This blog continues my study and translation of the First Letter of Peter
1 Peter 2 from verse 9
But you are a chosen family, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people for God’s possession, so that you may celebrate the virtues of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you were not shown compassion, but now you have been shown it.
Almost every word in this paragraph comes from the Bible, thus:
Chosen family: Isaiah 43:20
Kingdom of priests: Exodus 19:6
A holy nation: Exodus 19:6
A people for God’s possession: Exodus 19:5 Isaiah 43:21
So that you may celebrate the virtues: Exodus 19:5, Isaiah 43:21
Once no people etc.: Hosea 2:23
The author ransacks the scriptures for phrases that express the specialness of his readers in the eyes and purpose of God. All the dignity of Israel as God’s people now belongs also to the members of the messianic communities. It may be, as some scholars have suggested, that these words had already been composed as part of a liturgy, perhaps for baptism of new members. But the important thing to note is the deliberate creation of communal worth, through the use of words from a sacred source. Before the ethical instruction prepared by the author in chapter 3 comes the original blessing which celebrates the “new birth” of believing people. The status and task of the people os spelled out: chosen, kingdom, priests, holy; so that they may celebrate God’s virtues, publicly.
Should the church today receive these words as applying to itself? Are they not a bit over the top, not to mention exclusive? Does the church in Scotland look as if it dwells in God’s marvellous light? Well, either it matters to trust in Jesus and in the God of Jesus or not. Either that trust generates a rebirth in goodness or it doesn’t. I think it matters and makes some people new, over time. For those who allow themselves this rebirth, the words that give dignity are not excessive.
And it does not need to be exclusive. The fact that some people feel chosen does not mean that other people are rejected by God. In Jesus, God has chosen all humanity and whatever way they come to know this, is a good way.