Friday, 18 October 2019
… you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5
Peter just compared the Lord to a living stone in the previous verse. He now uses the same metaphor concerning believers in Christ by saying, “you also, as living stones.” The comparison is to show that just as Christ is, so we are now as well. As Christ was chosen by God, so God has chosen us. This is to be contrasted with those who have rejected Him. He stated this in the previous verse, and he will continue to show it in the coming verses.
As living stones, Peter next says that believers “are being built up a spiritual house.” The Greek can be formed in one of two ways. The first is passive as translated here (you are being built up). It could also be active and imperative – “you also, as living stones, be built up.” This would go along with what he said in the previous verse. Believers are to come to Christ, and they are to be built up. If this is correct, it is more understandable when being applied to the Jews (his addressees) as a collective group of believers. In other words, “You all need to build yourselves up into a spiritual house.”
What seems more likely, based on the words of Paul elsewhere, is that the passive is being referred to. Christ is not only the Cornerstone, but He is also the Builder. This would then fit with Paul’s use of the same metaphor in Ephesians 2 –
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
Paul is clear that Jew and Gentile are being built into the same temple, the spiritual house of God. Therefore, Peter’s words should probably also be taken in this way. The “spiritual house” is that house which is contrasted to the earthly temple made of stone, and which is temporary and can be ransacked and destroyed (as the Jews know all too well, having had their temple destroyed by Babylon and by Rome). Rather, the temple of which we are a part is constructed of living stones which Paul elsewhere speaks of as being “eternal in the heavens” (see 2 Corinthians 5:1).
As our bodies will be eternal, so will the temple, which is comprised of our bodies, be eternal. Peter then continues with, “a holy priesthood.” The idea here is that in a temple, there are priests. Those who form the temple also perform the priestly functions. Teachers of a false gospel will point to this verse and say that the idea of conducting these priestly duties only belongs to Jews, but that Paul never speaks of Gentiles in this manner. This is false. Paul speaks of exactly this in Romans 15:16 –
“…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
What Paul is saying is that sharing the gospel is a priestly duty. Paul was not of the tribe of Levi, and yet he was given the priestly duty of the New Covenant, sharing the gospel. As this is a privilege of any – Jew or Gentile – it shows that the priesthood is that of any believer who performs this service. And the purpose of this is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices.”
The idea here comes from the Old Covenant where sacrifices were literally brought up to the altar to be presented. They were brought from a lower to a high place. They were then lifted or waved before the Lord by the attending priest, being offered up to Him. The picture that one should consider is that of Christ bearing His cross up to Calvary. He is the Living Stone, and we are to emulate Him bearing ourselves up as spiritual sacrifices and living stones, conducting the priestly duties of sharing the gospel, and of bringing these offerings which are acceptable “to God through Jesus Christ.”
The implication is that despite being set apart, and despite being acceptable to offer up sacrifices to God, they are truly only acceptable because they are presented to God through Jesus. He is the One who covers the sins of His people. He is the One in whom they dwell, and it is only through Him that our imperfect offerings can be acceptable to God. One can see in Peter’s words that everything comes back to Christ. Without Him, nothing the believer does is acceptable to God.
Life application: Concerning the spiritual house which both Peter and Paul refer to, no competent architect would ever start a project without knowing exactly how much material was needed to complete the task. When building a home, they will account for how much piping, electric wire, roof shingle, framing wood, etc. is needed. This can and will be calculated exactly so that budgets of time and money are met.
Likewise, God – who is infinitely wise – knows exactly what is needed to build His temple. In a pre-shadowing of this heavenly temple, He gave exact details for the earthy tabernacle (and later the temple) for the people of Israel. Here is an example of this care –
“Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; 12 and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things;” 1 Chronicles 28:11, 12
These plans included all of the materials, but David also set apart detailed numbers of priests, Levites, and others who would do the work – during and after the construction of the temple. Just as these were taken care of by the Holy Spirit, so is the eternal temple being carefully constructed by God.
When the materials are ready, the temple will be finished. God alone knows when the last “living stone” will be chosen, but when that day comes, this House of God will be complete? Have you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior? Every day that goes by is one day closer to that glorious moment. Until then, let us practice our sacrifice of worship –
Praising You today, O God – Yes! Praising You today.
We come into Your presence, Lord, so hear us when we pray!
Glory to You, O God on High, may our song ever be…
Glory to the Lamb of God, Our Precious Savior is He
Lord God, thank You for the promise of an eternal future in Your presence. And thank You that we need do nothing to earn it, but that the price has been paid already. All we need to do is accept what You have done through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May we demonstrate wisdom and simply accept that which You freely offer. Thank You for Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.