CHRIST: CORNERSTONE OF GOD'S TEMPLE
This passage records Peter's third recorded sermon in the city of Jerusalem.. The church was but a few weeks or months old. The number of Christians in Jerusalem grew to 5,000 men, not counting women and children. Thus far the work of the apostles had gone on without interruption, and with such great success in Jerusalem itself, it looked like the Christian religion was going to take over the nation of Israel. But it was not to be so. One day as Peter and John were entering the gate of the temple, a beggar who had been crippled from his mother's womb asked. them for a gift. Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” He stood and entered the temple with leaping for joy and praising God.. That wonderful miracle got Peter and John into serious trouble. It was this miracle that produced Peter's third recorded miracle. I want to make a few comments on this sermon.
First, his third sermon was delivered as a result of the first imprisonment of Christians. The temple guard arrested Peter and John, imprisoned them overnight, and the next morning they were put on trial before Annas, the religious and political boss of Jerusalem, along with Caiaphas, the acting High Priest, other family members and the elders and scribes. The leaders demanded, “By what power or by what name have you healed this man.?” That question brought forth Peter's third recorded sermon, and it consisted only of five sentences(Acts 4:8-12). It was a short but powerful sermon.
The first point in his sermon was that this man born crippled was healed by Jesus Christ, whom they crucified but God raised from the dead. “By the resurrected Christ this man stands before you whole, ” said Peter. Then Peter explained the meaning of a scripture in the Old Testament that must have puzzled Jewish leaders and teachers for a thousand years. After stating the crippled man was healed by Jesus of Nazareth whom God raised from the dead, he then said that Jesus of Nazareth is the “Stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” Apparently, this was a statement in the Old Testament that was well known, often read, but not understood by the greatest Jewish scholars; and Peter explained its meaning for the very first time. Peter did not give the book, chapter and verse of this scripture; I suppose he expected them to know the location of this great prophecy. It was actually a statement made by David in Psalm 118:22 which says, “The
stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” For the first time in a thousand years, the Jewish people heard this scripture explained, but sadly most Jewish people who have lived from Peter's day to our day still do not understand what this scripture means.
By the way, what does this scripture mean? In what sense could Jesus be called not just a stone, but a cornerstone? The construction of our modern buildings does not give any importance to a foundation stone or cornerstone, but in ancient times it did have a great meaning. The reference is, without doubt, to the cornerstone in the foundation of God's temple in Jerusalem. Those stones were gigantic stones weighing tons, and that cornerstone was the one to which all other stones were connected to finish the foundation. What Peter meant is that you Jewish leaders or builders have fulfilled this prophecy of David by rejecting Jesus Christ, for God has chosen Him to be the chief cornerstone in His new temple to be built for Jews and the whole world Peter verified this interpretation by connecting the cornerstone with the Christian religion. After calling Jesus the chief cornerstone he said, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The only name by which we can be saved is Christ, not Moses. That statement renders all other religions, but the Christian religion, as useless and worthless, and that includes the Jewish religion. The only way a Jew, Buddhist, Mohammedan, Brahmist, Confutionist or any other person can be saved is by obedience to Christ alone.
Peter further verifies this interpretation in I Peter 2:6 where he quotes these words from Isaiah 28:16, “Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone. elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will be no means be put to shame.” Here we learn cornerstone is a figurative name for the person of Christ. Peter then quoted Psalm 118: 22 again. Paul verifies this interpretation in Ephesians 2:19-22 where he tells Gentile Christians they are no longer strangers to God , but saints and members of the house of God built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” This also explains the statement of Jesus, “Upon this rock I will build My church, “ which is His temple. Jesus is called the cornerstone of the New Testament Temple of God because He built God's new Temple on the divinely revealed confession Peter made that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Finally, and briefly, this chapter records one of the first recorded prayers of the early Christians. After releasing Peter and John and giving them an express command not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John rejoins Christians who had assembled together. Acts 4: 24-26 records this prayer, probably offered by Peter, “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea,, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of David have said, Why did the nations rage and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.”
Peter quoted here from the words of David in Psalm 2:1,2, and that was another prophecy that baffled Jewish leaders and scholars for a thousand years. Peter was the first person to reveal the true meaning of the first two verses of the second Psalm.. What did David mean and who were the nations, kings and rulers who would gather together against the Lord God and His anointed One? Peter interprets the words of David in Acts 4: 27, “For truly against your Servant Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” Who were the people, nations, kings and rulers David predicted one day would plot against God and His anointed One? Peter said they were the Jewish nation, the Roman nation, the rulers of the Jews and the Romans, Pontius Pilate and Herod. Psalm 2:1,2 is no longer a mystery. In Acts 4 Peter announced the fulfillment of two prophecies of David, Israel's greatest king: Psalm 2:1,2 and Psalm 118:22.
Before closing that prayer, Peter asked God to look on the threats these rulers have made, and grant Christians boldness to speak His word. He asked that God would stretch out His hand to heal the sick and let signs and wonders be done through the holy name of Jesus. Immediately the place where they were assembled shook violently. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.