1 Peter 2:9-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1) What does the word “but” indicate in verse 9?
2) What does Peter mean by a “chosen race” and a “royal priesthood”?
3) What does this passage say is the reason we’ve been called out and set apart?
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The Findings for Original Intent
1) The word “but” is a linking word that indicates a contrast between what comes before and what comes after. We need to look back to the previous verses to find out what is being contrasted. In verses 7 and 8, Peter describes those who do not believe (i.e. non-Christians) as a people who stumble because they rejected Christ and they disobey the word. Then we see the contrast between nonbelievers and us—a chosen race, a royal priesthood, holy, a people for his own possession.
2) When we hear the term “chosen race” we might assume Peter is talking about the Jews, since we know that they were God’s chosen people, and 1 Peter was written to Jewish people who had been scattered throughout the Roman world. However, in verse 7, Peter mentions that it was Jews who rejected Christ. So now, a chosen race has a new meaning—all believers, Jew and Gentile, who have put their faith in Christ. This new “race” isn’t based on bloodlines, but on a common faith. Likewise, the Jewish audience would have understood what it meant to be a priesthood (check out Exodus 19:6), but now this term applies not to Jews based on birth, but to believers based on faith. We are royal because our Father is the king, and we are priests because we have been granted direct access to His presence and are all called to a life of sacrifice and worship!
3) Verse 9 tells us who we are—a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession—and then it tells us our purpose. We are set apart from nonbelievers so that “we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” The reason God saved us is to bring glory to Him by proclaiming all He has done for us! We were made to be God’s people, we have received mercy, therefore let us praise Him and proclaim Him!
Some Applications for Our Everyday Lives
1) There is a contrast between nonbelievers and believers. We are to be set apart! Does my life look different from the non-Christians around me? This is more than just legalistic dos and don’ts. Am I different in terms of my affections, my priorities, where my hope lies, my motivations, and as a result, my behavior?
2) The kingdom of God transcends race, family, and nation. Am I seeing all I have in common with other believers, regardless of their skin color, their socioeconomic status, their background, or what language they speak?
3) Lord, you have given me so much that I don’t deserve. You have called me out of darkness and into marvelous light. Please help me to be what I am—holy. And may I never neglect to proclaim your excellencies to the dark world around me!
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