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Have you ever been at an event where you were the guest of honor? Maybe it was a bridal shower, a baby shower, or a graduation. Every eye was on you, and people treated you in a way that made you feel so privileged. Throughout 1 Peter, we see Christians described as pilgrims who are cursed by this world, but in chapter 2, Peter turns this on its head and says God has particularly honored us.

Peter says in 2:4 that we “come to him,” meaning the “Lord” (v. 3) of the Old Testament, who Peter says is Christ. He goes on to define what it means to come to Christ: “So the honor is for you who believe” (v. 7). What’s beautiful to see is that back in 1:7, he spoke of our faith going through trials in this life, but here he says when we believe, God honors us. How so? Note three honors in 1 Peter 2.

Honored to Be a Place

By faith, we are honored to be a place. And not just any place, but a Holy Place. First Peter 2:4 switches the metaphor from being the family of God to being the temple of God. In the new covenant, there still is a Holy Place. But its building materials are not wood, stone, or precious metals. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone and Christians are the walls of the new Holy Place.

If you watch home renovation shows, it’s amazing how easy it is to rip down walls, reconfigure the inside of a house, and totally change the look of what was once there. That’s because we use wood and drywall. In the ancient world, though, buildings were built to last—they were built of stone. Peter is saying here that our honor is that we are being built to be a permanent holy temple.

While we come to Christ by faith as “a living stone” because of His resurrection, He continues to be “rejected by” so many other “men” (2:4, citing Ps. 118:22). Why? Scripture says that since the beginning, men have rejected the Lord for their own pride and power (Gen. 10; Ps. 2). Though He was being rejected by men, Jesus is “in the sight of God chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:4, citing Isa. 28:16).

As Christ is the living, chosen, and precious cornerstone of God’s new Holy Place, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (2:5). The verb “being built up” is in the passive voice, which denotes that the action is done to us, not by us. As Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). He is building us into a “spiritual house,” meaning that we are “animated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.” Think of this: we, sinners, not only individually, but corporately, are the temple of the living God. God lives among us—us of all people.

In the crown of salvation God has placed the jewels of being a place, a priesthood, and a people.
Honored to Be a Priesthood

When I played basketball, we had awards banquets where there was an award for one player here and one player there, but there was always one kid who was not only MVP of his team, but first team all-league, offensive player of the year, scoring champ, and on the dean’s list. Similarly, in Christ, we don’t have just one honor, but many. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

By faith, we’re honored to be a Holy Place, but a temple is useless without priests to serve in it. So, Peter tells us the purpose of Christ’s building us into a temple: “to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). We’re also honored to be a priesthood. In the Old Testament, the priesthood came from just the tribe of Levi. Now all believers are so honored by God. We are not only the temple in which sacrifices are offered but we are the ones offering them. What kind of sacrifices? Spiritual sacrifices, meaning sacrifices that are offered by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit. Our sacrifices are our bodies (Rom. 12), our broken and contrite spirits (Ps. 51), and our praise (Heb. 13).

This is seen in particular in 1 Peter 2:9: we are honored to be “a royal priesthood . . . that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” How is praise a sacrifice that is led by the Spirit and acceptable to God? First, to praise God means that you sacrifice your pride and self-reliance on the altar of humility. Second, to praise God by the Spirit acceptably means that you offer to Him the worship of your heart and not merely of your hands. Peter said in 1 Peter 1:22 that we have been born again to love one another “earnestly from a pure heart.” Our sacrifices of praise to God are to be earnest, not commonplace, and from the heart, not merely out of custom.

Honored to Be a People

Peter adds a triple honor here: by faith, we are honored to be a people. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. . . . Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9–10). This was once Israel’s honor (Ex. 19; Deut. 7), but now it’s the honor for all who believe, Jew and Gentile alike.

Are you feeling down about your sins? Are you beaten down by the struggles in the world? Do you feel lost in a maze out of which you cannot find your way? Meditate on 1 Peter 2:4–10 and notice that each little phrase is like a jewel in the crown of honor the Lord has placed on your head. You, sinner saved by grace, have been honored by God with a crown of salvation, and in that crown God has placed the jewels of being a place, a priesthood, and a people.

The Ark of the Covenant

The Primacy of Divine Glory

Keep Reading The Temple

From the December 2017 Issue
Dec 2017 Issue