1 Peter 2:4-10 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In verse 4 (printed below) Peter describes the Christian as coming to “the living stone.” How would you explain the meaning of this statement?

Coming to him, the living stone—rejected by men, but chosen and honored by God (1 Peter 2:4)

Peter the Christian as coming to the Stone that men reject. The illustration Peter employs is as follows: in preparing the foundation for a house, men look for a suitable cornerstone; they come to the quarry, but in their search they reject the very stone God has selected to be the chief cornerstone of the house He is building. But, unlike the world, the Christian recognizes the value of this stone—which is the Lord Jesus Christ—and acknowledges Him to be the cornerstone selected by God (note 1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

2. Contrast the status appointed for the Christian with what is appointed for the unbeliever. See 1 Peter 2:7-8 (printed below)

Now the honor is for you who believe; but for the unbelievers, “The stone that the builders rejected, this very one has become the chief cornerstone;” (8) and, “A stone over which men stumble and a rock at which men take offense.” They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, to which fate, indeed, they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:7-8)

Verses 7-8 contrast our status as Christians with the status of the world. The result of believing in Christ and building your life upon Him is the blessing of participating in His honor, the honor conferred upon Him by God His Father (note John 12:26). But for those who reject Christ there is appointed dishonor and shame. There is the shame of having made the wrong choice when one chose to reject Christ; as well as the shame of “tripping,” or “stumbling,” over this Stone and falling flat on one’s face in the dust. Peter indicates that God has ordained that this consequence of shame and humiliation shall, indeed, be the fate of those who reject the message of the gospel and refuse to come to Christ—this is what he means when he writes, “They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, to which fate, indeed, they were appointed.” Those who reject the gospel stumble over it (i.e.; they will be brought to ultimate shame and humiliation), this “stumbling” is the consequence God has ordained for the unbelieving and disobedient.

3. How does Peter describe those who believe in Christ? See 1 Peter 2:5 (printed below)

…you also, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, who offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

Peter goes on to describe believers as “living stones” that are being built into “a spiritual house.” Just as king Solomon during the Old Testament era constructed a temple of stone to “house” the presence of the Lord; so the church of Jesus Christ is being constructed to be the residence of the living God. Peter goes on to identify believers in Christ as being a part of “a holy priesthood.” Just as the Levites of the Old Testament era were chosen by God to serve in His temple as priests (offering up incense and sacrifices), so are we called by God to serve Him in the same capacity. We do not offer up incense, we offer up prayers of praise and intercession that the Old Testament incense represented. We do not offer up animal sacrifices to God, we offer up our body (representing our life and all of our activities) to God (note Romans 12:1) and we offer up deeds of righteousness and compassion as acceptable offerings to God (note Hebrews 13:16).

4. What do you think Peter means when in verse 9 (printed below) he identifies the church of Christ as “a royal priesthood?”

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people appointed to be God’s own possession, so that you might display the virtues of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

The church of Christ is further defined as being “a royal priesthood.” Not only are we called to render ministry to God (carrying on a ministry of service similar to that of the Old Testament priest), we are also called to reign with God and share in His dominion over the creation (note Genesis 1:28) and over the world to come (note Revelation 3:21). As Christians, we are to carry out the original mandate given to Adam and Eve to the glory of God. In the age to come we will join with Christ in exercising dominion over the new creation to the glory and praise of God our Father.

5. As a people “appointed to be God’s own possession,” what are we as Christians called to do? See 1 Peter 2:9 (printed above under question #4)

Our Christian calling is further described as the calling to “display the virtues of him who called you.” That is to say, by the grace of God we are called to live a Christ-like life and in so doing we will be reflecting and exhibiting the very virtues of God Himself.