Acts 4:11

War memorial near residence of Alvin York

Thursday, 13 January 2022

This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Acts 4:11

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Peter just referred to Jesus, who was crucified by the leaders. Now, to directly show the fulfillment of Scripture in this, he cites Psalm 118:22, beginning with, “This is.”

The Greek word here is a masculine pronoun. It can be rendered “This,” but it may be more appropriately rendered “He” in this case. Some versions paraphrase it and simply say, “Jesus is…” or, “This Jesus is…” No matter what, the words are clear enough to get the sense of Peter’s intent. With this subject given, he then says that He is “the stone.”

The Hebrew word, translated as “stone,” is eben. That comes from the same root as the word banah, to build. As such, it is something that is employed in a building process. For example, one builds an altar with stones. Also, one builds a temple with stones. In Genesis 28, Jacob is said to have used a stone for resting his head when he had his dream of a ladder reaching to heaven.

One can see the symbolism of Christ in it. A stone was set, and from it a ladder was placed reaching back to heaven. Christ is the stone, Christ is the ladder, Christ is the gate (the door) at the top of the ladder – He is the means of access to restoration with God. In the morning, Jacob set up the stone, building a pillar as a memorial to what occurred.

Understanding the symbolism of the stone, Peter continues, saying of it, “which was rejected by you.”

The accusation is directed to the council, represented by the priests, the scribes, the elders, and the rulers. In other words, all of the leadership of the nation had together rejected the stone. To make this more poignant, he then says, “builders.”

The Greek reads, tōn oikodomōn, “the builders,” and it should be rendered as such. As noted, this is a citation from the 118th Psalm –

“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.” Psalm 118:22

These people are called “the builders,” because they formed together the civil and religious government, shaping it according to the needs of the nation and (supposedly) in accordance with the law that established them. Through them the nation was built into a nation that was to reflect the name and nature of the Lord as His people.

Jesus had already cited the psalm to them during His ministry –

“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”
41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

Now, in fulfillment of the psalm, and in fulfillment of Jesus’ words that they would do exactly what the psalm prophesied, Peter repeats the words to this council, calling what He said to their memory. It is a sharp and piercing indictment that what they had done was known to God before it ever took place, and thus their actions were known to God at that very moment. However, despite their rejection of Him, Peter finishes the citation, saying, “which has become the chief cornerstone.”

If the word “He” is used as the subject, then “who” should now be used to agree with that. If “This” is used, then “which” should be used –

“He is the ‘stone who was rejected by you builders, who has become the chief cornerstone.’”

“This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’”

Either way, the leaders would understand. They were responsible for the building of the nation based on the Law of Moses. In their building, they were to select “stones” appropriate to that task in order to bring the Law and the Prophets to their fullness. As these things pointed to Jesus, they were to recognize that and to then use Him as that very foundational stone of their building.

However, they rejected Him, thus they rejected the cornerstone of what God would do. This is because, despite their rejection of Him, Christ did become the Chief Cornerstone. However, this would not have happened if they did not reject Him first. The paradox is amazing to consider.

Despite their rejection of Him, He was used by God and upon Him the true temple of the Lord would be built. They now had a choice to make in accepting that or rejecting it. Isaiah also prophesied of the event, providing additional confirmation of what God would do in and through Christ Jesus –

“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.’” Isaiah 28:16

Life application: The words of this psalm, and the corresponding words of Isaiah, will be repeated in the New Testament as it is ascribed to Jesus. They are found in Romans 9:33 (citing Isaiah), Ephesians 2:20 (citing the psalm), and 1 Peter 2:6-8 (citing both Isaiah and the psalm together).

Following such things after learning the symbolism of individual words will give a much fuller understanding of how God is developing theology within Scripture. Individual words, concepts, or material things (like rocks, stones, water, the fig tree, and so on), are consistently used to form concepts that then reveal truths about the nature of God, the state of things in the world in relation to God, how things operate in His mind so that we can align our thoughts to His, and so on.

Don’t rush through the Bible as you read it, but rather think on the things that are presented, and then file them away in your memory. As you come to another use of that thing (a stone for example), think on how its use aligns or contrasts with the previous use you had filed away.

In this, your mind will begin to develop in sound theology. Just don’t make things up on your own. Rather, draw out from what is being revealed. In this, your understanding of God’s intent for how things are presented and how they can be applied to your own spiritual life will be solidified.

Lord God, thank You for the marvelous intricacy of Your word. As we read it, new insights seem to spring forth that allow us to say, “Aha! I get it. I see what God is saying.” Thank You for this wonderful, joyful process of looking into and learning about Your mind. Amen.