1 Peter 1:22 – “You Have Purified Your Souls”
In his first epistle, Peter wrote:
“. . . [Y]ou have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth. . . " (1:22).
There are several important points in this clause.
First, it affirms that human beings possess a “soul.” While the term “soul” may be employed simply for a person (cf. Exodus 1:5; 1 Peter 3:20), or to signify biological “life” (Acts 20:10; Revelation 8:9), it can denote that part of man which is in the image of God and is eternal (cf. Matthew 10:28).
In the present instance the word is obviously used in the third sense. The apostle speaks of your souls, i.e., souls possessed by people. Underline “your souls,” and note: Personal souls.
Second, Peter states that these souls had been “purified,” which implies that prior to their conversion the souls had been impure. How had they become impure? Not by the contamination of inherited sin, for sin cannot be inherited (Ezekiel 18:20) — despite the allegations of denominationalists. One becomes spiritually corrupted by choice (cf. Isaiah 7:15; 1 John 3:4) not by chance.
And so, underscore “purified” and observe: Formerly impure not by heredity, but by choice. Then note the appropriate passages.
Third, the apostle declared that the soul is purified by one’s obedience to the truth. The article “the,” prior to “truth,” reveals that there is a body of objective truth to which one is accountable.
Additionally, the term “obedience” shows that man is not passive with reference to his salvation. He must respond to the divine plan of redemption.
But let us compare this with Peter’s declaration on the day of Pentecost. There, he affirmed that the believer, who repents and is immersed, receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Here, he states that obedience to the truth produces purification.
Repent & be baptized
forgiveness of sins
obedience to the truth
1 Peter 1:22
A comparison of these texts thus clearly shows that the more general phrase “obedience to the truth” is specifically defined by the believer’s obligation to repent of his sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of the same.
Placing these verses side-by-side forcefully demonstrates that when one refuses to be immersed, based upon a penitent faith, he has resisted obedience to the truth. Make notes to this effect.
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.