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We Are Precious, Living Stones
by David Augenstein
Editors: Ann Augenstein, Geri Janovyak
Jesus Christ is called a precious, living stone in I Peter 2. Believers are also called living stones.
1Pe 2:4-5 To whom coming (coming unto Christ), [as unto] a living stone, disallowed (rejected) indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious,
Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are (being) built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Just what does it mean to be as a living stone? Stones have no life; they are dead. In this study, we will see how God builds from His master plan, stone by stone, using the Bible as our blueprint and how OT prophesy is revealed and made plain with NT revelation. We will find that the temple of the Old Covenant (built with huge, costly stones hewn by the hands of men) was a foreshadow (a physical type) of the temple of the New Covenant (the spiritual antitype) which is the church, the spiritual temple, Christ being the chief and precious cornerstone and set upon the foundation which He laid. We, the believers, are the precious, living stones of which the spiritual temple is being built.
We begin the study by looking at the immediate context of I Peter 2:4-5
1Pe 2:3-10 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious.
To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed (rejected) indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious,
Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are (being) built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded (ashamed) (See Isa 28:16)
Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed (rejected), the same is made the head of the corner (See Psalm 118:22),
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, (See Isa 8:14) [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
The term “living stone” is a figure of speech called Metaphor. A metaphor is a declaration that one thing is another. It is not true to the literal meaning, but is more true to the sense of the literal, that is: truer to truth. For example, if I say to my wife: “You are my princess” I employ the figure Metaphor to colorfully, vividly and efficiently describe the attributes of my wife as being loyal, gracious, polite, beautiful, romantic and perhaps even rich and famous. When Christ said to his apostles “take eat, this is my body” he spoke metaphorically of the bread. The bread is not literally his body (nor does it become his body during a communion ceremony), but it represents his body. Figures of speech are used to draw our attention to something of importance. The fact that Christ is called a “stone” is revealed throughout the Bible and is a vital and exciting study.
The word “living” is zoe in Greek, meaning not just human existence but life in fullness—in all its manifestations, including spiritual and eternal life.
Jesus Christ is prophesied to be a “precious, chief corner stone.” For those who believe, he is not a stumbling stone but the cornerstone of their salvation, a precious, a living stone. The unbeliever stumbles at the Word of God and rejects Christ, and the stone will break him into pieces and ground him to powder, when the unbeliever is resurrected.
The church is being built up (we insert the word “being” because the tense of the verb “built” is present tense, a continuing action in the present) into a spiritual temple since God is still calling out “living stones” to complete it. When it is complete, we will enter a new age, the eternal kingdom.
1Cr 3:9 -11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder (architeckton), I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul says here that he built upon the foundation that Christ laid. His revelation goes beyond what the OT prophets could understand and what Christ had known. Why? Because God revealed the great mystery to Paul and it was hid in God from the beginning of the world! That we, the believers called out of Israel and the Gentiles, are living stones making up the spiritual, eternal temple is part of the mystery revealed.
Eph 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Stones for Worship
“Stones” are used throughout the Bible as altars and memorials, for places of worship for both the true God and false idols. They can also symbolize permanence, firmness, strength and immovability.
The first altar mentioned in the Bible is the one built by Noah right after the flood had dried up. We don’t know if it was an altar of stone, wood, or other material because the Bible doesn’t say.
In the account of Jacob’s ladder, Jacob took stones for pillows prior to his dream of going up to heaven. Here the first time in the Bible, stones are used as an altar and declared to be the house of God:
Gen 28:18-22 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put [for] his pillows, and set it up [for] a pillar (altar, memorial, place of worship), and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel (House of God): but the name of that city [was called] Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
In Genesis 35, God appeared to Jacob and changed his name to Israel, saying “be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins:” (including David, Solomon and Christ)
Gen 35:12-15 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. (God’s promise to Abraham again reaffirmed. This promise will be fulfilled after the resurrection of the just.) And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him. And Jacob set up a pillar (an altar) in the place where he talked with him, [even] a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel. (meaning the House of God)
With these verses, we can now relate to “stones” being used to erect a house of worship. Stones were in the construction of the tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple at God’s command. When Moses went to the mountain and received the law of God on tables of stone he gave detailed instructions for the construction of a tabernacle ( a portable, temporary house of worship) and its instruments. God specified that the priest’s breastplate contain twelve different precious stones inlaid in gold—each stone being engraved with the twelve tribes of Israel (Exd 28).
For Solomon’s Temple (a permanent, fixed location; a physical representation and foreshadow of the true spiritual temple to follow) thirty thousand men cut and squared timbers out of the mountains, cut huge stones out of quarries, and transported them to the temple mount over the space of over seven years. The assembly was made without sound of tool. (1Ki 5:13-18)
Christ, the Chief Cornerstone
The chief cornerstone was the first stone laid above ground, and it sat on the foundation. In the Temple, for example, the cornerstones measured from twenty to thirty feet in length and weighed above 100 tons. http://www.bytheword.com/grapevine55
In ancient times the cornerstone was the stone at the corner of two walls that united them. It was the visible corner of the foundation of the building and the starting point of all future building above the foundation. It was the most costly stone because of its beauty and strength. It was also the largest, most solid and carefully constructed stone. (From http://www.bible-history.com/messianicprophecy/
Jesus Christ, the Stone
It is quite common when OT scripture is quoted in the NT, it is announcing that a particular OT prophecy has been or is being fulfilled. We have already seen the NT reference that Christ was a stone, a chief cornerstone, as OT prophesy being fulfilled.
Being a type of Christ, Joseph is called the shepherd and stone of Israel. This is a prophetic type, but nonetheless, it is seen here to be the first reference to Christ as the stone of Israel.
Gen 49:24 But his (Joseph’s) bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty [God] (One) of Jacob; from thence [is] the shepherd, the stone of Israel.
When Moses struck the rock with his staff, water poured out. That rock symbolized Christ (although they did not know) and the water symbolized the water of life. This is revealed in I Corinthians 10, so now it is possible to understand this part of the OT more fully, in its prophetic form pointing to Christ. Speaking of Israel:
1Cor 10:2-4 And (the children of Israel) were all baptized (symbolizing the future baptism in the holy spirit) unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (the Red Sea); And did all eat the same spiritual meat (the bread of life=manna from heaven); And did all drink the same spiritual drink (water of life): for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Isaiah’s prophecy refers to the then future Christ and the precision in which the stones will be set:
Isa 28:16-17 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste (be ashamed). Judgment also will I lay to the line (a stone layer’s line to assure horizontal correctness from the top and the side), and righteousness to the plummet (a line with a weight used to assure accuracy on the vertical): and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place (of the unbelievers).
The church (the new spiritual temple) is not being built upon a man called Peter, although he was a building block, for now he is both dead and buried, awaiting the return of Christ.
Mat 16:15-18 He (Jesus) saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I (Jesus) say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (the new name given to Simon is Peter= petros=a large, moveable rock, masculine), and upon this rock (petra=a more massive, immoveable rock, feminine) I will build (this is prophetic future tense) my church; and the gates of hell (gravedom, death) shall not prevail against it.
When Christ said “upon this rock (petras=a massive rock)” it is a different word than petros. Some say Christ was referring to himself (and may have been pointing to himself) as the Rock upon which his church will be built in future. Further, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states that the use of the words “upon this rock” is in the sense of “upon this rock as you see here.” Others think that since the word petra is in the feminine gender so it cannot be referring to Peter or Christ, but rather Peter’s confession that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On the other hand, the earlier Aramaic and Hebrew texts that this was translated from both employ the same word for “rock”. Given this, the verse must be classified as the figure of speech Antanaclasis or Ploke (word play). This is where the same word is repeated in a figurative sense and where the second use points to something altogether different. (For example, Vince Lombardi used this figure when he said “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”) This is further substantiated with the word “this”, acting as an adjective to “rock”, and probably implies there was an emphasis on the word “this” when spoken, distinguishing it from the first use of “rock”: “and upon THIS rock.” Whether Jesus, the man, was referring to himself only or to the greater rock (truth) of Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, or both is not worthy of much debate, in this author’s opinion, as the two are the same. However, we now know that he was not saying he would build his church on Peter.
Note: Neither was Peter the first Pope in Rome; you will not find his name mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans. His position as an apostle has been misappropriated by the shadowy tradition of Roman Catholicism and this particular verse has been convoluted by the “scripture twisters” to justify that they are the true church.
In Jesus’ parable of the house built upon rock (Matthew 7:24-27), was he not teaching a deeper spiritual truth: that a house of worship (belief system) built on anything but Christ shall not stand? Christ is the Rock of All Ages. He is the rock of salvation. But he is also the “stone cut out of a mountain” as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was interpreted by Daniel:
Dan 2:44-45 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, [but] it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream [is] certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
The stone (Christ), the precious, chief cornerstone, was cut out of the mountain, God; and he will destroy the earthly kingdoms and worldly systems of corruption that defy God and Christ. To the unbeliever, Christ will become a “deadly stone”:
Luk 20:18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
But to the believer He is our Rock of Salvation, the anchor of our soul, our living stone, the solid and accomplished reality of our glory, now and in the future.
Solomon’s Temple was a foreshadow of the church in our age and in the future, where the saints of all ages will be joined together in Christ. We are precious, living spiritual stones that are being built into the true and everlasting temple of God.
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
1Cr 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
God does not dwell in man-made temples.
Act 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Mar 13:1-2 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings [are here]. And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
If temples made with hands by religious authorities are so holy, then why did Jesus say that the Jerusalem Temple will come to naught. This prophesy came to pass in 70 A.D. when the temple was utterly destroyed by the Romans, leaving no stone unturned. Anything that exalts itself above God and rejects Jesus Christ, will ultimately face destruction, not eternal hell fire, but eternal death.
There is only one name by which we can become living stones and have salvation:
Act 4:10-12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Christ is the precious, living chief (first) cornerstone. To those who believe in him are also precious, living stones, for we are as he is (I John 4:17). When we confess Jesus as Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead (Rom 10:9,10) we become “living stones” in God’s spiritual, eternal temple.
Excellent article on stones and the construction of the physical and spiritual temples can be found here: http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.showPopupFollow @bibletrumpeter Article by David M. Augenstein, MSc, PE (ret) unless otherwise noted. Liked Just do it: SHARE THE WORD!