1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
In the United States we generally think of inheritance as gifts received from a person after their death. But in the cultural context of the Bible inheritance was viewed differently. Not understanding this difference can lead to confusion when coming across words like inheritance and testament in the Bible.
Under Old Testament law an Israelite was born into a family inheritance. It was property given by God to the perpetual generations of the inheritor's family. Each successive generation was given stewardship responsibility over this family possession.
When a senior family member inherited, upon the death of the family head, his inheritance was more of a legal standing than a possession. He was the one with legal standing to make decisions related to the possession. Each generation could strengthen, corrupt, enlarge, or diminish the inheritance.
This system is very relevant to Christ followers today. We are currently the generation who has been handed the rights to the earthly inheritance of Christ Jesus given through the apostles and early church. We are only inter-generational stewards of that inheritance, and can strengthen, corrupt, enlarge, or diminish that inheritance for future generations.
The manual for our inheritance is the New Testament, and when we carefully compare what has been handed to us by previous generations to this manual we will find some corruption. It comes with the human condition. Christian history is rife with corruption and defilement of the inheritance of truth, and that history is still being made today. This earthly inheritance is, in human hands, perpetually unstable.
But this passage speaks of an inheritance that awaits all those who have trusted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus has secured this inheritance on our behalf. He is our family head... our Adam. This possession is under His careful control and cannot be corrupted. It is “incorruptible”and “undefiled.” It is reserved for us, and awaits us in its pristine condition.
Think of the first moment in that inheritance! It will be the first inheritance ever handed to us as a single collective generation. Pure... glorious... ours forever... Home.