Peter invites us to come to Jesus and be built up like living stones “as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” (1 Pet. 2:5). This appeal presents the church as the reality anticipated by the old covenant temple and priesthood. What does this word picture imply?
First, the church is special. Solomon’s temple was an elaborate stone building. The intricately-carved wood on the interior walls was overlaid with gold. But what made the temple sacred was God’s presence. On the day Solomon dedicated it, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11). The true “spiritual house” is even greater than the stone building foreshadowing it. The church of Jesus Christ is a growing and breathing temple, built of “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5).
Second, the church is holy. The Aaronic priests presented animal sacrifices on the bronze altar in the temple court. Detailed regulations governed every offering. The priest was to be a healthy man, free of disability or disease. And every bull, goat, or lamb was to be free of blemish. The holiness of the sacrificial system pointed to the purity of the church, the “holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5). “Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” the Bible says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1:14-15)
Peter’s temple talk is both encouraging and challenging. A Christian is a very special person. God’s presence is in his heart and life. He is a living and breathing stone in the Lord’s sacred temple. But this great honor comes with responsibility too. A Christian must be as careful to abstain from the pollutions of the world as the priests were to avoid contaminating their offerings.