Thursday, 17 October 2019
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 1 Peter 2:4
In the previous verse, it was seen that Peter has directly equated Jesus, of whom he was writing about, to the Lord (meaning Jehovah of the Old Testament). As certain as that was from the context, it continues to be verified with his words now. He says, “Coming to Him.” Is he writing about Jesus or God? The answer is “both.”
It is obviously referring to Jesus, because he says in this same verse, “chosen by God.” But he has just equated the Subject (the Lord) of the previous verse to the Lord of the Old Testament by citing the psalm which was referring to the Lord (Jehovah). The words cannot be misconstrued. To deny the deity of Christ is to deny a fundamental tenant of the Bible, and it is to accept heresy.
Peter uses a present participle in the words, “Coming to Him” As Vincent’s Word Studies explains, “Indicating a close (πρός) and an habitual (present participle) approach and an intimate association.” We are to come near to the Lord at all times, and it is to be in a manner which is as if we were coming to our closest relative or friend.
Peter next describes “Him,” by saying, “as to a living stone.” The words “as to” are inserted and unnecessary. He is describing Jesus. “Coming to Him; a living stone.” It is similar to Peter’s own words of Acts 4 –
“This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’” Acts 4:11
The reason for Peter saying this is because Jesus used the term of Himself, citing Scripture as He did. That is seen in all three synoptic gospels, such as in Luke 20 –
“What then is this that is written:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone’?” Luke 20:17
Jesus was citing the 118th Psalm, which says –
“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.” Psalm 118:22
Jesus was indicating that He was the fulfillment of this messianic psalm. Peter confirms this in Acts 4, and he continues to repeat that now. This will be more fully evident when he cites both the psalm and Isaiah 28 in just a couple verses. Those verses together call out concerning the working of God in Christ. So important is this thought which is seen in the psalms and in Isaiah, that Paul refers to it in Romans 9:32, 33 and Ephesians 2:19-22 as well.
Paul’s words, especially in Ephesians, shows that he and Peter are speaking about the same gospel and the same salvation for Jew and Gentile. This is evident because Peter was speaking to Jews in Acts 4, and he is addressing Jews in this epistle as well. However, Paul is writing to Gentiles in Ephesians 2:19-22 –
“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.”
Both apostles refer to Jesus as the cornerstone, and both refer to what God is doing in Christ with his redeemed. We are (Jew and Gentile) being built into an edifice where God will dwell. The heretical doctrine which teaches that there is one salvation for Jew and another for Gentile is to be rejected because it teaches two gospels, not one. There is one gospel for both. To teach otherwise is to teach a false gospel.
Peter next continues with, “rejected indeed by men.” This is what Psalm 118 prophesied, and it is what came about when the leaders of Israel, fulfilling the very words of the Scriptures they were the stewards of, rejected Christ Jesus.
The word translated as “rejected” signifies “to reject after determining something is useless” (HELPS WORD Studies). The leadership of Israel evaluated Christ Jesus, and they found Him tasteless and not worthy of their consideration. In this, they rejected Him as their Messiah. Peter uses the word “men” here, instead of “builders,” as in the psalm to show the obvious contrast between them and God. This is seen in his final words of the verse which say, “but chosen by God and precious.”
Though He was rejected by mere men who are foolish and without understanding, Christ was chosen by God who is all-glorious and all-knowing. The contrast is obvious, and it is Peter’s way of calling out, “Whose side are you on? God’s, or that of man?” For those he is addressing, meaning believers, he is encouraging them to be bold and to act in accord with their calling (as noted in verse 2:1-3).
The final word, “precious,” speaks of that which is held in honor, as of in personal respect. God has placed Christ Jesus at the highest point of honor, making Him the chief cornerstone in the house that He is building. Peter will continue with this thought over the coming verses, demonstrating fully and completely that Jesus is the Messiah, that Jesus is God, and that there is one gospel for all who believe. The message he proclaims is the same as the message that Paul has already put forth in his epistles.
Life application: What does it mean to be a “living stone?” The Bible sometimes uses terms which seem contradictory to the sensibilities of the world.
Take the term “living sacrifice” for example. It doesn’t make sense unless one understands what God expects of us. A sacrifice, by its very nature, is something that dies. Likewise, a “living stone” doesn’t make sense on the surface. But when we realize that it is a metaphor for something else, we can more clearly understand the concept. A stone is something unmoving and unshakable; it indicates permanence and stability.
Jesus is like that to us – He doesn’t change. Instead, He is permanent and reliable. When confronted with His doctrine, the rulers of Israel rejected Him because He wouldn’t relent in properly teaching the things of God and the surety of His word. These people were so caught up in legalism and the teachings of man that they spent their time trying to work out issues completely unrelated to what was expected of them. At one time, Jesus remarked –
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matthew 23:2-4
Because of this and a host of other words of condemnation, the leaders of Israel rejected Him. However, He carried out His work, the work of God, faithfully. He remains the unchangeable, glorious, and precious Living Stone. Until the end of the ages, Jesus Christ is our eternal and magnificent Lord.
Lord God, what an honor and a blessing to know that You, O Lord, are with us – firm and unchanging. Help us to likewise be firm in our convictions, resolute in our faith, and acceptable to You in our actions. May we be the same – precious living stones in the heavenly temple to come. Amen.