The Church as the Renewed Israel in Christ: A Study of 1 Peter 2:4-10
First Peter 2:4-10 is a theologically rich passage that has important implications for Christology and ecclesiology. In this text, Peter presents Jesus as the one appointed by God, the elect and precious living stone who is the cornerstone, the foundation of the spiritual house made up of those who are united to Christ. Via their relationship with him, believers identify with Christ, the defining and constraining cornerstone, and so they too are living stones. Moreover, Peter also teaches that the church has taken on the role of Israel as Peter’s readers—Christians—are God’s new temple and priesthood. They offer spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. Along with these theological themes, 1 Peter 2:4-10 has also garnered attention as a case study for Peter’s exegetical method of interpreting the Old Testament (OT). The pericope features three explicit OT quotations (Isa 28:15; Ps 118:22 [117:22 LXX]; Isa 8:14) in verses 6-8 and three OT allusions (Exod 19:5-6; Isa 43:20-21; and Hos 1:6, 9; 2:25 LXX) in verses 9-10. While the complexities of Peter’s citations and allusions cannot be addressed fully here, the aim of this study is to explore how Peter presents the church as the renewed Israel, the antitype of Israel through Jesus in 1 Peter 2:4-10.
In claiming that Peter presents the church as the renewed, eschatological, antitypical Israel in 1 Peter 2:4-10, I will argue that this passage does not quite fit either the theological paradigm of covenant theology or dispensationalism. Instead, the theological implications of this passage serves to buttress a mediating view known as progressive covenantalism.1 For covenant theologians, 1 Peter 2:4-10 is a passage that shows a direct correspondence between Israel and the church. For example, Cornelius Venema, commenting on 1 Peter 2:9-10, finds that the language of OT Israel that Peter applies to the church means that “the new covenant church is altogether one with the old covenant church. The Lord does not have two peculiar peoples, two holy nations, two royal priesthoods, two chosen races—he has only one, the church of Jesus Christ.”2 While there is ontologically one people of God throughout history, the question though is whether the nature and structure of the people of God has forever changed due to the coming of Christ and his work on the cross in fulfilling the OT promises and ratifying the new covenant.3 On the other hand, for dispensationalists, the church is not presented as a “new Israel” that replaces or fulfills OT Israel in 1 Peter 2:4-10. Some dispensationalists believe the application of the terminology of national Israel to the church (see 1 Pet 2:9-10) is simply analogical, while others affirm a form of typology whereby the church represents an escalated, initial fulfillment of Israel’s prophecies, but not in a way that negates a future restoration of national Israel.4 More recently though, dispensationalists argue that the original addressees of 1 Peter were Jewish Christians with the entailment being that the OT designations for Israel in 1 Peter 2:9-10 is not primarily directed to Gentile Christians.5 Therefore, before exploring the content of 1 Peter 2:4-10, a brief examination of Peter’s audience is in order.
The Original Recipients of 1 Peter
The claim by some dispensationalists that the addressees of 1 Peter were Jewish Christians is not new as there were some in the early church who also believed the letter was sent to Jewish Christians. However, most scholars in the modern era understand the original recipients to be primarily Gentiles.6 The reasons for affirming that Peter’s readers are mainly Gentiles are quite persuasive. First, the letter appears to be a circular letter as it was sent to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Pet 1:1) regions where Jews lived, but also where there would have been large Gentile populations who would have heard the gospel as Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches and his ministry in Asia (see Colossians and Philemon) indicate. Secondly and more importantly, the internal evidence within the letter shows that a significant readership of 1 Peter was from a pagan or Gentile background as evidenced by 1 Peter 1:14, 1:18, 2:25; 3:6; and 4:3-4.7 That the readers lived in “ignorance” (1:14) points to a past that was characterized by idolatry. Further, based on 1:18, “Peter would scarcely say that Jewish forefathers lived vainly” and given Peter’s description of their past pagan activities (4:3-4) it is “difficult to believe that Peter would characterize Jews as indulging in such blatant sins, whereas the vices were typical of the Jewish conception of Gentiles.”8 It is also interesting that in the midst of the readers’ sufferings, their pagan neighbors are not to confuse them as Jews, but they are to be identified as Christians (1 Pet 4:16).
Therefore, from the very beginning of the epistle, Peter identifies his Jewish and Gentile Christian readers with language of exile and diaspora (1 Pet 1:1, 17; cf. 2:11). Imagery of OT Israel is applied to the eschatological people of God, the church. The exilic language associates Peter’s readers with Israel as does the term Gentiles which refers to non-Christian outsiders in 1 Peter 2:12.9 The prophets anticipated and foresaw the salvation to come in the Christ and such prophecies not only apply to the church, but were specifically intended for the church (1 Pet 1:10-12).
1 Peter 2:4-10: The Church as the Renewed Israel through Union with Christ
Turning now to the text of 1 Peter 2:4-10, the identity and function of the church is presented in a way to reveal that the church is the fulfillment of Israel through Christ.10 Jesus, the resurrected messiah (1 Pet 1:21; cf. 1:3; 3:18), is the “living stone” and the cornerstone laid in Zion (2:4, 6; cf. Isa 8:14-15; 28:16; Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42-44). A living stone is a paradoxical notion, but stone imagery carried messianic connotations and as the stone, Jesus is living since God raised him from the dead (1 Pet 1:21; cf. 1:3; 3:18). Those conjoined to him by faith are the “living stones” of God’s “spiritual house” or new temple (cf. 2 Sam 7:13; 1 Kgs 3:2). This new temple is indwelled by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Pet 1:2; 4:14).11 Jesus is the foundation of the eschatological temple, the church. In addition, the church is “being built up”12 by God (cf. Matt 16:18) for the purpose of exercising priestly service which is the offering of spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet 2:5; cf. Eph 2:20-22). Peter can naturally mix the metaphors as the church is not only the living stones that make up God’s new temple, but the people of God are also the priests who serve in the temple.
The implication of 1 Peter 2:5 is that the “temple in Jerusalem is no longer the center of God’s purposes; rather, the church of Jesus Christ, composed of believers … constitutes the temple of God.”13 Through union with Christ, what is true of Christ (the “living stone,” 1 Pet 2:4, the elect and precious cornerstone, v. 6) is true of the church (the “living stones,” the building which takes it shape from the cornerstone and forms God’s elect race). By being in solidarity with the vindicated and resurrected Lord (vv. 6-7), God’s new temple and household of believers takes on Israel’s identity and role in a heightened, eschatological sense.14 The church is not just the new temple that the OT physical temple foreshadowed, but the church is also the eschatological holy priesthood which offers acceptable spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ. As God’s corporate priesthood, the church communicates God’s glory to the nations (2:7) and mediates God’s blessings in the world (cf. vv. 5, 9) through Christ.15 It is not difficult to see then, given the temple and priestly themes, along with the spiritual sacrifices and the broader theme of union with Christ, that these realities interface with the presence of the Holy Spirit and thus reveals that the new covenant has been ratified as the promises of the new age have dawned in the church. The church is the eschatological people of God, the participants of the new covenant as they are sealed with the blood of Christ (1:2, 18-21).16
The theological conclusion to be drawn from 1 Peter 2:4-5 is that while Peter employs OT cultic imagery to describe the church (temple, priesthood, sacrifices) that link the church back to OT Israel, his description of the nature of the new covenant community is markedly different than national Israel. The church consists of believers who have come to Jesus (2:4) and who are “living stones” unified together as the eschatological temple, a community who in totality is indwelt by the Spirit (2:5; cf. 1:2; 4:14) and not just comprised of Spirit-filled individuals. Moreover, the church is uniformly a holy priesthood (2:5) that offers acceptable spiritual sacrifices through Christ. Such things could not be said of the old covenant community of Israel. The nation of Israel was not a holy priesthood or a spiritual temple and their animal sacrifices were often not accompanied by a whole-hearted devotion or done so in the power of the Spirit. The whole new covenant community is incorporated into Christ with each member being a living stone in the spiritual house. The church is also the holy priesthood “which takes the place of the Levitical priesthood of the old temple.”17 The eschatological advance or heightening characteristic of the typological relationships, in this case an Israel-church typology through Christ, is further elucidated and made explicit in the following verses.
First Peter 2:6-8 reveals how Christ as the divine and eschatological cornerstone divides people into two groups, unbelievers and those who constitute the church, believers. The emphatic contrast between the status of unbelievers and believers is further highlighted as Peter describes the church as God’s chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, special possession, and the people God has claimed through his remarkable mercy (2:9-10).18 These titles of the church are characteristic of its present status since the eschatological salvation is already achieved through Jesus Christ (v. 10): “It is Jesus Christ and the bond of faith which determine and acknowledge the eschatological present and the ascription of titles of election.”19 The OT language that Peter alludes to in verse 9 and 10 is from Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 43:20-21; and Hosea 2:23.
Exodus 19:6 is Israel’s charter statement when it was constituted as God’s people following the exodus and as such features the divine goal of the covenant relationship: if Israel obeys God’s covenant then they would be God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Peter applies these designations to the church because they are the people of the new exodus.20 As a royal priesthood, they have come under the dominion of the sovereign king and so can offer spiritual sacrifices, mediating between God and the nations by proclaiming his mighty acts.21 Furthermore, Peter ascribes his readers as God’s holy nation as members of the new covenant people, for they are devoted to God, God’s possession through Christ.
The Israel and exodus typology is also evident from Isaiah 43:20-21 (cf. Isa 43:16-19) as God’s chosen race is depicted coming out of the Babylonian exile with overtones of new creation. Regardless of ethnic background, the church is now the true race, the antitypical descendants of Abraham, who God redeems through the lamb of the greater exodus (see 1 Pet 1:19; cf. Isa 53:7; note 1 Pet 1:2 with Exod 24:6-8). Lastly, Peter’s use of Hosea 2:23 (cf. Hos 1:9-11) in 1 Peter 2:9-10 indicates that God’s mercy on the church fulfills Hosea’s restoration prophecy. In the context of Hosea, God has disowned Israel because of her idolatry and spiritual adultery. Israel is no longer the covenant people; they are “not my people,” becoming just like a Gentile nation, cut off from the promises. In Hosea 2:23, however, God promises to mercifully restore this faithless, gentile-like nation. According to Peter, the prophecy regarding God’s “Gentile” people returning and becoming his people once again is understood to be typologically fulfilled as God’s mercy is extended to the church, including those who really are Gentiles. As D. A. Carson observes, “The logic of the situation—that if the ancient covenant people have become ‘Gentiles,’ then perhaps God’s mercy may extend to those who are (racially) Gentiles—breeds a second line of thought: God’s merciful handling of his own ‘Gentile’ people becomes an action, a pattern, a ‘type,’ of his handling of even more Gentiles.”22 Throughout this passage, Peter is making it clear that “the privileges belonging to Israel now belong to Christ’s church. The church does not replace Israel, but it does fulfill the promises made to Israel; and all those, Jews and Gentiles, who belong to Christ are now part of the new people of God.”23
Drawing Conclusions from 1 Peter 2:4-10 for Theological Systems
If the above analysis of 1 Peter 2:4-10 is correct, then there are significant ramifications for systems of theology. For Peter, the church is the eschatological people of God that is inextricably linked to the promises and heritage of OT Israel. A variety of OT typological patterns converge in this passage as Peter teaches that the church is the new temple, the new priesthood, and via the new exodus in Christ (Isa 43:20-21; Hos 2:15, 23; cf. Exod 19:1-6) the church is the fulfillment of OT Israel in being the elect race, holy nation, and the people (λαός; 1 Pet 2:9-10; cf. Deut 4:20; 14:2; Heb 2:7; 4:9) set aside for God’s special possession. Further, the church carries out the task that Israel was originally assigned in the aftermath of the Babylonian exile (Isa 43:21): declaring God’s praises and his mighty acts of salvation and transformation (1 Pet 2:9). Dispensationalism fails to account for the typological fulfillments presented in this passage. Peter identifies the church as the restored and renewed Israel through Christ. The church is now God’s people (2:10) because of their faith union with the eschatological cornerstone that has been laid in Zion (2:6). The privileges and identity of Israel are now the church’s in an escalated and heightened sense through the living stone—Jesus Christ—and the salvation he has accomplished in the last days (1:20-21).24 If there was to be a future restoration of national and political Israel, Peter’s allusions to key OT structures (temple, priesthood, sacrifices) with reference to being fulfilled in the church as well as Peter’s application of Israel’s pivotal identity markers to the church renders such a notion to be counterintuitive and unexpected.25 Peter’s understanding of the church as the people of God is emphatically Christocentric and eschatological.
Curiously, progressive dispensationalist Edward Glenny recognizes the typological patterns in 1 Peter 2:4-10, including the element of escalation and advancement intrinsic to typological relationships, but he then nullifies these typological links when he concludes that these typological patterns do “not negate the future fulfillment of the national, political, and geographic promises … made to Israel in these [OT] contexts.”26 If so, Peter’s applications of these texts are purely analogical, not typological. As I have argued, these OT texts featuring Israel’s national/political identity and role which Peter directly applies to the church through Christ are typological because of the fulfillment accomplished by Christ as he establishes the prophesied true temple and executes the new exodus. Glenny is also inconsistent, for Christ can be the final fulfillment of the typological patterns of 1 Peter 2:6-8, but the church is only the initial fulfillment of the pattern described in 1 Peter 2:9-10.27 This is unconvincing, for if Christ, the living stone and cornerstone laid in Zion, is the end of the road for these typological patterns, why would this not be the case for those conjoined to this eschatological stone, the living stones—the church—in these last times (1 Pet 1:20)?
On the other hand, Peter does not just present the church as an equivalence to or in direct continuity with OT Israel as the ecclesiological formulations of covenant theology indicate. Rather, the new covenant community obeys the word by putting on faith in Christ in contrast to those appointed to stumble (2:6-7). Peter’s readers are those who have experienced the new birth (1:3, 23) and conversion (2:9; cf. 2:25)28 in receiving God’s mercy in Christ (2:10). Moreover, according to Peter, the new covenant community is comprised of living stones built together as the spiritual house indwelt by the Holy Spirit because they have come to Christ and are conjoined to this living stone as their foundation. Each member of the new covenant community is considered a living stone; the structure of the new temple is not made up of living and dead stones. The escalation and heightening of the typological relationship between Israel and the church is also unavoidable in this passage of 1 Peter because the church is the restored Israel, for the new covenant community has gone through the new exodus in Christ and thus, in contrast to Israel of old, Peter’s readers, and by extension the whole church, truly are the chosen race, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, and the people of God. While believers need encouragement and they are exhorted to contemplate whether they have experienced the kindness of the Lord (1 Pet 2:3), Peter does not present the church as a mixed covenant community of believers and unbelievers as advocates of covenant theology affirm. Instead, the new covenant people of God belong to Jesus and are joined to him.
The result of my brief look at 1 Peter 2:4-10 suggests that neither dispensationalism or covenant theology can put together all the pieces of what Peter teaches concerning Christ and the church in relation to Israel. The key point is that there is not a straight line directly from OT Israel to the church in the NT. The path from Israel to the church goes through Jesus Christ. Peter can apply Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 43:20-21, and Hosea 1:6-9; 23 to the church in 1 Peter 2:9-10 only because of what Christ has accomplished and fulfilled in being the messianic cornerstone that has been deposited in Zion (1 Pet 2:4-8). The progressive covenantalism framework advanced by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum serves as a mediating position to dispensational and covenant theology and is more faithful to the contours of the Bible’s storyline with respect to the people of God and specifically to passages like 1 Peter 2:4-10. National Israel is a typological pattern not unlike other OT persons, events, and institutions, but Israel is a type of the church in only a secondary fashion because it is Jesus Christ who is the chief antitype and true Israel. It is because of Jesus Christ, the living stone and chosen cornerstone, and the wonderous work he has achieved on the cross that the eschatological people of God, the church, is indeed the new temple, the royal priesthood, the chosen race, God’s possession and holy nation, and recipients of mercy.
1 For the definition, description, and defense of progressive covenantalism, see Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012); Stephen J. Wellum and Brent E. Parker, eds., Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenant Theologies (Nashville: B & H, 2016); and Brent E. Parker, The Israel-Christ-Church Typological Pattern: A Theological Critique of Covenant and Dispensational Theologies (Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2017).
2 Cornelius P. Venema, The Promise of the Future (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 272. For Michael S. Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 719, 795, 1 Pet 2:9 is just one verse of many that he cites in arguing that the church is the fulfillment of Israel. Of course, for Horton, this needs to be understood within the covenant of grace framework where the church is just like Israel of old in being a mixed community comprised of believers and unbelievers. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Rev. ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 633, takes the national idea in 1 Pet 2:9 and other NT texts to argue that organic nature of the covenant and the constitution of the family which figures significantly for his view of baptizing infants.
3 See Stephen J. Wellum, “Beyond Mere Ecclesiology: The Church as God’s New Covenant Community,” in The Community of Jesus: A Theology of the Church (ed. Kendell H. Easley and Christopher W. Morgan; Nashville: B&H, 2013), 183-212, esp. 195-96.
4 For the argument that Peter’s use of Exod 19:6, Isa 43:20-21, and Hos 1:9-10, 2:23 is applied to the church in the form of an analogy, see Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational and Non-Dispensational Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 205-6. In contrast, W. Edward Glenny, “The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition (ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 156-87, contends that use of the OT is typological-prophetic as there is a sense of fulfillment as Peter is not merely comparing Israel and the church in terms of analogy (see esp. p. 180-81, 187). Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation (Nashville: B&H, 2010), 150, seems to concur with Glenny.
5 See Barry E. Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged (NACSBT; Nashville: B&H, 2007), 285-90; Craig A. Evans, “Israel according to the Book of Hebrews and the General Epistles,” in The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel: Israel and the Jewish People in the Plan of God (ed. Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2014), 140; Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel?, 147-48; Craig Blaising, “Typology and the Nature of the Church” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Evangelical Theological Society, San Diego, November 19, 2014), 9; and Jim R. Sibley, “You Talkin’ to Me? 1 Peter 2:4-10 and a Theology of Israel,” SWJT 59 (2016): 59-75. In contrast, Glenny, “The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2,” 156n2, thinks the recipients of 1 Peter were predominantly Gentile.
6 See Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (NAC, vol. 37; Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003), 38-41; Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 50-51; Peter H. Davids, A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude (BTNT 6; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 102-5; Richard Bauckham, “James, 1 Peter, Jude, and 2 Peter,” in A Vision for the Church: Studies in Early Christian Ecclesiology in Honour of J. P. M. Sweet (ed. Marcus Bockmuehl and Michael B. Thompson; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1997), 160-61; Lutz Doering, “‘You Are a Chosen Stock …’: The Use of Israel Epithets for the Addressees in First Peter,” in Jewish and Christian Communal Identities in the Roman World (ed. Yair Furstenberg; Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity 94; Leiden: Brill, 2016), 245; Ray F. Van Neste, “The Church in the General Epistles,” in The Community of Jesus, 137-38.
7 See the helpful chart of these verses in Davids, A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude, 103.
8 Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 39.
9 Bauckham, “James, 1 Peter, Jude, and 2 Peter,” 160. Contra Evans, “Israel according to the Book of Hebrews and the General Epistles, 140; Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel?, 147-48; Blaising, “Typology and the Nature of the Church,” 9; and Sibley, “You Talkin’ to Me? 1 Peter 2:4-10 and a Theology of Israel,” 59-75. Sibley argues unpersuasively that the original readers were Jewish Christians. Moreover, Sibley’s contention that the letter is exclusively for Jewish Christians cannot be proven given the geographic designation of the letter. Overall, Sibley’s reading is colored by his theological agenda for national Israel, resulting in the implication that Gentile believers are second-class Christians since 1 Peter 2:4-10 does not apply to them. For an overview of the church in 1 Peter, including the imagery of the church as the elect, the called, God’s people, God’s flock, the priesthood, the temple, and the reborn, see Allen Black, “Called to Be Holy: Ecclesiology in the Petrine Epistles,” in The New Testament Church: The Challenge of Developing Ecclesiologies (ed. John P. Harrison and James D. Dvorak; McMaster Biblical Studies Series 1; Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012), 226-42.
10 Larry R. Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012), 185, states, “Peter’s letter assumes that all who respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ are now part of the Israel of God (cf. Gal 6:16). But it is a new Israel, a regenerated Israel (Ezek 36:25-27), living under the new covenant ( Jer 31:31-34) established ‘with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish’ (1 Pet 1:19).” For more on the presence of the new covenant in 1 Peter with Christians being the elect people of God experiencing their own trials as sojourners in the wilderness, but delivered by the new exodus lamb in the covenantal death of Christ, see J. W. Pryor, “First Peter and the New Covenant (I),” and “First Peter and the New Covenant (II),” RTR 45 (1986): 1-4, 44-51.
11 For further on the church as the “spiritual house” (1 Pet 2:5) in the sense that the church is where the Holy Spirit dwells and is present, along with the reference of “house” being a description of the church as God’s new temple given the context of the “stone” complex, priesthood, and sacrifices, see Achtemeier, 1 Peter, 155-56, 158-59; Doering, “‘You are a Chosen Stock,’” 255-56; Ernest Best, “I Peter II 4-10—A Reconsideration,” NovT 11 (1969): 270-93, esp. 280; Mary Jo Bailey Wells, God’s Holy People: A Theme in Biblical Theology ( JSOTSup 305; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2000), 216-17; Andrew M. Mbuvi, Temple, Exile and Identity in 1 Peter(LNTS 345; New York: T&T Clark, 2007), 90-95; Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 86-87; contra John H. Elliott, 1 Peter (Anchor Bible, vol. 37b; New York: Doubleday, 2000), 414-18, who unpersuasively argues that “house” refers to household or family in 1 Pet 2:5 with no allusion to the temple. The connection of the spiritual house with the temple of Jerusalem is further underscored by 1 Pet 2:6 with the cornerstone being laid in Zion which also conjures up ideas of the temple. Dan G. McCartney, “House, Spiritual House,” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments (ed. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997), 507-11, thinks that both temple and family/household ideas are merged together in 1 Pet 2:5 (see p. 510). Clearly the imagery of a building made up of stones on the foundation of Christ indicates that the temple reference is foremost. McCartney helpfully observes that the “spiritual house” is permanent and not a temporary arrangement until a proper temple can be reconstituted (see p. 511).
12 In 1 Pet 2:5, οἰκοδομεῖσθε should be translated as a passive indicative as it is never used as an imperative in the NT and only rarely so in the LXX. See Achtemeier, 1 Peter, 155; and Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 106. David Peterson, “The New Temple: Christology and Ecclesiology in Ephesians and 1 Peter,” in Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology (ed. T. D. Alexander and Simon Gathercole; Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 2004), 173, also observes that it would be strange for believers to be commanded to “come” and “be built into a spiritual house” as that “would obscure the point that membership of the church is an immediate consequence of believing in the gospel and being ‘born anew’ (1:22-25).”
13 Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 744. Similarly, Richard T. France, “First Century Bible Study: Old Testament Motifs in 1 Peter 2:4-10,” JEPTA 28 (1998): 35, writes, “The house of God is no longer a building in Jerusalem, but is made up of living stones who themselves had no part in national Israel, but who through being ‘built upon’ Jesus have inherited Israel’s privileged place as the locus of God’s true worship and presence on earth.” G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 741, notes that the “building of the latter-day temple was to occur in conjunction with other restoration promises and was one of the telltale signs that the restoration was commencing.” Mbuvi, Temple, Exile and Identity, 94-95, and Wells, God’s Holy People, 217, also find typological fulfillment as the OT physical temple pointed to the new eschatological reality, the church. For a general discussion of typology in 1 Pet 2:4-10, see Leonhard Goppelt, Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New (trans. Donald H. Madvig; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 153-55.
14 Peterson, “The New Temple,” 172, rightly describes the church from this passage in 1 Peter as “the community of all who have come to Christ and fulfil the role of eschatological Israel. However, this new people of God is not simply an earthly entity, with its locus in Jerusalem or Rome or anywhere else. Its locus is in heaven because it consists of those who have been brought by faith to the resurrected and exalted Christ (2:4-5; cf. 3:21-22).” Similarly, John H. Elliott, The Elect and the Holy: An Exegetical Examination of 1 Peter 2:4-10 and the Phrase βασίλειον ἰεράτευμα (NovTSup 12; Leiden: Brill, 1966; repr., Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005), 198, writes, “All that has been anticipated aforetime under the Old Dispensation has now reached its culmination in the union between the Elect Stone and the Elect Race.”
15 The spiritual sacrifices in 1 Pet 2:5 are not just the proclamation of God’s excellencies though, for surely spiritual sacrifices entail everything that is pleasing to God in one’s conduct and dedication to God by the sanctifying work of the Spirit (cf. Rom 12:1; Heb 9:13-14; 12:28-29; 13:15-16). See Peterson, “The New Temple,” 174-75; Wells, God’s Holy People, 219-21; Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 107-8; Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter (BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 150-51. For a helpful biblical theological treatment of priesthood from the OT to Christ as the eschatological priest and the priesthood of all believers that supersedes the OT priesthood through union with Christ, see Alex T. M. Cheung, “The Priest as the Redeemed Man: A Biblical-Theological Study of Priesthood,” JETS 29 (1986): 265-75.
16 Glenny, “The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2,” 173, 182. Glenny recognizes that the new covenant is in effect and that the recipients of Peter’s letter are now under the new covenant (see p. 179-181). Yet, Glenny holds that the new covenant must also be fulfilled in the future to national Israel. The problem with this view is that the spiritual aspects of the new covenant are considered already and not yet while the supposed physical aspects of the new covenant (i.e. the promised land) is entirely not yet and must be directed to national Israel. However, the new covenant has been ratified through the cross of Christ, there is no future covenantal act and as NT makes clear, the new covenant people of God is the church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles. Those who receive the benefits of the new covenant now and in the future are incorporated into the church.
17 France, “First Century Bible Study,” 35.
18 For discussion of these OT titles and allusions of Israel and their application to the church, see D. A. Carson, “1 Peter,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 1030-33; Elliott, The Elect and the Holy, 38-47; Achtemeier, 1 Peter, 163-68.In regard to the church being a royal priesthood, Mbuvi, Temple, Exile and Identity, 107, observes, “For Ezekiel, the foreigner could not present offerings at the temple nor even serve as a priest [Ezek 44:6-16]. 1 Peter reverses the edict and without apology regards the Gentile believers as part of the new ‘holy’ and ‘royal’ priesthood. Second, we note that 1 Peter does not seem to leave room at all for any other special lineage of priests, Levitical or otherwise. The believers constitute the new priesthood.” These changes from the OT administration to the NT arrangement can only be possible in light of the work of Christ.
19 Elliott, The Elect and the Holy, 47. See also Wells, God’s Holy People, 221, 224.
20 Bauckham, “James, 1 Peter,” 161; Carson, “1 Peter,” 1030-31; Schreiner, New Testament Theology, 743; cf. Wells, God’s Holy People, 222; Jobes, 1 Peter, 158-59.
21 Carson, “1 Peter,” 1030-31.
22 Carson, “1 Peter,” 1032. See also Jobes, 1 Peter, 163-64; Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 114. Bauckham, “James, 1 Peter,” 161, also notes that Peter’s “image of ‘new birth (1.3; 23), effected by God’s word which also accomplishes the new Exodus (1 Pet. 1.24-25; Isa 40.7-8), is probably also to be connected with the prophecy of Hosea. This new birth makes those who previously were not God’s people ‘children of the living God’ (Hos 1:10).” The usage of Hos 1:10; 2:23 is also applied by Paul in Rom 9:23-26. For discussion, see Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 705-8. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, 93, writes, “Unlike Israel these Christians never experienced themselves as unfaithful to the covenant, but they did realize that were once outside God’s favor, that is, rejected.”
23 Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 115. Likewise, Wells, God’s Holy People, 227, concludes, “Not only are Christians given the title λαός (‘people’), which previously served as the ethnic (as well as theological) designation for Jewish Israel; they are also termed (far more specifically) a γένος (‘race’) despite the fact that they are drawn from many nations. This makes the point even more emphatically: that ethnic boundaries are superseded. Prerequisites for belonging to the eschatological λαός are no longer historical or genetic but purely religious: belief in Jesus the Christ.” Cf. Goppelt, Typos, 140-41, 154-55.Contra, Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, 205-6, and Glenny, “The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2,” 156-87.
24 Contra Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel?, 148-50. Vlach’s attempts to counter what he describes as a supersessionist reading of 1 Pet 2:9-10 (whereby the church replaces Israel and believing Gentiles are identified as “Israel”) ultimately fail. Peter’s point is not to argue a one-to-one correspondence between Israel and the church, rather, the typological correspondences reveal that the end-time people of God, the church, is not equivalent or equal to national Israel, but is the far greater covenant community through union with Christ even as it takes on the status and identity of what national Israel was unable to achieve. Israel’s identity markers and titles come over to the church in an escalated sense (a feature indicative of all typological patterns), and once the antitype has arrived given the eschatological orientation, there is no need to posit a future for national Israel. Vlach arguments ignore the eschatological significance of the work of Christ and his theological conclusions are not grounded in actual exegesis of 1 Pet 2:4-10.
25 In lieu of his study of 1 Pet 2:4-10, France, “First Century Bible Study,” 42-43, observes, “How central to Peter’s thinking was the view that the people of God was now, since the coming of Christ, focused not in the national community of Israel but in a reconstituted people of God, drawn from all nations, whose unity was to be found not in political or racial solidarity, but in relationship to Jesus … [I]t is remarkable how reluctant some Christian readers of the Bible are to adopt this central insight of the New Testament theology. Some still look for a central place for national Israel in the future outworking of God’s purpose, basing their belief not on the teaching of Jesus and his apostles but on elements of Old Testament prophecy interpreted without reference to the New Testament’s view that it is in Christ, and derivatively in his people, that those promises have been and continue to be fulfilled. Our study of these verses in Peter’s letter have introduced us to one strong expression of this new Christian perspective, but it does not stand alone. Throughout Peter’s letter, the same perspective keeps emerging, and it is consistently found through the writings of the New Testament, however different they may be in focus and in literary form. New Testament Christians would not have understood the preoccupation of some of their successors [i.e., dispensationalists] with the supposed literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in a specifically Jewish context or if they had understood it, they would have wished to remonstrate with such a reversion to the perspective of the days of preparation before Christ came.”
26 Glenny, “The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2,” 187.
27 Glenny, “The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2,” 186 and for the strong sense of fulfillment in regard to Christ in 1 Pet 2:6-8, see p. 163-68.
28 The imagery associated with light and darkness at the end of 1 Pet 2:9 strongly suggests that conversion is in view. See Achtemeier, 1 Peter, 166-67; Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, 93; Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 116.