Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
September 6, 2009
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
- I. The Characteristics of the "Living Stones".
- A. The background.
- 1. The pervasive revelation of Scripture regarding the "stone(s)" thesis (2:6-8).
- 2. The repetitious occurrence of the concept of "election" (1:2; 2:4; 2:6; and 2:9).
- 3. The deliberate focus upon "divine control" (particularly 2:8, but also a consistent thesis from 1:4 to the current text). Peter launched his letter on the foundations of the "election" of his readers and their "incorruptible", "undefiled", "unfading", "reserved" inheritance (qualities that can only be "true" as long as God is the Ultimate Arbiter).
- B. A chosen generation.
- 1. There is here a deliberate return to the concept of "election" as noted above (three out of the four direct uses of this term are found in this paragraph).
- 2. There is the insertion of the concept of a "generation".
- a. This particular form (neuter) of the word-group is used 21 times in the New Testament and the translators of the AV used 10 different English words to address its meaning (born, country, countryman, diversity, generation, kind, kindred, nation, offspring, and stock). This reveals a certain ambiguity, or at least a certain broadness, in the "field of meaning" for which this term is a semantic marker. In other words, either the translators had not stumbled onto the essential concept of the term, or the term is loose enough (not having the boundaries of specificity) to use in widely diverse settings.
- b. A highly "connected" form of the same word-group (the feminine form, as opposed to the neuter form used by Peter) is used 37 times in the New Testament and the translators of the AV only used four English words (age, generation, nation, time) [the two in bold showing an overlap] to render what they considered to be its meaning. Can it be that a "gender" issue is responsible for narrowing the field of meaning? According to these translators, this feminine form includes an issue of age/time in its field of meaning that the neuter form does not.
- c. A consideration of the contexts in which Peter's word-choice is used in the New Testament must guide us.
- 1) Matthew 13:47 uses the word to identify the various "kinds" of inhabitants of the sea that are caught in the fisherman's net.
- 2) Matthew 17:21 uses the word to identify a "kind" of demon that is not easily cast out of its host.
- 3) Mark 7:26 uses the word to identify a woman who came to Jesus with a demonized daughter in respect to her "origins". This is not significantly different than "kind" (she was of the Syrophenician "kind" of person).
- 4) Mark 9:29 is a repetition of Matthew 17:21 (further repetitions will be omitted from this list).
- 5) Acts 4:6 uses the word to identify certain persons who were "kindred" of the high priest (again, not significantly distinct from "kind").
- 6) Acts 4:36 uses the term of a "Levite" named Barnabas who was "of the country of Cyprus". This use differentiates between the man's genetic background and his national (or, at least, his geographical) connection. This also is not far from the basic issue of "kind".
- 7) Acts 7:13 uses the term for the brothers of Joseph in Egypt at the time when they were introduced to the Pharoah. This is just a more specific "kind" of person.
- 8) Acts 7:19 uses the term for the Jews in Egypt at the time when they were supposed to kill their sons when they were born in respect to their linkage to first century Jews.
- 9) Acts 13:26 uses the term for those born of the genetic lineage of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.
- 10) Acts 17:28 quotes from a certain poet who claimed that all humanity is the "offspring" of God. This identifies "kind" in terms of its ultimate origin.
- 11) Acts 18:2 is very similar to 4:36.
- 12) 1 Corinthians 12:10 uses the term to distinguish between differing languages.
- 13) 1 Corinthians 14:10 uses the term to distinguish between differing sounds.
- 14) 2 Corinthians 11:26 uses the term to refer to people who are of the same "kind" as Paul in certain ways.
- 15) The remaining uses in the New Testament are not significantly different from these already noted.
- 16) Conclusion: the root idea of Peter's word is a "kind" of person, place, or thing that is made this "kind" by a certain characteristic, or set of characteristics, which it shares with the identified associated person, place, or thing. In other words, one can be a "kind" if that one shares at least one characteristic with the "other" that is defining the "kind". This means that Peter's readers are conceived by him as being of a certain "kind" of people. He identifies that "kind" as "chosen". You are "a chosen kind of person", or you are "the kind of person who is marked by the characteristic of having been chosen."