Incorruptible - Trench's New Testament Synonyms
Incorruptibleaphthartos (G862) Incorruptible
amarantos (G263) Unfading
The reign of sin and its resultsimperfection, decay, and deaththroughout this fallen world are so pervasive that in describing the glory, purity, and perfection of the higher world that is our goal, we are almost inevitably compelled to use negatives. We contrast the leading features and characteristics of this world with those of the higher order. This is especially the case in 1 Peter 1:4, where two of the three synonyms used in the New Testament to describe the higher order occur. Peter magnified the inheritance reserved in heaven for the faithful by using three negatives. This inheritance is aphthartos (without our corruption), amiantos (G283)(without our defilement), and amarantos (without our withering and fading away). Peter depicted what the heavenly inheritance is by describing what it is not. We will not distinguish amiantos from aphthartos and amarantos, since the distinction is too apparent for useful synonymous discrimination.
Aphthartos, which is used in later Greek, is not found in the Septuagint and occurs only twice in the Apocrypha (Wisd. of Sol. 12:1; 18:4). Properly speaking, only God is aphthartos, a fact that heathen theology recognized just as clearly as biblical theology. Thus Plutarch quoted the grand saying of the Stoic philosopher Antipater of Tarsus: "We regard God as a blessed and incorruptible [aphtharton] creature." Plutarch also associated aphthartos with isotheos, aidios anekleiptos, agennetos, agenetos, and apathies. Philo related aphthartos to olympios and to other corresponding words. On one occasion in the New Testament (1 Tim. 1:17), aphthartos is translated as "immortal," though there is a clear distinction between it and athanatos (cf. 110) or "he who has athanasian"(1 Tim. 6:16). In other places in the New Testament (1 Cor. 9:25; 15:52; 1 Pet. 1:23), aphthartos is translated as "incorruptible," a translation that is to be preferred in 1 Timothy 1:17 as well. In this verse aphthartos means that God is exempt from wear and final perishingthat phthora (G5356) that time and sin bring to everything except God, to those whom God has not given his aphtharsia.
Amarantos occurs once in the New Testament (1 Pet. 1:4) and once in the Apocrypha, where it is joined with lampros. Amarantinos also occurs only once in the New Testament (1 Pet. 5:4), and perhaps since it is a name given to a crown, it should be translated "of amaranths." Our version, however, has not distinguished amarantos and amarantinos but has translated both by the phrase that does not fade away.Even the Rheims translators, who had the Vulgate's immarcescibilis before them, did not use it. Amarantos affirms that the heavenly inheritance is exempt from the swift withering that befalls all earthly loveliness. The most exquisite beauty of the natural world, the flower, is also the shortest-lived, the quickest to fade and die. Such fading and dying, however, is not part of the inheritance of unfading loveliness that is reserved in heaven for the faithful.
What does amarantos predicate of the heavenly inheritance that is not already indicated by aphthartos? Essentially, nothing. Amarantos does, however, imply a pledge that the delicate grace, beauty, and bloom of the heavenly inheritance will not wither and wane any more than its solid and substantial worth will depart. Not only can decay and corruption not touch it, but it will wear its freshness, brightness, and beauty forever. Estius stated: "It is unfading [immarcescibilis] in that it retains its vigor and grace like the amaranth flower, so that at no time does loathing or weariness creep upon its possessor."