Saturday, 19 October 2019
Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6
For the previous two verses, Peter has been speaking of Christ in a metaphor, as a living stone. He then equated believers to living stones as well, and notes that believers are being built into a spiritual house. To build upon this, he says “Therefore.” In essence, “Because of this, let me explain further.” And so, he continues by showing that this is a concept already established by God, by saying, “it is also contained in the Scripture.”
Here, Peter uses a rare word, periechó, to explain that what he is going to convey is found in a particular part of Scripture. It is contained, or enclosed, there. It is, therefore, something which is given as a divinely inspired precept and worthy of note in the present context.
Scripture at the time of Peter was our Hebrew Old Testament. It is true that apostolic writings were already being considered on the same level of authority (see 2 Peter 3:15), but Peter is specifically referring to the Hebrew writings. In this case, he cites Isaiah 28:16 –
“Therefore thus says the Lord God:
‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.’”
The words Peter quotes more closely follow the Greek translation of Isaiah, rather than this Hebrew translation. It is a passage also cited by Paul in Romans 9:33. In Paul’s citation, he shows that the prophecy was referring to Jesus, and that the Jews, for the most part, missed the significance of what Christ did. Christ’s work was a work which led to grace, not further law observance. Because of this, the Jews – ever intent on relying on their own works under the law – tripped over what Christ did.
Peter, speaking to the Jews, shows that this is the case. He is confirming Paul’s words that there is one gospel for both Jew and for Gentile. It is that God has laid the foundation for faith in the sending of His Son, the Messiah. The words, “Behold, I lay in Zion,” mean that the message was first given to the people of Israel. Christ came to them, and He accomplished His work among them. God was in Christ, bringing about His redemptive plans for Israel. In this, He was laying out His foundation upon which man would be restored to Him.
Peter then continues with, “A chief cornerstone.” This is speaking of Messiah. The cornerstone is the first and most important stone of a building. From it, everything else extends. The word used by Peter for “chief cornerstone” is the Greek word akrogoniaion. It is a special word, unique to the Bible, and is used only twice in its pages. The other use is by Paul in Ephesians 2:20 –
“…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”
Because of the importance of this stone, Peter then describes it by saying “elect.” The word signifies “chosen out,” or “select.” Humanity is the source from which the election is made, but only one Human would be chosen out of humanity. This speaks of Christ’s human nature.
God wove together the stream of humanity, recording it all the way from Adam. It wove through various people throughout history, being carefully detailed concerning who they were. This was often in stories that otherwise seem irrelevant to the narrative. But each story was selected to reveal the line from which this One would come. He is the Elect of humanity.
He is also “precious.” The word signifies “highly honored.” It is a state of high personal respect. Obviously, this is God’s perception of Him because it is the Lord who is being cited by Isaiah, and who Peter then quotes. The Lord God has a personal high regard for this One who would be the Cornerstone. This is so much so that the quote finishes with, “And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
There is to be found in this One, that Isaiah speaks of, a point of trust and directed-faith. In other words, the Lord God indicates that by placing faith in this Cornerstone, they will not later be disgraced, frustrated, or ashamed. The faith placed in Him will be properly directed faith. As Peter now cites this as referring to Jesus (as did Paul), it is showing – without any doubt, vagueness, or ambiguity – that Christ is the end of the law.
This is because the law is a body of works. In essence, “Do these things and you will be considered righteous before Me.” However, the Lord says that this is no longer the case in the coming Cornerstone. In essence, “Believe on Jesus and you will be considered righteous before Me.” It shows that the law, under which Christ came, merely anticipated the coming of Christ. True righteousness is not of the law, but in acceptance of the fulfillment of the law as accomplished by Christ Jesus. He provides the justification of the law for any who will trust in Him. It is the exact same gospel message which Paul speaks of. There is one gospel by which man is saved – Jew or Gentile – and it is found by simply trusting in the work of Jesus Christ.
Life application: As noted, the cornerstone is the first stone laid when starting a building and is, therefore, the most important for ensuring that the building will be plumb and level. If this stone is faulty in material, the building will fail. Likewise, if it is placed incorrectly, the building will fail. Because of this, the cornerstone must be very carefully chosen; it must be flawless. It must also be laid by the most skilled builder of all. In the case of Christ, the Cornerstone, the Builder is God Himself.
God is building a temple and He began with His own Son, Jesus Christ. From this starting point, believers from all ages are being built into a spiritual temple. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have crossed from death to life, and have been selected as a stone in the living temple where God will reside for all eternity. This has been guaranteed by the sealing of His Holy Spirit and can never be taken away. You will never be put to shame.
Out of gratitude, awe, and joy, we should, therefore, endeavor to be acceptable to God in all we do. If you are struggling with this today, as we all do from time to time, let’s pray about it…
Lord God, as living stones in Your glorious temple, we know we need to be holy and acceptable to You. O, but we fail so often. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit as we honor you through the study of Your word, through praising You, and through praying to You. Do this, so that we might live rightly, act appropriately, and conduct our affairs wisely, thus bringing honor to You. This we pray that You will receive the glory You are due through our life and actions. Amen.