What does 1 Peter 2:8 mean?
ESV: and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
NIV: and, 'A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.' They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for.
NASB: and, 'A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE'; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this they were also appointed.
CSB: andA stone to stumble over,and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word; they were destined for this.
NLT: And, 'He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.' They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
KJV: And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
In verse 8, Peter concludes a thought begun in the previous two verses. In this metaphor of building a house, Jesus is the key foundation stone or "cornerstone." God placed enormous value on Jesus and chose Him to be the cornerstone. Those who believe in Christ, then, won't ever be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). Jesus is of precious value to us, as well, and by believing in Him we share the honor He receives from the Father.
Those who do not believe in Christ, though, experience Him as a stone in a very different way. In the previous verse, Peter echoes Jesus' own words to the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus also quoted Psalm 118:22, applying it to Himself, describing those leaders as the builders who rejected the stone that God had chosen (Matthew 21:42–26).
Now, Peter references Isaiah 8:14. Isaiah described the Lord as a rock of stumbling for Israel. Peter writes that Jesus, the cornerstone, is exactly the stumbling rock Isaiah was talking about. All who reject Jesus, who refuse to place their faith in Him, will stumble over Him. Why do they stumble over Jesus? What does it mean that they disobey the word? "The word," as Peter has been describing it so far, appears to refer to the message of the gospel. As Paul stated that message, to someone who asked, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).
To disobey the word, then, means to refuse to believe in Jesus. Those who reject Christ as the path to God will stumble over Him. He is either the way to God, or the obstacle that prevents one from reaching God (John 14:6). Peter adds that those who stumble because they disobey the word were destined to do so. He doesn't suggest they are not responsible for their disobedience. Simply put, the destiny of all who reject Christ is to "stumble" over Him.
1 Peter 2:1–12 describes the spiritual house God is building. Jesus is the perfect foundation stone God has chosen for the house. Those who trust in Him are also living stones used to build the house. In addition, we individually serve as both the priests and the spiritual sacrifices, our lives offered to the builder. Thus we must live good lives, as strangers in the world preparing to go home to be with our Father, engaged in battle against our desire to sin.
Peter gets specific about what it means to live as God’s set-apart people. Christ is the foundation stone of the spiritual house God is building. We must engage in battle with our selfishness and desire to sin. This includes submitting to human authorities, no matter how evil or harsh. It means enduring suffering, as Christ did for our sake when He died on the cross. Our role is not to fight a physical war for justice here; we will be going home soon.
First Peter 1 described the glorious reality of our present and future as God’s children, by His grace and through our faith in Jesus. He called us a holy people redeemed by God for new purposes. That means believers must live differently than those in the world around us. In this chapter, Peter narrows down exactly what it means to lead a holy life, including doing battle with our own desire to sin. This also means suffering under human authorities, even unjust ones.
Some 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are facing greater persecution for their faith. How should they respond? How should we respond to suffering today? The apostle Peter writes this letter both to comfort believers and to encourage them to stay strong. He urges them to put all their hope in their perfect future with Christ, and to obey and trust Him in the present, even in their suffering. Christ suffered greatly; now the Christ-followers have the opportunity to follow Him even in this, showing His grace and power in their hopefulness, obedience, and faith.
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