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Holman Bible Dictionary


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The stone laid at the corner to bind two walls together and to strengthen them. Used symbolically as a symbol of strength and prominence in the Bible. The figure is often applied to rulers or leaders (Psalm 118:22 ; Psalm 144:12 ; Isaiah 19:13 NIV, REB, NAS; Zechariah 10:4 ). God promised through Isaiah that Zion would be restored, resting on the cornerstone of the renewed faith of Israel (Isaiah 28:16 ). Jeremiah declared that Babylon would be so utterly devastated that nothing useful would remain, not even a stone for use in a foundation (Jeremiah 51:26 ).

In the New Testament Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16 are quoted (or alluded to) and applied to Christ. The symbolism is clear: Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation of faith. The Synoptic gospels quote Psalm 118:22 after the parable of the wicked tenants to show the rejection and ultimate triumph of Christ ( Matthew 21:42 ; Mark 12:10 ; Luke 20:17 ; compare Acts 4:11 ; Ephesians 2:20-22 ).

In 1 Peter 2:4-8 , the two cornerstone passages are quoted in addition to Isaiah 8:14 . Here the appeal to the reader is to come to the living stone (Jesus) the people rejected but precious in God's sight. This is substantiated by a quote from Isaiah 28:16 . There then comes a warning: those who believe consider the stone to be something precious; but those who do not believe are warned that the stone which they have rejected has become the head of the corner (Psalm 118:22 ) and, further, this stone will make them stumble and fall (Isaiah 8:14 ; compare Romans 9:33 ). Believers are encouraged to become themselves living stones like the Living Stone and be built into a spiritual house ( 1 Peter 2:5 ). See Rocks and Stones.

Phil Logan

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Cornerstone'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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