“As you come to Him”
1 Peter 2:1-5 ESV
1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ESV
Last time we started to think about the words “As you come to him” that we find at the beginning of 1 Peter 2v4. We noted that the phrase centres on the idea of “coming” and the text that follows mentions both those who come and the one to whom they come. We particularly concentrated on what Peter had to say about the one to whom we come. He told us, in verse 4, that the one to whom we come is “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”. By considering the Old Testament verses that Peter goes on to quote in support of that statement and by looking at other New Testament passages that quote those verses such as Jesus’ parable of the tenants and the vineyard and Peter’s address to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, we could clearly see that this is a description of Jesus as the promised Messiah who, though rejected by men, is chosen by God as the chief cornerstone of a radical new and better temple that God is building to take the place of the physical temple in Jerusalem. So, the one to whom we come is the foundation upon which a new temple is being built.
In thinking about this coming to Jesus we noted that it is a continual coming and that as people come to Him something simultaneously happens to them. Peter goes on to speak of those who come to Him and what happens to them when they come as we see in verse 5 where he continues by saying: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. So, we’ll start to think about that verse today. There are five things that Peter had to say in the verse about those who come to Christ as the living stone. They are:
What they come as
What they come to experience (two posts)
What they come to be
What they come to do
What they come through
It had been my intention to try to cover all of those five points this morning but I think that, for the sake of your Sunday lunches, it will be best if we limit ourselves to considering the first two points today and then look at the remaining three points next time.
So, firstly, let us notice:
What they come as
The NIV begins verse 5 with the words “you also like living stones” but “you also” is really a bit weak. The ESV puts it better in saying “you yourselves”. That captures something of how emphatic Peter was being but it still doesn’t fully capture the sense of the Greek text. It would be better still to translate it as “even you yourselves”. That really captures the full sense here.
The flow is: “As you come to Him……..even you yourselves”. Now, saying “you yourselves” is very emphatic. Peter is stressing that in saying “As you come to Him” he’s not just using the word “you” to refer to people in general as we often do in every day speech.
For example, someone might say to you “this is how you mash potatoes”. In saying that, they don’t mean that they are saying how you in particular mash potatoes. They don’t mean “this is your way of mashing potatoes”. No, they simply mean that this is how people in general mash potatoes. Well, by saying “you yourselves”, Peter is making sure that we don’t take it in that general sense. It can’t be said of people in general that they come to Christ.
Peter is stressing that he is not speaking of people in general.
It is most definitely his readers who are coming “to Him”, that is, who are coming to Jesus Christ. It’s not everyone who can come to Christ in this way but his readers could. Then, in saying “even you yourselves” Peter is also indicating that there is something quite remarkable or extraordinary or exceptional about the fact that they could come to Christ. He’s saying that this is not an ordinary or a natural thing. What is it that’s so remarkable about it?
Well, both the NIV and the ESV go on to say that they do so “like living stones”. That’s the remarkable thing. They come to Him “like living stones”. Now, that word “like” could be a bit misleading because it could give the impression that Peter was saying that they were to come to Him as though they were “living stones”. It could give the impression that he was saying that, as they come to Him, they are to try to be “like living stones” or to put on a guise of “living stones”. However, the Greek text actually says “as living stones”.
Peter is saying that those who come to Jesus do so “as living stones”. That is what they are. That is what they have already become. That’s what’s so remarkable about them and that is why they are able to come.
What is the significance of Peter referring to them as being “living stones”?
Well, remember that we saw last time that Peter described Him to whom we come as being “a living stone” and we noted what a striking and apparently contradictory metaphor that is. He’s like a stone in the sense that He is God’s chosen cornerstone for a building but He’s utterly unlike stone in that He is alive. Now Peter is describing those who come to Him in exactly the same way! He’s saying that those who come to Him are a lot like Him in certain respects. They share things in common with Him. He is the foundational building material for God’s new temple but they too are stones to be used in the building of that temple.
Also, like Him they are “living stones”.
If you like, they are living building materials. That’s because they share in His life. They are partakers of His life. They too are stones that are alive. How come? Well, it’s because of what Peter has already said about them throughout the letter.
Remember that he said in 1 Peter 1v3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Peter and his readers had been caused to be born again by God in His great mercy. They had a new life and that had been caused by God. Peter had said in 1 Peter 1v22-23: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”. He exhorted them to love one another from a pure heart and he could do that because they had been born again.
It’s those who have been born again and so have a new spiritual life who Peter described in 1 Peter 2v3 as having “tasted that the Lord is good” and so becoming those who in chapter 2v4 “come to him” because they’re “Like newborn infants” who “long for the pure spiritual milk”.
So, speaking of those who come to Christ as being “living stones” is consistent with what Peter has been saying throughout the letter about them having been born again and so being partakers of a new spiritual life. The new idea that has been introduced here is that of them being “living stones”. Referring to them as stones or building materials really paves the way for what Peter is going on to say about: What they come to experience…. (in our next post)
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!