Wednesday

14 August 2013

“See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious” (v. 6)


Background

The author of this letter is cited as Peter (the apostle) although some believe it was written by someone else. The audience are the Gentile (non Jewish) Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, a large area around where Turkey is now.

The passage contains a large number of Old Testament references, including quite clearly the three in verses 6-8 but also references such as the four names of God's people in verse 9 which can also be found in Exodus 19:5 and Isaiah 43:20. A key reference is that of the 'chosen and precious cornerstone.' The cornerstone imagery is first found in Psalm 118:22, quoted here in verse 7 and in numerous places throughout the Bible. The concept is developed further in Isaiah 28:6 where it says that God will lay "a precious cornerstone [for] a sure foundation".

A cornerstone is the first stone which is laid in the foundations of a building. It is particularly important as it sets the direction of the walls and so determines the quality of the whole building. Jesus is described here as this 'chosen and precious cornerstone'.

Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian Church not in the sense of a building but of a living people. In verse 9 the people are described as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people". These four Old Testament titles used to describe the people of Israel show that this Church, built upon Jesus the cornerstone, is a living Church; the people of God.

One view is that as the cornerstone is laid at an angle where two sides meet to form part of a building, it shows that in Jesus Jews and Gentiles can be united. A unified community can be built upon his example.

The passage says "like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood" (v. 5). The implication is that these living stones should pay attention to the cornerstone, Jesus, and align themselves to his ways.


To Ponder

  • To what extent is Jesus the cornerstone of your local church? How far are actions and decisions influenced by his direction?
  • To what extent is Jesus the cornerstone of your life? How far are your actions and decisions inspired by his example?


Bible notes author:  Hayley Moss

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