“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:9, NASB95)
In these verses, Peter applies a series of Old Testament distinctives of Israel to all believers. First, he calls us a “CHOSEN RACE.” The truth of Scripture is that all who become saved are chosen by God, and this is the truth that Peter first mentions in his introduction to this same letter. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen” (1 Peter 1:1, NASB95) “Who are chosen!” In the beginning of Paul’s Ephesian letter we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world….” (Ephesians 1:3–4, NASB95) And in 2 Thessalonians we read, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation….” (2 Thessalonians 2:13, NASB95)
Choice is a prerogative of God’s, and Scripture is full of references to the choices that He has made and His ability to do this rests absolutely in who He is. He is the always existing, all powerful, infinitely wise, everywhere present and absolutely sovereign God. Choice belongs to Him and Scripture tells us that as believers were are the beneficiaries of Him having chosen us both individually and as a body of believers under the headship of His Son.
This brings us to the next designation. We are a “royal PRIESTHOOD.” In the Old Testament God established a line of priests who were set aside by him to serve Him and to interceded between Him and the people as they offered up sacrifices and praise to His glory. But this priesthood largely failed and neglected their duties. This priesthood was wholly inadequate to accomplish the real forgiveness that was needed by man, and this priesthood was most importantly only temporary until God sent His Son as the High Priest who would offer up the ultimate, perfect and complete sacrifice in Himself and who then rise again to sit at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us today. Jesus Christ is that High Priest, and we have been brought into his priesthood by His blood shed for us.
We are made a part of a kingly priesthood in which Jesus Christ is both High Priest and King, and we are called to serve Him and exercise His rule. We see this expressed in the Great Commission. “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13, NASB95) And, we see it further expressed throughout the New Testament. But ultimately, we will see it fulfilled at the culmination of time when Christ returns.
“…then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:24–28, NASB95)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5, NASB95)
Furthermore, he said that we are “A HOLY NATION”. Israel was promised much by God if they continued to seek after Him and observe His ordinances. In Exodus 19:5-6 we can read the words of His promise. “‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”” (Exodus 19:5–6, NASB95) But the record of Scripture shows us their great apostasy, and how they did not hold up what God had called upon them to do which really was to continue to seek after Him. They had turned their back on God, and He brought upon them the consequences of their rebellion.
The amazing thing about all of this is who our God is. Israel was not totally destroyed and its people obliterated. God preserved among them a remnant, and among that remnant is the kingly line in which our Lord, Jesus Christ was born. He preserves that remnant still today looking forward to the time in the future that we read of in Romans chapter 11, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”” (Romans 11:25–27, NASB95)
Romans 11:1-2 remind us that God has not rejected His people Israel. In fact, Paul points out to his readers that He is one of them. But what God was doing was providing the perfect way that even the rest of man might be grafted in through the sacrifice of His Son. Because of Christ we, as believers, are made to become God’s people and His HOLY NATION.
This is the foundation in which Peter rested, knowing that his eternity was sealed with his great God and King. He knew and wrote that we are “A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION.” What an amazing thing it is to know that we belong to God. It doesn’t matter what is going on around us or whatever we might even do or fail to do ourselves, we belong to God. I love the words of Jesus in John chapter 10, where we read, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28–29, NASB95)