James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Peter 1:24 - 1:25

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James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Peter 1:24 - 1:25

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‘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. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.’


In order to enter into the spirit of the Apostle’s utterances, we need to mark carefully each term of the comparison, or rather the contrast, which he establishes here. One term expresses, in elegant and forcible language, the thought of decay, the other of vitality. He speaks first of things which fade and pass away, then of that which flourishes and abides for ever.

The Word of God abides:—

I. Through the different periods of human history.—In all ages, look in where you will, you will find that one part of the furniture of this world has been the Word of God. Jewish prophets referred to what went before, and explained it; they point forward to what is to come after. Returned captives from Babylon collect the sacred books. The evangelists and apostles add to and complete it. Amidst all kind of changes and destruction the Word of God has come down to our own time; and it is part of the lustre of the last hundred years that the Bible has been accessible to six hundred millions of the human race.

II. Through the manifold assaults of human opposition.—Virulent and vehement has that opposition been under various forms, and yet the truth revealed from heaven has held on its way. At one time the roll on which a part of the Word was inscribed by a persecuted prophet was cut in pieces with a penknife by an impious king, and the pieces thrown into the fire, burning on the hearth before him. At another the Apostle who proclaimed that Word stood in chains before a cruel tyrant, master of the legions that governed the world. And those two instances are types of innumerable others when the power and the violence were against the Word, and on the side of its advocates were weakness and suffering. At other times men of high-sounding pretensions assailed the Word of God with arguments drawn from the depths and the heights of human reasoning and human research, and refused even to examine the credentials of the Book which claims to be inspired of God; and was it not Voltaire who scoffingly said that he allowed fifty years for the existence of belief in the Word? A man of lower condition here in England, and full of malice against Christianity, said, ‘I have gone through the Bible as a man would go through a wood with an axe on his shoulder to fell trees; let them lie; other priests, if they can, may replant them; they may, perhaps, stick them in the ground, but they will never grow.’ Thus kings, emperors, and philosophers, and common people have, in various ways, assailed the Word of God; but ‘no weapon formed against it can prosper.’ It holds on its way.

III. Through the various stages of human progress.—This is very important to observe; for we not seldom hear the taunting words of reproach, ‘The Bible did very well for those who lived in our father’s days, and in the old time before them; but we want something more advanced in these days of progress.’ Those who speak thus forget that while there is much progress in outward things, the real deep sorrows and wants of the heart of man are the same they always were; and therefore the same consolation and mercy which were needed in old times are needed now. Does it alter the sorrow of bereavement, for instance, because the tidings which formerly took months to come from India are now conveyed by the electric flash? Are not the words which comforted the sorrowing sisters at Bethany just as appropriate now when mourners reach the churchyard gate in any part of England, ‘I am the Resurrection,’ etc.? And when a man is convinced of sin and in fear of God’s wrath and damnation, the swiftest appliances of modern travel have no power to help him, because they cannot take him away from himself; and he needs now, as men needed of old, to believe in the word, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.’ As one in the foremost ranks of modern philosophers has said, ‘Science can triumph over the waves of the sea, but she has no secret for calming the disquietudes within.’ The Word is as much needed and as precious now as it ever was. ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.’ ‘Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.’

Bishop Ryan.


‘In some old Bibles of your grandfather, between the leaves which enclose some cherished passage that had often cheered the old man’s heart, there is, perhaps, a little relic of the past—“’Tis but a little faded flower”—the colour gone, but a good deal of the form still there. You must touch it very tenderly or it will crumble into dust and be all gone. It abides after a fashion, as human things abide; but it does not live and abide as Divine things live and abide. But the promise, over against which the little faded flower is lying, not only abides but lives—lives! It lives in ten thousand hearts as well as in yours, as rich in colour, as fresh in fragrance, as delightful to the soul as ever it was.’