1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God's] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people dedicated to God, a nation for him specially to possess that you might tell forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his glorious light (Westminster Press)
Phillips: But you are God's "chosen generation", his "royal priesthood", his "holy nation", his "peculiar people" - all the old titles of God's people now belong to you. It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of him who has called you out of darkness into his amazing light. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But as for you, you are a race chosen out, king-priests, a set-apart nation, a people formed for [God’s own] possession, in order that you might proclaim abroad the excellencies of the One who out of darkness called you into participation in His marvelous light, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and ye are a choice race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired, that the excellences ye may shew forth of Him who out of darkness did call you to His wondrous light;
BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN RACE: humeis de genos eklekton: (1Peter 1:2; ; Ps 22:30; 33:12; 73:15; Isa 41:8; 44:1)
Related Resource - What Does God Think Of Me Now? - Understanding our position in Christ
But you (see discussion of the importance of terms of contrast) - You is emphatic in the Greek which sets up a dramatic contrast with those Peter has just described who stumble over the Corner Stone into a Christless eternity.
Chosen (1588) (eklektos) is a word which ultimately speaks of the grace of God. It should be emphasized that the proper conclusion (interpretation of the meaning) of "chosen" (eklektos) in each NT use depends on the context.
Eklektos means those selected or picked out and in the Scripture usually defines one who is the object of choice or of divine favor. Although it is difficult to understand with finite minds, it is important to note that the fact that some are chosen does not imply the rejection of those not chosen. God does not predestine some to eternal death.
In the Old Testament God did not choose Israel because they were a great people, but because He loved them. Moses instructed Israel to separate from and even destroy the pagan influences around them when they entered the promised land, the reason being that…
The concept of God's choosing a "race" is seen again when Moses addressing Israel explaining that…
The Psalmist writes
Christians are not "better" people than any other man or woman but they are "blessed" people. As such they are a distinct "kind" of human being, almost like a separate "genetic variety". They have been specially "chosen" by God for His own very specific purposes. Their privilege as the chosen also brings responsibility. A child of the King of kings should bear a family likeness, so that others will come to know Him as the King of kings.
Race (1085) (genos from gínomai = become) refers to offspring, posterity, "kin", family or lineage, stock. The NT frequently uses genos (as in the present verse) to refer to a race or division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent (Who's line do you belong to - Adam's or Christ's?) and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type. Believers should be recognizable as "a distinct human type". Race defines a class or kind of people unified by community of interests, habits, or characteristics.
Matthew Henry writes that…
A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD: basileion hierateuma: (Ex 19:5,6; Isa 66:21) Peter's concept of a royal priesthood originates from Exodus 19 Jehovah declared to Moses His message for Israel…
Royal Priesthood - Guzik writes that "The offices of royalty and priesthood were jealously separated in Israel, but Jesus, who is our King and Priest, has brought them together for His people."
Spurgeon - “Ye” are to be like Melchisedec, in whom the two offices of priest and king were combined in one person. More then that, “ye” are to be like your Lord, in respect to his royal priesthood. That he should have “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and his Father,” seems to be an honor which is far too high for us. It appears to bring us almost too near our Lord, yet it is not So, for Peter wrote, under divine inspiration, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,” (1 Peter 2 Commentary)
Royal (934) (basileios) is used only here and refers to that which belongs to, is appointed to or is suitable for a king. The idea is "fit for a king". It describes one of of kingly ancestry or that which is relating to, or befitting a king, queen, or other monarch. This verse is the only NT use of basileios, which is found in the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Exodus 19:6 (quoted in part by Peter) and Exodus 23:22.
MacArthur writes that basileios "generally describes a royal residence or palace (cf. Luke 7:25), but it can also refer to a sovereignty or monarchy
Moulton and Milligan have found it used in the phrase "the palace of the satrap Saitaphernes.
What an incredible privilege NT believers possess in Christ. In the OT, even the kings of Israel did not serve as a priest, and the one who tried was judged by God (read about it in 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). No so for NT believers who are of royal lineage in Christ the King of kings.
Priesthood (2406) (hierateuma from hierateúo = to officiate as a priest; used only here and in 1Peter 2:5) describes the priesthood as a fraternity or as a body of priests. The spiritual house he mentioned in 1 Peter 2:5 [note] turns out to be a royal house, the dominion of a royal family.
Peter says all Christians are priests to God "a holy priesthood (who can now) offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (see notes 1 Peter 2:4-6)
Our holy priesthood is made possible by our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (see note Hebrews 4:14), therefore we have complete and full access to the Father. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (see note Hebrews 4:16).
Later in his epistle the writer of Hebrews adds this exhortation - Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (See notes Hebrews 10:19; 20; 21; 22) (Comment: NT believers are not to go to God through any other human, but only through the one Mediator, Jesus Christ [see 1 Ti 2:1-8] Who is forever seated at the right hand of God in glory, interceding for us.)
You may be saying "It's wonderful to be a royal priest." but this truth has little impact on your life. Although believers look like everyone else, our speech and actions should cause others to ask, "What's different about her, about him?"
Although speaking to the remnant of Israel who would be saved by faith in Messiah, Gentile believers are now included in Jehovah's promise that…
In the NT John writes that Christ…
And not only are we priests today with access to the King, but one day soon in the coming kingdom of Christ we will reign with Him for 1000 years (see Millennium) John exclaiming…
In God's eyes we are royalty!
This is a far greater privilege than even belonging to the British royal line, although we often lose this eternal perspective. Indeed, what a privilege but also what a responsibility! Every day we represent "the King of kings" Who is the "ruler over the kings of the earth" (Rev 1:6-note). Let us determine that our conduct demonstrates our "royal bloodline" and gives a proper opinion to the "commoners" of our King Who desires to also be their king!
A child of the King of kings
Living Like Royalty - In the fall of 1997, I had my first closeup look at royalty. Zeeland, Michigan, the small Dutch town where I was born, was celebrating its 150th anniversary, and Princess Margriet and her husband honored the city with an official visit from the Netherlands.
A child of the King of kings should bear a family likeness.
A HOLY NATION: ethnos hagion: (Ps 106:5; Isa 26:2; Jn 17:19; 1Cor 3:17; 2Ti 1:9) (Torrey's Topic Titles and names of saints)
Spurgeon - An holy nation, a peculiar people - You have national privileges. God reckons you not as a mob or a herd of men, but as a nation, and a nation with this peculiar hall-mark upon you, that you are “a holy nation.” This is the true token of your nationality that you are “holiness unto the Lord,” “a peculiar people” belonging to God alone, marked off from the rest of mankind as peculiarly his. You are not, and you are not to be as other men are, you are “a peculiar people.” Your road is not the broad one where the many go, it is the narrow one which the few find, your happiness is not worldly pleasure, but pleasures at the right hand of God which are for evermore, You are “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2 Commentary)
Regarding the words nation (ethnos) and people (laos) Vincent remarks that "The distinction between these three words cannot be closely pressed. Race emphasizes the idea of descent; nation, of community. Laos, people, occurring very often in the Septuagint, is used there mostly of the Israelites, the chosen people. The same use is also frequent in the New Testament; but it is employed in a more general sense, as by Luke 2:10. (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament)
Holy (40) (hagios = set apart ones, separated ones, sanctified ones, holy ones) is literally a holy one and depending on the context refers to whoever or whatever is set apart (sanctified) for a special purpose.
New Testament believers are holy ones both in character and conduct having been set apart by God to be exclusively His, to be dedicated to Him and to manifest holiness of heart and conduct in contrast to the impurity of pagan unbelievers.
Hebrews explains that…
In the Old Testament many things and people were divinely set apart by God for His own purposes. The Tabernacle and Temple and all their furnishings-supremely the Ark of the Covenant and the holy of holies-were set apart to Him. The tribe of Levi was set apart for His priesthood, and the entire nation of Israel was set apart as His people. The tithes and offerings of the people of Israel consisted of money and other gifts specifically set apart for God. Under the New Covenant, however, such holy things as the Temple, priesthood, Ark, and tithes no longer exist. God’s only truly holy things on earth today are His people, those whom He has sovereignly and graciously set apart for Himself through Jesus Christ. The new temple of God and the new priesthood of God are His church, which Peter here refers to figuratively as a holy nation.
Hagios is used throughout the New Testament to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness: Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on. The secular and pagan use pictured a person separated and dedicated to the idolatrous "gods" and carried no idea of moral or spiritual purity. The manmade gods were as sinful and degraded as the men who made them and there simply was no need for a word that represented righteousness! The worshipper of the pagan god acquired the character of that pagan god and the religious ceremonies connected with its worship. The Greek temple at Corinth housed a large number of harlots who were connected with the "worship" of the Greek god. Thus, the set-apartness or holiness of the Greek worshipper was in character licentious, totally depraved, and sinful.
The Bible writers could not coin new terms since they would not be understood, and were therefore forced to use those already in use. However, while the technical and root meanings of this pagan religious term was taken over by the writers, yet by the use in the NT, the moral and spiritual character was changed and elevated by the gospel.
Kenneth Wuest writes that…
The idea inherent in hagios is the taking something filthy, washing it and setting it apart as something brand new, useful for a different purpose, which is a picture of salvation for we who were filthy with sin were washed in the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, and set apart to now be God's own possession.
Believers are now a holy nation who have been set apart from the world…
by the sanctifying work of the Spirit (1 Peter 1:2-see note 1Peter 1:2)…
The fundamental ideas of a saint include…
One who is devoted to His service
One who is a partaker of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4-note)
Although the saint lives in the world, he or she must always in one sense be different from the world and continually choose to separate himself or herself from the world. His standards are not the world's standards. (click note on Romans 12:2 regarding not being squeezed into world's mold) He is "in the world" but not "of the world".
A saint is like a boat -- the boat's purpose is fulfilled when it is in the water, but it's function and usefulness deteriorates when water gets in the boat. So too for saints when too much of the world gets into them. Saints must keep their "vessels" in the water of this word but not let the water of the world get into their "vessel"! Paul has a parallel thought writing to young Timothy to take of the truth that
The term saints does it refer to a condition after death, for these "saints" were very much alive at Philippi. Although you may have been taught that saints are a special, higher order of Christians who accomplished extraordinary good deeds and lived an exemplary life, the Bible teaches that sainthood is not an attainment but a state into which God by grace through faith calls men and women of all stations of life, whether under the Old or New Covenant. So now next time you meet a believer, address then as "Saint so-and-so" and watch the reaction! It goes without saying however that we often do not think or act like saints, in the popular sense. But hagios speaks of our identity (or our position) in Christ. We are holy ones in our Lord, even when we are unfaithful and act unsaintly. Being a saint has nothing at all to do with one’s degree of spiritual maturity or rank. It refers to any person who is saved, who is set apart by God for Himself in His Son Jesus Christ. Because God sees us as He sees His Son, as "those who have been sanctified (consecrated, purified, made holy) in Christ Jesus, saints by calling." (1Co 1:2) Like all other believers, the Christians at Corinth were not saints because of their spiritual maturity (cf. 1Co 3:1–3), but because they were “saints by calling,” a reference to their call to salvation.
Wuest adds that…
Here in 1Peter 2:9, Peter is clearly making an clear allusion to Exodus 19:6 in which Jehovah gave Moses this message…
God had clearly commanded Israel to "to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean" (Lev 10:10) but they refused to be different and thus disobeyed God. Israel forgot that she was holy unto the LORD, and that her holy privilege conveyed responsibility to be holy as God was holy. She began to make profane choices that broke down the walls of separation that made her special and distinct.
Israel proceeded to become like all the corrupt idolatrous pagan nations around them and this profaning ultimately led to their loss of usefulness to God and to their destruction (but not to their annihilation).
The body of Christ, the church, is of most value to God when it is least like the world in which it exists to be an ambassador of reconciliation.
PEOPLE FOR GOD'S OWN POSSESSION: laos eis peripoissin:
This phrase is variously rendered as…
literally a people for possession, acquisition or purchase (i.e. "a peculiar property")
[God's] own purchased, special people (Amplified)
a special people (BBE)
people who belong to God (GWT)
that belongs to God alone (ICB)
a people God means to have for Himself (Knox )
a purchased people (Montgomery)
the people who belong to Him (Moffat)
a people to be a personal possession (NJB)
His own special people (NKJV)
peculiar people (KJV, Phillips, Macent)
you are God's very own (TLB)
a people belonging specially to God (Weymouth)
a people acquired (Young's Literal)
Compare the OT passages which teach a similar truth about Israel…
Exodus 19.5 “my own possession among all peoples” (RSV)
Malachi 3.17 “my special possession” (RSV)
Isaiah 43.21“The people whom I formed for myself” (RSV)
UBS Handbook emphasizes that…
The word for people here is laos, a term used for Israel in the Old Testament to describe its intimate relationship with God; this term is now used of the Christian community. What is being emphasized here is that the Christians now have a relationship to God which is different from that of non-Christians: they are God’s people and are completely dedicated to him. (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series)
Possession (4047) (peripoiesis from peripoieomai = literally means to make around oneself and then to acquire or purchase) means that which is acquired by purchase with the corresponding idea of preservation of that which is purchased.
In Hebrews 10:39 (note) the meaning of peripoiesis is that of experiencing of security, keeping safe or preserving.
In 1Thessalonians 5:9 (note) and 2 Thessalonians 2:14 the thrust of peripoiesis is to describe a gaining or obtaining of something, respectively salvation and glory.
The root verb peripoieomai is used by Paul in his charge to the Ephesian elders exhorting them to…
Peripoiesis is used 5 times in the NT…
Peripoiesis is used 3 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Greek translation of the Hebrew OT), Malachi's use paralleling a similar use by Peter. Jehovah speaking through His prophet Malachi describes the Jews who will be His own possession declaring…
Christians are a special people because God has preserved them for Himself. we are His possession now:
Marvin Vincent writes that "peculiar" (KJV) is literally…
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Vance Havner on "a peculiar people"…
God's people are "a peculiar people" (I Peter 2:9) which means "a purchased people." The Greek word here carries the idea of making a ring around something to mark it as one's own. Christ has made a ring around us and claimed us for Himself. We hear these days about "cheap grace" and how it doesn't mean much to be a Christian. But salvation is the costliest item on earth. It cost our Lord everything to provide it and it costs us everything to possess it.
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A Special People…
THAT YOU MAY PROCLAIM THE EXCELLENCIES OF HIM WHO HAS CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS: hopos tas aretas exaggeilete (2PAAS) tou ek skotous humas kalesantos (AAPMSG): (1Pe 4:11; Isa 43:21; 60:1, 2, 3; Mt 5:16; Eph 1:6; 3:21; Phil 2:15,16)
That - see discussion of importance of observing terms of purpose or result (so that, in order that, that, as a result).
Proclaim (1804) (exaggello from ek = out + aggéllo = messenger… who speaks and acts in place of one who has sent him) describes a complete proclamation, for as Vines says those verbs (like exaggello) which are compounded with ek often suggest what is to be done fully. Exaggello therefore means to tell forth, to tell something not otherwise known, to make widely know, to report widely, to proclaim throughout and to tell everywhere.
Exaggello can even mean "to advertise". Therefore because the world is “in darkness” people do not know the “excellencies” of God; but since we have "Christ in us the hope of glory", they should see Him in and through our attitudes, actions and conversation. Each citizen of heaven is a living “advertisement” for the excellencies or virtues of God and the promises and blessings He bestows on believers now and throughout eternity. Our lives should radiate His “marvelous light” which now even indwells us as the Spirit of Christ.
The only NT use of exaggello is here in 1 Peter 2:9 but exaggello is used 10 times in the OT in the LXX (the Septuagint = Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) (Ps 9:14; 56:8; 71:15; 73:28; 79:13; 107:22; 119:13, 26; Prov 12:16). The following examples parallel and amplify Peter's charge to all saints of all ages… (click links to read context of these great verses describing the proclamation of God's excellencies)
In this verse Peter clearly leans heavily on OT truths to emphasize the position and privilege of NT believers.
Get on your knees and talk to God about men and then go out on your feet and talk to men about the excellencies of God.
Excellencies (plural) (703) (arete) describe any preeminence (moral, intellectual, military) or quality by which one stands out as excellent. Arete is a term denoting consummate ‘excellence’ or ‘merit’ within a social context. In classical Greek, arete spoke of "god" given ability to perform heroic deeds. To the Greek philosophers, it meant “the fulfillment of a thing.”
Arete describes that quality makes someone, in this case God Almighty, stand out as excellent. For example you might consider studying and proclaiming the excellencies of the Attributes of God or the majestic, wonderfully rich Names of the LORD.
Arete never meant cloistered virtue or virtue of attitude, but virtue which is demonstrated in life. (Let His life shine forth through your earthly body, His temple!)
MacArthur writes that arete…
When anything in nature properly fulfills its purpose, that fulfillment was referred to as “virtue' or "moral excellence.” Land that produces crops is “excellent” because it is fulfilling its purpose. The tool that works correctly is “excellent” because it is doing what a tool is supposed to do. A believer demonstrates moral excellence or virtue by living the way He now has the potential to live (possessing everything necessary for life and godliness, His precious and magnificent promises, partaker of His divine nature).
Vine adds that arete
In Moody's Today in the Word we read…
Maclaren comments that…
Called (2564) (kaleo from kal from which derives our English words “call”, “clamor”) (see discussion of "the called" kletos in Romans 1:6) first means to speak to another in order to bring them nearer, either physically or in a personal relationship. Call is used occasionally in the NT in the sense of to invite, particularly to a banquet such as the wedding feast (eg, Jesus told the parable of a king who
sent out his slaves to call (kaleo) those who had been invited (kaleo) to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come" Matt 22:3)
In the present context, kaleo means to call into the kingdom of God and to the duties, privileges, and bliss of the Kingdom life here and hereafter. With Peter and also with Paul, the calling referred to is more than a mere invitation. It is an invitation responded to and accepted.
The called are those who have been summoned by God… called…
These magnificent truths on "called" should cause all the "called of Jesus Christ" to cry out "Glory!"
Darkness (4655) (skotos from skia = shadow) can refer to physical darkness (as when Christ was crucified - "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour." Mt 27:45), but more often is used by the NT writers figuratively to refer to moral or spiritual darkness. Skotos is the essence of darkness or of darkness itself and therefore as applied to sin is the essence of sin. Skotia, the related word for darkness, describes the consequence of darkness.
As an example of the figurative use of skotos, Jesus declared
Darkness refers to the time when Peter's readers were in unbelief, ignorant of God’s provision of salvation, blinded to the truth in Christ, shrouded in darkness
Isaiah prophesying of Messiah's coming wrote that…
Jesus instructed Paul concerning his privilege and purpose of…
Paul writing to the saints at Ephesus instructed them to not become partakers with the "sons of disobedience"
As Paul taught the saints at Colossae, God…
Again using the metaphor of darkness Paul wrote to the saints at Thessalonica
Believer-priests should live so that their heavenly Father’s qualities are evident in them, as they surrender to His Spirit and allow Christ Who is their life and the Light of the world to shine forth through them into the spiritual darkness of this present evil age. Then as we "proclaim" with our lives, God will give us open doors to proclaim with our lips to those who sit in darkness.
Believers should live like lighthouses that make no noise yet warn of danger by radiating a bright beacon of light to those in darkness!
Each of the four descriptions of NT believers in 1Peter 2:9 emphasizes the importance of unity and harmony. We belong to one family of God and share the same divine nature. We are living stones in one building and priests serving in one temple. We are citizens of the same heavenly homeland.
Jesus Christ is the source and center of this unity. If we center our attention and affection on Him, we will walk and work together. On the other hand, if we focus on ourselves, we will only cause division. Unity does not eliminate diversity. Not all children in a family are alike, nor are all the stones in a building identical. In fact, it is diversity that gives beauty and richness to a family or building. The absence of diversity is not unity; it is uniformity, and uniformity is dull. It is fine when the choir sings in unison, but it is far more beautiful when they sing in harmony. As Augustine once said…
It is indeed sad that in spite of this beautiful quotation, Augustine unfortunately misinterpreted Scripture, "spiritualizing" Israel as the New Testament Church! The church is not Israel and Israel is not the church. See the related discussion on the interpretation of the phrase Israel of God in Galatians 6:16.
As Ryrie notes…
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Proclaiming His Excellencies - Roddy Roderique had served 17 years of a life sentence and was appealing for an early release before the high court in Montreal. His pastor, Charles Seidenspinner, was testifying on his behalf.
You are called with a holy calling
Jesus can change the foulest sinners
INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT: eis to thaumaston autou phos: (Isaiah 9:2; 60:1,2; Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79; Acts 26:28; Romans 9:24; Ephesians 5:8, 9, 10, 11; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 1:13; 1Thessalonians 5:4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
See Spurgeon's sermon on Marvellous Light.
Synonyms include wonderful (that which excites the feeling of wonder), extraordinary (very unusual or remarkable, outside the normal course of events, going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary), astonishing.
Marvelous speaks of the highest kind or quality (splendid), of that which is notably superior or of that which causes or excites great wonder or surprise.
Thaumastos is used to describe God and/or things relating to God and thus which are beyond human comprehension (See some of the representative uses in the Lxx below)
Thaumastos refers to what is unexpected and worthy of notice the amazing thing
pertaining to being a cause of wonder or worthy of amazement, wonderful, marvelous, remarkable
Thaumastos is used 6 times in the NT
Thaumastos is used 26 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Ex 15:11; 34:10; Deut. 28:58-59; Joshua 3:5; Jdg 13:18; Est. 5:2; Job 42:3; Ps. 8:1, 9; 42:4; 65:4; 68:35; 93:4; 98:1; 106:22; 118:23; 119:129; Pr 6:30; Isa. 3:3; 25:1; Dan. 8:24; 9:4; 12:6; Amos 3:9; Mic. 7:15)
In his pithy introductory remarks in his sermon Marvellous Light, Spurgeon says that…
Spurgeon then goes on to explain why the God's light is marvelous…
Pastor Steven Cole's Sermon
Life can be hectic. I thought you might enjoy this story: “It all began when the dental hygienist, who was scraping tartar off my teeth, asked, “Do you spend about four minutes each time you brush your teeth?” With a gurgling tube hanging from my lip, I responded, “A liddle lessth than that.”
“You really should,” she said, “or you will lose your teeth.” I vowed to myself that I would floss, pick, brush and rinse as instructed.
“At my annual physical examination the doctor asked, ”How often do you exercise?” “Do you limit your salt intake?” and “Does your diet contain much cholesterol?” I thus began an intensive fitness program, which I checked off on the daily “Personal Maintenance Schedule” on the refrigerator door. “I then made an appointment for a beauty makeover. “When is the last time you had a facial?” the cosmetologist asked. “Never” didn’t seem like the right answer so I hedged with,
“It’s been a while.”
“You should have a facial more often. You’ve already got some wrinkles around your eyes,” she warned. Mentally I added “Get facial!” to my personal maintenance schedule.
“I soon learned personal maintenance was not all that I had to worry about. At the appliance-repair shop, the clerk examining my coffee maker asked, “Do you run white vinegar through it each month?” This began my “Home Maintenance Schedule,” which took its place next to my personal maintenance schedule.
“Several other appliances, too, began demanding my attention. When I discovered that the tape deck in my car, the VCR and the disk could keep up this rigorous program. I was sleeping four hours a night, had lost touch with my husband and children, and had no social life, not to mention no room left on the refrigerator door.
“It all came crashing down one night when I was reading an article entitled: “Are You Endangering the Lives of Your Loved Ones by Failing to Dust Your Smoke Alarms Regularly?”
“I ran to the refrigerator and tore the schedules to shreds. In their place I have established a policy in which I respond to all questions about my behavior by taking the Fifth Amendment.” (Lynne F. McGee, Reader’s Digest [2/89], p. 198.)
In the rush of modern life, it’s easy to lose sight of our priorities. Under pressure, we tend to focus on the urgent, but not always on the important. So it’s good to be reminded occasionally of our priorities as God’s people.
The believers to whom Peter wrote were under pressure-- probably not from being busy--but pressure from persecution. Scattered as aliens in a pagan world (1Pe 1:1), it would have been easy for them to lose sight of their priorities as God’s people. The pressure easily could have
driven a wedge between the Jewish and Gentile members of the church, leading to church splits. Peter wanted them to see their priorities clearly so that they could fulfill the glorious purpose to which God had called them. Thus he closes this first major section of his letter by showing that our salvation must be lived out by being built upon Christ, in Christian community, with witness to the world: God’s people must keep God central, be built together as His people, and proclaim His excellencies to others. You will hear me emphasize these three priorities often. They sum up the Great Commandment (to love God and neighbor) and the Great Commission (to win and disciple the lost). They help keep us in focus when pressures build.
1. God’s people must keep God central.
Our relationship to God must be at the center of all we do, both individually and corporately. If God is not central, we are off track.
If our devotion for Him is lacking, we’re just playing church. You will recall how the Lord rebuked the church at Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). They worked hard for the Lord. They had persevered through trials and had not grown weary. They had stood for the truth against some false teachers in their midst. They were doctrinally sound. And yet the Lord said, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Love for Christ must be central! Peter mentions two ways to do this:
A. We keep God central by continually coming to Christ and building upon Him.
“And coming to Him” (1Pe 2:4). Of course we come to Him in salvation when we first put our trust in Him. But that is not what Peter has in mind here. The present tense participle means coming to Christ repeatedly. It does not refer to our conversion, but to our daily communion with Him. We must come to Christ repeatedly and build our lives on Him.
Peter calls Him a “living stone.” That is an oxymoron, a seeming contradiction in terms (like “efficient bureaucracy”). But the dissonance of the term should grab our attention. That Christ is a stone means that He is a solid foundation on which to build our lives. As Peter goes on to state, He is the cornerstone of the church. Just as when you build a house or building, you want to make sure the foundation is solid, since everything else rests on it, so with our lives. Jesus Christ is the only solid foundation for time and eternity. Thus you can put your trust in Him and know that you will not be disappointed or “put to shame” (1:6).
But Christ is not just the stone on which you can build everything in life. He is a living stone. He is living in that He died for our sins, but was raised from the dead, triumphant over sin, death, and hell. He is the author and giver of life, able to impart spiritual life to all who believe in Him. That He is living means that Christianity is not a religion of going through dead rituals. It is a relationship with the living Lord of the universe! We come to Him and commune with Him daily,
building everything in our lives on who He is and on what He has provided for us in His death and resurrection.
Verse 6 (a quote from Isa. 28:16) shows that we build on Christ by believing in Him. To believe in Christ, I must let go of my own works as the means of my salvation. I must not trust in myself or what I do as the way to approach God. Rather, I rest completely on who Christ is and on what He did for me when He died on the cross in my place. Once you’ve trusted Christ as Savior, the entire Christian life is a process of discovering all that He is to you. As Peter puts it (2Pe 1:3), God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” Christ is our sufficiency. As we commune continually with Him by faith, we learn that our primary need in life is to “know Him” (Phil. 3:10). Because I love you I’m going to tell it to you straight: If you are not consistently taking time to come to Christ in personal devotion to build your life on Him as revealed in His Word, then your priorities are wrong. You’re building your life on the sand. If we as a church do not keep God central by continually coming to Christ in all we do, then our priorities are wrong. We’re building a work on the sand. Christ is choice and precious in God’s sight. He must be choice and precious in our sight as well.
B. We keep God central by offering spiritual sacrifices to Him through Christ.
As we come to Christ, we also, “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pe 2:5). This is the central text on the great doctrine of the priesthood of every believer.
There is no such thing as a Christian priesthood of just a few who are ordained to ministry. In the Old Testament, only the priests could draw near to God by offering sacrifices and incense on His altar. Only the High Priest, and that only once a year, could enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the people. But now, Christ our High Priest has offered Himself once for all as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. As believer priests, we all have direct access into God’s presence through Christ, our mediator (1Ti 2:5). We need not go through any human priest. We need not bring a bloody sacrifice, since Christ’s offering of Himself once for all is sufficient. But we offer up to God other spiritual sacrifices as priests.
What are these sacrifices? Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. This means that everything we do can be done to God’s glory (1Cor. 10:31). In Romans 15:16, Paul says that he was “ministering as a priest the gospel of God, that [his] offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable.” Thus sharing the good news of Christ is a sacrifice we can offer to God. The Philippian church took up a collection and sent it to Paul to meet his needs. He calls their service “an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18; also Phil 2:17). Hebrews 13:15-16 instructs us, through Christ, to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
This relates to all you do in your Christian life. Everything you do should be a thank offering to Christ. Do you work with our young people? Help with socials? Help at a church work day? Usher? Call on or take a meal to the sick? Give money? Sing? Pray? Lead a Bible study? Counsel? Whatever you do should be done as a sacrifice to Christ. It ought to be done by asking yourself the question, “Lord, does this please You?” Your motive is not human recognition, but gratitude to the Lord.
Our first priority is to keep God central by continually coming to Christ and by offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Him.
2. We must be built together as His people.
When I do weddings, I usually explain that marriage is like a triangle, with God at the apex and the partners at the other two points. As the partners each grow closer to God, they grow closer to one another. What is true in marriage is also true in the local church. As the members grow closer to God, they grow closer to one another. Our text has a distinctively corporate flavor. Peter wants his readers to see that Christianity is not an individualistic thing, where we each have a relationship with God, but not with each other. We are being built together into a spiritual house or temple in the Lord.
This truth is especially important in our increasingly fragmented, mobile, impersonal society. If you’re like me, you’ve got relatives that you haven’t seen in years. I probably wouldn’t know some of my cousins if I saw them on the street. It’s not uncommon for grown children to move thousands of miles from parents. With the high divorce rate, some children rarely see their own fathers or mothers. Since God made us to be connected with other people, there’s a high felt need for community. God designed the church to meet that need. Much could be said, but I must limit myself to two observations:
A. We are built together to the extent that every believer exercises his priesthood under the headship of Christ.
The church isn’t a building; the church is God’s people. The church may meet in a church building or in homes or outdoors. But Peter pictures God’s people, the church, as a building (or temple) in which each member is a living stone, being fitted and built together upon and by the living corner stone, Jesus Christ. How do you think this church building would look if the builder had left out a few stones here and there? I wouldn’t want to stand under the roof! And God’s church, which is His people, will only be complete and strong as every member fits in and functions in the way that the Builder designs. There ought to be no such thing as a believer just “attending church.” We don’t go to church; we are the church! We must minister one to another in the church.
It’s a mistake to think of ministry in exclusively formal terms: teaching Sunday School or serving on a church committee, etc. These are ministries. But ministry is the overflow of a life that is full of Jesus Christ. If He is central in your life (Priority One), then you will be ministering to people when you have contact with them. Ministry takes place through relationships. Thus we should gather as believer priests, looking to build up one another because Christ is filling our hearts to the brim. Ministry is Christ slopping over from you to me and from me to you.
B. We are built together to the extent that we live in line with our identity as a distinct people.
Note the terms that Peter piles up to paint a corporate identity for his readers as the people of God. All these terms come from the Old Testament: A chosen race (Isa. 43:20); a royal priesthood (Exod. 19:6); a holy nation (Exod. 19:6); a people for God’s possession (Exod. 19:5). In verse 10 Peter draws from Hosea 1:10 & 2:23 to remind his scattered readers that formerly they were not God’s people, but now they are. Formerly they had not received mercy, but now they had. Peter wrote this because his readers were scattered fledgling churches under persecution. To keep from falling apart, they needed to see their identity as God’s people. Since they had come to the Living Stone who, though choice and precious in God’s sight, was rejected by men (2:4), they could expect that they, too, though chosen and precious in God’s sight, would be rejected by men. But in the long run, they would not be put to shame, but rather would share the honor with Christ (1:6b-7a). Thus the way to endure rejection by men is to see our new identity as the chosen people of God. God never intended that we live as Lone Ranger Christians. (Even he had Tonto!) I was in a gathering of Christians from different churches. We were going around the room telling what church we were from. One woman described herself as “a Christian at large.” I thought, “What a violation of biblical truth!” There’s no such thing! We all must be connected with a local church where we are being built together with other believers.
Thus, we must keep God central and be built together as His people. Finally,
3. We must proclaim the excellencies of God to others.
God has called us out of the world as His people so that we can go back into the world and proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (2:9). Gathered as the church, we worship our great God by proclaiming His excellencies to one another and we build up one another. Scattered into the world, we proclaim God’s mercy and light to those who are still in the darkness. It would be great to think that everyone who doesn’t know God would be responsive--just waiting to hear and believe. Some are; but the Bible is clear that we can expect some to reject not only the message, but also us. The temptation is to tone down the message so that people will not reject it (or us). In fact, evangelicals are going out of their way to present an unoffensive Christ to the world. Often Jesus is marketed as a nice, non-judgmental man who wouldn’t upset anyone, who will meet a person’s every need and desire. He makes them feel good about themselves. He helps them to be successful in whatever they choose. I’m not suggesting that we be rude and insensitive in presenting Christ to people. We shouldn’t blast people with God’s judgment. Our Savior was kind to sinners and yet He spoke plainly about sin and judgment. We should always be gracious (Col. 4:6). But having said that, we must remember that the biblical Christ is going to offend many people, for at least two reasons: First, the cross of Christ is offensive (1 Cor. 1:23). The cross humbles human pride. It tells people that their own good works will not get them into heaven. It tells them that they are sinners who have offended a holy God. People don’t like that. Second, Christ’s lordship offends people. Everyone likes the idea of an Aladdin’s genie-Jesus, who will fulfill their desires. But a Christ who is Lord, who confronts sin and demands obedience--that’s another story! If you proclaim Christ crucified and Christ as Lord, some will believe and be saved. But others will reject Him and you. Be prepared!
Note that the dividing line is belief versus unbelief (1Pe 2:7).
Believing or not believing in Jesus Christ separates people into two distinct camps. Believers are joined to God and His people and one day will be exalted with Christ in heaven. Unbelievers who do not repent are in the darkness, headed for God’s judgment. Jesus Christ is the central issue in belief or unbelief. Either He is the corner stone on whom a person puts his faith and builds his life; or, He is a stone of stumbling and rock of offense over which a person falls.
What does Peter mean when he says that unbelievers “stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this they were also appointed” (2:8)? Are some appointed to perish? Peter’s purpose here is to encourage believers under persecution. Thus his point is that the raging of the wicked is under God’s sovereign control, so that believers need not fear (Ps 2:1-6). Those who disobey God will not somehow thwart His eternal purpose. He will someday be glorified in His saving His elect and in justly condemning the reprobate. We are assured that
the wicked will be punished.
And yet, those who are disobedient are responsible for their sin, even if it is in line with God’s predestined plan (Acts 2:23)! But, they need not remain in disobedience and rebellion. God offers them mercy and forgiveness if they will turn to Christ. He has “shut all up in disobedience that He might show mercy to all” (Rom. 11:32). No one has piled up more sin than God’s mercy can cover. Christ’s death is sufficient for the chief of sinners. All may come and receive mercy at the cross.
I would ask each of you to examine your priorities. First and foremost, have you truly believed in Christ as Savior and Lord? Is He and His death on the cross precious to you? If so, is He central in your life? Are you coming continually to Him and building your life on Him? Are you offering your life as a spiritual sacrifice to Him? Second, are you seeking to be built together with His people or do you just attend church? You may need to commit yourself to this local church. Third, are you seeking to proclaim His excellencies to those in darkness, that they, too, may come to know the Savior? Those are our priorities as God’s people who have received His mercy.
1. What has helped you most to make God central in your daily life?
2. How can a Christian know where he/she is supposed to serve in the church?
3. Why are we more comfortable with “formal” rather than “relational” ministries? How can we change this?
4. Is it wrong to “sell” Jesus to lost people? How confrontational must we be to remain true to the gospel?
Amplified: Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God's people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: you, who were once not a people and are now the people of the Lord, you who were once without mercy and have now found mercy. (Westminster Press)
Phillips: In the past you were not "a people" at all: now you are the people of God. In the past you had no experience of his mercy, but now it is intimately yours. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: who at one time were not a people but now are God’s people; who were not subjects of mercy, but now have become objects of mercy (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: who were once not a people, and are now the people of God; who had not found kindness, and now have found kindness.
FOR YOU ONCE WERE NOT A PEOPLE: oi pote ou laos:
In Hosea we read of God's temporary rejection of Israel for…
If Hosea 1:9 were the only verse in the Bible, one would be force to agree with the amillennial teaching that says that God is through dealing with the nation Israel. But Hosea 1:10 makes it very clear that God is not through with Israel. God applies this truth to the Gentiles. So while in Hosea it is Israel who is not God's people; in (see notes Romans 9:25; 9:26) Paul applies Hosea's words to the Gentiles. Here in 1 Peter Hosea's words could apply to either unsaved Jews before they met their Messiah or pagan Gentiles before the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
What an incredible salvation Peter is unfolding. Before we were saved, we live a "futile way of life inherited from our forefathers" (see note 1 Peter 1:18) and without any eternal significance, for as Peter says here we once were absolutely not people (ou laos = literally "absolutely not people"). But once again the Holy Spirit again mercifully inspires one of those great soteriological but now's that takes us from the brink of the pit of utter, eternal destruction to the bright day and delight of those now recognized as citizens of God's glorious kingdom.
To paraphrase Jim Elliot we are just a bunch of nobodies who can now praise and magnify the only One Who is Somebody.
This truth also would have been germane to Peter’s initial addressees, for many of his readers were "second class citizens" in the Roman Empire, but now they had a "citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (see note Philippians 3:20) and this new found citizenship infinitely transcended the Roman citizenship that had been their highest aspiration before the Spirit drew them to salvation.
Directing similar comments to the Gentile believers at Ephesus, Paul explained…
BUT NOW YOU ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD: nun de laos theou:
But (de) - Always pause to ponder this important term of contrast (and this one also has an expression of time = "now") which marks a change "direction" so to speak. Ask what is the change?
Because of their unfaithfulness to Him, He said He would no longer have pity on them and that they would no more be His people (Hosea 1:6,10). But the casting aside of Israel was not final, for the Lord also promised that in a future day, Israel would be restored in Hosea recording Jehovah's promise that…
No one should conclude from this passage in Peter that because the church is now God’s people, He is through with Israel as a nation.
Neither should one assume that the church is now the so-called "Israel of God".
Nor should one falsely conclude that the promises made to Israel have been "forfeited" and now apply to the church.
Israel and the church are separate and distinct entities, and an understanding of this distinction is one of the most important keys to accurately interpret prophecy.
Israel was God’s chosen earthly people from the time of the call of Abraham (Ge12:1) to the coming of the Messiah. The nation’s rebellion and faithlessness reached its awesome climax when Christ was nailed to the cross. Because of this crowning sin, God temporarily set aside Israel as described for example in Hosea. And so during the present age, God has a people represented by the true believing church, the body of Christ. The Church age forms a "parenthesis" in God’s dealings with Israel (as shown from study of Hosea 2:23 where church is not described - see study of Daniel's Seventieth Week). Most conservative commentators feel the church age will culminate with the rapture of the Church, at which time God finalizes His dealings with Israel during the seven year period known as Daniel's Seventieth Week. The last three and one-half year of this seven years Jesus referred to as "the Great Tribulation" ("then [when antichrist is revealed - see Matthew 24:15] there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." Matthew 24:21 ) or as described in the OT, as the time of "Jacob's distress" ("'Alas! for that day is great. There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's distress, But he will be saved from it" Jeremiah 30:7). Then one-third of Israel (alive at that time and who put their faith in Messiah) will become God’s people again and enter into the Messianic Age, the Millennial reign of Christ.
The final fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy is therefore still future and will take place at the return of Christ to earth. Israel that rejected the Messiah will
Then repentant, believing Israel will receive mercy and will become God’s people once more. The complete and final fulfillment will take place when
YOU HAD NOT RECEIVED MERCY BUT NOW YOU HAVE RECEIVED MERCY: oi ouk eleemenoi (RPPMPN) nun de eleethentes (APPMPN): (Hosea 2:23; Romans 11:6,7,30; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 4:16)
The Greek text has a subtle nuance, for in its fullest sense the last clause reads,
Received mercy (1653) (eleeo from eleos = ) actively means to help someone because of pity or great concern for their condition of need. Passively it means to receive the outward manifestation of pity and be shown mercy.
Mercy refers to the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need on the part of those who receive it and sufficient resources to meet the need on the part of those who show it.
MacArthur (ref) writes that…
See related resources: Commentary notes on "Blessed are the merciful" Matthew 5:7; Lesson notes on study from Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the Merciful: Matthew 5:7; The Mercy of God by A. W. Pink, notes on God's Attribute of Mercy.
Eleeo is passive voice in both uses in this verse and thus emphasizes the fact that believers make no contribution towards this mercy. Note the negative aspect (not receiving mercy) is in the perfect tense which describes our permanent condition outside of Christ. And then comes the Cross, the dividing line for this verse. The positive aspect (receiving mercy) is aorist tense which describes a past completed action at the time of our salvation.
Robertson comments on the tense change…
Guzik is probably correct writing that…