1 Peter – Chapter One XLVII

by Ed Urzi

“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV).

Virtually everyone is familiar with the Biblical account of Adam and Eve-  and 1 Peter 1:18 focuses our attention on the lingering effects of their decision to transgress God’s command in the Garden of Eden. For instance, this reference to “…the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers” (NIV) traces its origin directly back to the events of Genesis chapter three.

Let’s consider Adam, the first human being. Adam’s act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden severed the fellowship with God he previously enjoyed. However, the effect of that decision also carried over to his descendants as well. Since it is impossible to give others something we do not possess, Adam’s loss of fellowship with God meant that he had nothing to pass to his descendants other than the example of his disobedience. Adam’s offspring thus grew to be like him, even to this day.

This helps explain this reference to our redemption from “…from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors” (NIV). A life lived apart from a relationship with the Creator ultimately leads to futility, but we have been redeemed from that kind of life through Christ.

In addition, we can also approach this passage from the perspective of the traditional observances that others added to the Old Testament Law. The Gospel of Mark identified some of those elements…

“…The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders… they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles…” (Mark 7:3-4 NIV).

Those rules did nothing to facilitate a genuine relationship with God. Jesus noted the futility of those practices with the following observation…

“So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, ‘Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?’ Jesus answered them, ‘How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote:

‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’ ‘You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings'” (Mark 7:5-8 GNT).

1 Peter 1:18 thus offers the encouraging reminder that we have been redeemed from such things.