Believers’ Identity – 1 Peter 2:1-10
Read the Passage: 1 Peter 2:1-10
Word of God (2:1–3)
The fact that Peter begins chapter two with the word “therefore” indicates that what he is about to say rests upon his previous teaching. In light of the fact that believers are to have a redeemed mind that pursues holiness (cf. 1 Pet. 1:13–16), that Christ has redeemed believers with his blood (cf. 1 Pet. 1:17–21), and that believers have received faith from God via the eternal Word of God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:22–25), therefore, believers are to lay “aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking” (1 Pet. 2:1). Note that Peter’s appeal in this verse is not a direct command, but an implied command. This verse is a description of what naturally happens to Jesus’ followers as a result of salvation. 1 Pet. 2:1 is very similar to Paul’s exhortation to the believers in Philippi (cf. Phil. 4:8–9), as well as his instructions to the church in Ephesus (cf. Eph. 4:22–31; 5:3–4).
In 1 Pet. 2:2 Peter exhorts his readers to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow.” By invoking the newborn baby/milk analogy here Peter was simply continuing his illustration from 1 Pet. 1:23 (i.e., “having been born again”). Note, however, that Peter is the only New Testament author to use the baby/milk analogy in a positive fashion. Paul employs this same analogy in 1 Cor. 3:2, although in a chastising manner, as does the writer of the book of Hebrews at Heb. 5:12–14. Here at 1 Pet. 2:3 Peter notes that believers will want to digest the pure milk of the Word of God since they “have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” With this statement Peter is likely alluding to Ps. 34:8, which reads, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in him!” There is no other way to grow spiritually than to consume the Word of God.
Temple of God (2:4–8)
In 1 Pet. 2:4–10 Peter employs two illustrations as he continues to discusses believers’ identity in Christ. First, the apostle notes that believers are to come to Jesus “as living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5). This is a significant illustration since Jesus had personally told Peter that he himself was a rock, saying, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Using the same illustration, at 1 Peter 2:5 Peter explains that all believers are stones that God uses to build a spiritual house—that is, His Temple. The cornerstone of this structure is Christ, the “living stone” (1 Pet. 2:4). The reason why God saves men and uses them to build a Temple, writes Peter, is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).
Peter continues his illustration of living stones 1 Pet. 2:6–8 by quoting three Old Testament passages: Isa. 28:16; Ps. 118:22; Isa 8:14. The concept of believers being crafted into God’s Temple, with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone, is an important concept (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:19–22), for it can help believers better to view the Old Testament Temple as a picture or object lesson of the gospel. In 1 Pet. 2:7–8 Peter discusses the implication of Jesus being a chief cornerstone for unbelievers. Peter writes that although the disobedient reject Christ, He is still the chief cornerstone; thus, they stumble over Jesus and fall. Peter writes, “They stumble, being disobedient to the word” (1 Pet. 2:8a). Note, however, that that “to which they were appointed” (1 Pet. 2:8b) in this verse is not disobedience, but the eternal destruction that results from disobedience (cf. Rom. 6:23).
Priests of God (2:9–10)
The second illustration that Peter uses to discusses believers’ identity in Christ is that of believers being priests of God. At 1 Peter 2:5 the apostle describes believers as being “a holy priesthood.” Here at 1 Peter 2:9 believers are again said to be “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.” At 1 Peter 2:5 Peter taught that the reason why God saved men and uses them to become and to staff a Temple is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Here at Peter 2:9 the apostle writes that believers are redeemed “that they may proclaim the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). The teaching in both passages is identical and clear—that is, God redeemed mankind for the ultimate purpose that we might praise Him forever. God taught through Isaiah, “I have redeemed you for My glory” (Isa. 43:7).
- What things can we do to purify and renew our minds as followers of Christ? How do we live as believers in the world but not become of the world?
- Is there any way to grow spiritually apart from the Word of God? What are some ways you have found helpful to digest more of the Word of God?
- How does rooting your identity in Jesus Christ change the way you view the world and all of its trials and suffering?
- What does Peter mean in writing of the lost, “They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they were appointed” (1 Pet. 2:8; see Jude 1:4)?
- What are spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God (cf. Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15)? How can we do all things for the glory of God?