A Special People

Text: I Peter 2:4-12

Study Questions:

  1. Who is a living stone? How can a stone be living?
  2. How can one stone have different effects on people?
  3. Does I Peter 1:8 mean that some have no choice in regards to obedience?
  4. For what purpose were Christians chosen?
  5. How must we behave around non-believers? Why?

Living stones - I Peter 2:4-8

The saved draw near to Christ, who is depicted as a living stone (Matthew 11:28). The word for “stone” here is lithon in the Greek text. It refers to stone shaped and used for buildings. Our Lord is not an inactive stone, shaped to form an idol. He is very much alive (Isaiah 37:16-19). But at the same time, Jesus has traits like a stone. He is solid, dependable, and unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). Nor is Jesus a common stone. He was rejected by men but that is because they did not recognize his worth (John 1:9-11; 3:19). He is a valuable stone that is valued by the builder (God the Father).

We become like Christ – living stones ourselves (Ephesians 4:15). We are being fitted together into the church (Ephesians 2:20-21). Even the temple of God, where worship takes place is not a dead building but is made up of living participants. We are a place where spiritual sacrifices are offered up to God (I Corinthians 3:16) and the ones offering up the sacrifices at the same time (Isaiah 61:6) and the sacrifices themselves that are being offered (Romans 12:1).

All of this is done through Jesus Christ. It is he who saved us, it is upon him that we are built into a temple (church) to worship God, and it is through him as an intermediator that we offer up sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:21).

Peter then proves that this was the intention of God by quoting Isaiah 28:16. This passage supports Peter referring to Jesus as a precious stone, chosen by God. But Isaiah also said that those who believe in Jesus will not be disappointed. From that Peter concludes that Jesus is only precious to believers, which is why he was rejected by non-believers. He shows again that his conclusion is supported in the Old Testament by quoting both Psalms 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14. Thus, the same stone which is precious to one group (believers) is also rejected by another group (non-believers) and causes the non-believers to stumble. They do not stumble because Christ has rejected them but because they refuse to obey the Lord because of their unbelief. The consequence of their unbelief was predetermined, just as salvation was predetermined for those who believe in Christ.

For discussion:

  1. What is the implication of saying that Isaiah 28:16 is “contained in Scripture”?

A chosen race - I Peter 2:9-10

Peter then designates Christians using terms that were once applied to Israel: a chosen race (Deuteronomy 10:15; Psalms 33:12), a royal priesthood (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 61:6), a holy nation (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2), God’s possession (Deuteronomy 4:20; 26:18-19), and a people to declare God’s praises (Isaiah 43:21). Christians have replaced the Israel of old (Romans 2:28-29). But Peter also used terms that refer to the Gentiles who were once excluded from the Old Covenant: called out of darkness (Isaiah 9:2; 42:16), not a people (Hosea 1:9-10; 2:23), not having obtained mercy (Hosea 1:6-7; 2:23). The followers of Christ are composed of all people (Isaiah 2:3).

For discussion:

  1. What does each description of God’s people tell you about them?

Abstain from lusts - I Peter 2:11-12

Because we belong to God and not to the world where we currently dwell, we must reject the lusts of this world that battle against righteousness (Galatians 5:17, 24; Titus 2:12). We are merely foreigners in this world (Philippians 3:20) and do not expect to remain here (I Chronicles 29:15).

But while here on earth, we should seek to influence those in the world by setting the proper example (Philippians 1:27; I Thessalonians 4:11-12; Romans 13:13-14).

Thus, at the same time those in the world speak evil of us because we are not like them (Matthew 5:11-12, they will become Christians because of our example (I Peter 3:1-2; Titus 2:7-8; Romans 12:17; II Corinthians 8:21; Hebrews 13:18). As a result, they will glorify God at the second coming (Matthew 5:16). It is by our distinctiveness that we win people to Christ.

For discussion:

  1. What is “the day of visitation”? (Luke 1:68; 19:44)
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