Summary: April 28, 2002 - FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 1 Peter 2:2-10 Color: White 1 Peter 2:2-10 Title: “Christians let Christ’s Spirit living in them sanctify the world, indeed redeem the world, by their own self-sacrifice.”
April 28, 2002 - FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Title: “Christians let Christ’s Spirit living in them sanctify the world, indeed redeem the world, by their own self-sacrifice.”
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6 For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,"
"A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
To describe the Church the author uses the image of a building, not just any building but the Old Testament building, the Temple. Paul uses the human body and John uses the vine and its branches to describe the church. Of course, 1Pt’s image is not fundamentally alive, so he will stress living stones to get over that drawback. He wants to stress not the building as such, but what goes on in the building, namely, priest-led sacrifice to God. Thus, he will speak of Christians constituting the new priesthood as well as the new Temple of God, seeing Christ as the cornerstone, rejected by some, accepted by others, as the central figure in this imaginative metaphorical application. His purpose is to show that the New Testament and the New Testament Church, though based on the Old Testament and Temple-Priesthood, is far superior to it, the same point the Epistle to the Hebrews was written to make.
v. 4 Come to him: The OT uses this verb to indicate “drawing near” to God to listen to him and/or to enter his (Temple) presence to offer sacrifice. It is used frequently in the Epistle to the Hebrews to indicate “drawing near” to God in worship. It was used particularly of priests who had exclusive privilege of “drawing near” to God in worship, a privilege now shared by all Christians.
A living stone: Christ is called a “living stone,” a religious metaphor (“stones” and “living” do not exist together in the real world). In the Synoptics Christ refers to himself as the stone rejected (Mk12: 10; Mt21: 42; Lk20: 17) become the cornerstone, quoting from Ps 118, quoted here in v. 7. Christians come to Christ who brings them to God. Access to God is not direct, but through Christ.
Rejected by human beings but chosen and precious: Acts makes this point over and again in its sermons, its kerygma. How differently human beings (first Jews, then Gentiles who rejected the message) responded to and treated Christ from the way God considered him and treated him!
v. 5 like living stones: Christ and Christians are described as living stones in contrast to the dead stones that make up the old Temple, showing the superiority of the New Testament. Of course, Christ as living is life-giving; Christians are life-sharing or transmitters of a Christ-life they have themselves received, not conceived.
Let yourselves be built: The verb here could be either in the imperative mood or in the indicative. The indicative is better, given the context. The sense is: “As you keep on coming to Christ (“Come to him” in v. 4 is really a participle in the Greek) (in worship, prayer, praise), you are continually being built up into a spiritual temple.” It’s a growing, progressively increasing and completing action, something hard to express when the fundamental image is a building. (Remember the old joke: Why do they call it a building when it is built?)
Into a spiritual house: “Spiritual” does not mean “immaterial” or “religious,” but “of the Holy Spirit,” of his character or nature. “House” can also mean “household,” more a living community. Here, though the primary reference is to a stone building, the metaphor naturally drifts over to the household meaning. The “house” is less a rigid structure of architectural design than an amoebic, flexible, moving, adaptable structure. The Church is a spiritual house built by God and its members are the “stones” of the building, with Christ as the central and crucial stone.