I Peter 2:4–10 the Great Rock, Temple and Priests.
Key Notes: Different facets of the Rock. Our priestly functions and sacrifices.
In this short passage Peter unloads such riches that we cannot go further but must sit here and meditate.
2:4–5 We are invited to come to Him, the Living Stone, as living stones ourselves, be built into a spiritual house of worship, and, to change the metaphor, also be its priests, offering spiritual sacrifices to God.
2:6–8 Christ is the Great Rock. Peter quotes from three OT passages.
•"I am laying in Zion...a precious cornerstone. Whoever believes will not 'be in haste'" (Isa.28:16), that is, will not be put to shame, but will be saved. [Paul quotes the second sentence in Rom.10:11.] The stone of the angle--the cornerstone--probably refers to the center arch stone that bears the pressure of the arch and prevents it from collapsing.
•""The stone which the builders rejected has become the has become the head of the corner." (Psa.118:22). The stone was rejected by the Jewish religious establishment ("the builders") but became the center-piece. Jesus quoted this passage to the Jewish leaders, also saying: "The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it." Matt.21:43
Peter quoted it before the Sanhedrin , boldly adding that "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:11)
• "And He will become a sanctuary, , and a stone of offense, a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a snare and a trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." (Isa.8:14). They stumble because they disobey the Word. Paul says Christ is "a stumbling block to Jew" (ICor.1:23) and so He is to this day.
The passage in Isaiah contains another dimension: "And he will become a sanctuary, and a stone of offense...." The great rock in the wilderness is a shelter from sun, wind, and dust.
The concept of the Great Rock is extended in other texts.
•Paul speaks of Jesus elsewhere as the foundation stone: "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (ICor.3:11)
•Paul also sees Jesus as the rock from which living waters flowed for Israel in the desert. "For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ." (ICor.10:4).
•Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar of his dream, "As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote the image at its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces.... But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Dan.2:34–35). Jesus' Kingdom will finally triumph over all earthly rule and authority. Note that the stone is cut out by no human hand.
So Jesus is the arch-stone, the center of the temple structure. He is also the foundation of the temple of our faith, our shelter in the storm and the source of living water, the Holy Spirit. He is the Rock that will someday destroy the world empire. He is rejected by the World, but those who trust in Him will not be condemned. For those who do not trust, He is an obstacle. In any case, He cannot be ignored.
Peter and Paul agree that it was Jesus Himself, both arch-stone and foundation stone on whom the Church would be built. People who argue about the interpretation of Peter as the foundation of the church in Matt.16:18 should take this additional information into their thinking.
Peter is thinking of the believers as a temple. Paul describes it elsewhere in some detail:
"You are fellow- citizens with the saints and the members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord."(Eph.2:19–21)
We may visualize the apostles and prophets as the two great bronze columns that stood on either side of the entrance to the Temple. Jesus is both foundation and arch-stone. We believers are being built in as "living stones" in the house of God.
2:9–10 Peter continues his description of the believers: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a special people. We are an exclusive group, chosen by God. Yet Christianity is inclusive, for “whosever will may come”.
The least attractive of the four categories in this verse is the priest. We are used to other categories: disciples; apostles and prophets; elders and deacons; babes and the mature; but not priests. We resist hierarchy. The priest is isolated from people, bound by ritual, altar, vestments, candles. Sacrifices are passe.
How did part of the Christian church come to have special priests to minister sacrifices? Cyprian taught that the duties and privileges of the OT Levitical priesthood rested upon the officers of the Christian Church. That was logical but not biblical and it made a division between clergy and laity. He proposed that the bread and wine were repeated sacrifices of Christ offered on the altar, and that where there was no priest there was no church and hence no salvation. We have rejected such teaching and the priesthood with it.
Let us, however, list some Old Testament functions of the priest: he
•guarded sacred space. Num.3:35
•judged cases, diagnosed disease. Lev.13
•taught the Law (IIChr.17:9) and counseled. (Heb.5:2). "Men should seek instruction from his mouth." (Mal.2:7)
•interceded in prayer for people before God. Heb.5:1
•offered sacrifices; Peter changes that to spiritual sacrifices. IPet.2:5
We can see ourselves as believers doing some of those things. Let us look at offering sacrifices, spiritual sacrifices.
What are spiritual sacrifices?
•offerings of praise, thanksgiving (Psa.50:14; Psa.107:22; Psa.141:2) and repentance. (Psa.51)
”...the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” Heb.13:15
•the offering of faith. Phil.2:17
•our selves, our bodies a living sacrifice. Rom.12:1
•material gifts to spiritual leaders. Phil.4:18
•new (Gentile) believers, an offering to God.Rom.15:16
•Paul's death as a martyr, poured out as a libation. IITim.4:6
To repeat the opening line, approaching Him, the Living Stone, we must, as living stones ourselves, be built into a spiritual house of worship, and, to change the metaphor, also be its priests, offering spiritual sacrifices to God.
We offer ourselves, our faith, our praise, our gifts and tithes, and new believers we have won to Christ. All of these are spiritual sacrifices to God. They should be given with joy. They will be received by God with pleasure.