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The Living Stone and a Chosen People

 2

Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture:

“See, I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious;

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the very head of the corner,”

8 and

“A stone that makes them stumble,

and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

10

Once you were not a people,

but now you are God’s people;

once you had not received mercy,

but now you have received mercy.


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1Pe 2:1-25. Exhortations.

To guileless feeding on the word by the sense of their privileges as new-born babes, living stones in the spiritual temple built on Christ the chief corner-stone, and royal priests, in contrast to their former state: also to abstinence from fleshly lusts, and to walk worthily in all relations of life, so that the world without which opposes them may be constrained to glorify God in seeing their good works. Christ, the grand pattern to follow in patience under suffering for well-doing.

1. laying aside—once for all: so the Greek aorist expresses as a garment put off. The exhortation applies to Christians alone, for in none else is the new nature existing which, as "the inward man" (Eph 3:16) can cast off the old as an outward thing, so that the Christian, through the continual renewal of his inward man, can also exhibit himself externally as a new man. But to unbelievers the demand is addressed, that inwardly, in regard to the nous (mind), they must become changed, meta-noeisthai (re-pent) [Steiger]. The "therefore" resumes the exhortation begun in 1Pe 1:22. Seeing that ye are born again of an incorruptible seed, be not again entangled in evil, which "has no substantial being, but is an acting in contrariety to the being formed in us" [Theophylact]. "Malice," &c., are utterly inconsistent with the "love of the brethren," unto which ye have "purified your souls" (1Pe 1:22). The vices here are those which offend against the BROTHERLY LOVE inculcated above. Each succeeding one springs out of that which immediately precedes, so as to form a genealogy of the sins against love. Out of malice springs guile; out of guile, hypocrises (pretending to be what we are not, and not showing what we really are; the opposite of "love unfeigned," and "without dissimulation"); out of hypocrisies, envies of those to whom we think ourselves obliged to play the hypocrite; out of envies, evil-speaking, malicious, envious detraction of others. Guile is the permanent disposition; hypocrisies the acts flowing from it. The guileless knows no envy. Compare 1Pe 2:2, "sincere," Greek, "guileless." "Malice delights in another's hurt; envy pines at another's good; guile imparts duplicity to the heart; hypocrisy (flattery) imparts duplicity to the tongue; evil-speakings wound the character of another" [Augustine].

2. new-born babes—altogether without "guile" (1Pe 2:1). As long as we are here we are "babes," in a specially tender relation to God (Isa 40:11). The childlike spirit is indispensable if we would enter heaven. "Milk" is here not elementary truths in contradistinction to more advanced Christian truths, as in 1Co 3:2; Heb 5:12, 13; but in contrast to "guile, hypocrisies," &c. (1Pe 2:1); the simplicity of Christian doctrine in general to the childlike spirit. The same "word of grace" which is the instrument in regeneration, is the instrument also of building up. "The mother of the child is also its natural nurse" [Steiger]. The babe, instead of chemically analyzing, instinctively desires and feeds on the milk; so our part is not self-sufficient rationalizing and questioning, but simply receiving the truth in the love of it (Mt 11:25).

desireGreek, "have a yearning desire for," or "longing after," a natural impulse to the regenerate, "for as no one needs to teach new-born babes what food to take, knowing instinctively that a table is provided for them in their mother's breast," so the believer of himself thirsts after the word of God (Ps 119:1-176). Compare Tatius' language as to Achilles.

sincereGreek, "guileless." Compare 1Pe 2:1, "laying aside guile." Irenæus says of heretics. They mix chalk with the milk. The article, "the," implies that besides the well-known pure milk, the Gospel, there is no other pure, unadulterated doctrine; it alone can make us guileless (1Pe 2:1).

of the word—Not as Alford, "spiritual," nor "reasonable," as English Version in Ro 12:1. The Greek "logos" in Scripture is not used of the reason, or mind, but of the WORD; the preceding context requires that "the word" should be meant here; the adjective "logikos" follows the meaning of the noun logos, "word." Jas 1:21, "Lay apart all filthiness … and receive with meekness the engrafted WORD," is exactly parallel, and confirms English Version here.

grow—The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "grow unto salvation." Being BORN again unto salvation, we are also to grow unto salvation. The end to which growth leads is perfected salvation. "Growth is the measure of the fulness of that, not only rescue from destruction, but positive blessedness, which is implied in salvation" [Alford].

therebyGreek, "in it"; fed on it; in its strength (Ac 11:14). "The word is to be desired with appetite as the cause of life, to be swallowed in the hearing, to be chewed as cud is by rumination with the understanding, and to be digested by faith" [Tertullian].

3. Peter alludes to Ps 34:8. The first "tastes" of God's goodness are afterwards followed by fuller and happier experiences. A taste whets the appetite [Bengel].

graciousGreek, "good," benignant, kind; as God is revealed to us in Christ, "the Lord" (1Pe 2:4), we who are born again ought so to be good and kind to the brethren (1Pe 1:22). "Whosoever has not tasted the word to him it is not sweet it has not reached the heart; but to them who have experienced it, who with the heart believe, 'Christ has been sent for me and is become my own: my miseries are His, and His life mine,' it tastes sweet" [Luther].

4. comingdrawing near (same Greek as here, Heb 10:22) by faith continually; present tense: not having come once for all at conversion.

stonePeter (that is, a stone, named so by Christ) desires that all similarly should be living stones BUILT ON Christ, the true foundation-stone; compare his speech in Ac 4:11. An undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness. The Spirit foreseeing the Romanist perversion of Mt 16:18 (compare Mt 16:16, "Son of the Living God," which coincides with his language here, "the LIVING stone"), presciently makes Peter himself to refuse it. He herein confirms Paul's teaching. Omit the as unto of English Version. Christ is positively termed the "living stone"; living, as having life in Himself from the beginning, and as raised from the dead to live evermore (Re 1:18) after His rejection by men, and so the source of life to us. Like no earthly rock, He lives and gives life. Compare 1Co 10:4, and the type, Ex 17:6; Nu 20:11.

disallowed—rejected, reprobated; referred to also by Christ Himself: also by Paul; compare the kindred prophecies, Isa 8:14; Lu 2:34.

chosen of God—literally, "with (or 'in the presence and judgment of') God elect," or, "chosen out" (1Pe 2:6). Many are alienated from the Gospel, because it is not everywhere in favor, but is on the contrary rejected by most men. Peter answers that, though rejected by men, Christ is peculiarly the stone of salvation honored by God, first so designated by Jacob in his deathbed prophecy.

5. Ye also, as lively stones—partaking of the name and life which is in "THE Living Stone" (1Pe 2:4; 1Co 3:11). Many names which belong to Christ in the singular are assigned to Christians in the plural. He is "THE Son," "High Priest," "King," "Lamb"; they, "sons," "priests," "kings," "sheep," "lambs." So the Shulamite called from Solomon [Bengel].

are built upGreek, "are being built up," as in Eph 2:22. Not as Alford, "Be ye built up." Peter grounds his exhortations, 1Pe 2:2, 11, &c., on their conscious sense of their high privileges as living stones in the course of being built up into a spiritual house (that is, "the habitation of the Spirit").

priesthood—Christians are both the spiritual temple and the priests of the temple. There are two Greek words for "temple"; hieron (the sacred place), the whole building, including the courts wherein the sacrifice was killed; and naos (the dwelling, namely, of God), the inner shrine wherein God peculiarly manifested Himself, and where, in the holiest place, the blood of the slain sacrifice was presented before Him. All believers alike, and not merely ministers, are now the dwelling of God (and are called the "naos," Greek, not the hieron) and priests unto God (Re 1:6). The minister is not, like the Jewish priest (Greek, "hiercus"), admitted nearer to God than the people, but merely for order's sake leads the spiritual services of the people. Priest is the abbreviation of presbyter in the Church of England Prayer Book, not corresponding to the Aaronic priest (hiereus, who offered literal sacrifices). Christ is the only literal hiereus-priest in the New Testament through whom alone we may always draw near to God. Compare 1Pe 2:9, "a royal priesthood," that is, a body of priest-kings, such as was Melchisedec. The Spirit never, in New Testament, gives the name hiereus, or sacerdotal priest, to ministers of the Gospel.

holy—consecrated to God.

spiritual sacrifices—not the literal one of the mass, as the Romish self-styled disciples of Peter teach. Compare Isa 56:7, which compare with "acceptable to God" here; Ps 4:5; 50:14; 51:17, 19; Ho 14:2; Php 4:18. "Among spiritual sacrifices the first place belongs to the general oblation of ourselves. For never can we offer anything to God until we have offered ourselves (2Co 8:5) in sacrifice to Him. There follow afterwards prayers, giving of thanks, alms deeds, and all exercises of piety" [Calvin]. Christian houses of worship are never called temples because the temple was a place for sacrifice, which has no place in the Christian dispensation; the Christian temple is the congregation of spiritual worshippers. The synagogue (where reading of Scripture and prayer constituted the worship) was the model of the Christian house of worship (compare Note, see on Jas 2:2, Greek, "synagogue"; Ac 15:21). Our sacrifices are those of prayer, praise, and self-denying services in the cause of Christ (1Pe 2:9, end).

by Jesus Christ—as our mediating High Priest before God. Connect these words with "offer up." Christ is both precious Himself and makes us accepted [Bengel]. As the temple, so also the priesthood, is built on Christ (1Pe 2:4, 5) [Beza]. Imperfect as are our services, we are not with unbelieving timidity, which is close akin to refined self-righteousness, to doubt their acceptance THROUGH Christ. After extolling the dignity of Christians he goes back to Christ as the sole source of it.

6. Wherefore also—The oldest manuscripts read, "Because that." The statement above is so "because it is contained in Scripture."

Behold—calling attention to the glorious announcement of His eternal counsel.

elect—so also believers (1Pe 2:9, "chosen," Greek, "elect generation").

precious—in Hebrew, Isa 28:16, "a corner-stone of preciousness." See on Isa 28:16. So in 1Pe 2:7, Christ is said to be, to believers, "precious," Greek, "preciousness."

confounded—same Greek as in Ro 9:33 (Peter here as elsewhere confirming Paul's teaching. See Introduction; also Ro 10:11), "ashamed." In Isa 28:16, "make haste," that is, flee in sudden panic, covered with the shame of confounded hopes.

7. Application of the Scripture just quoted first to the believer, then to the unbeliever. On the opposite effects of the same Gospel on different classes, compare Joh 9:39; 2Co 2:15, 16.

preciousGreek, "THE preciousness" (1Pe 2:6). To you believers belongs the preciousness of Christ just mentioned.

disobedient—to the faith, and so disobedient in practice.

the stone which … head of … corner—(Ps 118:22). Those who rejected the STONE were all the while in spite of themselves unconsciously contributing to its becoming Head of the corner. The same magnet has two poles, the one repulsive, the other attractive; so the Gospel has opposite effects on believers and unbelievers respectively.

8. stone of stumbling, &c.—quoted from Isa 8:14. Not merely they stumbled, in that their prejudices were offended; but their stumbling implies the judicial punishment of their reception of Messiah; they hurt themselves in stumbling over the corner-stone, as "stumble" means in Jer 13:16; Da 11:19.

at the word—rather, join "being disobedient to the word"; so 1Pe 3:1; 4:17.

whereunto—to penal stumbling; to the judicial punishment of their unbelief. See above.

also—an additional thought; God's ordination; not that God ordains or appoints them to sin, but they are given up to "the fruit of their own ways" according to the eternal counsel of God. The moral ordering of the world is altogether of God. God appoints the ungodly to be given up unto sin, and a reprobate mind, and its necessary penalty. "Were appointed," Greek, "set," answers to "I lay," Greek, "set," 1Pe 2:6. God, in the active, is said to appoint Christ and the elect (directly). Unbelievers, in the passive, are said to be appointed (God acting less directly in the appointment of the sinner's awful course) [Bengel]. God ordains the wicked to punishment, not to crime [J. Cappel]. "Appointed" or "set" (not here "FORE-ordained") refers, not to the eternal counsel so directly, as to the penal justice of God. Through the same Christ whom sinners rejected, they shall be rejected; unlike believers, they are by God appointed unto wrath as FITTED for it. The lost shall lay all the blame of their ruin on their own sinful perversity, not on God's decree; the saved shall ascribe all the merit of their salvation to God's electing love and grace.

9. Contrast in the privileges and destinies of believers. Compare the similar contrast with the preceding context.

chosen—"elect" of God, even as Christ your Lord is.

generation—implying the unity of spiritual origin and kindred of believers as a class distinct from the world.

royal—kingly. Believers, like Christ, the antitypical Melchisedec, are at once kings and priests. Israel, in a spiritual sense, was designed to be the same among the nations of the earth. The full realization on earth of this, both to the literal and the spiritual Israel, is as yet future.

holy nation—antitypical to Israel.

peculiar people—literally, "a people for an acquisition," that is, whom God chose to be peculiarly His: Ac 20:28, "purchased," literally, "acquired." God's "peculiar treasure" above others.

show forthpublish abroad. Not their own praises but His. They have no reason to magnify themselves above others for once they had been in the same darkness, and only through God's grace had been brought to the light which they must henceforth show forth to others.

praisesGreek, "virtues," "excellencies": His glory, mercy (1Pe 2:10), goodness (Greek, 1Pe 2:3; Nu 14:17, 18; Isa 63:7). The same term is applied to believers, 2Pe 1:5.

of him who hath called you—(2Pe 1:3).

out of darkness—of heathen and even Jewish ignorance, sin, and misery, and so out of the dominion of the prince of darkness.

marvellous—Peter still has in mind Ps 118:23.

light—It is called "His," that is, God's. Only the (spiritual) light is created by God, not darkness. In Isa 45:7, it is physical darkness and evil, not moral, that God is said to create, the punishment of sin, not sin itself. Peter, with characteristic boldness, brands as darkness what all the world calls light; reason, without the Holy Spirit, in spite of its vaunted power, is spiritual darkness. "It cannot apprehend what faith is: there it is stark blind; it gropes as one that is without eyesight, stumbling from one thing to another, and knows not what it does" [Luther].

10. Adapted from Ho 1:9, 10; 2:23. Peter plainly confirms Paul, who quotes the passage as implying the call of the Gentiles to become spiritually that which Israel had been literally, "the people of God." Primarily, the prophecy refers to literal Israel, hereafter to be fully that which in their best days they were only partially, God's people.

not obtained mercy—literally, "who were men not compassionated." Implying that it was God's pure mercy, not their merits, which made the blessed change in their state; a thought which ought to kindle their lively gratitude, to be shown with their life, as well as their lips.




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