1 PETER 2:9-10 God’s People

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

1 PETER 2:9-10 God’s People

blue and white flag on pole

Thoughts About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10

The problems of life are many! All of us, at one time or another, face personal problems. You may be thinking about your family, your church, your relationships with others, or many other things. In addition, you may be confronted with problems in your ministry or at work.

With all these problems in mind, it will be helpful to spend some time with 1 Peter 2:9-10. Peter declares: “9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Peter was writing to God’s elect who were residing in various countries. Some of them had been dispersed from Israel. His message was for Jews and Gentiles. Essentially, his message is for all believers in Christ wherever they reside. All tribes, tongues, and nations are included.

Peter gives us four descriptions of those who believe in Christ. The first, a “chosen race,” and the last, “a people for God’s own possession,” are from Is 43:20-21, and the second, “a royal priesthood,” and third, “a holy nation,” is from Ex. 19:6. Peter’s message places us on a good foundation to face life and its challenges. They tell us who we are in Christ. As such we can live with confidence and faith in our Lord.

We will study each of these descriptions. However, before we do this, I will make some general comments in my next thoughts about the relationship between Israel and the church. Briefly, our text is a key passage on this fascinating subject. Believers of all ages constitute one person of God. Peter’s usage of Old Testament terms to describe New Testament beliefs supports this conclusion. All believers, in Paul’s terms, are one “olive tree.”

More About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10

Our text is a key passage concerning the relationship between Israel and the church. God chose Abraham, a Gentile, to become the father of the Jews (Genesis 12:2 and 17:5) and many nations. From Abraham, the line of promise narrowed to Isaac, then to Jacob. Out of Jacob came Israel, God’s chosen people.

God desired an obedient people, but many turned from Him. So many turned from God that the believers who remained were called the “remnant.” The remnant became the true beneficiaries of the promises. Personal participation in the promises has always been conditional.

Ultimately, entry into the blessings of the covenant with Abraham is through one person, Christ. As Paul says, Christ is the seed of Abraham. Before the cross, believers were saved in anticipation of Christ. After the cross, it is through his accomplished work.

We are elected in Christ. All who place their faith in the Lord, whether Jews or Gentiles, are recipients of the benefits of the new covenant. We are sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7) and “heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:29) All who believe in Christ are heirs, members of one body.

This oneness of the people of God does not preclude some diversity. For example, it does not rule out the promises to various nations, including ethnic Israel. Through Christ, these special interests are harmonized with the divine will for the believers of all ages, God’s “own possession.”

In my next thoughts, we will begin our discussion of Peter’s description of those who believe in Christ. They are: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” As a believer, I have many reasons to rejoice.

More About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10

Peter gives a fourfold description of the people of God. First, Peter had just spoken of the people who were disobedient to the Word. Then, he contrasts the believers with them. He declares, “But you are a chosen race.” He is referring to people who have faith in God and stand in contrast to those who reject God.

The Old Testament often refers to Israel as the chosen people of God or race (Deuteronomy 7:6, 7; Isaiah 43:10, 20; 44:1, 2. In our text, Peter’s comments are taken from Isaiah 43:20-21. In these verses, the Lord speaks about Israel as His chosen people. He says that His people “will declare My praise.”

Peter points us to Christ. He tells us that Christ was rejected by men (1 Peter 2:4) but was chosen by God. He was chosen (1 Peter 2:6) as a precious cornerstone. Concerning the cornerstone, Peter says (1 Peter 2:6) “And he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed.” We, as believers in Christ, are chosen in Him. Peter (1:1-2) declares that we are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”

According to His foreknowledge, God chose us in Christ. He could foresee who would believe in Christ! Without having answers to all the issues of predestination and free will, we can be certain of our election in Him! We who have believed in Christ are the elect! All who follow Christ have individually decided to put their faith in Him. In a collective sense, we are a chosen race or people.

God foresaw that who would respond in faith, but we did nothing to earn His blessing! We are the “bride” of Christ! Because we are chosen, let us live as chosen men and women. We need not grovel in despair. Whatever the circumstances around us, we are set apart for His glory and service!

More About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10

Peter gives us a fourfold description of the people of God. His first description, which we discussed in my last thoughts, is that we are a “chosen race.” His second description is that we who believe in Christ are a “royal priesthood.”

The fact that we are a “royal priesthood” is rooted in the priesthood of Christ. Concerning Christ, Zechariah said, “He will be a priest on His throne” (Zechariah 6:13). When we believe in Christ, we are “in Christ” and members of a “royal priesthood.”

In verse 5 of our text, Peter says that we are a “holy priesthood.” Compare Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6.

Many aspects of the priesthood of the believer are interesting. I will highlight just a couple of key points. One is that we have direct access to God. With God, we have immediate and personal access. We learn about this access in Hebrews 10:19-22. Christ is the “great priest over the house of God.” As believers “we have the confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus.” We should, therefore, “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

As far as access to God is concerned, believing Jews and Gentiles stand on common ground (Ephesians 2:17-18). All who believe in Christ have direct access to God. As Paul says, “Through Him [Christ] we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).

Two, another feature of the priesthood is the offering of “spiritual sacrifices.” As Peter declares, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).

Our sacrifices to God include our “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).

To summarize, the body of Christ is a royal priesthood. We have direct access to God. We need not go through someone else. We can offer spiritual sacrifices. Let us live up to our privilege!

More About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10

In our text, Peter gives us a fourfold description of God’s people. As believers in Christ, we are a “chosen race,” a “royal priesthood,” a “holy nation,” a “holy nation,” and a “people for God’s own possession.” Today, our focus is on our being a holy nation.

Peter’s comment about “a holy nation” is taken from Exodus 19:6. Peter uses the Greek word ethnos. This word is quite flexible. It can refer to the Jews or the Gentiles. In addition, it may designate a nation, or a people held together by culture and other factors.

Normally, a nation consists of citizens who reside in a given locale, obey rules and regulations, and strive for the well-being of their society. However, the “holy nation” to which Peter refers is not based on geographical boundaries. It is based on allegiance to Jesus Christ. Through Him, we have common characteristics.

A “holy nation’ is one that is wholly separated from the unholy and dedicated to God (1 Peter 1:15-16). Through faith in Christ, we obtain a righteous standing. That standing takes root and develops in our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes the concept of holiness is used to support a set of legalistic but irrelevant rules. Although we do not support this use of the term, holiness as separation unto God does affect the way that we live.

Peter presents some of the characteristics of the holy life with these comments: “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).

We are a “holy nation” living within other nations. We have duties and obligations concerning our earthly citizenship. Giving due attention to these obligations is a good witness. Our highest allegiance, though, is to Christ and the other members of the body. The Spirit has set us apart for holy living.

More About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10

In our text, Peter declares that we who believe in Christ are a “chosen race,” a “royal priesthood,” a “holy nation,’ and a “people for God’s own possession.” The last description gives added meaning to the other three.

Peter declares that we are “a people for God’s possession.” Although this exact phrase does not occur in the Old Testament, it is drawn from Is. 43:21. More literally, this phrase is “a people for possession.” In verse 9 the translators supply “God’s own.” Then, in verse 10 Peter explicitly states that we are God’s people.

The task of God’s people is to declare the excellencies of God. Surely, God wants us to enjoy his blessings, but He has also redeemed us for a purpose. That purpose is to praise and glorify Him and to proclaim His preeminence to all others. In other words, the purpose includes telling others about God.

We have much to praise the Lord for! We have been (verse 9) “called out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Many people remember when they were saved. They remember the stark contrast between a “former life” and “life now.” For others, saved early in life, there is the knowledge of what God has kept them from. But all, to one degree or another, have experienced the transition from darkness into marvelous light. This knowledge alone should encourage us to stay in the light.

This giving of praise to God, in turn, brings salvation to others. It is a wonderful form of witness. Isaiah 42:12 states: “Let them give glory to the Lord And declare His praise in the coastlands.” We are a people for God’s own possession. Let us, therefore, praise Him. Let this praise be a mighty witness to the nations. We have been called out of darkness into marvelous light!

More Thoughts About God’s People 1 Peter 2:9-10.

Today, I will summarize our “thoughts” about God’s people. We who believe in Christ are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s own possession. In verse 10 Peter summarizes his message- all that he has said in verse 9-by again calling us the people of God. Borrowing language from Hosea (1:6, 9; 2:1, 23), Peter says: “for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Sometimes we struggle because we have only the short run in view. We do not see why the people of God struggle and sometimes suffer. We must see the long run as well! When we fasten our eyes on the future consummation of Christ’s great victory at the cross, we know that we truly are God’s people.

The book of Revelation helps us focus on the future. John’s second vision begins to unfold in Revelation 4:1. He is taken up, in his vision, to the supreme headquarters. He sees God seated on a throne surrounded by twenty-four elders and four living creatures. Then, he sees the Lamb who alone is worthy to open the sealed book held in God’s right hand. When the Lamb took the book out of God’s right hand, the living creatures and the twenty-four elders began to sing a new song. The lyrics of the new song go like this:

“9 Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 And Thou hast made them be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

The Lamb alone is worthy. He has made all believers be a kingdom and priests. With Christ, we “will reign on the earth.” To a degree, we do now, but this passage looks forward to the millennial reign of Christ on earth. Today, let’s allow the certain rays of light from the future to shine upon us! Let us begin now to claim our inheritance! Let’s lift up our heads and exalt Him who alone is worthy!

George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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