To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To an inheritance.—This is structurally parallel to and explanatory of, the clause “into a living hope” We are, as the saying is, born to an estate. This notion of an “inheritance,” or property, that we have come in for, is particularly Hebrew, occurring very frequently in the Old Testament. The Pontine dispersion had lost their “inheritance” in Palestine, but there is a better in store for them.
Incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.—Exuberant description of the excellencies of the new Canaan. The first epithet contrasts its imperishable nature (see Romans 1:23; 2Timothy 1:10) with the fleeting tenure of the earthly Canaan. The second speaks of its freedom from pollutions such as desecrated the first “Holy Land.” Perhaps it may specially mean that the new Holy Land will never be profaned by Gentile incursions and tyrannies. The third, and most poetical of all (which is only found besides in Wisdom Of Solomon 6:12), conveys the notion of the unchanging beauty of that land—no winter ill the inheritance to which the Resurrection brings us (Song of Solomon 2:11).
Reserved—The perfect tense, which hath been reserved unto you, i.e., either in the temporal sense—“kept all this while until you came,” or “with a view to you.” (Comp. Hebrews 11:40.) He now adds explicitly that it is no earthly, but a heavenly possession.Acts 20:32 note; Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 1:18 notes; Colossians 1:12 note. Christians are regarded as the adopted children of God, and heaven is spoken of as their inheritance - as what their Father will bestow on them as the proof of his love.
Incorruptible - It will not fade away and vanish, as that which we inherit in this world does. See the word explained in the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:25. The meaning here is, that the inheritance will be imperishable, or will endure forever. Here, to whatever we may be heirs, we must soon part with the inheritance; there it will be eternal.
And undefiled - See the Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 13:4 notes; James 1:27 note. The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. As applied to an inheritance, it means that it will be pure. It will not have been obtained by dishonesty, nor will it be held by fraud; it will not be such as will corrupt the soul, or tempt to extravagance, sensuality, and lust, as a rich inheritance often does here; it will be such that its eternal enjoyment will never tend in any manner to defile the heart. "How many estates," says Benson, "have been got by fraudulent and unjust methods; by poisoning, or in some other way murdering the right heir; by cheating of helpless orphans; by ruining the fatherless and widows; by oppressing their neighbors, or grinding the faces of the poor, and taking their garments or vineyards from them! But this future inheritance of the saints is stained by none of these vices; it is neither got nor detained by any of these methods; nor shall persons polluted with vice have any share in it." Here no one can be heir to an inheritance of gold or houses without danger of soon sinking into indolence, effeminacy, or vice; there the inheritance may be enjoyed forever, and the soul continually advance in knowledge, holiness, and the active service of God.
And that fadeth not away - Greek ἀμάραντον amaranton. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the word ἀμαράντινος amarantinos occurs in 1 Peter 5:4, applied to a crown or garland. The word is properly applied to that which does not fade or wither, in contradistinction from a flower that fades. It may then denote anything that is enduring, and is applied to the future inheritance of the saints to describe its perpetuity in all its brilliance and splendor, in contrast with the fading nature of all that is earthly. The idea here, therefore, is not precisely the same as is expressed by the word "incorruptible." Both words indeed denote perpetuity, but that refers to perpetuity in contrast with decay; this denotes perpetuity in the sense that everything there will be kept in its original brightness and beauty. The crown of glory, though worn for millions of ages, will not be dimmed; the golden streets will lose none of their luster; the flowers that bloom on the banks of the river of life will always be as rich in color, and as fragant, as when we first beheld them.
Reserved in heaven for you - Margin, "us." The difference in the text and the margin arises from the various readings in mss. The common reading is "for you." The sense is not materially affected. The idea is, that it is an inheritance appointed for us, and kept by one who can make it sure to us, and who will certainly bestow it upon us. Compare the Matthew 25:34 note; John 14:2 note; Colossians 1:5 note.
incorruptible—not having within the germs of death. Negations of the imperfections which meet us on every side here are the chief means of conveying to our minds a conception of the heavenly things which "have not entered into the heart of man," and which we have not faculties now capable of fully knowing. Peter, sanguine, impulsive, and highly susceptible of outward impressions, was the more likely to feel painfully the deep-seated corruption which, lurking under the outward splendor of the loveliest of earthly things, dooms them soon to rottenness and decay.
undefiled—not stained as earthly goods by sin, either in the acquiring, or in the using of them; unsusceptible of any stain. "The rich man is either a dishonest man himself, or the heir of a dishonest man" [Jerome]. Even Israel's inheritance was defiled by the people's sins. Defilement intrudes even on our holy things now, whereas God's service ought to be undefiled.
that fadeth not away—Contrast 1Pe 1:24. Even the most delicate part of the heavenly inheritance, its bloom, continues unfading. "In substance incorruptible; in purity undefiled; in beauty unfading" [Alford].
reserved—kept up (Col 1:5, "laid up for you in heaven," 2Ti 4:8); Greek perfect, expressing a fixed and abiding state, "which has been and is reserved." The inheritance is in security, beyond risk, out of the reach of Satan, though we for whom it is reserved are still in the midst of dangers. Still, if we be believers, we too, as well as the inheritance, are "kept" (the same Greek, Joh 17:12) by Jesus safely (1Pe 1:5).
in heaven—Greek, "in the heavens," where it can neither be destroyed nor plundered. It does not follow that, because it is now laid up in heaven, it shall not hereafter be on earth also.
for you—It is secure not only in itself from all misfortune, but also from all alienation, so that no other can receive it in your stead. He had said us (1Pe 1:3); he now turns his address to the elect in order to encourage and exhort them.To an inheritance; so eternal life is called, Ephesians 1:18, and elsewhere, as being given not as wages to hirelings, but as an inheritance to children born of God, and adopted to him.
Incorruptible; immortal, everlasting, which being once possessed, cannot be taken away, nor pass over to others.
And undefiled; both as being pure in itself, and having nothing to offend them that enjoy it; and likewise as being incapable of any pollution or defilement, contrary to what is said of the land of Canaan, the earthly inheritance of the Israelites, Jeremiah 2:7 Ezekiel 36:17.
And that fadeth not away; always retains its vigour and gratefulness, never causes weariness or satiety in them that possess it. It seems to be a metaphor taken from flowers, probably the amaranthus, (the very word here used), which still keeps its freshness and verdure, without any decay or withering.
Reserved; laid up, Colossians 1:5 2 Timothy 4:8; secured for the heirs, though not yet possessed by them.
In heaven; and therefore safe, and out of the reach of enemies. This is opposed to the uncertain condition of earthly possessions, such as Canaan was.
For you; margin, for us, viz. whom God hath begotten again: or if we read it, as in the text, for you, the apostle may change the person in order to his exhortation.
incorruptible; it is free from corruption in itself; nor can it be corrupted by others, by moth, or rust, or other things, as gold, silver, and garments may, which are a part of earthly inheritances; nor can it be enjoyed by corrupt persons, either corrupted with sin, or clothed with frailty and mortality; wherefore, in order to inherit it, corruption must put on incorruption, in every sense; other epithets and commendations of it follow:
and undefiled; it is in its own nature pure and holy, and free from any defilement of sin; nor are there any of those impurities in it which Jews and Mahometans dream of in their vainly expected earthly paradise; nor will it be possessed by any but undefiled persons, such as are made so through the blood and righteousness of Christ:
and that fadeth not away; as do world, and the glory of it, and all inheritances and possessions in it; here is no continuing city, but there is one to come; in this inheritance are durable riches, everlasting habitations, an house eternal in the heavens, glories in it that will never wither and die, and pleasures which will never end, and which will be enjoyed without decrease or loathing:
reserved in heaven for you; the Alexandrian copy reads, "for us"; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "for us and you"; for all the saints; for all who are the elect, according to the foreknowledge of God, and who are begotten again to a lively hope; for these this inheritance is prepared, laid up, and secured in the hands or Christ their feoffee, who has it in trust for them, and with whom they are co-heirs; and it is safe for them "in heaven"; out of the reach of men and devils: this serves both to commend the inheritance, to set forth the excellency of it, lying in such a place as heaven; for the situation of an inheritance adds oftentimes to the valuableness of it; and also the safety and security of it; it is safe, being in heaven, and more so as it is in Christ's hands there. The Jews are wont to call the future state an inheritance of the land of the living: they say (u).
"this is called "an inheritance"; and add, but in this world a man has no inheritance, nor continuance;
so they interpret that phrase, "by the God of thy father", in Genesis 49:25 thus (w).
"this is "the inheritance" of the superior place, which is called "heaven";
and sometimes they style it , "the superior inheritance", or "the inheritance above" (x); all which agrees with Peter's language,To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Peter 1:4. εἰς κληρονομίαν] co-ordinate with the conception ἐλπίδα; it is nevertheless not dependent on it, but on ἀναγεννήσας, although it denotes the objective blessing to which the ἐλπίς has regard. It is added by way of apposition, in order to describe more nearly the substance of the hope with respect to its aim.
κληρονομία means, no doubt, in the O. and N. T. (Matthew 21:38; Luke 12:13) sometimes inheritance; but more frequently it has the signification of “possession.” In the O. T. it often serves to denote the land of Canaan and its separate parts, promised and apportioned to the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 12:9; Lamentations 5:2; Joshua 13:14, and other passages): ἡ γῆ, ἣν κύριος ὁ θεός σου δίδωσί σοι ἐν κλήρῳ, Deuteronomy 24:2, or ἣν … δίδωσί σοι κληρονομῆσαι. In the N. T., and so here also, by the term is to be understood the completed βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ with all its possessions, as the antitype of the land of Canaan (cf. in particular, Hebrews 9:15). As this use of the word is not based on the signification “inheritance,” it cannot be maintained, with Wiesinger (Schott agreeing with him), that κληρονομία stands here with reference to ἀναγεννήσας, “to designate that of which the Christians as children of God have expectations.” The following words: ἄφθαρτον καὶ ἀμίαντον καὶ ἀμάραντον] state the gloriousness of the κληρονομία. ἄφθαρτος (cf. chap. 1 Peter 3:4), opposite of φθαρτός (1 Peter 1:18 equal to ἀπολλύμενος, 1 Peter 1:7), cf. 1 Peter 1:23; Romans 1:23; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; “not subject to the φθορά.” ἀμίαντος (Jam 1:27; Hebrews 7:26), “undefiled, undefilable.” ἀμάραντος ἅπ. λεγ. (ἀμαράντινος is similar, chap. 1 Peter 5:4), “unfading;” in the last expression prominence is given to the imperishable beauty of the κληρονομία. Steinmeyer’s opinion is incorrect, that ἀ μίαντος has nearly the same meaning as πολύτιμος and τίμιος, 1 Peter 1:19.
It is not to be assumed that Peter alludes to the character “of the earthly κληρονομία (Weiss, p. 74) of the people of Israel,” especially as there is nothing in the expressions ἀμάραντος and ἄφθαρτος which can without artificial straining admit of such a reference.
ΤΕΤΗΡΗΜΈΝΗΝ ἘΝ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῖς ΕἸς ὙΜᾶς] The apostle having up to this time spoken generally, makes a transition, and addresses his readers directly: ἈΝΑΓΕΝΝ. ἩΜᾶς; he thereby assures them that that ΚΛΗΡΟΝΟΜΊΑ is a possession intended and reserved for them. For the conception here expressed, cf. especially Colossians 1:5, and Meyer in loc. The perf. τετηρημένην (Luth. inexactly: “which is kept”) stands here with reference to the nearness of the time when their κληρονομία will be allotted to believers; 1 Peter 1:5 : ἙΤΟΊΜΗΝ ἈΠΟΚΑΛΥΦΘῆΝΑΙ.
 No doubt Romans 8:17 might be appealed to in support of this interpretation, yet it would be unwarrantable to maintain that the idea there expressed belongs also to Peter. It must also be observed that even Paul, where he makes use of the term κληρονομία, never alludes to that idea,—a circumstance which has its reason in the current usage of the word.
 Calvin inaccurately: tria epitheta quae sequuntur ad gratiae Dei amplificationem posita sunt.
 In ἀμίαντος, Weiss sees an allusion to the pollution of Judea by the people of Israel itself or its enemies (Jeremiah 2:7; Leviticus 18:28; Numbers 35:34; Ezekiel 36:17; Psalm 79:1, where the LXX. has μιαίνειν); and in ἀμάραντος to the scorching of the country by the simoom. Weiss thinks that ἄφθαρτος may allude to the φθείρειν τὴν γῆν, Isaiah 24:3; still he himself does not consider this probable.
 Hofmann, in disputing this by saying that the perf. partic. is not explained by the nearness of the time when the believers will be in possession of the inheritance, calls in question an assertion which is nowhere here made.1 Peter 1:4. εἰς κληρ … ἀμάραντον, as God’s sons in virtue of their regeneration they are God’s heirs (Galatians 4:7) and have an heavenly inheritance. The accumulated adjectives recall various images employed to describe it—and emphasise the fact that it is eternal (Hebrews 9:15) and spiritual. It is ἄφθαρτον, incorruptible (cf. 1 Peter 1:23, 1 Peter 3:4) because it belongs to the future life which the risen dead (1 Corinthians 15:52) share with God Himself (Romans 1:23; 1 Timothy 1:17). It is set where “moth doth not corrupt (διαφθείρει, Luke 12:33 : Matthew 6:19 ff. has ἀφανίζει),” apart from this corruptible world (cf. Isaiah 24:3). It is the incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). The second epithet ἀμίαντον is applied to the great High Priest, Hebrews 7:26 (cf. Hebrews 13:4; Jam 1:27) and implies again separation from this sinful world of which it is written ἐμιάνατε τὴν γῆν μου καὶ τὴν κληρονομίαν μου ἔθεσθε εἰς βδέλυγμα (Jeremiah 2:7). Compare the description of virtue in Sap. 1 Peter 4:2, στεφανηφοροῦσα πομπεύει τὸν τῶν ἀμιάντων ἄθλων ἀγῶνα νικήσασα. ἀμάραντον is peculiar to 1 Peter in N.T., cf. ἀμαράντινον (1 Peter 1:4): it is perhaps derived from Sap. 6:12, ἀμάραντός ἐστιν ἡ σοφία, and thus presupposes the identification of eternal life with knowledge of God (John 17:3). Compare the application of Isaiah 40:6 f. (cited infra 24) in Jam 1:11. All three suit or are associated with the wreath presented to the victor in the games—a metaphor which the Lord Himself used according to the Apocalypse (1 Peter 2:10, cf. 1 Peter 5:4; Jam 1:12). Origen (?) in Cramer’s Catena notes that the words contradict Chiliasm. τετηρημένην εἰς ὑμᾶς, reserved (1) with a view to you, cf. John 12:7, ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν … τηρήσῃ, 2 Peter 2:4, εἰς κρίσιν τηρουμένους; for same use of εἰς in similar context see Romans 8:18. (2. until you came—a sense which would suit the other examples of τηρεῖν εἰς. (3) … for you, εἰς = ל = dative (so Syriac), the writer or translator being influenced by εἰς above and below. The inheritance is still, as it has always been, kept back, but the Christians are sure to succeed to it. So Enoch refers to the secrets of the righteous which shall be revealed (xxxviii. 3); the lot of the righteous which the Son of Man preserves (xlviii. 7); and says Blessed are ye ye righteous and elect for glorious will be your lo … it will be said to the holy that they should seek in heaven the secrets of righteousness the heritage of faith (lviii. 5).4. to an inheritance incorruptible] The clause is co-ordinate with the preceding and depends upon the word “begotten.” The idea of the “inheritance” is again essentially Pauline (Acts 20:32, Galatians 3:18, Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 1:18 and elsewhere). The epithets attached to the word distinguish it from any earthly inheritance, such as had been given to Israel (Acts 7:5), and agree with the “everlasting inheritance” of Hebrews 9:15. Here it answers to the completed “salvation” of the next verse, of which we get glimpses and foretastes here, but which is reserved in its fulness in and for the region of the eternal. In that inheritance there is nothing that mars, nothing that defiles (Revelation 21:27), nothing that fades away, as the flower of the field fadeth (James 1:10-11). The two latter adjectives (amiantos, amarantos) have in the Greek an impressive assonance which cannot be reproduced in English.
for you] Some MSS. give “for us,” but this was probably a correction due to the use of the first person in the preceding verse, and the present text, which rests on the authority of the best MSS., is like St Paul’s changes from the first person to the second (as in Romans 7:4-5, Ephesians 2:13-14), the natural expression of the feeling of the Apostle that what he hopes and believes for himself, he hopes and believes also for those to whom he writes.1 Peter 1:4. Κληρονομίαν, an inheritance) They who are sons by regeneration, are heirs. He treats of this inheritance also, ch. 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Peter 3:9.—ἄφθαρτον, incorruptible) For it is a divine inheritance.—ἀμίαντον, undefiled) For no impure person, however closely related, is a joint-heir.—ἀμάραντον, free from decay) For the heirs themselves are not subject to decay, they do not die. Peter delights to accumulate synonymous words; 1 Peter 1:7-8; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 5:10.—τετηρημένην, kept) from the beginning. Comp. 1 Peter 1:10. The same word occurs, John 17:12. Comp. also John 2:10.—ἐν οὐρανοῖς, in heaven) In the power of God.—εἰς ὑμᾶς, unto or for you) who are alive at this time.
 No defiled person, though of the number of those who are akin to the Lord as to external privileges (as the Jews were), is a co-heir. The “Proximi” are here opposed to the “filii, regeniti,” who are ipso facto “pure and undefiled.”—T.Verse 4. - To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The Christian's hope maketh not ashamed. The inheritance is sure; it is better than the inheritance promised to Abraham; for it is
(1) incorruptible. All things earthly have in themselves the seeds of decay and death; but "when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption," the redeemed of the Lord shall receive a kingdom that cannot be moved, where "neither moth nor rust doth corrupt."
(2) It is undefiled. The inheritance of Israel was defiled (Leviticus 18:27, 28), but into the heavenly inheritance entereth not "anything that defileth" (Revelation 21:27).
(3) It fadeth not away. "The grass withereth, the flower falleth away;" it is not so in the "land that is very far off." The crown reserved for its blessed inhabitants is an amaranth wreath (comp. Wisd. 6:13 and 1 Peter 5:4, where see note). There are no tendencies to corruption there, no possibilities of defilement, not even that fading which must pass over the fairest things of earth. Reserved in heaven for you. The many mansions in our Father's house have been kept from the beginning, and still are kept for his elect; Satan cannot rob them of it, as he robbed man of the earthly paradise. Some of the Greek commentators find in the words, "in heaven," an argument against the millenarians. Some manuscripts read "for us," but the received reading is best supported. St. Peter passes from one person to another, as St. Paul often does, sometimes addressing his readers directly, sometimes including himself among them.
A Pauline word, from κλῆρος, a lot, and νέμομαι, to distribute among themselves. Hence an inheritance is originally a portion which one receives by lot in a general distribution. In the New Testament the idea of chance attaching to the lot is eliminated. It is the portion or heritage which one receives by virtue of birth or by special gift. So of the vineyard seized by the wicked husbandmen: "Let us seize on his inheritance" (Matthew 21:38); of Abraham in Canaan: "God gave him none inheritance" (Acts 7:5); "an eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15).
Incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away
Note Peter's characteristic multiplication of epithets. Incorruptible (ἄφθαρτον). From ἀ, not, and φθείρω, to destroy or corrupt. Undefiled (ἀμίαντον). From ἀ, not, and μιαίνω, to defile, though the verb means especially to defile by staining, as with color; while μολύνω, also translated defile (1 Corinthians 8:7), is to besmirch, as with mire. We might render unstained, though the word is not used with any conscious reference to its etymology. That fadeth not away (ἀμάραντον) Used by Peter only, and but once. From ἀ, not, and μαραίνομαι, to wither. The loveliness of the heavenly inheritance is described as exempt from the blight which attaches to earthly bloom. As between ἄφθαρτον, incorruptible, and ἀμάραντον, unwithering, the former emphasizes the indestructibility of substance, and the latter of grace, and beauty. The latter adjective appears in the familiar botanical name amaranth. It will be observed that all of these three epithets are compounded with the negative particle ἀ, not. Archbishop Trench aptly remarks that "it is a remarkable testimony to the reign of sin, and therefore of imperfection, of decay, of death throughout this whole fallen world, that as often as we desire to set forth the glory, purity, and perfection of that other, higher world toward which we strive, we are almost inevitably compelled to do this by the aid of negatives; by the denying to that higher order of things the leading features and characteristics of this." Compare Revelation 21:1, Revelation 21:4, Revelation 21:22, Revelation 21:23, Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:3, Revelation 22:5.
Lit., which has been reserved, a perfect participle, indicating the inheritance as one reserved through God's care for his own from the beginning down to the present. Laid up and kept is the idea. The verb signifies keeping as the result of guarding. Thus in John 17:11, Christ says, "keep (τήρησον) those whom thou hast given me;" in John 17:12, "I kept them" (ἐτήρουν); i.e., preserved by guarding them. "Those whom thou gavest me I guarded (ἐφύλαξα)." So Rev., which preserves the distinction. Similarly, John 14:15, "keep (τηρήσατε) my commandments;" preserve them unbroken by careful watching. So Peter was delivered to the soldiers to guard him (φυλάσσειν), but he was kept (ἐτηρεῖτο) in prison (Acts 12:4, Acts 12:5). Compare Colossians 1:5, where a different word is used: ἀποκειμένην, lit., laid away.
For you (εἰς)
The use of this preposition, instead of the simpler dative, is graphic: with reference to you; with you as its direct object.
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