word immutable and abiding forever. “And this is the word that as glad-tidings was preached unto you.” What a spring of confidence to those that preach and to those that hear the gospel!
It is not only His abstract mind, but His meaning expressed fully and communicated indelibly in the scriptures. He would give His people solid assurance of the comfort He held out so emphatically to them, even before He set out by His prophet the twofold and tremendous indictment of their guilt. For, as in Isa. 40-48 He arraigns their idolatries which sent them captives to Babylon, so in chaps. 49-57 He predicts after the return the deeper guilt of rejecting the Righteous Servant, His Anointed, and receiving, as they surely will, the Antichrist, the willful king of the latter day. But where sin abounded, grace shall surpass it all, as the rest of Isaiah triumphantly proves, and the elect remnant at the end of the age shall be His possession forever; no longer bondmen but above bondage, yet all the more truly His servants, His Onesimi, once severed but now indissolubly joined, once unserviceable but now serviceable to Himself and a blessing to all the families of the earth according to unfailing promise.
But the apostle also shows that the remnant of Jews who now receive Christ anticipate, as do the faithful from among the nations, the blessing in the gospel already preached. They have before hoped in Christ, as the apostle Paul expresses it in Eph. 1:1212That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:12). If the mass are now blinded, if mercy shall prevail over every obstacle in the darkest days of the consummation of the age, neither these reasons nor any others hinder sovereign grace while Christ sits at the right hand of God. Those of the Jews who now receive the glad-tidings have their hope in Christ realized to the full, before the remnant becomes the strong nation of the new age. Such is the force of their pre-trusting in Him, while their brethren in the flesh refuse Him, and before the latter day bow to Him in faith. They are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. We are also those who from among the Gentiles have heard and believed the word of truth, the glad tidings of their salvation. For as there is no difference in the ruin, so there is none in the salvation according to the riches of God's grace.
Here too is implied the immense superiority of Christian blessedness over that of which the Jews so loudly boasted. They undoubtedly had privileges from Jehovah as the seed of Abraham: and they were born to them, if at least duly circumcised as they were, in witness of the uncleanness of the flesh. But their privileges were earthly, external, and temporal; and so it had been openly proved in O. T. times by the Babylonish captivity, as it was soon to be more overwhelmingly by the Roman scattering of much longer duration. Far different is the Christian's portion even now, and far brighter his hope. Hence in the Epistle to the Hebrews the emphasis on “eternal” or “everlasting.” Such is the salvation (chap. 5:9) as is the judgment (chap. 6:2); such the redemption (chap. 9:12), the Spirit (ver. 14), and the inheritance (ver. 15), as the blood is of an everlasting covenant (chap. 8:20). To this, without referring to other proofs, may be added the “better” blessings, as in 7:19, 22, 8:6 (twice), 9:23, 10:34, 11:16, 40.
Our apostle of the circumcision does not write so elaborately, but was led to base the greatness of God's gift to the believer on the being born again, of seed not corruptible but incorruptible through God's living and abiding word; a character and source of being quite above nature, in contrast with transitory flesh, even in Israel, and founded on His word spoken and written which expressly abides forever. This is the very word that was preached unto them with all its glad news, that they might know that they had through it received a new nature as incorruptible and everlasting as His word Who communicated both. The fervor of his heart breaks out in the simple earnestness with which he speaks of a boon so needful and so blessed for man as he is. He would have his brethren know it theirs now without a shade of uncertainty.