“Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly, because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. For
All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.”
Peter begins this last section of Chapter one with the phrase “Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth…” For Paul’s Jewish readers, this word purify may have had a different significance. In the Old Testament, there were many purity rituals that God provided to restore cleanness so that his people could worship at the temple. In Leviticus 20:26, God told Israel, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine.” But, as Peter wrote at the beginning of the letter, they are now “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ” (v. 2). Christ was the ultimate sacrifice that took care of our sins. Hebrews 9: 11-12 says, “But Christ has appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), he entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”
This first phrase is a continual act of sanctification. Ephesians 4:20-25 is a great picture of what this looks like. “ But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.” We are to take off the old self and put on the new, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity in the truth.
He goes on to write that because we have purified ourselves by our obedience to the truth, so that we show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart, love one another constantly. I want to focus first on brotherly love. I looked up that phrase and I found these verses. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 says, “About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.“ Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” So brotherly love minds its own business, works with its own hands, behaves properly in the presence of outsiders, is not dependent on others, and does not neglect to show hospitality.
Peter moves from showing sincere brotherly love to love one another constantly. It is a deeper love than just brotherly love. Peter moves from the Greek word for love-phileo, which means affection, love, – to the Greek agapao, which means love, especially strong deep love. I looked up the phrase “love one another” and so many verses came up! The most important is Jesus’s command in John 13:34-35. “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Here are some others. “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another” (Romans 12:10). “And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
We love one another because we have been born again. The phrase born again was used by Jesus when he was talking to Nicodemus. “Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
“How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again” (John 3:3-7). Paul writes in Colossians, “And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses” (2:13). James writes, “By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (1:18). And Peter, at the beginning of this letter writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1:3).
We have been born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable- through the living and enduring word of God. Peter goes on to quote a verse from Isaiah 40:6-8. Here is the verse from Isaiah. “A voice was saying, “Cry out!”
Another said, “What should I cry out?”
“All humanity is grass,
and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flowers fade
when the breath of the Lord blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.” He is making the point that earth and everything on it is temporary. Beauty does not last. But God’s word will remain forever. David Guzik writes in his commentary, “The word of the LORD certainly has endured. It has survived centuries of manual transcription, of persecution, of ever-changing philosophies, of all kinds of critics, of neglect both in the pulpit and in the pew, of doubt and disbelief- and still, the word of the LORD endures forever!”
Jesus used God’s word to combat Satan during his temptation in the wilderness. In Ephesians, we see that the one offensive weapon we have in our armor is the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And lastly this verse from Hebrews 4:12. “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The very last part of the verse says, “And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.” I was curious, so I did a search to see how many times the word gospel was found in the New Testament. It is found ninety-nine times in the NASB, and ninety-two in the NET version. According to gotquestions.org, “In Greek, it is the word ‘euaggelion,’ from which we get our English words evangelist, evangel, and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the good news concerning Christ and the way of salvation.”
To wrap up, Peter is telling us that having purified ourselves to the truth we are to love each other sincerely and constantly. We are to do this because we are born again. We have heard and believed the gospel message, which is permanent and enduring.
Grace be with you!