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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.”


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To whom coming, is not to be referred simply to God, but to him as he is revealed to us in the person of Christ. Now, it cannot be but that the grace of God must powerfully draw us to himself and inflame us with the love of him by whom we obtain a real perception of it. If Plato affirmed this of his Beautiful, of which a shadowy idea only he beheld afar off, much more true is this with regard to God.

Let it then be noticed, that Peter connects an access to God with the taste of his goodness. For as the human mind necessarily dreads and shuns God, as long as it regards him as rigid and severe; so, as soon as he makes known his paternal love to the faithful, it immediately follows that they disregard all things and even forget themselves and hasten to him. In short, he only makes progress in the Gospel, who in heart comes to God.

But he also shews for what end and to what purpose we ought to come to Christ, even that we may have him as our foundation. For since he is constituted a stone, he ought to be so to us, so that nothing should be appointed for him by the Father in vain or to no purpose. But he obviates an offense when he allows that Christ is rejected by men; for, as a great part of the world reject him, and even many abhor him, he might for this reason be despised by us; for we see that some of the ignorant are alienated from the Gospel, because it is not everywhere popular, nor does it conciliate favor to its professors. But Peter forbids us to esteem Christ the less, however despised he may be by the world, because he, notwithstanding, retains his own worth and honor before God.

5. Ye also, as lively or living stones, are built up The verb may be in the imperative as well as in the indicative mood, for the termination in Greek is ambiguous. But in whatever way it is taken, Peter no doubt meant to exhort the faithful to consecrate themselves as a spiritual temple to God; for he aptly infers from the design of our calling what our duty is. We must further observe, that he constructs one house from the whole number of the faithful. For though every one of us is said to be the temple of God, yet all are united together in one, and must be joined together by mutual love, so that one temple may be made of us all. Then, as it is true that each one is a temple in which God dwells by his Spirit, so all ought to be so fitted together, that they may form one universal temple. This is the case when every one, content with his own measure, keeps himself within the limits of his own duty; all have, however, something to do with regard to others.

By calling us living stones and spiritual building, as he had before said that Christ is a living stone, he intimates a comparison between us and the ancient temple; and this serves to amplify divine grace. For the same purpose is what he adds as to spiritual sacrifices For by how much the more excellent is the reality than the types, by so much the more all things excel in the kingdom of Christ; for we have that heavenly exemplar, to which the ancient sanctuary was conformable, and everything instituted by Moses under the Law.

A holy priesthood It is a singular honor, that God should not only consecrate us as a temple to himself, in which he dwells and is worshipped, but that he should also make us priests. But Peter mentions this double honor, in order to stimulate us more effectually to serve and worship God. Of the spiritual sacrifices, the first is the offering of ourselves, of which Paul speaks in Romans 12:1; for we can offer nothing, until we offer to him ourselves as a sacrifice; which is done by denying ourselves. Then, afterwards follow prayers, thanksgiving, almsdeeds, and all the duties of religion.

Acceptable to God. It ought also to add not a little to our alacrity, when we know that the worship we perform to God is pleasing o him, as doubt necessarily brings sloth with it. Here, then, is the third thing that enforces the exhortation; for he declares that what is required is acceptable to God, lest fear should make us slothful. Idolaters are indeed under the influence of great fervor in their fictitious forms of worship; but it is so, because Satan inebriates their minds, lest they should come to consider their works; but whenever their consciences are led to examine things, they begin to stagger. It is, indeed, certain that no one will seriously and from the heart devote himself to God, until he is fully persuaded that he shall not labor in vain.

But the Apostle adds, through Jesus Christ There is never found in our sacrifices such purity, that they are of themselves acceptable to God; our self-denial is never entire and complete, our prayers are never so sincere as they ought to be, we are never so zealous and so diligent in doing good, but that our works are imperfect, and mingled with many vices. Nevertheless, Christ procures favor for them. Then Peter here obviates that want of faith which we may have respecting the acceptableness of our works, when he says, that they are accepted, not for the merit of their own excellency, but through Christ. And it ought to kindle the more the ardor of our efforts, when we hear that God deals so indulgently with us, that in Christ he sets a value on our works, which in themselves deserve nothing. At the same time, the words, by or through Christ, may be fitly connected with offering; for a similar phrase is found in Hebrews 13:15,

“Through him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God.”

The sense, however, will remain the same; for we offer sacrifices through Christ, that they may be acceptable to God.

6 Wherefore also it is contained in Scripture; or, Wherefore also the Scripture contains 2020     Several copies have ἡ γραφὴ instead of ἐν τὣ γραφὴ; and this reading Calvin has followed. But the verb περιέχω is used by Josephus and others in a passive sense. — Ed. They who refer the verb “contain” (περιέχειν) to Christ, and render it “embrace,” because through him all these unite together, wholly depart from the meaning of the Apostle. No better is another exposition, that Christ excels others; for Peter simply intended to quote the testimony of Scripture. 2121     The quotation is not exactly either from the Hebrew or from the Sept. The Apostle seems to have taken what was suitable to his purpose. — Ed. He then shews what had been taught by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, or, which is the same thing, that what he adds is contained in them. Nor is it an unsuitable confirmation of the preceding verse. For we see for what slight reasons, and almost for none, many reject Christ, and some fall away from him; but this is a stumblingblock which above all other things stands in the way of some; they are drawn away, because not only the common people despise and reject Christ, but also those who are high in dignity and honor, and seem to excel others. This evil has almost ever prevailed in the world, and at this day it prevails much; for a great part of mankind judge of Christ according to the false opinion of the world. Moreover, such is the ingratitude and impiety of men, that Christ is everywhere despised. Thus it is, that while they regard one another, few pay him his due honor. Hence Peter reminds us of what had been foretold of Christ, lest the contempt or the rejection of him should move us from the faith.

Now, the first passage, which he adduces, is taken from Isaiah 28:16; where the Prophet, after having inveighed against the desperate wickedness of his own nation, at length adds,

“Your perfidy shall not prevent God from restoring his church, which now through you lies wholly in a ruinous state.”
(Isaiah 28:16)

The manner of restoration he thus describes, “I will lay in Sion a stone.” We hence learn that there is no building up of the Church without Christ; for there is no other foundation but he, as Paul testifies, (1 Corinthians 3:11.) This is no matter of wonder, for all our salvation is found only in him. Whosoever, then, turns away from him in the least degree, will find his foundation a precipice.

Therefore the Prophet not only calls him a corner-stone, which connects the whole edifice, but also a stone of trial, according to which the building is to be measured and regulated; and farther, he calls him a solid foundation, which sustains the whole edifice. He is thus, then, a corner-stone, that he might be the rule of the building, as well as the only foundation. But Peter took from the words of the Prophet what was especially suitable to his argument, even that he was a chosen stone, and in the highest degree valuable and excellent, and also that on him we ought to build. This honor is ascribed to Christ, that how much soever he may be despised by the world, he may not be despised by us; for by God he is regarded as very precious. But when he calls him a corner-stone, he intimates that those have no concern for their salvation who do not recumb on Christ. What some have refined on the word “corner,” as though it meant that Christ joins together Jews and Gentiles, as two distinct walls, is not well founded. Let us, then, be content with a simple explanation, that he is so called, because the weight of the building rests on him.

We must further observe, that the Prophet introduces God as the speaker, for he alone forms and plans his own Church, as it is said in Psalm 78:69, that his hand had founded Sion. He, indeed, employs the labor and ministry of men in building it; but this is not inconsistent with the truth that it is his own work. Christ, then, is the foundation of our salvation, because he has been ordained for this end by the Father.

And he says in Sion, because there God’s spiritual temple was to have its beginning. That our faith, therefore, may firmly rest on Christ, we must come to the Law and to the Prophets. For though this stone extends to the extreme parts of the world, it was yet necessary for it to be located first in Sion, for there at that time was the seat of the Church. But it is said to have been then set, when the Father revealed him for the purpose of restoring his Church. In short, we must hold this, that those only rest on Christ, who keep the unity of the Church, for he is not set as a foundation-stone except in Sion. As from Sion the Church went forth, which is now everywhere spread, so also from Sion our faith has derived its beginning, as Isaiah says,

“From Sion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3.)

Corresponding with this is what is said in the Psalms,

“The scepter of thy power will the Lord send forth from Sion.” (Psalm 110:2.)

He that believeth The Prophet does not say in him, but declares generally, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” As, however, there is no doubt but that God sets forth Christ there as the object of our faith, the faith of which the Prophet speaks must look on him alone. And, doubtless, no one can rightly believe, but he who is fully convinced that in Christ he ought wholly to trust.

But the words of the Prophet may be taken in two ways, either as a promise or as an exhortation. The future time is referred to, “He shall not make haste;” but in Hebrew the future is often to be taken for an imperative, “Let him not make haste.” Thus the meaning would be, “Be ye not moved in your minds, but quietly entertain your desires, and check your feelings, until the Lord will be pleased to fulfill his promise.” So he says in another place,

“In silence and in quietness shall be your strength,”
(Isaiah 30:15.)

But as the other reading seems to come nearer to Peter’s interpretation, I give it the preference. Then the sense would not be unsuitable, “He who believeth shall not waver” or vacillate; for he has a firm and permanent foundation. And it is a valuable truth, that relying on Christ, we are beyond the danger of falling. Moreover, to be ashamed (pudefieri) means the same thing. Peter has retained the real sense of the Prophet, though he has followed the Greek version. 2222     As to this verb he has, but in the previous parts he comes nearer to the Hebrew than to the Sept. Paul quotes this sentence twice, Romans 9:33; 10:11, and follows the Sept. as Peter does. Indeed, the difference between יחיש he shall make haste, and יבש, he shall be ashamed, is very small; and further, the former verb admits of a similar meaning with the latter. — Ed.




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