About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Living Stones And A
shifts his thinking a bit in these next few verses.
Verse 4 is as follows. "As
you come to Him Ė the living Stone (lithos in Greek) Ö"
The word "stone" holds some important imagery for Jews,
as seen in Exodus 17:6 where God told Moses that when he would strike the
rock, water would come out of it so the Israelis could drink the water.
In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul makes much of this rock.
He calls it a spiritual rock, that in fact was Christ.
Here in verse 4, Peter is saying what Paul said.
Jesus is our spiritual rock or spiritual stone, but as we will see,
Peter is viewing this Stone not as water, but a building block in the New
says that Jesus was rejected by men but accepted by God.
Throughout the history of man, the tendency has been for us to
reject all that God is. Our
generation is no different from any other generation in this respect.
We may actually be worse.
verse 5 Peter says that "you also like living stones are being built
into a spiritual house and a holy priesthood."
Peter compares Jesus to a living stone, the corner stone to be
exact. Some suggest it's not
the corner stone but the cap stone. The
corner stone is the first stone in the foundation of a house, while the
cap stone is the last stone in an archway.
I would suggest the stone to be the corner stone, although later on
in the chapter he uses both terms to represent Jesus.
it's not so clear in the Greek text, the NIV says that Peter is saying
that we, being living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be
a holy priesthood. The NIV
suggests that our being built into a spiritual house is an ongoing action,
and that it is. The house is
yet to be completed. As the
house of God, the house has more construction ahead of it.
The house will not be complete until the return of Jesus to earth.
is more to this house in this verse. This
house is a priestly house. This
is pure Jewish terminology. Each
tribe of Israel
was considered a house, as in the house of David, and so on.
The house of Levi was the house or tribe that was the priesthood in
Israel. Only a man from the tribe or
house of Levi could be a priest to represent God here on earth.
What Peter seems to be saying here is that New Testament Christians
have replaced the house of Levi as priests of God.
The church, the New Testament house of God, has replaced the house
of Levi as priests.
verse 5 Peter says that we, being the House of God, are a "holy
priesthood." We as
individuals are priests and we as the corporate church, is a priest.
This means that we represent Jesus to the world and the world to
Jesus. That is the duty of a
priest. We, therefore, must
carry out our priestly responsibilities.
In John 20:21 Jesus told the disciples that He was sending us into
the world. This means that you
and I as Christians are acting on the behalf of Jesus.
We represent Jesus to the world and the world to Jesus.
This is the job of a priest. In
one sense of the word, Christians are priests, and so is the church.
doctrine of the priesthood of the believer as it is known has been
challenged many times throughout the ages.
The whole role of the priest in the Catholic Church is based on the
false premise that we need a person to stand between us and Jesus.
This aspect of Catholicism is not New Testament thinking.
Many cults over the centuries have done the same with charismatic
leaders who claim a special place before God.
This too is not New Testament thinking.
Whether it is a cult or the Catholic Church, who some have called a
cult, and I would agree, there is no need for a priest.
Each and every believer is a priest.
you study Hebrews 8 you will note that Jesus is our Great High Priest.
It is Jesus, not any man, who stands before God on our behalf.
It is Jesus who represents us to God.
In one sense of the word Jesus is our lawyer.
This is where the term "in Christ" comes into play.
God, when looking at Jesus sees you and I in Jesus.
It's like a photographic lens.
God sees us through the filter of Jesus.
This is due to the fact that when Jesus died on the cross, He died
in our place. He represented
us on the cross. So, when God
looks at Jesus He sees those of us who have received the forgiveness of
sins that Jesus paid for on the cross. There is only one priest and He is
Jesus, and, we need no earthly priest to stand between us and Jesus.
should also understand that that a pastor is not a priest.
A pastor cares for the people of God.
He does not stand between the people and God.
It is important to understand that the people a pastor cares for
belong to God and not the pastor. Many
times you might hear a pastor use the term "my people."
Those whom a pastor cares for are not his people.
They are Godís people. This
should make a major difference in how a pastor treats those in his
congregation. Also, being a
priest and a pastor are two very different things, two different
ministries. A priest, which we
now all are, represents Jesus to the world.
A pastor cares for God's people.
verse 5 Peter says that if we are indeed living sacrifices, this is
acceptable to God. Again,
animal sacrifices are no longer acceptable to God and neither are any
other kind of so-called Christian sacrifices acceptable to God.
If we do anything in the name of Jesus out of pure motives, as if
they are a sacrifice, those things we do are not acceptable.
They may do a lot of good for others, but they mean little to God.
quotes from Isaiah 28:16 in verse 6 to back up his point. "I lay a
is clear that Peter believes that Jesus is the cornerstone that Isaiah is
speaking of. The NIV says that
Jesus is the chosen stone, and that He is, but, the Greek word translated
here as "chosen" in the NIV can easily be understood as
"choice." Jesus is
the choice stone, the blessed stone, the important stone.
He is the "precious cornerstone" as Isaiah puts it.
prophecy says that no one who puts his trust in Jesus the cornerstone will
be put to shame. What does it
mean to be put to shame? It
certainly does not mean that we wonít be viewed as fools, or go through
embarrassing moments. The
world views us as being very foolish because of our beliefs.
The Greek word that has been translated as "shame" here
is a very intensive word that suggests disappointment. The one who really
trust his life with Jesus will never ever be disappointed.
I'm sure the true Christian can attest to that.
about the point Peter is making here with this quote from Isaiah.
It would make non-Christian Jews mad.
He is taking an Old Testament quote that mentions
verse 7 Peter says that this cornerstone is precious to the believer, just
as He is precious to God, as seen in the Isaiah prophecy in the last
verse. Indeed, for all
Christians, Jesus is very precious.
the verbs "believe" and "do not believe" are Greek
present active participles. They
could easily be translated as "believers" or
these verbs are present tense verbs, this means that the faith, the
belief, spoken of here is an ongoing present reality.
Peter is not thinking in terms of making a decision for Jesus at
some past time in one's life. He
is speaking here of both a present believing and a present unbelieving.
quotes Psalm 188:22 here. "The
stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone" (or corner
stone). The builders are
acting as fools since they rejected the most important stone in the
builders spoken of here are clearly the Jews.
It can't be the Gentiles. It
was the Jews who were to build the house of God and it was the Jews who
the term "capstone" here. Jesus
is both the corner stone and the capstone.
He is both the first and the last stone in the building.
verse 8 Peter quotes one last time from Isaiah 8:14 to further his point.
"A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them
fall." What do these
words mean? There are people
in this world that donít believe in the existence of some kind of god.
Few are criticized for this belief.
In my thinking, it is not hard to imagine the presence of a Supreme
Deity in the universe, but what does make men trip or stumble, in both
their intellect and emotions, is the existence of Jesus as being God in
human flesh. This bothers many
in our world today. They
simply have a hard time getting around this idea of God in human flesh.
So, you can easily say that they stumble over Jesus.
In short, you can talk about God all you want without much
criticism, but when you talk about Jesus, you get criticized, especially
if you claim that He is divine. Jesus
being a historical teacher of a certain morality is fine to speak about.
Again, it's Jesus that causes men to stumble.
goes on to say in verse 8 that people stumble "because they disobey
the message." The well
known Greek word "logos" is translated in the NIV as
"message." The NIV
translators could have easily translated "logos" and
"word" here but for some reason they didn't.
If it were up to me I would use the word "word" in this
verse. The NIV translates
"logos" as "word" in many places in the New Testament.
of the above being said, the word spoke of here is the message is the
gospel that these early Christians were proclaiming.
Once again, it is Jesus, and the message about Jesus that trips men
up. Peter says that this is
"destined," or "appointed" as some versions put it, to
happen. Peter could be saying
that if one continues to reject the message, the only logical consequence
is destruction. On the other
hand, if you prefer the word "appointed" in this verse you might
believe, especially if those to whom Peter is writing to are Jews, God
actually appointed them not to believe.
He did so when He blinded their eyes, as Paul says in Romans 11 in
order for the Gentiles to come into the blessing of God.
9 begins with the word "but."
Peter is now comparing those who don't believe with those who do
believe. Peter mentions three
things that the community of Christians are.
They are; a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
All three of these things are Old Testament Jewish concepts.
Again, for Peter this is revolutionary.
He is saying that both Jew and Gentile believers are a chosen
people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, all things that were once
attributed to Israelis.
to Peter, New Testament Christians are now a chosen people.
God's chosen people are not simply Jews, at least in this present
era. In a historical and
prophetic sense of the word, Jews still have chosen status, but this is
not the context used by Peter here.
words "chosen people" are translated from the Greek word
"genos." This word
can be, and is, translated as generation or race in the New Testament.
A very similar Greek word, "genea" is used in Luke 21:32
where Jesus says that "this generation, or race, will not pass away
until all is fulfilled."
also says that Christians are also a "royal priesthood."
No longer is the tribe of Levi priests.
All Christians are priests who represent God to the world and the
world to God. It is my
thinking that more often than not the church has failed to be the priest
is was meant to be. We have
misrepresented God so much that the world knows little about the God we
claim to represent.
are also a holy nation, "ethnos" in Greek.
"Ethnos" means a race of people with the same ethnicity.
Obviously our English word "ethnos" comes from this Greek
word. As Christians, we are a
nation unto ourselves, even though we live in the secular nations here on
earth. It's for this reason
that Christians are often times in conflict with the kingdoms of men. We
are citizens of a kingdom that the kingdom of men opposes.
Our first allegiance must be to the
conflict between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles that was to be
resolved in Acts 15 is making a re-appearance today.
It's becoming a problem that is separating Christians. There are
various degrees, but many Christians are becoming more Jewish orientated
today. Some go as far to say
that we must obey the Law of Moses in order to be a real Christian,
something the Apostle Paul fought against in the book of Galatians.
I mention this to simply say that the same conflict that was at the
beginning of the church age has now re-appeared
near the end of the church age.
of the above being said, I do believe that when the last Gentile is saved,
as Paul speaks of in Romans 11, God will once again major on the Jews and
will fulfill the promises He made to Abraham in what we call the Abrahamic
Covenant. God is not finished
in verse 9 Peter says that we all, that is all Christians, belong to God.
We belong to God so "we can declare the praises of God"
since He has brought us out of a very dark world.
Again, I believe Peter is addressing this letter to people who are
suffering believers. Even in
their suffering, they are to give praise and proclaim the name of Christ
to those who are causing them grief. As
far as Peter was concerned, this was no time to slack off or give up one's
faith in Jesus.
the word "called" in verse 9.
It's what the word "church" really means.
It's translated from the Greek word "ekklesia," meaning,
"the called out ones." We
are called out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.
We should thus live accordingly.
10 takes some thought. Peter
says that one you were not a people of God but now you are.
At first glance you might think that Peter is referring to Gentile
Christians and that might well be true, but, some say that he is speaking
about Jewish Christians, in part because they believe that was to whom
Peter was writing. If you read
Hosea 2 you will learn that God divorced Israel, who He considered to be His wife. At
that point Jews were not the people of God, but through the cross of
Christ, they once again, along with Gentiles, had access to becoming the
people of God.
word "mercy" here in verse 10 should be understood in terms of
pity. That is to say, God has
pity on the pitiful, which when compared to God Himself, we are all very
verse 11 Peter says that Christians are strangers and aliens in the world.
We really are. We may
live in our various countries but our true citizenship, our ultimate
allegiance, is to the Kingdom
in verse 11 Peter encourages his readers to abstain from sinful desires
because they war against the soul. As
Christians we are in a constant battle with our sinful self.
If there is no battle I suggest that we have given into our sinful
desires. Peter would be
mentioning this to these people because they are suffering persecution
from this sinful world. It
would be easy for them to simply give up, quit Jesus, and follow the ways
of the world and live happily ever after, at least from a worldly
the words "dear friends" in the NIV in verse 11.
Other translations more accurately say "beloved" because
the Greek word the NIV translates as "dear friends" is "agapetos,"
from "agepe," meaning love.
The Greek word "agape" had gone out of style in first
century Roman culture. It
means selfless love and so Christians adopted it as being God's love.
So, I believe "beloved" is a better translation than
"dear friends." The
Greek word "philos" is a word that means "brotherly
love" or "reciprocal love."
I would suggest that "dear friends" would rather be a
better translation if the Greek word Peter used here was
quite obvious from both experience and this verse that Christians can fall
into temptations and sin when they do, we all know what it does to our
souls. Sin disrupts, not the
legal relationship we have with Jesus but the fellowship we have with Him.
use the term "legal" relationship in the last paragraph because
our relationship with God is n fact a legal relationship.
Some people don't like using such terms in connection with
salvation but in one real sense of the word our relationship with God is
based on legalities; is based on covenant.
The death of Jesus was a matter of God's justice.
We were the ones to be executed but Jesus took our place.
The justice of God was met and as a result we have been freed from
punishment. In theological
terms this is called justification.
ends this section in verse 12 by saying the following.
"Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse
you of doing wrong, they may see your good works and glorify God on the
day He visits us." These
Christians were being accused by all sorts of people from all sorts of
places. That was simply part
of being a persecuted Christian back then. Peter
was telling his readers that even with all of these accusations, their
good works should be evident that they were good people.
They may not be acknowledged in this present time as being good,
but on the day when Jesus visits them, or, the day He returns to earth,
people will notice them and will glorify God as a result.
fact that non-believers will glorify God on the Day of Judgment tells us
something about that day. Paul
was right, when in Philippians 2:10 he said that "every knee will bow
and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."
Every man and woman that has ever lived will bow their knees and
make this confession. They
will also see those of us who have been saved, and at the point in
recognition to our good works, they will also give glory to God.
For these people it will be too late.
We as Christians will bow our knees and acknowledge Jesus as being
Lord with great thanksgiving. For
the non-Christians, they will make the same acknowledgement, but only
because they have now seen that He is indeed Lord.
They will fall before Jesus in fear and horror for their fate that
awaits them. You and I as
Christians will be eternally thankful on that day as we fall before the
King of Kings.
12 is especially important today, as it was back in Peter's day.
These suffering saints could have said all sorts of negative and
nasty things about those who were causing them to suffer.
Peter was telling them not to do that.
The world around us these days is constantly saying negative and
nasty things about others. The
TV channels, the air waves, and the internet blogs, are full of nasty
words. Christians must not be
like this. Yes, we speak the
truth, but we speak the truth in love, in as a loving way as we can.
The world should not be able to criticize us for our nastiness.
They should criticize us for the truth of the Bible that we speak.
It's sad to say, but many Christians these days talk just like
those around them in the world.
should note that the only ones that Jesus spoke nasty type words to were
the Jewish religious hypocrites.
He did call them some pretty nasty names.
So, if you are going to get into name calling, call the so-called
Christian hypocrite the nasty names. Leave
all others alone.