The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 26, 2010
1) 1 Peter 2:4-10 (Tom Edwards)
1 Peter 2:4-10
by Tom Edwards
"And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice
and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being
built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up
spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this
is contained in Scripture: 'BEHOLD I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A
PRECIOUS CORNER STONE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT BE
DISAPPOINTED.' This precious value, then, is for you who believe.
But for those who disbelieve, 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER STONE', and, 'A STONE OF STUMBLING
AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE'; for they stumble because they are disobedient
to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you
are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR
GOD'S OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of
Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for
you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had
NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY" (1 Pet.
2:4-10; See also Acts 4:10-12).
Jesus Christ is not only the "living stone," as depicted in this
passage, but also the rejected "stone" and the "precious corner stone."
It is from the "corner stone" that the rest of the building is
aligned. If, therefore, that stone be out of alignment, the rest
of the building will also be. But Christ is very much in line.
For He is God and our perfect example whom we are to strive to model
our lives after.
In addition, however, Jesus is not only the "corner stone"; but He is
also the entire foundation, according to 1 Corinthians 3:11, "For no
man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is
Jesus Christ." So He is also there to support us.
Consider also something else we see about this stone in Isaiah 28:16,
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a
stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly
placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.'" Isaiah
shows that Jesus would be a "tested stone" or a "tried stone"
(KJV). Again and again, He passed the test. Christ remained
true to His Father in spite of all the trials and temptations.
Matthew 4:1-11, for instance, speaks of the Lord being tempted by
Satan. Three times, on that occasion, the Devil tried to lure Jesus
into sin; but for each time, the Lord defeated Satan by using the sword
of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17). Jesus quoted
Scripture to each of Satan's temptations. Those three temptations
on that occasion, however, were just a few of the many temptations that
Jesus was confronted with throughout His earth-life; but He still never
yielded to any of them. Hebrews 4:15 declares, "For we do not
have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One
who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."
Because Jesus "passed the test" in all these temptations, look what
that does for us in the following verse (Heb. 4:16): "Let us therefore
come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and
find grace to help in time of need."
Jesus perfectly obeyed His Father in all things, as seen in John 8:29:
"And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always
do the things that are pleasing to Him." It is no wonder,
therefore, that Jesus is described in 1 Peter 2:4 as being not only a
"living stone," but also one that is "choice and precious in the sight
of God." The Greek word for "precious" ("entimos") is also
translated in other passages of the New American Standard Bible
as "high regard," "highly regarded," and "more distinguished."
So while we each have a need for God's grace and mercy in order to be
able to enjoy His spiritual blessings, Jesus Christ was one who
certainly earned and deserved every good thing the Father would bestow
upon Him. When God the Father audibly acknowledged Jesus at His
baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, He said both times, "This
is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Matt. 3:17; Matt.
17:5). -- not just "pleased"; but "well-pleased."
But in spite of how good and beneficial Jesus was as a "living stone,"
He was also a "rejected" stone. It is ironic that after John
declares Jesus as being God and the Creator of all things (Jn. 1:1-3),
he then goes on to say of Him that "He came to His own, and those who
were His own did not receive Him" (Jn. 1:11) -- the creation rejecting
their Creator! This, of course, was prophesied by Isaiah several
hundred years prior: "He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide
their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him" (Isa.
53:3). Jesus had told His apostles, "...'Behold, we are
going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the
chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and
will deliver Him to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit upon
Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise
again'" (Mark 10:33,34).
Peter refers to Christ as not only having been "rejected by men," but
also as being "the stone which the builders rejected" (1 Pet.
2:7). The "builders" would be the religious leaders who were not
only adamantly opposed to Christ, but were also able to turn other
people against the Lord, as well. When Pilate, for example,
had given the people a choice of having either Barabbas (a murderer and
insurrectionist) or Jesus released, Mark 15:11 states, "But the chief
priests stirred up the multitude to ask him to release Barabbas for
them instead." And when Pilate asked them what he should do with
Jesus, "...they shouted back, 'Crucify Him'!" (v. 13). Many of
the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Sanhedrin were very much opposed
to Christ (cf. Matt. 26:59; 27:1; Jn. 11:46-54).
Peter speaks of Christ being a "stone of stumbling" to these who
rejected Him; and also gives an explanation for that: "for they stumble
because they are disobedient to the word" (1 Pet. 2:8). Being
disobedient to the word is equated with unbelief -- though it doesn't
necessarily mean that a person does not believe in the reality of
God. Yet, his belief is considered unbelief because of
disobedience. Paul also shows this concerning those of God's
people who had perished in the wilderness -- instead of entering the
Promised Land. He says, "And to whom did He swear that they
should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And
so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief" (Heb.
3:18,19). This idea of believing expressing obeying; and,
therefore, not obeying being synonymous with unbelief can also be
inferred from John 3:36: "He who believes in the Son has
eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but
the wrath of God abides on him."
Not only is Christ depicted as a "living stone," but also those of us
who belong to Him as Christians, as Peter shows in 1 Peter 2:5: "you
also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a
holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ." When Paul had pointed out to the
Corinthians that Jesus is the only foundation for the church (1 Cor.
3:11), he also told them two verses earlier (1 Cor. 3:9) that they were
"God's building." Corresponding to this, Paul refers to the
church as being "the household of God" or "the house of God" (KJV, 1
Tim. 3:15) and as the "temple of God" (1 Cor. 3:16), which very well
describes the "spiritual house" that Peter speaks of.
In the New Testament, there are two different Greek words that are both
translated as "temple." One is "hieron," which Bullinger defines
as being "...used of the whole compass of the sacred enclosure,
including the outer courts, porches, and all the other subordinate
buildings appertaining to the Temple. (This word must be
carefully distinguished in every passage from No. 2 [naos])."
When we read of the moneychangers in the temple whom Jesus cast out in
John 2:13-17, the word "hieron" is used. According to Farrar, it
was in the "court of the Gentiles" where animals were penned and sold;
and there the moneychangers had set up their tables. So this
certainly wasn't the most holy place of the temple, yet Jesus points
out how they had corrupted even that. The second Greek word
translated as "temple" is "naos." Bullinger defines this as
"...the interior and most sacred part of No. 1 [hieron], where the
presence of God was manifested; the Holy Place, or the Holy of
Holies." Interestingly, it is this Greek word "naos" that is used
in 1 Corinthians 3:16 where Paul speaks of the church (for "you" is in
the plural) as being "a temple of God"; and it is also used in 1
Corinthians 6:19 where Paul speaks of the Christian's body as being "a
temple of the Holy Spirit."
Consider also Ephesians 2:18-22: "for through Him we both have our
access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer
strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and
are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the
apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in
whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy
temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a
dwelling of God in the Spirit."
The "foundation of the apostles and the prophets" was in what they
taught -- and that being Jesus Christ, the only foundation for the
church. Peter shows that we, as Christians, are "being built up
as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual
sacrifices..." (1 Pet. 2:5). Rather than there being a special
group of Christians who are identified as "priests," the Bible shows
that every child of God is a spiritual priest unto the Lord. This
can also be seen in Revelation 1:6: "and He has made us to be a
kingdom, priests to His God and Father -- to Him be the glory and the
dominion forever and ever. Amen."
As spiritual priests, one of those sacrifices we are to offer is seen
in Hebrews 13:15: "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a
sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks
to His name." And look what the Hebrew writer goes on to say in
Heb. 13:16, "And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such
sacrifices God is pleased." Consider also some other "sacrifices"
the Bible sets forth: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A
broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Psa.
51:17). "Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, And tell
of His works with joyful singing" (Psa. 107:22). "Therefore I
urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a
living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual
service of worship" (Rom. 12:1). "But I have received everything
in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received
from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable
sacrifice, well-pleasing to God" (Phil. 4:18).
Notice that Peter shows in 1 Peter 2:5 that our spiritual sacrifices
are "acceptable to God THROUGH JESUS CHRIST." Without the Lord,
none of our sacrifices would be acceptable (cf. Jn. 15:5). Could
we even pray to God without Jesus Christ? Jesus shows that our
prayers are to be in His name (Jn. 14:13,14). This means "by His
authority." We can liken this to things a police officer can do
"in the name of the Law," which he would not be able to lawfully do as
simply an ordinary citizen who had not been invested with that
authority. Even our giving of thanks is to be done in Jesus' name
(Eph. 5:20): "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." Peter made it clear
that the miracles he performed were not by his own power, but by the
power of God. To the lame man in Acts 3:6, Peter declared, "...In
the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- walk!" Preaching was to
be done "in the name of Jesus" (Acts 9:27, 28). Bible baptism was
to be done "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5).
Unclean spirits were cast out "in the name of Jesus Christ" (cf. Acts
16:18). The Christian has been washed, sanctified, and
justified "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 6:11).
Paul commanded brethren "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" to "keep
away from every brother who leads an unruly life..." (2 Thes.
3:6). And Paul certainly sums up just what we are to do by Jesus'
authority, when he states in Colossians 3:17, "Whatever you do in
word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
through Him to God the Father." In addition, we are commanded to
"believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn. 3:23). So it
is through Jesus Christ -- and only through Jesus Christ -- that we can
offer to God spiritual sacrifices.
When Peter says, "you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE
PEOPLE OF GOD..." (1 Pet 2:10), he is addressing the Gentiles, as we
also see Paul making the same application in Romans 9:24-26: "even us,
whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among
Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, 'I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE
NOT MY PEOPLE, "MY PEOPLE," AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED,
"BELOVED."' AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID
TO THEM, "YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE," THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF
THE LIVING GOD.'"
How thankful the Christian can be to know of Jesus, the "living stone"
that is "choice and precious in the sight of God" and precious to the
believers who become "living stones...built up as a spiritual
house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." As we have considered,
in Christ, the Christian has become part of "A CHOSEN RACE, A royal
PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION," so that
he "may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of
darkness into His marvelous light." May we who are Christians,
therefore, strive to live according to what God has called us to
be. And for those who are not Christians, why not be like those
who "once were not a people," but then became "the people of God";
those who formerly "had not received mercy, but now...have received
mercy"? God has already done His part for your salvation.
It is now up to you to do yours. You can make the
difference that will result in all these blessings mentioned and
eternal life itself!
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)
Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12. At the end of
the exit ramp, turn north. Go about a stone's throw to Rushing
Road. (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas
stations; with each on each corner.) Turn left on Rushing Road,
and go a little less than 0.3 of a mile. Hampton Inn will be on
right. We assemble in its "Meeting Room," which is very close to
the reception counter. Just walk pass the check-in counter; turn
right at the hall. The first and second doors on the left lead to
where we meet.