The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jan 5, 2022

Born Again from Incorruptible Seed: 1 Peter 1:23-25 and eternal security

In soteriology I am somewhere between an Arminian and a Calvinist, a "Calviminian," if you will (I resist the impulse to claim that I'm a "biblicist," since that's a bit snooty; anybody who prioritizes the text of Scripture over all other sources in forming their theology is a "biblicist," whether they be Arminian or Calvinist or in-between). I hold to eternal security but also resistible grace. I have benefitted greatly from the writings of Arminians, many of whom are well worth reading on a variety of topics (the great Charles Wesley, after all, believed a Christian could lose his or her salvation; see his sermon "The Great Privilege of Those that Are Born of God"). Nonetheless, I skew very strongly towards the "eternal security of all true believers" side of the debate, without quite embracing everything packed into the "perseverance of the saints" portion  of the "Tulip," at least not quite as articulated by some Calvinists.

Yet overall I consider myself an exegete more than a theologian, and I feel I can articulate better the meaning of a particular text over the meaning and implications of a particular doctrine. In other words, I'm a better "little picture" guy than a "big picture" guy.

Recently the online journal Sacrum Testamentum published my article "'Born Again from Incorruptible Seed': The Irrevocable Nature of Salvation in 1 Peter." The specific article is linked to here, and the whole issue can be read hereSacrum Testamentum is not as well-known or prestigious (not in the same ballpark as JETS, BBR, BibSac, etc.) I believe it is by invitation-only, it focuses strictly on the doctrine of eternal security, but it does have a peer-review process (my article was peer-reviewed).

Regardless, for anybody interested in 1 Peter's use of LXX Isaiah 40, this may be a helpful article. At one point the article contains a side-by-side comparison of the Greek of 1 Peter 1:24-25a, Isa 40:6-8 LXX [Greek], and Isa 40:6-8 MT [Hebrew], as well as providing an in-depth study of the context of Peter's quotation from Isaiah 40. My overall argument is that Peter's use of Isaiah 40 logically necessitates eternal security, because the idea that God's divinely implanted "seed" could fail to accomplish its task goes completely contrary to the contrast set up in Isaiah and 1 Peter between man's work and God's work. Here is a paragraph from near the end of my article:

"Secondly, one must ask: if one is currently a child of the divine nature, can such status be lost? In other words, can one’s 'born-again' status be revoked? Only if the divine seed could be corrupted or destroyed, and the Word of God’s creation of the new birth within somebody be voided. Yet to this possibility both Isaiah and Peter respond with a definitive 'No!' The divine seed cannot fail in what it has initiated (cf. Isa 55:11). To participate in the new birth means that the divine seed has already been implanted, and if the divine seed has been implanted, it cannot possibly waste away or fail to create eternal life (as if it were mere agricultural seed that could be cut down by the wind). This is the whole point of Peter’s argument. While man either chooses to accept or reject the Word of God and the resurrected Christ (1 Pet 2:48), both the giving and the sustaining of that new life is the work of God, not man.75 [citing Feldmeier's essay; see below] Thus 1 Pet 1:23 stresses that the Word of God which initiates rebirth remains forever, i.e., 'can never be made ineffective'!76" [quoting from Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter].

In conclusion, the reader might also be interested in two lesser-known (but helpful) sources I found when researching for this article, sources that deal specifically with the "born-again" language in 1 Peter: Katherine Anne Girsch, "Begotten Anew: Divine Regeneration and Identity Construction in 1 Peter," (PhD diss., University of Durham, 2015); and Reinhard Feldmeier, "Wiedergeburt [New Birth] im 1. Petrusbrief," in Wiedergeburt, ed. Reinhard Feldmeier, Biblisch-theologische Schwerpunkte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecth, 2005). Also, Martin Williams has written an entire monograph on soteriology in 1 Peter, The Doctrine of Salvation in the First Letter of Peter, SNTSMS 149 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).