“As you come to Him” (1 of 4)
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 looked at 1 Peter 2v1-3. From those verses we saw that if we have been born again and have consequently gone on to obey Peter’s command to love one another, of necessity, we will have discarded certain things. Peter specifically mentioned malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander as being things that we will have “put away” or discarded if we are loving one another because they are all characteristics that are contrary to harmonious, loving relationships. Peter also then went on to give another command. We see that command in verse 2 where he says: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk”. That command was to do with our desire. In saying that he was commanding us to strongly desire the Lord Jesus Christ. Having “tasted that the Lord is good” we are to continue to desire more of Him.
Moving on from there, we find that verse 4 begins by saying: “As you come to him”. That’s a short and seemingly simple phrase but it’s actually full of meaning and that becomes apparent because Peter goes on to unpack its meaning for us in some detail. The phrase “As you come to him” centres around the verb to “come” so the central idea here is that of “coming”. That’s the action that’s involved here so one thing we’ll need to consider is “The nature of this coming”.
We also see that there are two parties involved in this “coming”.
Firstly, there are those who do the coming because Peter says: “As you come” so we’ll need to consider “Those who come”. Now, quite often when we speak of “coming” we’re referring to coming to a place or to a thing or even to an idea but in this instance we see that Peter is speaking of people coming to a person because he says: “As you come to him”.
There’s a second party involved in this coming and that is the one to whom we come.
Peter is talking about people coming to a person. So, we’ll also need to consider “The one to whom we come”. He tells us more about the person to whom we come as he continues in verse 4 by saying that He is “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”. He then goes on to tell us more about the people who come to Him and the result of their coming to Him in verse 5 where he says: “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”.
We’ll leave our consideration of what Peter says about those who come and what happens when they come until next time.
It’s my intention to consider the four aspects of Peter’s thought beginning the first aspect:
1. The nature of this coming
2. The One to whom we come
3. Man’s evaluation of Him
4. God’s estimation of Him
Today, we’re going to concentrate on what Peter says about the one to whom we come but, before we do that, we’ll briefly consider:
The nature of this coming
Let us begin by reminding ourselves of the preceding context and seeing how this “coming” fits in with that. Peter had commanded those who have “tasted that the Lord is good” to have a desire for the Lord Jesus Christ that is as strong and intense as a baby’s desire for its mother’s milk. Such a strong desire must inevitably be translated into action. In the case of a baby, that action involves coming to its mother’s breast and sucking. In the case of those who desire the Lord Jesus Christ the action that follows is to “come to him” and feed on Him. So, this coming is the next step in a sequence that Peter has been developing. The sequence begins with tasting that the Lord is good. That tasting leads to desiring Him more and more and that, in turn, results in this coming to Him.
The Greek word in the text that has been translated as “come to” here could equally well be translated as “draw near to”. The same Greek word is used several times in the book of Hebrews and it is invariably translated there as “draw near to”. Just to give a couple of examples of that, we read in Hebrews 4v16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. We find the same word in Hebrews 7v25 where we read: “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them”. Those verses are speaking of drawing near to the throne of grace and drawing near to God.
Here, in 1 Peter 2v4, in saying “As you come to him”, Peter is saying “As you draw near to Jesus Christ”. If you desire something, you don’t keep away from it. You come to it. You’re drawn to it. You draw near to it. So, if you desire the Lord Jesus Christ you will come and draw near to Him.
The ESV and NIV both translate this phrase as “As you come to him” but the NKJV has “Coming to Him”. Why the difference? Well, the fact is that both translations capture part of the sense of the Greek here but neither captures the full sense. The Greek verb is in the present continuous tense so the idea is not of just coming once but of coming over and over again. It’s an ongoing coming that Peter has in mind.
The point is that, if you have a deep seated desire for the Lord Jesus Christ, you won’t be content with just coming once. If you truly desire Jesus Christ you’ll keep on coming to Him, you’ll keep on drawing near to Him. It would be a strange baby that only came to its mother’s breast once! The translation in the NKJV, “Coming to Him”, reflects something of that continual sense better than “As you come to him”. However, it fails to reflect another important emphasis that is present in Greek text. That is the intimation that there is something that simultaneously happens when you come to Him.
You don’t just come to Him and that’s it.
No, in coming to Him, something happens. There is an effect. The translation “As you come to him” successfully conveys that sense that “As you come to him”, something happens. So, over all, the phrase would probably best be translated as “As you continually come to him”. The effect of a baby continually coming and drinking is that it grows. What is it that simultaneously happens when we continually come to Him? Well Peter will provide the answer to that question when we come to verse 5 where he says that you “are being built up as a spiritual house”. The sense is: “As you continually come to him…..you are continually being built up as a spiritual house”.
You see, this “being built up as a spiritual house” comes about as a result of “continually coming to him”. He is as at the heart of this. We come to “Him” and we’re “being built up as a spiritual house” as a result of coming to “Him”. We’ll think about what Peter means by “being built up as a spiritual house” when we think next time about “Those who come to Him”.
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!