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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 1 - Verse 24

Verse 24. For all flesh is as grass. That is, all human beings, all men. The connexion here is this: The apostle, in the previous verse, had been contrasting that which is begotten by man with that which is begotten by God, in reference to its permanency. The former was corruptible and decaying; the latter abiding. The latter was produced by God, who lives for ever; the former by the agency of man, who is himself corruptible and dying. It was not unnatural, then, to dwell upon the feeble, frail, decaying nature of man, in contrast with God; and the apostle, therefore, says that "all flesh, every human being, is like grass. There is no stability in anything that man does or produces, lie himself resembles grass that soon fades and withers; but God and his word endure for ever the same." The comparison of a human being with grass, or with flowers, is very beautiful, and is quite common in the Scriptures. The comparison turns on the fact, that the grass or the flower, however green or beautiful it may be, soon loses its freshness; is withered; is cut down, and dies. Thus in Ps 103:15,16:

"As for man, his days are as grass;

As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth,

For the wind passeth over it and it is gone,

And the place thereof shall know it no more."

So in Isa 40:6-8; a passage which is evidently referred to by Peter in this place:—

 

"The voice said, Cry.

And he said, What shall I cry?

All flesh is grass,

And all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.

The grass withereth,

The flower fadeth.

When the wind of Jehovah bloweth upon it:

Surely the people is grass,

The grass withereth,

The flower fadeth,

But the word of our God shall stand for ever."

See Barnes "Jas 1:10,11.

This sentiment is beautifully imitated by the great dramatist in the speech of Wolsey:—

"This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth

The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms,

And bears his blushing honours thick upon him.

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost.

And—when he thinks, good easy man, full surely

His greatness is a ripening—nips his root,

And then he falls."

 

Comp. See Barnes "Isa 40:6-8".

 

And all the glory of man. All that man prides himself on—his wealth, rank, talents, beauty, learning, splendour of equipage or apparel.

As the flower of grass. The word rendered "grass," (cortov,) properly denotes herbage; that which furnishes food for animals—pasture, hay. Probably the prophet Isaiah, from whom this passage is taken, referred rather to the appearance of a meadow or a field, with mingled grass and flowers, constituting a beautiful landscape, than to mere grass. In such a field, the grass soon withers with heat, and with the approach of winter; and the flowers soon fade and fall.

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof fadeth away. This is repeated, as is common in the Hebrew writings, for the sake of emphasis, or strong confirmation.

{1} "For" "For that" {c} "For all flesh" Isa 40:6-8

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