Ye also, as lively stones - Λιθοι ζωντες· Living stones; each being instinct with the principle of life, which proceeds from him who is the foundation, called above λιθον ζωντα, a living stone.
The metaphor in this and the following verse is as bold as it is singular; and commentators and critics have found it difficult to hit on any principle of explanation. In all metaphors there is something in the natural image that is illustrative of some chief moral property in the thing to be represented. But what analogy is there between the stones of a building and a multitude of human beings? We shall soon see. The Church of Christ, it is true, is represented under the figure of a house, or rather household; and as a household or family must have a place of residence, hence, by a metonymy, the house itself, or material building, is put for the household or family which occupies it, the container being put for the contained. This point will receive the fullest illustration if we have recourse to the Hebrew: in this language, בית beith signifies both a house and a family; בן ben a son; בת bath a daughter; and אבן eben a stone. Of all these nouns, בנה banah, he built, is, I believe, the common root. Now as בית beith, a house, is built of אבנים abanim, stones, hence בנה banah, he built, is a proper radix for both stones and building; and as בית beith, a family or household ( Psalm 68:6;) is constituted or made up of בנים banim, sons, and בנות banoth daughters, hence the same root בנה banah, he built, is common to all; for sons and daughters build up or constitute a family, as stones do a building. Here, then, is the ground of the metaphor: the spiritual house is the holy or Christian family or household, this family or household is composed of the sons and daughters of God Almighty; and hence the propriety of living stones, because this is the living house or spiritual family. As a building rests upon a foundation, and this foundation is its support; so a family or household rests on the father, who is properly considered the foundation or support of the building. But as every father is mortal and transitory, none can be called a living stone, foundation, or support, but He who liveth for ever, and has life independent; so none but Jesus, who hath life in himself, i.e. independently, and who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, can be a permanent foundation or support to the whole spiritual house. And as all the stones - sons and daughters, that constitute the spiritual building are made partakers of the life of Christ, consequently, they may with great propriety be called living stones, that is, sons and daughters of God, who live by Christ Jesus, because he lives in them. Now, following the metaphor; these various living stones become one grand temple, in which God is worshipped, and in which he manifests himself as he did in the temple of old. Every stone - son and daughter, being a spiritual sacrificer or priest, they all offer up praise and thanksgiving to God through Christ; and such sacrifices, being offered up in the name and through the merit of his Son, are all acceptable in his sight.
This is the true metaphor, and which has not, as far as I know, ever been properly traced out. To talk of "stones being said to be alive as long as they are not cut out of the quarry, but continue to partake of that nourishment which circulates from vein to vein," is as unsatisfactory as it is unphilosophical; the other is the true metaphor, and explains every thing.
Ye also, as lively stones - Greek, “living stones.” The word should have been so rendered. The word lively with us now has a different meaning from living, and denotes “active, quick, sprightly.” The Greek word is the same as that used in the previous verse, and rendered living. The meaning is, that the materials of which the temple here referred to was composed, were living materials throughout. The foundation is a living foundation, and all the superstructure is compassed of living materials. The purpose of the apostle here is to compare the church to a beautiful temple - such as the temple in Jerusalem, and to show that it is complete in all its parts, as that was. It has within itself what corresponds with everything that was valuable in that. It is a beautiful structure like that; and as in that there was a priesthood, and there were real and acceptable sacrifices offered, so it is in the Christian church.
The Jews prided themselves much on their temple. It was a most costly and splendid edifice. It was the place where God was worshipped, and where he was supposed to dwell. It had an imposing service, and there was acceptable worship rendered there. As a new dispensation was introduced; as the tendency of the Christian system was to draw off the worshippers from that temple, and to teach them that God could be worshipped as acceptably elsewhere as at Jerusalem, John 4:21-23 as Christianity did not inculcate the necessity of rearing splendid temples for the worship of God; and as in fact the temple at Jerusalem was about to be destroyed forever, it was important to show that in the Christian church there might be found all that was truly beautiful and valuable in the temple at Jerusalem; that it had what corresponded to what was in fact most precious there, and that there was still a most magnificent and beautiful temple on the earth.
Hence, the sacred writers labor to show that all was found in the church that had made the temple at Jerusalem so glorious, and that the great design contemplated by the erection of that splendid edifice - the maintenance of the worship of God - was now accomplished in a more glorious manner than even in the services of that house. For there was a temple, made up of living materials, which was still the special dwelling-place of God on the earth. In that I temple there was a holy priesthood - for every Christian was a priest. In that temple there were sacrifices offered, as acceptable to God as in the former - for they were spiritual sacrifices, offered continually. These thoughts were often dwelt upon by the apostle Paul, and are here illustrated by Peter, evidently with the same design, to impart consolation to those who had never been permitted to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, and to comfort those Jews, now converted to Christianity, who saw that that splendid and glorious edifice was about to be destroyed. The special abode of God on the earth was now removed from that temple to the Christian church. The first aspect in which this is illustrated here is, that the temple of God was made up of “living stones;” that is, that the materials were not inanimate stones but endued with life, and so much more valuable than those employed in the temple at Jerusalem, as the soul is more precious than any materials of stone. There were living beings which composed that temple, constituting a more beautiful structure, and a more appropriate dwelling-place for God, than any edifice could be made of stone, however costly or valuable.
A spiritual house - A spiritual temple, not made of perishable materials, like that at Jerusalem net composed of matter, as that was, but made up of redeemed souls - a temple more appropriate to be the residence of one who is a pure spirit. Compare the Ephesians 2:19-22 notes, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 notes.
An holy priesthood - In the temple at Jerusalem, the priesthood appointed to minister there, and to offer sacrifices, constituted an essential part of the arrangement. It was important, therefore, to show that this was not overlooked in the spiritual temple that God was raising. Accordingly, the apostle says that this is amply provided for, by constituting “the whole body of Christians” to be in fact a priesthood. Everyone is engaged in offering acceptable sacrifice to God. The business is not entrusted to a particular class to be known as priests; there is not a particular portion to whom the name is to be especially given; but every Christian is in fact a priest, and is engaged in offering an acceptable sacrifice to God. See Romans 1:6; “And hath made us: kings and priests unto God.” The Great High Priest in this service is the Lord Jesus Christ, (see the Epistle to the Hebrews, passim) but besides him there is no one who sustains this office, except as it is borne by all the Christian members.
There are ministers, elders, pastors, evangelists in the church; but there is no one who is a priest, except in the general sense that all are priests - because the great sacrifice has been offered, and there is no expiation now to be made. The name priest, therefore should never be conferred on a minister of the gospel. It is never so given in the New Testament, and there was a reason why it should not be. The proper idea of a priest is one who offers sacrifice; but the ministers of the New Testament have no sacrifices to offer - the one great and perfect oblation for the sins of the world having been made by the Redeemer on the cross. To him, and him alone, under the New Testament dispensation, should the name priest be given, as it is uniformly in the New Testament, except in the general sense in which it is given to all Christians. In the Roman Catholic communion it is consistent to give the name “priest” to a minister of the gospel, but it is wrong to do it.
It is consistent, because they claim that a true sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ is offered in the mass. It is wrong, because that doctrine is wholly contrary to the New Testament, and is derogatory to the one perfect Oblation which has been once made for the sins of the world, and in conferring upon just one class of people a degree of importance and of power to which they have no claim, and which is so liable to abuse. But in a Protestant church it is neither consistent nor right to give the name “priest” to a minister of religion. The only sense in which the term can now be used in the Christian church is a sense in which it is applicable to all Christians alike - that they “offer the sacrifice of prayer and praise.”
To offer up spiritual sacrifices - Not bloody offerings, the blood of lambs and bullocks, but those which are the offerings of the heart - the sacrifices of prayer and praise. Since there is a priest, there is also involved the notion of a sacrifice; but that which is offered is such as all Christians offer to God, proceeding from the heart, and breathed forth from the lips, and in a holy life. It is called sacrifice, not because it makes an explation for sin, but because it is of the nature of worship. Compare the notes at Hebrews 13:15; Hebrews 10:14.
Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ - Compare the notes at Romans 12:1. Through the merits of the great sacrifice made by the Redeemer on the cross. Our prayers and praises are in themselves so imperfect, and proceed from such polluted lips and hearts, that they can be acceptable only through him as our intercessor before the throne of God. Compare the notes at Hebrews 9:24-25; Hebrews 10:19-22.
But I inquire: Does not God understand them? Is it not He who gives His servants a message for the people? He knows just what they need; and if the message comes directly from Him through His servants to the people, it will accomplish the work whereunto it is sent; it will make all one in Christ. Though some are decidedly French, others decidedly German, and others decidedly American, they will be just as decidedly Christlike. 9T 180.1
The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains; and every stone was fitted for its place in the temple, hewed, polished, and tested before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of ax or hammer. This building represents God's spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation, and tongue, and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. These are not dead substances to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones, quarried out from the world by the truth; and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them, and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men; for its Builder and Maker is God. 9T 180.2
Let no one think that there need not be a stroke placed upon him. There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified. 9T 180.3Read in context »
This brother ... said he had received much light, and would labor in altogether a different manner than he had done. The _____ are an excitable people. They will bring every power to bear suddenly, and under great excitement will exclaim, “Is this so? What will you do? Will you keep the Sabbath? Say Yes or No“! They are as sharp as a razor, [and] cut off the ears of the people, ... and that is the end of the business so far as converting them to the truth is concerned. Ev 573.1
Now we have to work with these men who are really intelligent, just as we worked with them one by one in the infancy of the Seventh-day Adventist work; separating from these precious souls their unsanctified ways and manners; talking to them about Jesus, His great love, His meekness, His lowliness, His self-denial. These rough stones we bring if possible into the workshop of God where they will be hewed and squared, and all the rough edges removed, and they be polished under the divine hand until they will make precious stones in the temple of God and shall be living stones emitting light. Thus they may grow up into a holy temple for God.—Letter 44, 1886. Ev 573.2
Publications in Every Language—To give all nations the message of warning—this is to be the object of our efforts....From city to city, and from country to country, they are to carry the publications containing the promise of the Saviour's soon coming. These publications are to be translated into every language; for to all the world the gospel is to be preached.—The Review and Herald, February 9, 1905. Ev 573.3Read in context »
I was shown that the church at ----- have partaken of the spirit of the world and become lukewarm to an alarming extent. When efforts are made to set things in order in the church and bring the people up to the position God would have them occupy, a class will be affected by the labor, and will make earnest efforts to press through the darkness to the light. But many do not persevere in their efforts long enough to realize the sanctifying influence of the truth upon their hearts and lives. The cares of the world engross the mind to that degree that self-examination and secret prayer are neglected. The armor is laid off and Satan has free access to them, benumbing their sensibilities and causing them to be unsuspicious of his wiles. 2T 126.1
Some do not manifest a desire to know their true state and escape from Satan's snares. They are sickly and dying. They are occasionally warmed by the fire of others, yet are so nearly chilled by formality, pride, and the influence of the world that they have no sense of their need of help. 2T 126.2
There are many who are deficient in spirituality and the Christian graces. A weight of solemn responsibility should daily rest upon them as they view the perilous times in which we live and the corrupting influences which are teeming around us. Their only hope of being partakers of the divine nature is to escape the corruption that is in the world. These brethren need a deep and thorough experience in the things of God, and this can only be obtained by an effort on their part. Their position requires them to possess earnestness and unabated diligence, so as not to be found sleeping at their post. Satan and his angels sleep not. 2T 126.3Read in context »
12. God Spends Time on Jewels—We are God's workmanship. The value of the human agent depends wholly upon the polishing he receives. When the rough stones are prepared for the building, they must be taken into the shop, and hewed and squared. The process is often sharp as the stone is pressed down upon the wheel, but the rough coarseness is being removed, and the lustre begins to appear. The Lord spends not His time upon worthless material; only His jewels are polished after the similitude of a palace. Every soul must not only submit to this work of the divine hand, but must put to the tax every spiritual sinew and muscle, that the character may become more pure, the words more helpful, the actions such as God can approve (Letter 27, 1896). 3BC 1154.1
The divine Worker spends little time on worthless material. Only the precious jewels does He polish after the similitude of a palace, cutting away the rough edges. The process is severe and trying; Christ cuts away the surplus surface, and putting the stone to the polishing wheel, presses it close, that all roughness may be worn off. Then, holding the jewel up to the light, the Master sees in it a reflection of Himself, and He pronounces it worthy of a place in His casket. 3BC 1154.2
Blessed be the experience, however severe, that gives new value to the stone, causing it to shine with living brightness (Letter 69, 1903). 3BC 1154.3
A Painful but Necessary Process—By the mighty cleaver of truth God has brought His people, as rough stones, from the quarry of the world. These stones must be squared and polished. The rough edges must be removed. This is a painful process; but it is a necessary one. Without it, we could not be prepared for a place in God's temple. By trial, by warnings, by admonitions, God seeks to prepare us to fulfill His purpose. If we cooperate with Him, our characters will be fashioned “after the similitude of a palace.” It is the specified work of the Comforter to transform us. At times it is hard for us to submit to the purifying, refining process. But this we must do if we would be saved at last (Letter 139, 1903). 3BC 1154.4
Children May Be Polished for God—Patiently, lovingly, as faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God, parents are to do their appointed work. It is expected of them that they will be found faithful. Everything is to be done in faith. Constantly they must pray that God will impart His grace to their children. Never must they become weary, impatient, or fretful in their work. They must cling closely to their children and to God. 3BC 1154.5
If parents work in patience and love, earnestly endeavoring to help their children to reach the highest standard of purity and modesty, they will succeed. In this work parents need to manifest patience and faith, that they may present their children to God, polished after the similitude of a palace (NL No. 28, p. 3). 3BC 1154.6
(1 Peter 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:11-13.) Some Are Not What They Appear—Many, from worldly policy, endeavor, by their own efforts, to become as polished stones, but cannot be living stones, because they are not built upon the true foundation. The day of God will reveal that they are, in reality, only hay, wood, and stubble (Redemption: or the Teachings of Paul, and his Mission to the Gentiles, 78). 3BC 1154.7Read in context »