1 Peter 2:9-10 "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
Peter uses several descriptive phrases to remind us who we are and why we are here. The same expressions were applied to Israel in the Old Testament. The church of Christ which consists of both Jews and Gentiles is the true Israel of God (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:26-29; 6:16).
According to Peter, we are:
A Chosen Generation
As Israel was God’s chosen people of old (Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Isaiah 43:10, 20; 44:1-2), so God chose all of us who would believe and obey the gospel of Christ to be His family (Mark 16:15-16; John 3:3-5; Galatians 3:16-29; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:22-25).
A Royal Priesthood
Israel was “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). Peter had already spoken of the church as a “priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). We are royal because of our relationship to Christ, who is King (Acts 2:30-36; Ephesians 2:6; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10).
A Holy Nation
Israel was also “a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). The holiness which characterizes God’s church was alluded to earlier (1 Peter 2:5). We are to be separate from the world and devoted to God (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5).
His Own Special People
The King James Version translates “a peculiar people”. Peculiar is not intended in the sense of odd or weird, but special. A more literal rendering is followed in the American Standard Version: “a people for God’s own possession”. Israel was “a special treasure”, “a special people” unto God (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18). They were made for Him and belonged to Him in a special way (Isaiah 43:21; Malachi 3:17). We are God’s special possession having been redeemed by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Peter also tells us why we are here: “that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The church is not without purpose. It is literally to “tell forth the excellencies” of God. This is the reason God made Israel (Isaiah 43:21). Now, we, by word and example, are to make known the perfect virtues of the God who made us (cf. Isaiah 42:12; Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 2:10).
God’s calling came through the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:36-41; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). Darkness is the realm of Satan and sin (John 3:19; Romans 2:19; 13:12; Ephesians 4:18; 5:8, 11; 6:12; 1 John 1:6; 2:8-11). Light is the realm of Christ and righteousness (Isaiah 60:1; Matthew 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Ephesians 5:8, 13-14; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:5, 7; 2:8-11). We are “turned” and “conveyed” from one realm to the other when we obey the gospel (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13).
So we can better understand who we are, Peter reminds us of who we were: “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” This is a quotation from Hosea 2:23. Paul cites it in Romans 9:25-26, and applies it to the Gentiles who became Christians, as Peter apparently does here. All of us were once separated from God by our sins but in answering the call of the gospel we were reconciled to God through the offering of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). If it were not for God’s compassion and pity towards us, we would all still be in our sins but now we are a special people with a special purpose.
May we never forget who we are and why we are here.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135