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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 2 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And a stone of stumbling. A stone over which they stumble, or against Which they impinge. The idea seems to be that of a cornerstone which projects from the building, against which they dash themselves, and by which they are made to fall. See Barnes "Mt 21:44".

The rejection of the Saviour becomes the means of their ruin. They refuse to build on him, and it is as if one should run against a solid projecting corner-stone of a house, that would certainly be the means of their destruction. Comp. See Barnes "Lu 1:34".

An idea similar to this occurs in Mt 21:44: "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken." The meaning is, that if this foundation-stone is not the means of their salvation, it will be of their ruin. It is not a matter of indifference whether they believe on him or not—whether they accept or reject him. They cannot reject him without the most fearful consequences to their souls.

And a rock of offence. This expresses substantially the same idea as the phrase "stone of stumbling." The word rendered "offence," skandalon, means properly "a trap-stick—a crooked stick on which the bait is fastened, which the animal strikes against, and so springs the trap," (Robinson, Lex.;) then a trap, gin, snare; and then anything which one strikes or stumbles against; a stumbling block. It then denotes that which is the cause or occasion of ruin. This language would be strictly applicable to the Jews, who rejected the Saviour on account of his humble birth, and whose rejection of him was made the occasion of the destruction of their temple, city, and nation. But it is also applicable to all who reject him, from whatever cause; for their rejection of him will be followed with ruin to their souls. It is a crime for which God will judge them as certainly as he did the Jews who disowned him and crucified him, for the offence is substantially the same. What might have been, therefore, the means of their salvation, is made the cause of their deeper condemnation.

Even to them which stumble at the word. To all who do this. That is, they take the same kind of offence at the gospel which the Jews did at the Saviour himself. It is substantially the same thing, and the consequences must be the same. How does the conduct of the man who rejects the Saviour now, differ from that of him who rejected him when he was on the earth?

Being disobedient. 1 Pe 2:7. The reason why they reject him is, that they are not disposed to obey. They are solemnly commanded to believe the gospel; and a refusal to do it, therefore, is as really an act of disobedience as to break any other command of God. Whereunto they were appointed. (eiv o kai eteyhsan.) The word "whereunto" means unto which. But unto what? It cannot be supposed that it means that they were "appointed" to believe on him and be saved by him; for

(1.) this would involve all the difficulty which is ever felt in the doctrine of decrees or election; for it would then mean that he had eternally designated them to be saved, which is the doctrine of predestination; and

(2.) if this were the true interpretation, the consequence would follow that God had been foiled. In his plan—for the reference here is to those who would not be saved, that is, to those who "stumble at that stumbling-stone," and are destroyed. Calvin supposes that it means, "unto which rejection and destruction they were designated in the purpose of God." So Bloomfield renders it, "Unto which (disbelief) they were destined," (Crit. Digest;) meaning, as he supposes, that "into this stumbling and disobedience they were permitted by God to fall." Doddridge interprets it, "To which also they were appointed by the righteous sentence of God, long before, even as early as in his first purpose and decree he ordained his Son to be the great foundation of his church." Rosenmuller gives substantially the same interpretation. Clemens Romanus says it means that "they were appointed, not that they should sin, but that, sinning, they should be punished." See Wetstein. So Macknight, "To which punishment they were appointed." Whitby gives the same interpretation of it, that because they were disobedient, (referring, as he supposes, to the Jews who rejected the Messiah,) "they were appointed, for the punishment of that disobedience, to fall and perish." Dr. Clarke supposes that it means that they were prophesied of that they should, thus fall; or that, long before, it was predicted that they should thus stumble and fall. In reference to the meaning of this difficult passage, it is proper to observe that there is in the Greek verb necessarily the idea of designation, appointment, purpose. There was some agency or intention by which they were put in that condition; some act of placing or appointing, (the word tiyhmi meaning to set, put, lay, lay down, appoint, constitute,) by which this result was brought about. The fair sense, therefore, and one from which we cannot escape, is, that this did not happen by chance or accident, but that there was a Divine arrangement, appointment, or plan on the part of God in reference to this result, and that the result was in conformity with that. So it is said in Jude 1:4, of a similar class of men, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." The facts were these:

(1.) That God appointed his Son to be the corner-stone of his church.

(2.) That there was a portion of the world which, from some cause, would embrace him and be saved.

(3.) That there was another portion who, it was certain, would not embrace him.

(4.) That it was known that the appointment of the Lord Jesus as a Saviour would be the occasion of their rejecting him, and of their deeper and more aggravated condemnation.

(5.) That the arrangement was nevertheless made, with the understanding that all this would be so, and because it was best on the whole that it should be so, even though this consequence would follow. That is, it was better that the arrangement should be made for the salvation of men even with this result, that a part would sink into deeper condemnation, than that no arrangement should be made to save any. The primary and originating arrangement, therefore, did not contemplate them or their destruction, but was made with reference to others, and notwithstanding they would reject him, and would fall. The expression whereunto (eiv o) refers to this plan, as involving, under the circumstances, the result which actually followed. Their stumbling and falling was not a matter of chance, or a result which was not contemplated, but entered into the original arrangement; and the whole, therefore, might be said to be in accordance with a wise plan and purpose. And,

(6.) it might be said in this sense, and in this connexion, that those who would reject him were appointed to this stumbling and falling. It was what was foreseen; what entered into the general arrangement; what was involved in the purpose to save any. It was not a matter that was unforeseen, that the consequence of giving a Saviour would result in the condemnation of those who should crucify and reject him; but the whole thing, as it actually occurred, entered into the Divine arrangement. It may be added, that as, in the facts in the case, nothing wrong has been done by God, and no one has been deprived of any rights, or punished more than he deserves, it was not wrong in him to make the arrangement. It was better that the arrangement should be made as it is, even with this consequence, than that none at all should be made for human salvation. See Barnes "Ro 9:5, seq. See Barnes "Joh 12:39, See Barnes "Joh 12:40".

This is just a statement, in accordance with what everywhere occurs in the Bible, that all things enter into the eternal plans of God; that nothing happens by chance; that there is nothing that was not foreseen; and that the plan is such as, on the whole, God saw to be best and wise, and therefore adopted it. If there is nothing unjust and wrong in the actual developement of the plan, there was nothing in forming it. At the same time, no man who disbelieves and rejects the gospel should take refuge in this as an excuse. He was "appointed" to it no otherwise than as it actually occurs; and as they know that they are voluntary in rejecting him, they cannot lay the blame of this on the purposes of God. They are not forced or compelled to do it; but it was seen that this consequence would follow, and the plan was laid to send the Saviour notwithstanding.

{a} "whereunto" Jude 1:4

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