Living HOPE Series
  • When Jesus asked his disciples. "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Peter responded "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus promised Peter that upon the Rock of that confession He would build His church. The truth of who Jesus is empowers common man to speak the message that opens the doors of heaven to sinners. Join us to learn strong principles for Godly living and reach new heights in our faith as we work our way through Peter's writings which evangelize the lost and instruct the church.
3. Live to Shine (I Peter 2:4-12)
  • As believers and followers of Jesus, we are being built as His people, full of mercy, for the purpose of reflecting His glory to the world.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance - What are the central ideas of this text?
    • Jesus is a living stone, the foundation of His spiritual house. – I Peter 2:4, 6 & 7
    • Followers of Jesus are chosen ones, and are being built up as living stones to be part of the spiritual house. – I Peter 2:5 & 10
    • The purpose of the spiritual house – God’s people – is to be His priests who serve Him and proclaim the Kingdom of God. – I Peter 2:5 & 9
  • Implications - What questions should the listener be asking?
    • What does it mean to you and your life that Jesus is a “living stone” and that He is“chosen and precious” and the “cornerstone?”   
    • How are you being built up as a living stone and part of the “holy priesthood?”  What does that mean for your everyday life?
    • It is the calling and responsibility of followers of Jesus to “proclaim the excellencies of Him” who called you out of sin and into light to be His.  How can you do that? How are you doing that? What changes in your life might you need to make to do that better?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide 
  • Interpretation - What is the text telling/showing us?
    • What comes to your mind when you read “coming to Him as to a living stone?”
    • What does it mean for believers to be “living stones?” 
    • What is God building with living stones?  Describe it. 
    • What does it mean for believers to be a “holy priesthood?”  What does it mean to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God? 
    • Jesus is described by Peter as the cornerstone.  What is the impact of Jesus being the cornerstone?  What are the various responses to the Cornerstone and the outcomes of those various responses?
    • Read verse 9 of chapter 2.  Put in your own words what the verse is saying.  How can and should the Church proclaim the excellencies of God who has called us out of darkness?  
    • What is the implication of your church being part of the people of God?
    • How can you abstain from the ways of the world?
    • How do you keep your conduct excellent and honorable among those with whom you are involved on a day to day basis?  Why should you live that way?
  • Implementation - What should the listeners response be?
    • How are you being built up as a living stone? 
    • What ways can you do better at being part of God’s spiritual household? 
    • What does it mean to you to be part of God’s spiritual household? 
    • How does the reality of Jesus being the cornerstone play out in your daily life? How can that reality better play out in your daily life? 
    • How is Jesus a stumbling block for un-believers? What, if anything, can they do about it? How can you help them do something about it? 
    • What can you do to proclaim God’s kingdom through your daily life? What can your church do to proclaim God’s kingdom to those who need to hear? 
    • Describe what it means that believers have received mercy? That you have received mercy? 
    • Do you feel that the ways of the world war against your soul? How should you live in today’s world? What changes, if any, do you need to make to live an excellent and honorable life in the world in which you live? 
    • How can the way you live speak the lie to untrue things people may say about you?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as compiled by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation - What's generally going on in this area of scripture?
The verses in this study continue to look back to who the believer is in Christ, ones who are living holy lives and feeding on His word. But these verses also continue the thought, begun in I Peter 1:22, that by God’s power, believers are a community of faith; we are truly His people. Thus, the “living hope” lifestyle is not only lived out in one’s personal life, but as part of a community of faith living in the present in light of the glorious future reserved in heaven for His people. Remember that Peter is writing to an audience made up mostly of Jewish believers.

These individuals would be very familiar with the Scriptures, and the imagery used in those Scriptures. In verses 4-12 of chapter 2, Peter calls upon those images and quotes several passages of Scripture to make his point regarding the community of faith. The Old Testament Scriptures over and over spoke of the Jews as God’s household, as His people. Since His coming and resurrection, Jesus is doing a new thing, namely, building His Church (cf. Matthew 16:18) made up of all those who place their faith in Him for salvation. This Church is now God’s household, a temple indwelt by Him for His use. Hence, we “come to Him” (I Peter 2:4), the One who is the “living stone” not only for salvation, but for identification.

The word stone used here is a word for a “building stone” which was quarried by craftsmen for use in the construction of a building. Jesus is that stone, but He is living because of His resurrection, and in fact, He is the “capstone” for the Church (I Peter 2:6) by which the entire “building” is held together as we, also being living stones, are added to the structure. This Jesus is thus again seen as the focus of the Church: He is living; He was rejected by men (I Peter 2:4, 7); He was chosen by God (I Peter 2:4) as Messiah; He is precious (i.e., “valued.” I Peter 2:4. This is a different sense than the word “precious” in I Peter 1:19 which means “costly.”); He is the cornerstone (or, “capstone” which is the stone at the pinnacle of and junction between two walls, such as would be in the Temple in Jerusalem. I Peter 2:6 & 7); and He is the cause of stumbling to those who do not believe (I Peter 2:8).

Thus, as commentator Ben Witherington III writes, believers “are viewed as being built into the community that is vitally linked to and designed around Christ.” Believers are to have the foregoing picture of themselves - designed by God, built by God, and used by God. But what are the uses? What will this “Church building” do? The answer to these questions marks a subtle shift in emphasis by Peter; or perhaps more appropriately, marks an additional emphasis. Previously, the emphasis of the message has been personal and internal; who are you in Christ and how are you to live in Christ. Now, Peter adds the aspect of community and the concept of external. As noted, Peter has written that God is building the Church of living stones around The Living Stone of Jesus as His people.

These living stones are to do three things: one, serve as a holy priesthood to make acceptable sacrifices (I Peter 2:5); second, proclaim God’s kingdom of light (I Peter 2:9); and third, live excellent lives before the world (I Peter 2:11 & 12). In a word, believers are to “shine;” their lives are to show forth who God is to a watching world, offering themselves for His service. The job of the Jewish priesthood was to intercede for the people, make the sacrificial offerings, and offer worship to God for the people. The Church, as God’s new temple where He dwells, includes all believers, not just a few as were the Jewish priests, and is to offer itself for God to user, and in that offer up praise to Him who is worthy. There is no more sacrifice for sins as Jesus’ death paid for all sins; rather, the sacrifices of verse 5 are the offering of self (see Romans 12:1 & 2) and the offering of the community in service to the world by showing who God is through acts of worship, acts of service, and loving connection with the world in which we live.

The Church is also to proclaim the good news that God calls people out of darkness and into light (I Peter 2:9). Peter states unequivocally that the Church is God’s instrument for the sharing of the message of the Kingdom. We, believers in Jesus, have been called out for this purpose, shown mercy by God to be made into those who can serve Him. The Jews are still God’s chosen people, not replaced by the Church.

However, the new expression of God’s people is all those who believe in Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, united in Christ. God has accomplished this by His might manifested through Jesus life, death and resurrection; it is a “done deal” and the Church is part of God’s plan to make His name known to the world (cf. Ephesians 3:8-12). Note that Peter has inserted in verses 7 and 8 that there is a consequence to unbelief; those who choose not to believe in Jesus will stumble over Him (over His stone. I Peter 2:8), and having rejected Him, will live in disobedience and face the outcome of such, namely ultimate rejection by God. Is Peter saying here that certain people are doomed no matter what?

That they are chosen by God for rejection? The text is not saying such. Rather, the message is that God in His omniscience foreknows what people will choose, and that those who willfully reject Him will “stumble” and live in disobedience. The contrast is to the believer who not only does not stumble, but who is made a part of God’s kingdom, a member of His very household.(cf. Ephesians 2:19-22). Those who form the Church live in the world, as part of the culture in which they have been placed. That is where the external aspect of living hope is to be fleshed out before world. Peter’s message here is to live lives as a community of faith that are in contrast to the ways of the world, considering themselves to be the “sojourners and exiles” that they in fact are (I Peter 2:11).

These lives are to be the marked by honorable (another translation uses “excellent”) behavior or conduct that in itself speaks the lie to any slanderous words otherwise used of the believer. Such conduct and behavior should be that which is recognized as good by both the Church and the culture. In itself, such living will be watched by the world, and can be a part of pointing the world to God. In short, good behavior can be transformative to the culture. Such good behavior should be practiced out of the understanding of who God is and who we are in Christ, but with the knowledge that it is a testimony to who God is as well.

By such living, the non-believer can see God, but also the believer’s own “good deeds” will be seen by God on Christ’s return (I Peter 2:12). The life of living hope means that we who name Jesus as Savior and Lord are His, are being fashioned into a community for His purposes, and have the responsibility of offering ourselves for His service, proclaiming His Kingdom, and living out our lives as shining testimonies to who God is and to His grace. What a responsibility; but what a privilege! Lives with a purpose indeed … to shine for him! There is no greater calling.