Lesson 10—The Living Stone
Commentary by David Daniel
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of Jesus Christ as the “living stone” and how this affects our lives.
“Remember, by and large, Peter’s readers are followers of Jesus living in out-of-the-way places. They were off the beaten path; they were geographically removed from Jerusalem’s great stone temple, the place of culture and religious action in the world. They were the dispersed ones, some of them far from home—not merely from Heaven” (Helm).
In order to gain a better understanding and appreciation for these verses, we must remember Peter’s audience, their situation, and their circumstances. Peter writes in these verses great and rich truths that minister powerfully to all true believers. For us to understand these verses as they apply to us today, we must understand how they applied to the early believers. The truth as it applied to them is the same truth applied to us.
As Peter wrote, he surely had in mind Jesus’ words to him at Caesarea Philippi earlier in his life. Read Matthew 16:13-19. Peter had declared his conviction that “Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord had responded, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” “The Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter is the Rock upon which the church is built. It has erected its vast edifice of popes and prelates on this error. Peter writes ‘untrue’ over the whole thing. Peter has in mind Christ’s own words on the subject. The word the Lord used for ‘Peter’ was ‘petros,’ a small stone, pebble, loose and movable. The word He used for ‘Rock,’ however, was ‘petra,’ an immovable mass of stone. He (Jesus) Himself was that Rock—something that Peter himself now confirms” (Phillips).
Peter now writes of this stone in verse four. He describes it as the “living stone.” In our minds these two words “living” and “stone” stand in direct contrast. But Peter had previously used the word “living” to describe the “living hope” of 1 Peter 1:3 and with “word” of “living word” in
1 Peter 1:23. Now in verse four, Peter describes Jesus Christ as the “living stone.”
➢ What does it mean to the believer that we have a “living hope”?
➢ What does it mean to the believer that we have a “living word”?
➢ In our minds, why do the words “living” and “stone” stand in contrast?
“living stone”—The word translated “living” comes from the Greek word zōē and refers to life in all of its forms. It refers to active life, life as the opposite of death. The word is used for both resurrection life and eternal life. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the rock (stone) on which the church rests. Here Peter’s image is of a stone that was perfectly designed, shaped and hewn out to become the cornerstone of the church, not merely a stone but a “living stone.” That living stone is Jesus Christ.
“rejected indeed by men”—the Greek word which literally means “to reject as the result of disapproval. This was what the Jewish religious leaders and establishment did with Jesus. They disapproved of Him because he was a friend to publicans and sinners. He refused to bow to their man-made oral traditions of the law. He was not the kind of Messiah they expected or wanted. They did not receive Him; they then rejected Him and plotted His death.
➢ Why did most of the Jewish religious leaders reject Jesus as the Messiah?
➢ What does this mean—“Not to receive Jesus is to reject Jesus”?
➢ Why is it important for all who worship at MHBC to understand “Not to receive Jesus is to reject Jesus”?
“To reject Jesus did not rid them of Jesus. In fact they might as well have tried to get rid of the sun” (Phillips).
“but chosen by God and precious”
God the Father saw the worth and pronounced it “precious.” The world says of Jesus Christ, “There is no beauty in Him.” (See Isaiah 53:2) But what the world saw as undesirable, God saw as “precious.” The Heavenly Father measured Him by the standards of divine perfection and declared “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Although rejected by men, God the Father considers Him precious, which means “costly, highly prized.”
Read Psalm 118:22.
“Rejected”—the attitude of people
“Chosen”—the attitude of God
The Good News translation of the Bible says: “rejected by man as worthless, but chosen by God as valuable.”
“Chosen”—an action of God, action by God
“Precious”—the attitude of God toward the stone
“Precious” is the description of the stone’s value. Look at 1 Peter 1:19; it also describes how very costly is our redemption through Jesus Christ.
Questions for Life Focus
Have you come to Jesus?
If so, tell about how and when you came to Jesus.
Before you came to Jesus, did you ever reject Him?
Please explain some of the ways and times you rejected Him?
How is Jesus the Living Stone precious to you?
As a true believer with a better understanding of 1 Peter 2:4, how will this help you as you walk with Christ on life’s journey?
How can you help those who continue to reject Jesus Christ? What can you do for them?