God’s Word: the Incorruptible Seed

(1 Peter 1:23–25)

Ephrem Chiracho Ouchula

The Word of God has never left us to speculate about its nature and work. The Holy Scripture bears sufficient witness to its fundamental characteristics that are eternal by nature. In 1 Peter 1:23–25, the Apostle Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has written about the nature of the Holy Scriptures. May the Spirit of God illumine our minds to unravel the gems of truths concerning God’s Word that are mentioned in this passage.

1. God’s Incorruptible Word Gives New Birth

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God…” (v. 23a).

The Word of God is the “seed” that brings new life (cf. Luke 8:11). There is an inherent divine power in the Word of God that brings about spiritual birth in the hearts of sinners who receive it by faith (cf. James 1:18; Romans 1:16–17; 10:17). Just as God accomplished the creation of all things by the power of His Word, He also designed to accomplish re-creation of man in Christ Jesus through His incorruptible Word (cf. Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews 11:3). As the preached Gospel is heard (v. 25b), the Holy Spirit releases the dynamic power of the Word of God to bring about salvation (cf. Romans 1:16; Titus 3:5). The supernatural work of regeneration by means of the Word enables believers to purify themselves, believe and obey the truth, love the brethren, and motivate them to accomplish their Christian duties. And this change in their lives will be permanent, because it takes place through God’s Word, which is imperishable, living and enduring (v. 23b, 25a). The saving power of the Word of God is enduring and that is only because the Bible remains intact through the ages and changes of time. This is what is affirmed by 1 Peter 1:23–25.

2. God’s Word Is the Incorruptible Seed

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God…” (v. 23a).

Here the word used for “incorruptible” in the original language of the New Testament Scripture is aphthartos, the same word that is used in 1 Peter 1:4 to describe the imperishable nature of the believer’s eternal inheritance. This Greek word refers to something that is not liable to corruption or decay, i.e., uncorrupted, or imperishable. The same word is used to describe the incorruptible nature of the Almighty God in 1 Timothy 1:17. This implies clearly that as much as God’s nature is incorruptible, so is His Written Word. Thus, the Word of God shares in the character of its Author. God’s Word is not liable to corruption because its Author has set His seal of protection over it (cf. Psalm 12:6–7). The word aphthartos is also used to refer to the eternal life and the resurrection bodies of believers (Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:52). Again, the implication is that God’s Word is beyond any possibility of corruption. Thus, the Scripture firmly declares that the Word of God is incorruptible as its Author, the eternal God Himself, is incorruptible. Thus, Peter declares that God’s Word is preserved beyond any corruption. What great comfort and assurance can every child of the living and true God draws from this truth!

3. God’s Incorruptible Word Lives and Abides Forever

“The word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (vv. 23b–25a).

Peter further describes the incorruptible Word of God as that “which liveth and abideth for ever” (v. 23b; cf. Hebrews 4:12). Grammatically, the adjectives “liveth and abideth” could refer either to “God” or to the “Word of God.” But the context strongly argues for the latter. The contrast being made here is between the frailty of man and the permanence of God’s Word that saved him (vv. 24–25). This is confirmed by the illustration in verse 24 and the restatement of this truth in verse 25a. Thus, the statement in verse 23b again reinforces the fact that God’s Word abides eternally intact beyond any possibility of corruption. It answers the question: “How long does God’s Word remain pure and uncontaminated?” It lives and abides intact forever. As much as God is eternally immutable, so is His Word. The verb “abide” implies “to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy,” meaning to continue or endure without any change of state.

Thus God’s Word retains its vital and efficacious power of regenerating and sanctifying souls forever. And the Word does not lose its life-giving power because it is eternally whole, incorruptible and unchanging. Truly, the word of God is the everlasting truth; it is so in its nature, and also in its effects in regenerating and sanctifying our souls. Therefore, as much as we are sure of the eternal preservation of the Word of our God, we are sure of the eternal security of the salvation of our souls.

4. God’s Incorruptible Word Does Not Fall Away

To reiterate and illustrate the unchanging and indestructible nature of God’s Word, Peter quoted Isaiah 40:6–8. Isaiah was giving consolation to the exiles of Israel to trust in God’s Word through which they received the promise of a future restoration and glory. The Apostle Peter was also speaking to the believers in the Diaspora (cf. 1 Peter 1:1) to reaffirm the surety of their salvation and future glory that are built upon God’s permanent Word. Peter, having declared that God’s Word lives and abides intact forever, now contrasts these characteristics of the Word with the defencelessness of man. He asserts that “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.” Every man and his riches, wisdom, power and glory will fade away like the flower of grass. But once he is born-again by the Word of God, he will be made a new creature, and his glory will not fade like a flower, but shine like an angel of God in heaven (cf. Daniel 12:3). Our evangelistic efforts must be centred upon the Word of God and our lifestyle must back its power and trustworthiness (Philippians 2:14–16; Matthew 5:13–16).

In sharp contrast to man’s frailty, Peter affirms that “the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (v. 25). The Word of God is fixed, and permanent. Amidst all the revolutions on earth, all the natural objects continue to fade in glory. But against all hostility and destructive powers, His truth remains unaffected. Its glory, beauty, power, and efficacy remain unabated forever because it is the incorruptible seed that God gave for man’s salvation, sanctification and edification. And it is this same Word which is preached unto us by the Gospel (v. 25). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is as lovely now as it was when it was first revealed to man. This is the foundation of our faith. The fact that God’s Word stands unchanged and unchanging through all ages, gives us the surety that God’s precious promises to us, even the whole of God’s Word, stands forever; and so is our salvation that is produced by it and our faith that is built on this eternally incorruptible Word of God.

Published in Bible Witness, Vol 5 Issue 2 (March – April 2005)