Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6
September 20, 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.
- B. A chosen generation.
- C. A royal priesthood.
- D. A holy nation.
- 1. In what sense are Peter's readers "a nation"?
- a. All references in the Old Testament to "a holy nation" are to Israel as a selected nation from among the "nations" and their "national" identity was as the children of Jacob/Israel. But, Peter has already identified his readers as "sojourners" (1:1, 17) whose "national" identity is "heavenly" (1:4) and is to be realized "at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:13) and he deliberately quotes from Hosea, a text which Paul used in Romans 9:26 to prove that Gentiles were to be included as "the people of God". Of course, both Israel and the Church had a history of being "not a people" before God chose to create them as a people. In addition, in 4:3 Peter identified both his past and that of his readers as one wherein both were those "who have wrought the will of the Gentiles" by the ungodliness of their behavior.
- b. The key issue is the significance of a "nation". What is the point of calling a group of people a "nation"? How does "nation" direct our thoughts? We have already had to face the meaning of "a chosen generation" or, if you prefer the ASV, "an elect race", and the meaning of "a royal priesthood". The keys words that Peter used are "kind" (see the notes from Sept. 6, 2009 <031> for a treatment of the word translated "generation/race"), "priesthood", and now "nation". Our question is: What picture is Peter painting by stacking these words up into an overall description? Trench says that "nation" is most closely tied to the idea of a group that is tied together by "one custom and rule" and he does not deal with "generation/kind". Girdlestone says that "nation" has a perspective "from without" and, like Trench, gives no help for "generation". Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that "generation" is linked to the issue of "origin" and "nation" is linked to a "mass" or "host". If we follow this distinction, we have Peter creating an image of a host of people being brought together by a certain commonality that is not "origins". The "origins" issue is raised by "elect kind". The commonality of the "nation" is its "holiness". Thus, the introduction of "nation" into the characterization of the readers gives us a focus upon the "key characteristic". Putting this together with the prior concepts we have: a) a focus upon how the people came into being (by election); b) a focus upon what the primary function is to be (priests of the King); and c) a focus upon the most basic character of the entire group (holiness as a national characteristic).
- 2. What is Peter's concept of "holy"? When we look into his use of this term, we immediately see it tied to the impact of the Spirit of God upon the people of God (compare 1 Peter 1:12 to 2 Peter 1:21) with the key characteristic being "who trust in God" (1 Peter 3:5). If we move away from the notion of a kind of vacuous "trust in God" terminology, what we have is an active kind of Love/Faith/Choice/Action that is rooted in a specific kind of dependence in which the person rejects self-sufficiency in regard to "the former lusts" and embraces a specific expectation of God in the daily confrontations with "desires of all kinds".