‘All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.'
And this word is the good news that was preached to you
(1 Peter 1:24-25).
So Peter closes out the section of his letter that has come to be referred to as “1 Peter, Chapter 1.” He writes to the Christians of Asia Minor and uses this portion of the letter to remind them of all that God has done for them through His Son Jesus Christ. He closes with a quote from Isaiah to emphasize the eternal nature of the word that was preached to them; the word that promises new life and gives what it promises.
Word: a term that we use in many ways and has different meanings within Scripture itself. Sometimes, we use the term to mean rumors and gossip, or in Biblical terms, news of what the Lord has done. At other times we ask for a word with someone. Most likely, this word will be one of correction or warning. If it is this type of word that we are thinking of, then we interpret this phrase as law. We can also give someone our word. Here, word means a promise, and it is this use of the term that is used at the end of 1 Peter 1. After the glory of our flesh has gone the way of wilted grass and faded flowers, and we’ve long forgotten all our efforts at self-justification, the word of the Lord remains. It’s this word that promises what it gives and gives what it promises: eternal life on account of Jesus Christ who died for your sins.
After the glory of our flesh has gone the way of wilted grass and faded flowers, and we’ve long forgotten all our efforts at self-justification, the word of the Lord remains.
This is the “good news,” or the gospel promise that God has made. It is this promise that Peter emphasizes over and over again throughout this chapter. In the greeting, he describes the elect exiles or chosen sojourners who are sanctified by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. Later, he addresses the living hope into which we have been born again and the salvation to be revealed on the last day. He also writes admonishments concerning how we should live this holy life by resisting the passions of the world. Each of these topics centers on this word of good news that gives life meaning, purpose, and hope.
In this chapter, we also learn the good news sanctifies. Sanctify is a hard word to get one’s head around. In Greek, the word is “agiasmos.” However, it very rarely ever occurs in non-biblical literature from the era of antiquity. Bo Giertz explains it this way in his commentary on First Peter:
“In the language of that era, it meant something that was set aside for God, something that belonged to God, ordained to his service. When the Christian people called themselves “the saints,” it meant that they were God’s people, they belonged to God. But now Peter reminds us that God is holy, also with ethical and moral meaning. Therefore we shall live in “fear,” not like the gentiles who run away and keep themselves at a distance from God, but as children who fear to cause their father sorrow, or fear falling away from him.”
In other words, our holiness isn’t improved by our efforts, but our efforts are the result of our sanctification. Because of our new standing with God and the hope we share in Jesus Christ, the fruits of the Holy Spirit works on us through the means of grace such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the gospel preached to us. So Peter reminds us once again of the foundation and motivation of the Christian life: “…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
In other words, our holiness isn’t improved by our efforts, but our efforts are the result of our sanctification.
Our freedom has been bought. We are saved from slavery. This former life was one filled with hopelessness, and life without hope is empty and meaningless. The emptiness cannot be filled with gold, silver, or promiscuity, and escapes like drug and alcohol abuse provide temporary relief but leave their victims feeling even more hopeless. Instead, Christ fills our lives with the good news that our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life. We are God’s children, and though we live in this world, we are not of it. We are elect exiles, chosen sojourners who wait for an “imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance being kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).