by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7 September 27, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
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 [How we came to be what we are].
C. A royal priesthood [Our primary identity].
D. A holy nation [The essentialcharacter we have].
E. A [special] people.
1. A "people".
a. The term is extremely widespread in its use (139 verses in the New Testament) and Luke/Acts is the majority user (60%).
b. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says it is used over 2000 times in the Septuagint as opposed to a paucity of use in extrabiblical Greek. It goes on to say that the etymology, though not certain, may have come from a word for "stone" in accord with the legend of Deucalion (a mythological counterpart to Noah) who sought an oracle of Themis about how to repopulate the earth after a totally destructive flood that left only him and his wife alive. He was told that they were to cast stones backwards over their shoulders and each stone became a person whose gender was determined by the one who cast the stone. Thus, the "people" were transformed stones. From there it goes on to say that the word, in the Septuagint, specifically referred to Israel as a "united" body of individuals who "belonged" to Yahweh. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament also makes a point of saying that this word focuses upon the individual rather than the group (crowd/multitude).
c. It is interesting that a major thesis of 1 Peter 2 is that the "people of God" are "living stones" who are being built from their connection to the "elect stone" which is precious, but disallowed by the "builders".
d. It is also interesting that Peter's Old Testament "proof" texts are Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 where Hosea, a contemporary of Isaiah, declared that Yahweh was so offended by the northern kingdom that He had Hosea name one of his sons "Lo-ammi", which means "not my people". But, in view of this divine disclaimer, the promise is made that at a later time the "not My people" would become "My people". The text of 2:23 is also prophetic of the same event. The point is that there were those upon the earth whose sins had so offended Yahweh that He turned away from them and refused to call them "My people." There is a biblical pattern here that found its first expression in the Genesis flood, its second expression at Babel, and its third expression in Israel as the northern kingdom at the time of the Assyrian captivity, from which there was no return as with Judah from Babylon. In harmony with this is the reality of the Church drawn out of all of the nations rejected at Babel and the prophecies of a regathered Israel at the time of the Second Coming of Messiah.
e. In conclusion, the apparent issue of "people" is human beings being viewed primarily as loyal to a "God". The last reference to "people" in the New Testament is Revelation 21:3 where the claim is made that "the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, their God." In other words "people" is a word that links human beings to a deity. In Revelation 5:9 the redeemed come out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. This is a four-fold division of humanity that finds expression multiple times in the Revelation (7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 14:6; 17:15). The implication is that humanity is conceived of in four ways: in view of physical generation from a primary person (kindred); in view of a common language (tongue); in view of a common governmental rule (nation); and in view of a particular theology (people). In addition, that "linkage" is cooperation-intensive as here in 1 Peter (the "living stones" are built up into a temple with the "chief corner stone" as part and parcel with them and the activity being a holy priesthood which offers sacrifices to God). Thus, "people" means loyal to God in cooperation with His labors.
2. A people "unto possession".
a. The word the Authorized Version translators translated "peculiar" is used only once by Peter and only five times in the entire New Testament. It is, however, also found in its verb form twice in the New Testament (Acts20:28) and (1 Timothy 3:13).
b. It is ignored by Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Girdlestone says that it signifies either a "making" alive or "bringing" to life sothat the "living" becomes "in a special sense His acquired property". This is flatly declared to be the case by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 7:23.