I am going to expound upon the passage found in 1 Peter 2:1-10.
This passage was written by the Apostle Peter in Koine Greek. The
recipients of Peter’s letter were churches in and around modern day
Turkey. The letter was believed to have been written around A.D. 64
following the burning of Rome under Emperor Nero. Nero was an
incredibly ardent persecutor of the Christians and so these churches
were likely under heavy persecution. According to outside resources
such as Fox’s Book of Martyrs this was an incredibly hellacious time
for the church and one of the darkest in the church’s history. (Fox’s
The Apostle Peter was one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples
during His three year long ministry. His name was changed by the Lord
from Simon to Peter or in Greek ‘Petros’ which means rock. He was a
fisherman who left everything to follow the Lord Jesus and His
calling. Peter is often noted for his dominant speaking parts
throughout the Gospels. Despite denying Jesus three times, Peter was
assigned by Christ as the rock upon which He would build His church
(Matthew 16:18). Peter is also credited with authoring the second
epistle that bears his name.
The common interpretation of 1 Peter 2:1-10 is that this letter
was written to these churches because they were suffering under heavy
persecution. These letters are thought to have been written as an
encouragement for these new believers to remain strong and consistent
in the faith. This passage reflects the outside influences that the
church was most likely being tempted by in their walk with the Lord.
If under heavy persecution, they may have been tempted to revert back
to their old lifestyle due to fear for their own lives.
Scripture shows that in Peter’s early ministry he felt called
primarily to his Jewish brethren. In Galatians 2:7-8 Paul writes
“[…] seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the
uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who
effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised
effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),” in recalling past
events. It is also shown in Acts 10:13;15 God telling Peter that he
was to minister to the gentiles also; “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!
[…] What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” We can see
that Peter had to renew his mind in the area pertaining to the
gentiles. This is demonstrated by his astonishment of the Holy Spirit
falling upon Cornelius and his household in Acts 10:44-48. This
encounter changed the way Peter thought of salvation and is surely
why we see him now writing a letter of encouragement to the gentile
believers in Turkey; he had received a fresh revelation that altered
the focus of his ministry.
In 1 Peter 2:1 the believers were told to “Therefore, putting
aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all
slander,”. The word Greek word used for deceit is ‘dolon’. It is
interesting to note that dolan was used to mean deceit by the Greeks
but also that it is the name of an infamous man in their mythology.
Dolon fought for Troy during the Trojan war and became a spy for the
enemy; he was put to death for his treachery (Dolon). Continuing on
through verse 1 we see hypocrisy translated from the word
‘hypokrisis’. Hypokrisis does not just denote falseness, it also
denotes “implying arrogance and hardness of heart, utterly devoid of
sincerity and genuineness” (Bill Mounce). Phthonous is the Greek word
translated as envy in this verse. As Dolon was also personified in
Greek mythology, Phthonous was also. Phthonous was the male half of
the goddess of retribution called Nemesis. Phthonous had many wives
and murdered all of them in jealous rages. His female half would then
evict the retribution that was due the individual (Phthonus). The
word phthonous in Greek culture did not have just the denotation of
envy, but it also had the connotation of sexual jealousy and enacting
In chapter 2:2, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of
the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” the
word for long is ‘epipothēsate ‘. Epipothēsate has the definition of
“to long for, desire, to pursue with love, to long after” (Strong’s
#1971). This denotes a love for the truth of God’s word. The word for
pure is ‘adolon’. Note the similarity to the word ‘dolon’ meaning
deceit. The prefix ‘a’ denotes “without, not” (Greek and Latin).
Dolon itself means deception. So combining these two words together
we get the meaning “without deception”. The word according to
Strong’s definition is unmixed and unadulterated (Strong’s #97).
Continuing through verse 2, logikon is the Greek word translated as
‘the word’. It has the definition of “pertaining to the reason or
logic: spiritual, pertaining to the soul and agreeable to reason,
following reason, reasonable, logical (Logikos). Logikon is also an
adjective. So it is a way of divinely reasoning pure milk. Eis is the
Greek word used for “[…] in resepct to salvation”. Eis is a
preposition meaning “into, unto, to, towards, for, among” (Eis).
Salvation has the meaning of to be saved, healed and delivered
(Sozo).The definition then implies for the believer to grow into
salvation or rather to grow into what God has provided for them and
His fullness for them.
In 1 Peter 2:4 “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has
been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of
God,” the word ‘coming’ is going to be the focus of this verse. The
word for translated as coming is ‘proserchomenoi’. Proserchomenoi can
be translated not only as to come but also as to consent (Strong’s
Greek: 4334). 1 Peter 2:5 “you also, as living stones, are being
built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up
spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The
word for stones is the word lithoi. It is interesting to note that
the word is of unknown origin (Online Etymology).
1 Peter 2:6 “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he
who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” The word for
‘elect’ is eklekton. It was used to refer to the choosing of a king,
politician, priest, judge or an official (The Cross). The word is
kataischynthē and it is translated as the phrase ‘be disappointed’.
It does not only have the meaning of to be ashamed or let down. It
also has the definition of “ (to be put to shame, frustrate, be
confused” (Strong’s Greek: 2617).
In 1 Peter 2:7,“Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious;
but to those who are disobedient,” ‘The stone which the builders
rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’” Timē is translated as
precious. It has the meaning of “a valuing by which the price is
fixed: of the price itself, of the price paid or received for a
person of thing bought or sold” (Strong’s #5092). Continuing through
this verse, the word for chief is the word kephalēn. It can be
defined as the point of origin (Bill Mounce). It is the same root
word for the word ‘head’ used in Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is
head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the
Savior of the body. ” It has the connotation of being the foundation
upon which everything else is built. The next word, “cornerstone” is
the Greek word gōnias. It has the meaning of corner but it has two
uses. It can mean in reference to an external angle or corner and can
also refer to an internal corner or a secret place (Genesis Chapter
1). I find it interesting to note that Psalms 91:1 says that “He who
dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow
of the Almighty.”
1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may
proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His
marvelous light;” The word for ‘chosen’ is the same word ‘eklekton’
used in verse 6. The word translated as ‘generation’ is the Greek
word genos. The word has the meaning of kindred, offspring, family,
tribe, nationality or descent from a particular people, or the
aggregate of many individuals of the same nature, kind, or sort
(Strong’s #1085). The word for royal is the word basileion which
means a place, the king’s court(Strongs’s #933). The word for people
is laos. The word means a people, people group, tribe, nation, all
those who are of the same stock and language (Strongs’s #2992).
Praises is the word aretas. It has the definition of goodness, a
gracious act, virtue, uprightness (Strong’s Greek: 703).
We can see from Peter’s writing in verse 1 that Greek culture
had influenced the way certain words were used and also their
connotation. The Greek word dolon which translates as deceit
represents the deeper cultural and contextual meaning that the word
implies. It is not just referring to being dishonest it is also
referring the behavior pertaining to a spy. This may be a reference
to Galatians 2:4 where we see that there were people pretending to be
Christians among the brethren: “But it was because of the false
brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our
liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into
bondage.” Deceit may therefore have also been referring to those who
were false believers in the early church who were seeking to do harm.
The Greek word for hypocrisy also has a different meaning than the
typical English interpretation. It is a command to Christians to not
only live a life that is free from hypocritical behavior but also to
be free from an unloving and callous heart and attitude. This may
also be in reference to not behaving in the same manner that the
pharisees did in Jesus’ time. The connotation of the word phthonous
(envy) suggests sexual jealousy that was possibly going on in these
churches. It was probably also a reference to the powers of darkness
that ruled in the area of Asia Minor at that time.
The word pure denotes something without mixture. This could be a
reference to false doctrines that were arising during this time
period. 2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people,
just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will
secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who
bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” and 2 Peter
3:17 “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your
guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled
men and fall from your own steadfastness,”. This gives an indication
that doctrines that were not pure were being taught and that the
churches in Asia Minor were to long for the unmixed and true milk of
God’s word. They were also instructed to use spiritual logic to
discern these spiritual matters that allowed them to grow into their
In order to become a living stone as Christ wants us to we
must consent to become a living stone. It is a choice. It is not
something that is forced upon us. It is a choice to become
influential and help build His kingdom. As stones, our origin is
unknown because our kingdom is not of this world. Just as Christ is
of a royal lineage and priesthood we are also and have become His own
family of people joined upon the same Foundation. As of such, we will
never be put to confusion or shame. The goodness of our King and
Father that brought us out of the realm of darkness will sustain us.
Christ is the chief cornerstone upon which all things are made
together. The purpose of a cornerstone is to join us to two adjacent
walls. It is also the brick that lays the foundation or source of the
entire structure. Every other brick is laid in respect and position
to it. This cornerstone connects the two walls so that they can be
connected. This speaks of Christ connecting Jews and Greeks and
tearing down the wall of separation so that we can enter into His
Just as the Apostles suffered persecution, the converts in
Turkey were also having to deal with oppression and threats of
violence from outsiders wanting to destroy them. Most assuredly, they
would have found great encouragement receiving a letter from the
Apostle Peter who walked with Christ and learned directly from Him
for three years. Reminding these converts of their standing in
Christ, their place in His Kingdom and the role that they play as
living stones building upon the foundation of Christ would have
helped their faith in this trying time. It was also important for
them to be reminded of where they came from and how they were brought
out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ Jesus our Lord.
“FOX’s BOOK of MARTYRS.” Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
“Dolon.” Dolon. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
Bill Mounce.” ὑπόκρισις. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Phthonus.” Phthonus. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Greek and Latin Prefixes Table.” Greek and Latin Prefixes Table.
Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
“Strong’s #97 – ἄδολος – Pure – Old & New Testament Greek – Bible
Lexicons – StudyLight.org.” StudyLight.org. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Strong’s #1971 – ἐπιποθέω – Desires, Long, Longing, Yearn – Old &
New Testament Greek – Bible Lexicons – StudyLight.org.”
StudyLight.org. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Logikos – New Testament Greek Lexicon – New American Standard.”
Bible Study Tools. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
“Eis – New Testament Greek Lexicon – New American Standard.” Bible
Study Tools. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
“Sozo – New Testament Greek Lexicon – New American Standard.” Bible
Study Tools. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
“Strong’s Greek: 4334. προσέρχομαι (proserchomai) — to Approach, to
Draw near.” Strong’s Greek: 4334. προσέρχομαι (proserchomai) — to
Approach, to Draw near. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Online Etymology Dictionary.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. 27
“The Cross in Biblical Theology.” Google Books. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Strong’s Greek: 2617. καταισχύνω (kataischuno) — I Shame, Disgrace,
Put to Utter Confusion.” Strong’s Greek: 2617. καταισχύνω
(kataischuno) — I Shame, Disgrace, Put to Utter Confusion. Web. 21
“Strong’s #5092 – τιμή – Honor, Honorable Use, Marks of Respect,
Precious Value, – Old & New Testament Greek – Bible Lexicons –
StudyLight.org.” StudyLight.org. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
“Genesis Chapter 1 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
“Bill Mounce.” κεφαλή. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
“Strongs’s #1085: Genos – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools.”
Strongs’s #1085: Genos – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools. Web.
21 Apr. 2016.
“Strongs’s #933: Basileion – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools.”
Strongs’s #933: Basileion – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools.
Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
“Strongs’s #2992: Laos – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools.”
Strongs’s #2992: Laos – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools. Web.
24 Apr. 2016.
“Strong’s Greek: 703. ἀρέτη (areté) — Moral Goodness, I.e. Virtue.”
Strong’s Greek: 703. ἀρέτη (areté) — Moral Goodness, I.e. Virtue.
Web. 24 Apr. 2016.