Suggested Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10
Focal Passage: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
In the second chapter of his epistle, Peter continues what he began in chapter 1, outlining our duties as Christians…even as we go through trials and suffering. He begins by telling us to listen and grow in God as we explore the “pure milk” of His Word (vs. 1-3), being built as “living stones” into God’s church. (vs.4-8). He speaks of two relationships we must have. We must work with each other, just as the bricks of a building rely upon one another. And we must rest on the foundation of our Cornerstone, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the focal passage above, Peter begins to clarify the nature of the church, and the duty we have as Christians…to each other and to the world. When I study the Bible, I like to read various translations. My favorite is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and then the New American Standard Bible (NASB). But I also enjoy the beauty and poetry of the King James Version. It often helps me to understand the meaning of the different wording among translations. In the KJV, the verse above reads as follows:
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; (bracketed emphasis mine)
Notice that I put the word “peculiar” in brackets. Why does the KJV use that word for Christians instead of “chosen”, as is used in many of the modern translations? That’s because at the time the King James Version was translated, the word peculiar referred to something belonging to someone, like property. If you look up the word on line today in Webster’s Dictionary, you will see “different from the usual or normal” among its several definitions. If you look further, you will also see the following under the word’s origin:
“Middle English peculier, from Latin peculiaris of private property, special, from peculium private property”.
Peter is not saying that as believers we are odd or unusual people (though the world sometimes thinks of us this way), but that we are God’s property…His private possession. Another way to put it is we are His own special people. In fact, he says we are His “royal priesthood”.
Although it might sound scary, what Peter means is we now have the benefits that before Christ were only available to the high priests. As believers, we now have direct access to God. We don’t have to pray through anyone else…we don’t have to confess our sins to anyone else…we don’t have to experience God through anyone else. We can go directly to God at any time!
But with benefits, come responsibilities. As priests, we are also ministers…not pastors, but ministers. And as such, we have a responsibility to the world around us. As the second part of the focal verse puts it…
…so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Peter goes on to tell us in the next few verses, that by observing our good works, others will glorify God. Did you know the Latin word for priest means “bridge builder”? We are to be bridge builders between man and God. What a glorious honor is that for which we were chosen…to bring others to Him.
Dr. Ed Young, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, told this story in a devotional I read this week. A Bible Study group he knew consisted of doctors, attorneys, CEOs, vice presidents, entrepreneurial geniuses and a street sweeper. In the initial meeting, the group leader asked each to identify himself. “I am a physician,” said one. “I’m an attorney,” another responded. “I’m vice president for operations,” answered a third. “I am a son of the King,” the street sweeper said. He had no identity in the world in which he could boast, but he knew his core identity. The others were clouded by their earthly titles, but the street sweeper knew he was chosen by the King of Kings to be a son, with all the privileges, promises and honors of that high position.
As we go about our daily lives this week, may each of us remember that we are “a child of the King”…and may we “proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”