1 Peter 2 - Living Stones
INTRODUCTION: Peter tells us in chapter one that we who are saints, were chosen by God's foreknowledge and set apart, thereby making us pilgrims in this world, as we spiritually progress toward our permanent home in heaven away from this present world. God's grace has caused us to be born from above so we have an inheritance by birthright that cannot decay, is utterly pure, and will never fade in value. So we must make ready our minds for the sober exercise of our faith as we keep a firm grip on the coming grace that will be delivered at the appearing of Jesus Christ. And the saints must have an unfeigned love for one another since we all share in this inheritance from the Lord. In chapter two Peter speaks more about what it means to have an unfeigned love for others, and our behavior in the world, as we are living stones in the building of God.
1 Peter 2:1-3, 1769 KJV
"1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
COMMENTS: The list provided in verse one by Peter is a stark reminder of inherent things we must lay aside from within our natural man, so we can concentrate on the spiritual growth that is only available through the nourishing milk of the word of God. And the Greek word translated as "desire" for that milk, carries the idea to strongly desire, or to longingly yearn after something, not to be passive or only half-hearted. Malice is an ill will toward another, or a desire to cause hurt or injury; and guile would be to use deceitful or crafty means. Hypocrisy is being insincere, or only pretending to have certain feelings or beliefs. Envy is being jealous of another, and backbiting (evil speaking) is spreading disparaging or damaging remarks to others about someone else. Since you have experienced the graciousness of the Lord in your life as a believer, you should always earnestly and sincerely strive to follow a pure standard of behavior and decorum commensurate with the benefit you derive from the grace of God. Study of the Word of God promotes the process of mind renewal so we will be prepared to follow the words of Jesus as he said if you love me, keep my commandments. And Jesus gave us an easily remembered summary, Mark "12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
1 Peter 2:4-5, 1769 KJV
"4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
COMMENTS: Christ came into the world as a living foundation block for his church, and he was rejected by men as if he was of no value. But he was chosen (preferred above all others) by God the Father and was indeed the most precious of all building stones because he is the cornerstone of a spiritual building, constructed by God and not by man. Christians are also living (living and lively from this passage are the same word in the Greek) stones that are built up by God to be part of the spiritual house (or home) of God. And the living stones in this home are to function as priests, not just to exist as immobile and unfeeling bricks. They should be offering up sacrifices of service and praise to the Lord, certainly in a lively manner, with all heart, mind, soul, and strength. This will be well received by God by the means of, and on account of, Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 2:6-8, 1769 KJV
"6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."
COMMENTS: Peter did not originate this thought, but combines words spoken by the prophet, Isaiah 28:16 "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." and from Psalms 118 "22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes." Jesus had quoted from Psalms 118 as recorded in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), which set an excellent precedent for Peter. Matthew 21:42 "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" Peter had spoken of this stone to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem (the builders) that they had rejected, and concluded that salvation comes from no other source. Acts 4:11 "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." And the apostle Paul commented about that stumbling stone, as seen in two of his letters. Romans 9 "32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." 1 Corinthians 1 "21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23* But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Peter exhorts us to accept by faith Christ as the only cornerstone on which we can build our spiritual lives in obedience to his word. And if Christ is not the cornerstone, he will certainly be a stumbling stone and a rock of offense.
1 Peter 2:9-10, 1769 KJV
"9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."
COMMENTS: God's chosen people were called out of their spiritual darkness and into the light of a royal priesthood, by mercy alone so all praise must go only to God. Verse 9 contains somewhat of a restatement of verse 5, and the idea is linked with what Jesus had continued to say after Matthew 21:42, that another nation (or people) would be given the kingdom of God. Matthew 21 "43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." And again, the apostle Paul agrees with peter and makes reference to the prophet Hosea about a people (including gentiles) becoming the children of the living God. Romans 9 "24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God."
1 Peter 2:11-12, 1769 KJV
"11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
COMMENTS: Peter appeals to the saints as travelers, sojourners, pilgrims who are not true residents of any physical location, to abstain from the lusts of the old nature that can easily draw them away from the pure desires that should characterize redeemed saints. Peter says the fleshly desires "war" against our very souls! Saints should have their attitudes and conduct honestly displayed before the non-believers, even as those people speak evil words against the saints. As the non-believers see the good works done through Christ, this will bring glory to him in the day he returns, as he brings all matters to their proper conclusion.
1 Peter 2:13-16, 1769 KJV
"13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."
COMMENTS: These verses direct believers to be subject to all sorts of regulations or laws, and all manner or types of people in authority, because regulations and those in authority are fulfilling a purpose that is necessary for order among men. This does not require absolute submission if that would be contrary to obeying God, for Peter had said in Acts 5:29 "We ought to obey God rather than men." Well doing in this matter of submission to authority can silence the lack of knowledge of foolish people who do not follow Christ: this action by saints does not sacrifice the freedom in Christ, but rather demonstrates a characteristic of one who is truly a fully-trusting servant of the living God. We also must be very cautious not to use our freedom in Christ for our own purposes. Thus our actions are for the Lord's sake. , not for the sake of any man.
1 Peter 2:17-20, 1769 KJV
"17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
COMMENTS: Honor all men, not just those in high positions. Love those who are part of the brotherhood of Christ. Fear God, and honor the king, because God is king of kings and he sets up and removes those of his choosing. These things are elements of the balance conduct called for from believers. When you are a servant, it is necessary to serve even those who are not good and gentle, if you can endure their mistreatment because you want to serve your true master who is the good and gentle Christ. Accepting deserved punishment patiently does not bring special honor, but enduring unjust punishment patiently can be possible through the grace of God, and will not go unnoticed.
1 Peter 2:21-23, 1769 KJV.
"21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
COMMENTS: Christ is the consummate example of patient suffering for us, as he suffered unjust punishment when he had no sin, and used no cunning deceit. Even when he was harshly insulted he did not retort to his attackers. And as he suffered he made no threats (he could have called legions of angels) against his adversaries, but he fully committed himself to the one who judges righteously. Peter most likely remembers the scene in the garden when Jesus was taken captive, and indicated to Peter that no human defense was necessary. Matthew 26 "52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
1 Peter 2:24, 1769 KJV
"24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
COMMENTS: Jesus bore our sins (he had none of his own) in his body (the body prepared for that purpose) on the tree (cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree), and because of his action in our behalf we do not have sin remaining for our condemnation (we are dead to sin) so we should live (alive to Christ) in the righteous way he had lived because by his wounds we were healed. All of this is a contrast in opposites that Jesus performed for us, and it demonstrates the great love our God has for his redeemed people! The groups of verses below emphasize the parenthetical comments.
JESUS, OUR SIN-BEARING SAVIOR:
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
GOD WAS MANIFEST IN A FLESHLY BODY PREPARED AS A SACRIFICE FOR OUR SALVATION:
Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
ACCURSED OF GOD SO WE MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISED SPIRIT THROUGH FAITH:
Deuteronomy 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
WE ARE TO BE DEAD TO SIN AND ALIVE TO CHRIST, HEALED BY HIS WOUNDS:
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
1 Peter 2:25, 1769 KJV
"25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
COMMENTS: Like sheep that are easily led around, we were going astray (erring, being deceived) as we followed after false shepherds and after our own lusts, to the PERIL OF our Souls. But Jesus became our shepherd and overseer, keeping watch over our souls, that which none other can do. By looking at other scriptures that contain the Greek word for going astray <planao>, we can understand how dangerous this straying can be; and ultimately who is behind this deception that is destructive to the soul. Revelation 20:10 comforts us with the truth that the victory over death wrought by Christ on the cross assures final and permanent elimination of Satan, the ultimate enemy of our souls.
Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err <planao>, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? … 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err <planao>.
--- Reflections in prayer ---
Lord, the truth of your word prevents me from denying that I can be guilty of malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and backbiting. Help me Lord to long for your word as a healthy baby longs for mother's milk because I do benefit from that spiritual nourishment. Thank you that Christ is the chief cornerstone, and that I have been made a living stone as part of your spiritual building. May I fulfill my service and praise to you as a lively stone of the new priesthood by the means of, and on account of, Christ Jesus.
Guard my heart Lord so I will not stray from recognizing your design in laying the precious cornerstone, which to those you call must remain the power of God and the wisdom of God. This cornerstone is the uniting factor that brings Jew and gentile together to be built into your kingdom which was expanded to many tribes and nations on the basis of your grace. You have called believers out of darkness to serve in the light of your royal priesthood, and I praise you Lord for making me a part of that body. Work in my life Lord that I will resist the fleshly desires that war against my soul, and not just for my benefit, but for those who will observe my actions as one who trusts in you. I believe that I am just a passing pilgrim here, and the time is appointed when you will receive all glory for the saints who have withstood the ever present unbelief of the world. I want to offer my subjection to authority as a sign of my fear and trust in you, Lord. Give me wisdom any time it appears I am faced with choosing to obey you rather than to obey man. Give me the grace to honor and love others as you would have me to do, and an extra measure of grace when that seems more difficult for me with those who are not good or kind. Even enduring unjust treatment is possible by your grace, because Christ Jesus endured the greatest injustice because of an even greater love. You took my sin to the cross, and not mine only, but for the believers of all ages. You suffered the horrible pain and insult when you could have spoken just a word to bring yourself immediate relief and respite from the agony of the cross. I praise you Lord, for all you have accomplished. Amen!
Bible Studies for the other 4 chapters of 1 Peter.
Published 28 September 2005