Or is he, as several bible-passages say, the main corner-stone of the foundation of God’s spiritual dwelling?
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In the Scriptures, Jesus is often likened to a “corner stone” or “foundation”. An example:
Ephesians 2:19 […] the household of God: 20 having been built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the foundation corner stone; 21 by which the whole building, being fitly compacted together, rises into a holy temple of the Lord; 22 in which you, also, are builded together, for a habitation of God by the Spirit. (LO, highlighting added)
A number of translations have instead “chief corner stone”. The Greek text has akrogôniaios. That word was used as a translation of the Hebrew pinnah which we find in this passage:
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; [a] the one who believes will be unshakable. (HCSB, note sign added)
a “Cornerstone” – the Hebrew text has pinnah. The Septuagint version (LXX) has akrogôniaios, which we find also in the Greek text of the above-quoted Ephesians 2:19.
In the above-quoted passages, Jesus is described as the cornerstone of the foundation – the stone which is laid first. And still, some writers have talked about Jesus as a “capstone”, a stone which is to be laid in place last of all. Some have even formed doctrines around the pyramids in Egypt, and caused people to think that there is a connection between Jesus and the missing capstone of the great pyramid at Gizeh.
This article takes a closer look at that matter. This has to do with such scriptures as the above-quoted Ephesians 2:19–22 and Isaiah 28:16, and 1 Corinthians 3:11, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, 1 Peter 2:6–8 and Psalms 118:22. Even Zechariah 4:7 will be considered here, because some might bring up that verse in this connection.
In the biblical analogy, Jesus is the first stone. The forming of the spiritual house of God that we are talking about here, began with Jesus. He is its “main foundation stone”. Consider even this passage:
1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation no one can lay, except what is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (LO)
Here, the point is that Jesus is the beginning and foundation, symbolically the first and main stone of the dwelling of God which the relevant scriptures refer to. (In this verse, the Greek text has themelios which means “foundation”.)
A note: Some might misunderstand a passage in Matthew 16. The article naa010.htm has more on this, but in short: In that chapter, Jesus is likened to a Rock (Greek petra), while the apostle Simon Peter is likened to a stone (petros).
Again, some writers have formed doctrines around the pyramids in Egypt. They have caused people to think that there is a connection between Jesus and the missing capstone of the great pyramid at Gizeh, and, they have connected that with “spiritual hierarchies” and “pyramid government”. And so, a number of churches have pyramid-like power structures, similar to how other businesses are organised in these days.
The Scriptures do not contain the word “pyramid”. – Let us consider what Jesus said to his disciples, regarding their internal relations and “power-structures”:
Matthew 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. (NASB77)
Please read that scripture-quote slowly and with thought, at least two times. It shows that Jesus’ disciples were brothers, equal, and that they were not to have any masters (“spiritual leaders”) except Jesus, and no spiritual fathers except God the Father who is in Heaven.
(Regarding “spiritual authority” – the question, who can speak for God? – see the article nsa060.htm. The article nea030.htm sorts out the “servant leadership” dogma. The article nsa070.htm has some notes on the words and concepts “clergy” and “laity”. The article nea020.htm takes a closer look at the concept “ordination”, and shows that it does not have any support in the Greek text of the New Testament.)
The saints formed a spiritual “house of God”. Jesus and the apostles formed its foundation. (Ephesians 2:20 mentions even the prophets in that connection.) 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 6:16 record how the apostle Paul used of that spiritual “house of God” the Greek noun naos which meant “a dwelling” and was related to the verb naiô, “to dwell”. That refers to God dwelling in the saints, each of them, through his Holy Spirit. That has nothing to do with pyramids-structures or “spiritual hierarchies”.
(“Saints”: Here, that word refers to those who received the Holy Spirit in biblical times, first century CE or earlier.)
A note: Ancient Greek had a word for “capstone”, such as a pyramid apex (top, cap) – koruphôsis – but that word is not found in the Greek NT text, and again, the Scriptures do not mention pyramids or capstones.
When it comes to Jesus, the word symbolically used of him is akrogôniaios (Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:6, and Isaiah 28:16 in the Septuagint version). That word refers to a foundation stone. Not the last stone on top, but the main corner-stone of the foundation – the beginning and the first stone of the whole building.
This is what ‘Greek-English lexicon’ by Liddell and Scott (Clarendon Press, 1940) has on the word akrogôniaios:
A. at the extreme angle, ἀ. λίθος corner foundation-stone, LXX Is.28.16, Ep.Eph.2.20.
A note: In that definition, the word “angle” refers to a corner. And again, an ἀ. λίθος (akrogôniaios lithos) is a corner-stone of the foundation.
Indeed, Jesus was the first “stone” of the foundation of God’s spiritual dwelling, which was then built further. The saints were described as “lively stones”, being “built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). This was symbolic language which referred to the fact that God came to dwell in those people, through his Holy Spirit. – Under the Old Covenant, God’s dwelling was a physical construction (originally like a large tent, later a temple), but the New Covenant’s “dwelling of God” is instead a spiritual “house”, consisting of Jesus and others whom God dwells in, through his Holy Spirit.
In all likelihood, it comes from Freemasonry. The Freemasons [b] (who, among other things, have put the pyramid on the dollar bill) [c] talk about a future time when their “lord” will be placed on top of a power-pyramid. – Some religious writers who have copied that Freemason-precept, have caused people to believe that the Bible talks about Jesus as a “capstone” [d] or “the last stone to be placed on top of a pyramid”. But again, the Bible does not say anything of that kind. Instead, Jesus is symbolically pictured as the first stone, the main corner-stone of the foundation.
b Regarding Freemasonry: It is not “merely an old secret society for men of power” as some want people to believe. It is actually a religion with priests, altars and temples, and its ultimate “lord” and “god” is Satan. The article nwa040.htm has more on this.
c Under the next heading, there are some notes on the pyramid on the dollar bill.
d The 1769 edition of king James’ bible does not contain such words as “capstone” or “top-stone”, but a number of translators have put words of that kind into Zechariah 4:7. However, that verse is not about pyramids-structures. It talks about clearing a place on Mount Zion in order to make place for a house of God, and laying the corner-stone of its foundation. Zechariah 4:7 and its translation and meaning is considered later in this article.
Many people have been caused to think that the American one-dollar bill has an “eye of God” on the capstone which hovers above the pyramid which is portrayed on that bill. But, the eye on that hovering capstone stone belongs to an idol; it is the eye of Horus the son of Isis, ultimately a link and reference to Satan. – Apparently, the layout of that dollar bill was suggested by a Freemason (Henry A. Wallace), and was then accepted and put into use by another Freemason (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
The earlier quoted Ephesians 2:19–21 and 1 Corinthians 3:11 record how the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus and Corinth, regarding Jesus as the corner-stone of the foundation.
Please note that in those passages, Jesus and the apostles and the prophets are not described as being “on top”. No, they are described as forming the foundation which carries the rest of the building, with Jesus as the first stone of that foundation, on which the whole building grows into a spiritual “dwelling of God”.
In the earlier quoted Isaiah 28:16, the “cornerstone” is a part of the foundation. That is what even this passage refers to:
Psalms 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. (NKJV)
Jesus quoted that passage, Psalms 118:22–23. We read:
Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? (NKJV)
(Mark 12:10–11 and Luke 20:17 are similar passages.)
Even the apostle Peter quoted Psalms 118:22, see Acts 4:11. Peter referred to this cornerstone symbolism also in one of his letters – he quoted Isaiah 28:16, “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable”, HCSB.
These notes on Zechariah 4:7 are included here because a number of translators have put into that verse such words as “capstone” or “top-stone”. Even some lexicon-makers have given their support to that concept. – Let us take a closer look at that verse, and consider what kind of a stone it actually refers to.
Zechariah 4:7 What art thou, thou great mountain, before Zorobabel? thou must be made even. And he shall bring up the first stone so that men shall cry unto him: good luck, good luck. (TRC)
As you can see, that passage refers to a mountain (hill) which was to be made “even” – plain, level. That refers to clearing a place for the foundation of a house of God (temple) on mount Zion. [e]
And, what is the crying (shouting) of “good luck” or “grace” which that verse refers to? Well, even today it is a custom to have special ceremonies when the foundation of a larger building is laid.
Early English translations, such as Wycliffe (1395) and Coverdale (1535) had in that verse “the first stone”. Some versions have “headstone” (KJV1769) or “chief stone” (DR1899) or “corner-stone” (NOY). Even that is correct because the main corner-stone of a building’s foundation is seen as a “headstone”, “chief stone”. And again, it is an ancient custom to have special ceremonies when the cornerstone (the first foundation stone) of a larger building is laid.
But, a number of later translators have changed the wording in Zechariah 4:7, probably because of influence from Freemason dogmas (the pyramid-structure is very dear to them). They have made it to “capstone”, “top-stone” or similar.
The Hebrew words in question are eben, “stone”, and roshah which is a form of the noun rosh which was used in several different meanings, such as “head”, “chief”, “principal”, “beginning” and “first”.
In the above-quoted Zechariah 4:7, the mention that the mountain was to be made even (level), obviously refers to clearing a place for the foundation of a temple. And again, the mention of people shouting “good luck” or “grace”, obviously refers to the custom of having special ceremonies when the first corner-stone of a building’s foundation is laid.
e Mount Zion: Either the earthly one, or the heavenly Mount Zion. – It could even be that Zechariah 4:7 was prophetic, with symbolic words, concerning the building (formation) of a spiritual “house of God” of the kind that was mentioned earlier. In that connection, Jesus was the “first stone”, the main corner-stone of the foundation of a spiritual dwelling of God.
And again, as the apostle Paul noted, “for other foundation no one can lay, except what is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11, LO).
See also the “recommended reading” section, below.
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Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters
An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa090.htm
Matthew 16:18, “I will build my assembly, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it”. What and where was the ekklêsia or assembly which Jesus said he would form? Was it an earthly religious organisation as some claim, or something else? → naa010.htm
What does the Bible say about authority? Who has biblical, spiritual or religious authority? Who can speak for God? → nsa060.htm
Is “servant leadership” a biblical concept? On what the Bible says about leadership among Jesus’ disciples. → nea030.htm
On the words and concepts “clergy” and “laity”. → nsa070.htm
What does the Bible say about ordaining or ordination? How did the saints choose their elders? Were those elders “ordained”, and did they function as “priests” of some kind? → nea020.htm
Freemasonry and Freemason halls – things believers should know about them. → nwa040.htm
Jesus warned about false prophets, deceivers and deception. He said that many would be deceived. → noa090.htm
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