1 Peter 3:4 — The Incorruptible Spirit

By Wayne Jackson

Religious materialists (e.g., the “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Seventh-day Adventists, etc.) do not believe that human beings possess an eternal spirit that survives the death of the body. They thus do not believe in an eternal, conscious punishment for the wicked in hell.

Often they challenge, “No where does the Bible say that man has an eternal spirit.”

Well, the Scriptures may not contain that statement in those precise words, but they certainly do teach the truth that human beings have a spirit/soul that is capable of suffering everlasting punishment. (See our discussion of “2 Thessalonians 1:9 – Everlasting Destruction.")

In 1 Peter 3:1ff, the apostle discusses the plight of a Christian woman who happens to be married to an unbeliever. The case is this: she is attempting to convert her husband, but he will not listen to her words. And so Peter admonishes that she must attempt to win him by her conduct.

In listing some personal qualities which would be helpful in such an endeavor, Peter mentions “the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit.” The word for incorruptible is aphthartos, meaning “not liable to corruption or decay.”

The term is used of the abiding nature of God Himself (Romans 1:23; 1 Timothy 1:17), and of the resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:52). The implication of this passage is plain. The “spirit” of this Christian woman needs to be adorned with incorruptible apparel because the spirit itself is incorruptible! A corruptible spirit, or no spirit at all, hardly needs incorruptible apparel.

Circle “incorruptible” and “spirit,” and connect them. In your margin observe: By implication, humans have an incorruptible spirit. See 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.