1 Peter 2:6-8

1 Peter 2:6‑8  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The holy building, of which the apostle had just spoken, consists of living stones which derived so striking a peculiarity from the Living Stone. This, familiar in general to those who knew the Bible, he proceeds to base on a prophecy repeatedly cited in the N. T.
“Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a corner-stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him (or, it) shall in no way be shamed. To you therefore that believe [is] the preciousness; but to disobedient [ones] a stone which the builders rejected, this became head of corner, and stone of stumbling, and rock of offense; stumbling as they do at the word, being disobedient, unto which also they were appointed” (vers. 6-8).
Isa. 28 turns from “the drunkards of Ephraim” and their judgment to the still more terrible stroke which must fall on the guilty “scornful” rulers in Jerusalem. For these, to escape the overflowing scourge of the king of the north, or the Assyrian, will have made a covenant with Death and with Sheol are at agreement. But lies shall prove no refuge, nor falsehood hide them. For Jehovah who is to rise up, after the fashion of the overwhelming victories He gave David of old, will do His strange work, only on an unexampled scale—a consummation and that determined upon the whole earth. Thus the willful king within and his covenant shall come to naught with the apostates of the people; and no less the king of the north without and the multitude of the besieging foes, as chap. 29 adds. But in the face of this unparalleled tribulation, of which all that has befallen the people is but an earnest, the prophet declares from the Lord Jehovah, that He lays in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. For that day will prove the downfall, final and irretrievable, of all the powers of the world, west or east, as well as of the unbelieving mass of the Jews, when the godly remnant that trust in Immanuel are forever vindicated. Then shall He Whose name is Branch grow up from His own place, and He shall build the temple of Jehovah; even He shall build the temple of Jehovah; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne, which no Son of David ever was save in a small typical degree, but He who is also the Root of David.
Here it is not the temple of glory as by-and-by, but a spiritual house, and a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices during the day of Christ's rejection by Israel. But do the believing Jews forfeit all because the mass reject Him? Far from it. They enter into the “enjoyment of the promises, as far as these were compatible with the present ways of God; and if there be not the reception of all, God has provided some “better thing” for or respecting us, as another points out (Heb. 11:39-4039And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39‑40)). They have in measure the blessedness of believing without having seen, when the prophecy is, not merely applied, but fulfilled to the letter. The trust in Christ which refused idolatry, antichrist, and the seemingly overwhelming power of the world, will surely be blessed, though objects of mere mercy at the end, if they have not the power of faith breaking through every obstacle in peace as ought to be now through the word.
It is interesting to note that the apostle Paul, in Rom. 9:30-3330What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 9:30‑33), seizes this portion with the aim of explaining how Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, failed; while Gentiles, that did not pursue it, yet attained it. The latter believed, and thus gave glory to God; the former clung to works, though far from what the law demanded, and thus betrayed their own vain self-righteousness, as they also stumbled at the stumbling-stone, despising their own Messiah. For the law is not of faith, whereas the blessing is, and thus open to the Gentile that believes, not to the Jew that disbelieves.
Moreover the introduction of Zion is seen to have a notable meaning. For, as thus figuratively used, it expresses the mountain of God's grace in contrast with Sinai, the mountain of the people's responsibility under law, where all was failure, not because the law was not good, but because man is bad and ruined so that he cannot do without a Savior. Zion appears after the utter breakdown of the kingdom under Saul, man's choice; for it was only wrested from the Jebusites to be the city of David, God's choice. But a greater than David is here, the Christ, Whom Jehovah lays as a cornerstone, elect, precious, beyond all comparison. He that believes on Him shall in no wise be put to shame; as all must be who trust in an arm of flesh, most of all those of Israel who despised Him to whom law and prophets ever pointed. For the world-kingdom Jehovah has anointed His King upon Zion, the hill of His holiness; and Christ, not now but in that day, will ask and have the nations for His inheritance, and the ends of the earth for His possession, breaking all that oppose with iron scepter, as the vessels of a potter are dashed in pieces. “For Jehovah hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His dwelling: this is my rest forever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.” The key to all this, is that Zion will be the earthly seat of His anointed, His beloved Son.
But Zion and the earth vanish for the present as the center and the sphere of the divine dealings. For the rejected Christ is in heaven at God's right hand, angels and authorities and powers being subjected to him; and as He suffered for us in flesh, the Jews that believe are called to arm themselves with the same mind, no less than the Gentile saints and not to count as strange the fire-kindling among them that comes to them for trial, but, as we share in Christ's sufferings, to rejoice that at the revelation of His glory also we may rejoice exultingly. Such is the genuine Christian lot for the present, put to grief by varied trials that the proof of our faith, more precious than gold that perishes though proved by fire, be found unto praise and glory and honor in that day.
Assuredly the precious value of Christ will be manifest then. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they understand. And nations shall come to Zion's light and King, to the brightness of its rising. Yet how infinite the mercy now, that the chosen people's ruin (not only under law but worse still in rejecting the Messiah and the gospel too) did not hinder the believing remnant from anticipating the blessing in its Christian form and fullness! All turns on Christ dead and risen and on high. “To you therefore that believe is the preciousness.” His rejection was the occasion of making good to God's glory all that was promised, and a vast deal more which it was given to the apostle Paul to communicate. But even here how rich is the grace that is unfolded! If they could not but sorrow over their unbelieving brethren after the flesh, in what had grace come short to him that believed?
Now they understood the import of many a scripture hitherto obscure through unreadiness to think that the rulers and the people of the Jews could be so hard and dark and rebellious against Jehovah. Not only did they overlook the solemn warnings of His word in their hands or hearing, but they fulfilled the voices of the prophets by condemning His righteous servant, marked out by those divine oracles, and by wonders of divine power and goodness, only surpassed by His personal glory and by moral excellence on every side without a parallel.
Take a sample. Isa. 53 was no enigma to them any longer; on the contrary it afforded the most luminous explanation of what had come before them in facts as certain as important. “Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their face, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our sicknesses and carried our sorrows: yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; with his stripes we were healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.”
Now the Jews are profoundly unbelieving, not only as all natural men but judicially blinded, because it was in the face of the fullest evidence and long-suffering withal to the uttermost. But their self-judgment will come at length in the day of Messiah's power and their national deliverance. Then shall they see and confess it all, as other scriptures attest; and they will understand that Jehovah wrought atonement for all their sins by what was their destructive and inexcusable sin. Into this work, already in itself accomplished, the believing remnant enters now in all its value, like ourselves from among the Gentiles. But as yet the mass are insensible. “To you therefore that believe is the preciousness, but to disobedient a stone which the builders rejected, this became head of corner, and stone of stumbling, and rock of offense.” How evident the solution of the riddle and how could it be otherwise if Jesus be the Christ and Son of God? Psa. 118:2222The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. (Psalm 118:22) and Isa. 8:1414And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 8:14) are as clearly fulfilled as the fuller prediction; while we have to wait for the earthly triumph when Israel shall own it all, Jesus is made head of the corner in heaven, and those who now believe, Jews or Gentiles, enjoy the blessing by faith. This too has even now more excellence for the heart than the visible glory when it appears as it surely will, to say nothing of the heavenly glory which will also be displayed above the world in that day.
The present state of the Jews exactly answers to the dark back-ground of the picture. And the words which follow are as solemn morally as they are sure in fact: “stumbling as they do at the word, being disobedient, unto which also they were appointed.” There is neither here nor anywhere else the dogmatic reprobation of the Calvinistic school; which has no more to justify it from scripture than the opposite error of the power for good of the Pelagians. All the evil is man's; as the good is exclusively of God's grace. He never made man to be a sinner, nor does He take pleasure in a sinner's death, still less in his everlasting destruction. But He is supreme; and, bold as man may be in willful disobedience, God's will stands. He presents His grace and truth in Christ; and men stumble at the word which reveals Him. To this they were appointed, not to be disobedient, but, being so, to stumble in this way, which God had in His wisdom appointed as their trial. They refuse and contemn the word, which others, by grace self-judging and believing Him, receive to salvation, peace, and joy. Compare Jude 44For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 4).