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; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
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 the 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.