1 Peter 2:1-8 Peter uses the analogy of building a temple to encourage believers to become ‘living stones’ in a ‘spiritual temple’ where they can worship God.
In his First Letter, Peter uses the analogy of ‘building a temple’ to encourage believers to come to Jesus Christ, the ‘living stone’ who was rejected by men as worthless but chosen by God as valuable (see 1 Peter 2:4, Isaiah 28:16 & Psalm 118:22).
He urges them not to stumble over rocks in ignorance, like previous generations (see Isaiah 8:14-15). Instead, as they now have a personal relationship with God and no longer rely on animal sacrifices offered in the Temple in Jerusalem to cancel out their sins, he encourages them to come as ‘living stones’ to be used in building a ‘spiritual temple’.
Here, they can serve like holy priests in their own homes, at any time, coming into God’s presence by offering up a ‘spiritual sacrifice’ of praise and worship to God.
Christians today act as ‘living stones’ all over the world – whether they are, for example, African Christians building a hospital in Kenya or Arab Christians running an orphanage in Bethany.
'Living stones' - the Christian staff at Emanuel Hospice, Oradea, Romania (TEN)
The holy priesthood of believers
1 Peter 2:9-10 Peter calls the believers “a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9) called to proclaim God’s wonderful acts.
1 Peter 2:11-17 Peter appeals to the Jewish believers as friends and refugees. He calls them not to give in to bodily passions so the non-religious around them will praise God “on the day when Christ comes again” (1 Peter 2:12).
As war has recently broken out in 66AD between the Romans and the Jewish nationalist rebels in Jerusalem – fanning the flames of militant anti-Jewish hostility – he advises the Jewish believers in Asia Minor to show great respect to the Roman emperor, and to submit to the local Roman officials.
1 Peter 2:18-25 Peter urges Christian slaves to obey and respect their masters so that God will bless them if they endure the pain of undeserved suffering. They are to follow Christ’s example of undeserved punishment, for “you are healed because of his wounds” (1 Peter 2:24).
They are like sheep that have lost their way, but have now been brought back to follow the Great Shepherd (see Isaiah 53:5-6).
A Yörük shepherd leading his sheep in the Ala DaÄŸlar, Taurus Mountains, Turkey (Doron)
Practical advice for Christians
1 Peter 3:1-7 Peter offers some practical advice for Christian living. Christian wives should submit to non-Christian husbands in order to win them over by their exemplary conduct. They should lead modest and pure lifestyles – like Abraham’s wife Sarah (see Genesis 18:6-10). In the same way, Christian husbands should respect their wives and treat them well.
1 Peter 3:8-12 All the believers should be kind and humble in their dealings with each other. They should never pay back evil with evil – instead, they should pay back wrong with a blessing, because God will bless them in return (see Psalm 34:12-17).
1 Peter 3:13-17 Believers should always be ready to explain their faith with gentleness and respect for others. They should not respond to insults, so they will make their accusers ashamed. “It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong if that is what God wants” (1 Peter 3:17).