Our lives are acceptable to God not on the basis of our cooperation with grace (Rome et al), nor on the basis of congruent merit (a false covenant theology taught by some late medieval theologians and by the self-described Federal Visionists) but rather on the basis of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for us. His sacrifice was not the beginning of sacrifices to offered in continuation by us (Rome) butthe sacrifice because of which we are, by our union with him, now daily offering ourselves in thanks.
There is a strain of modern evangelical theology that looks forward to the literal rebuilding of the Israelite temple and to the re-institution of sacrifices, albeit, in that case, memorial sacrifices. This passage should help us see one of the important reasons why Christians have not historically looked forward to any such thing: Christ is the temple and believers, who are united to him by the Spirit, through faith alone, are being made corporately into Christ’s temple.
In other words, we do not need to look forward to a future rebuilding of the temple. It was inaugurated 2,000 years ago and it is underway right now. According to the Apostle Peter, Jesus is the “living stone,” and the cornerstone of this new, living temple. From Hebrews we learn that he is the sacrificial lamb offered-once-for-all on the cross. He is the eternal Melchizedekian priest, who made the offering and who represents us now before the throne in heaven. Our hope is not for a future, earthly priesthood, temple, and sacrifices but in Jesus Christ to whom all those things pointed and in whom all those things are fulfilled.
1 Peter 2:4–6
|4πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι λίθον ζῶντα ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων μὲν ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον παρὰ δὲ θεῷ ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον, 5καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους [τῷ] θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 6διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ· ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ.||4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.6For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV).|
v. 4: The Chosen Rejected Stone
Jesus is the the “living stone” (λίθον ζῶντα) rejected by men. Here Peter alludes to our Lord’s quotation of Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17).