What does it mean that Jesus and believers are living stones in 1 Peter 2:4-5?
The term living stones in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Jesus, who is described in the previous verse as the “living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4). Together, these two verses picture how Christ and His followers are joined by God Himself: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5).
The foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.” The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation. The living Stone is “precious” to those who believe (1 Peter 2:7), but some men reject the living Stone in order to build their lives their own way, not God’s way (see Psalm 118:22 and Luke 6:46–49). Unbelievers cast this living Stone aside, not caring that Jesus is the only true foundation upon which they can build securely (1 Corinthians 3:11).
In a metaphor much like that of the living Stone, Jesus is described as the chief cornerstone in Ephesians 2:19–22. Peter references Jesus as the cornerstone in Acts 4:11–12, stating that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” God accepts no one who refuses to become a part of His building. And God is just like all builders—He has a foundation upon which all workers must build (Matthew 7:24–27).
Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church that Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16:18). As living stones, we have new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As integral parts of the building of God, we have security in Christ (John 6:37). As the Master Builder, God places His living stones just where He wants us to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). As living stones, we are connected to one another in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). Our Lord, the foundation Stone, is alive forevermore and will never crumble. He will support us eternally.
Peter goes on to describe the function of the living stones: to “declare the praises” of Him who called us out of the darkness of sin into the light of life and glory (1 Peter 2:9). This is the “job description” of a living stone: a speaker of praise, a declarer of truth and love and light. The spiritual house God is building is designed for His glory, and we, the living stones, glorify the Lord in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).