by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 3 July 19, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 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:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
1901 ASV Translation:
23 having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth.
24 For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth:
25 But the word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.
I. The Basis of True "Love" For One Another.
A. Under the banner of "having purified your souls" (see prior study notes).
B. Under the banner of "having been born again" (see prior study notes).
C. Under the reality of the root of the altered state (see prior study notes).
D. Under the reality of the abiding Word of God.
1. The birth "out of" (ek plus the genitive) corruptible seed is distinct from birth "through" (dia plus genitive) the living and abiding Word of God.
a. Robertson says that dia plus the genitive signals the use of an intermediate agent. This indicates that the Word of God is not the "bottom line". The ultimate "Agent" is the Spirit of God, but He uses the Word of God to accomplish His objective.
b. In the physical realm, birth is "out of" the combination of male "seed" and female "egg". These are the actual agents of conception and birth. They are "intermediate" in the sense that both "male" and "female" are "behind" the union, but Peter deliberately did not cast them in the mode of "intermediate agents". Rather, he focused upon the flawed "seed" of every man's link to the genetically altered "seed" of Adam. In the construction of his words, Peter made both "births" an "out of" matter ("...not out of ... but out of..."), but he immediately added the "through an agency" concept to the "incorruptible seed" issue.
c. Birth "through" the Word of God presses the issues of Truth and Faith. Physical birth requires nothing of either Truth or Faith, but "rebirth" is inextricably tied to both. No one is "born again" apart from conceptually present "Truth" and volitionally submissive "Faith".
2. The characterization of the Word of God as "living" and "abiding" is significant.
a. The prior issue of "corruptible" seed is intensified by the analogy to the extremely temporary "life" of grass and its flowers. There is nothing in grass, or its flowers, to sustain its vigor and permanence. There is a textual issue in the text. The Textus Receptus has "the glory of man" rather than "the glory thereof". The issue, however, is the transitory glory of grass in its "flower" (as its most appealing characteristic) and the focus makes the transitory nature of grass even worse in that the flower does not last any time at all even in comparison to the grass itself. In this analogy, "flesh" has nothing to commend itself to the ideals of Peter's readers because it is so absolutely transitory.
b. Both "Life" and "Endurance" are highly desirable to men. There is little more futile than a totally transitory existence that has no substance or any ability to endure. All who fall under the spell of absolute existential futility also sink into a black despair that not even the reality afterwards can erase (even after a person dies and discovers that his/her existence is not temporary, there is no solution to what the black despair has brought to pass). And all who fall into the black despair of this delusion are driven into all manner of ungodliness by the subsequent rage. Hopelessness inevitably leads to rage and rage to great wickedness. This may be the reason for Isaiah 42:4. The antithesis is Peter's determined focus upon the future as an immutable eventuality in terms of a glorious inheritance that does not fade (1:4).