God’s Word for You
1 Peter 2:6 Our Cornerstone
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, March 10, 2022
6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Peter has begun to speak about building the church of living stones, and to assure us of the only way that this can be done, he turns to the prophet Isaiah, who pointed ahead to the coming of Christ to be the very cornerstone of the church.
In ancient architecture, the cornerstone was no mere decoration. It was set in place with precision so that the rest of the building would be built according to it rather than to anything else (such as the distance from a street or another building). As long as the cornerstone was correct and correctly laid, the rest of the building would be perfectly aligned, straight, correct, and true. Folk legends about the way this was done are unimportant, because neither Peter nor Paul (Ephesians 2:20) bothers with legends.
Peter’s word here for cornerstone is akrogonaios (ἀκρογωναῖος), sometimes called a “final stone” or the equivalent of kephale gonias “cap stone.” This latter item was the last stone placed on top of an otherwise finished wall, especially at the corner, to keep the two sides properly and securely cemented together. In another passage Peter will soon quote (1 Peter 2:7), another term, capstone, will be brought in as well (we will reserve comments on capstone for then).
“Zion” here is a reference to the true church, not to Judaism as a religion, for whoever rejects Christ is rejected from the church of God. The Old Testament believers from Adam to Malachi and even including Anna, Simeon, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and yes even Mary and Joseph and their fathers Heli and Jacob were still looking forward to the coming of the Savior. Zion is the church as it was in the Old Testament before the coming of Christ, and the eternal church is built on Jesus. As Amos says: “The Lord builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation (Christ) on the earth” (Amos 9:6). And the Sons of Korah sing: “He has set his foundation on the holy mountain” (Psalm 87:1). That foundation is Christ and all of the Scripture’s teaching about Christ.
Our focus here is on Christ as a cornerstone, the stone who was placed carefully and perfectly into the world so that everything built upon him, according to his orientation and alignment, is ideal and pleasing to God. As long as we are set according to Christ, we are right, aligned, correct, and true. If there were anything wrong with Christ, it would mean that the whole building of the church would be wrong, But Christ is perfect; Christ is ideal, the true foundation of the Lord’s temple (Haggai 2:18). Therefore his church is perfect—not because we stones are ideal, but because Christ our cornerstone is ideal. This is why Isaiah says: “The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (or, “will never be dismayed”). The person who puts his faith in Christ has nothing to fear from Judgment Day: No shame, no dismay, no fleeing in terror or in haste. We will be welcomed into eternal dwellings because we are the building, the church, with Christ for our cornerstone.
Pastor Timothy Smith