“to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”
Peter describes our eternal inheritance with three adjectives.
“Incorruptible” means not liable to corruption or subject to decay. The New Testament uses this term of God (Romans 1:23; 1 Timothy 1:17). He is not subject to decay. “Incorruptible” is used when speaking of the raised dead (1 Corinthians 15:52), rewards given to the saints hereafter (”crown,” 1 Corinthians 9:25), the eternal inheritance of the saints (here), the Word of God, as incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23), and a meek and quiet spirit (incorruptible apparel, 1 Peter 3:4).
Incorruptibility is deathlessness. Death cannot destroy our inheritance. 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54 renders this term “immortality.” The glorified body of the believer is immortal. The nature of God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16). Immortality is freedom from death. Our inheritance is not liable to corruption or decay.
Fruit rots, spoils, and decays. No grave is ever dug on the estate of heaven. Our inheritance cannot be destroyed by death.
Secular Greek used the term “incorruptible” for a state unravaged by an invading army. Many times alien armies invaded Palestine. That land was fought over, blasted and destroyed. The Christian possesses an inheritance that no invading army can ravage or destroy. It is beyond the reach of eternal death.
“Undefiled” means free from contamination, pure. Whatever is “undefiled” is without flaw or defect. Jesus Christ is undefiled (Hebrews 7:26). This term is used for the eternal inheritance of believers (here). Hebrews 13:4 uses “undefiled” of the marriage bed. We can defile the marriage bed by adultery.
Our inheritance is untainted by sin. We cannot pollute God’s inheritance. No sin can taint it. It is unstained by evil. We cannot destroy our inheritance by our sinful nature.
It is beyond the blight of change. It lasts forever.
and that does not fade away
“Fade away” means our inheritance is everlasting. It never becomes old. It never wears out. It is imperishable. Its beauty never fades. It never dries up. It is everlasting and forever undiminished. Our inheritance is perennially fresh. It never becomes old and worn. Time does not impair it.
Extra-biblical Greek uses this term for a flower that does not fade. Some flowers are beautiful, but then they wilt after a very short time. Eternal life will not lose its wonderful, pristine character. It does not fade or lose its brightness. Our inheritance retains its incredible character.
Peter uses an associated term in 1 Peter 5:4, where he says, “you will receive a glorious crown which will not lose its brightness.” It is unimpaired by time.
The Bible often describes heaven in negatives. Human language is not adequate to describe the reality of heaven. The book of Revelation describes heaven in terms of negatives as well, Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Because heaven transcends human language, the Bible has to resort to what it is not rather than what it is. Therefore our place in heaven is untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time.
Our inheritance is untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time.
Many earthly inheritances wither away before being received. Our inheritance maintains its fragrance forever. God keeps our garden forever. Why should we worry about our eternal future? The grave is not a blind alley but a thoroughfare, an expressway leading to a much richer life beyond.
Our inheritance is a perpetual, imperishable, preservation in eternity. Heaven is far more than a happy hunting ground. Nor is heaven lying around in nylon nighties strumming guitars! It is a place preserved by God for fellowship with him.
Thank you very much. I thought long and hard about application concerning the inheritance we have. The one you gave is very natural and does not stretch the text a bit. I was struggling building application into this part of the sermon. Thanks for your insight.
May God richly bless your ministry, Kelly.