Peculiar People (verse 9a)
Peter refers to believers as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” These words take us back to the context in which they were originally spoken during the great rescue of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 19:4ff). Peter uses Old Testament realities for the sake of encouragement. God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be His people. They were not chosen because of any particular quality they possessed (Deuteronomy 7:7) or because of anything foreseen in them, since as a people they proved to be rebellious and stiff-necked from the very beginning. We can trace their being selected by God to receive blessings only to God Himself and to His inexplicable love. The God who freely loved them is the God who will never change. He has continued to love His people with an everlasting love and He continues to redeem His people according to His matchless grace.
The Jews, as the people of God, were a special people and received immense blessings as a result. They were rescued from bondage, guided by His voice of revelation, sustained with bread from heaven and water from a rock, honored with access to God, and distinguished above all other peoples on the earth. Peter takes these great truths that applied to the Old Testament people of God and applies them to New Testament believers. We have been rescued from the tyranny of sin and snare of Satan, instructed and taught by God’s Word and the Spirit, sustained by daily measures of His grace, brought into the family of God as sons and daughters, and given the most intimate communion with Him. Just as the nation of Israel was not loved because of anything in them, so also the gospel coming to us has no respect to any good in us. We cannot trace the love of God for His children to any source other than God alone. At the foundation of God’s covenant with us is His love for us.
Proclaiming People (verse 9b)
As those who have been rescued and brought into the family of God, we receive not only a significant status in Christ as His peculiar people, but also a marvelous ministry as those who proclaim His excellencies. As Israel was called out of the darkness of slavery and bondage, so also Christ has called us out of the darkness of death and sin. In the words of Charles Wesley, “Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth and followed Thee.” And now, as those who live in His light, we proclaim Him. Our praise joins heavens throngs, while it is also being heard by our neighbors and among the nations. Our praise of Christ bears witness to the world of His greatness and glory.
God’s People (verse 10)
In the book of Hosea, the Lord instructs Hosea to name his daughter Lo-ruhamah (i.e. “she has not obtained compassion”) because He “will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel (Hosea 1:6). Later, He instructs Hosea to name his son Lo-ammi (i.e. “not my people”) because the house of Israel is not His people and He is not their God (Hosea 1:9). Though God had chosen Israel, Israel had chosen other gods (Hosea 1:2). Yet, God promises that “the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’” (Hosea 1:10). In referring us back to this passage in Hosea, Peter is reminding us of our prior misery. We were once not God’s people, living our lives in darkness and idolatry. But to those to whom it was once said, “You are not My people,” it is not said, “You are the people of God.” To those to whom it was once said, “You have not received mercy,” it is now said, “You have received mercy.” In Christ Jesus, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people” (Psalm 113:7-8).
– This passage along with the greater context of 1 Peter 2, tells us four things about how we should live. First, at the beginning of the chapter we are told what not to do: engage in malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. Second, we are told what to do: long for Him, come to Him, believe Him. Third, in the verses now under consideration, we are told why we ought to do it: you are loved by God with an everlasting, unending love. And fourth, we are told the results from doing it: Christ is proclaimed and God is glorified. In what ways do you see these being worked out in your life? In what ways do you need to continue growing in each of them?