Today we return to 1 Peter and resume our study of chapter 2. To a largely Gentile-Christian audience suffering discrimination for confessing the name of Christ, the apostle Peter wrote this epistle so that they might be reminded of their hope of salvation and, being so reminded, stand firm in it. The bulk of chapter 1 described this hope, demonstrating its foundation in the resurrection of Christ, its permanence, and its glory as predicted by the prophets (vv. 1–12).
Christians are to set their minds fully on this hope and avoid anything that might interfere with the diligent pursuit of Jesus (v. 13). This involves a commitment to holiness in life and love for one another as we wait for the elect to come into the kingdom of God and our exile to end (vv. 14–25). Living lives of holiness and love is only possible if we cast aside all unloving attitudes and actions and crave the pure milk of the Word of God (2:1–3).
Having briefly described the greatness of our hope and the life those with such hope must live, Peter begins a section detailing the status that our faith in Christ grants us even now. In 2:4–5 he tells us that as we come to the living stone that was rejected, we ourselves become the spiritual house in which spiritual sacrifices are offered to Him through Jesus. As we continually turn to Jesus in faithful repentance, we the church become the very house of God.
There is much Old Testament imagery in these verses. The use of the term “spiritual house” alludes to the temple in Jerusalem where God dwelt in the midst of His people. This temple, while providing a place for God’s people to meet Him, was made of “dead” stones and had limited access to the presence of God. But the spiritual house we have under the new covenant is made of living stones, and all believers, as a new priesthood, have access to the throne of grace (Heb. 10:19–22).
Peter’s use of temple imagery in correlation with the church shows us that God’s people are one throughout the ages. Old covenant believers who knew Christ implicitly and new covenant believers that know Him explicitly are all a part of God’s one people, Israel.
While it is true that each individual believer becomes a temple of God, we do not do well if we neglect passages like this that emphasize the corporate nature of the people of God. Currently, we are being built into a temple along with other believers so that God may dwell richly among all of us. As we love other Christians, we become beautiful stones, and God dwells more powerfully among us. Find a way to love even the “unlovable” people in your church.