Saturday

24 January 2015

“Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (v. 5)

Psalm: Psalm 88


Background

In 1 Peter 1:3, the author wrote about being given a "new birth" into a living hope. That image is taken up in today's passage and the newly baptized, who have turned away from evil (verse 1) are encouraged, 'like newborn infants', to "long for the pure, spiritual milk" so that, by it, they may "grow into salvation" (verse 2). Verse 3 is an allusion to Psalm 34:8: "O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him."

In the second part of the passage, the new life is explored using two more metaphors: a new building (verse 4-8) and a new people (verses 9-10), both of which emphasise the corporate dimension of the Christian faith. In the first, the readers, who are pictured as "living stones" (v. 5), are encouraged to come to Jesus Christ, "a living stone" (v. 4) who was rejected by mortals but precious to God, to be built into a spiritual house. The quotations from the Old Testament in verses 6-8 are from Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22, and Isaiah 8:14 respectively.

The second metaphor also draws on verses and passages from the Old Testament: for the phrases "chosen race" and "God's own people" in verse 9, see Isaiah 43:20-21; and for 'royal priesthood' and 'holy nation', see Exodus 19:6. Verse 10 evokes verses from Hosea (Hosea 1:9-10; 2:23) to emphasise both the radical change in those who have been given a new birth and that they are a people.


To Ponder

  • In The Methodist Worship Book, candidates for Baptism and Confirmation, and parents and godparents of young children are asked, "Do you turn away from evil and all that denies God?" What examples would you give to someone asking what that entails?
  • The candidates, parents and godparents are also asked, "Do you turn to God, trusting in Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Spirit as Helper and Guide?" What you do think that means in practice?
  • How do you understand the balance between the personal and corporate aspects of Christian faith?
  • How well do the metaphors of the new building and the new people speak in contemporary society?

 
Bible notes writer:    The Revd Neil Stubbens

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