Who are the “the peculiar people” in 1 Peter 2:9? Are they the Jews or the Gentiles?
Here is the passage that you refer in the King James Version, New American Standard, and New International Version Bibles.
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 . . . 1 Pet 2:9 (KJV)
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 Pet 2:9 (NAS95S)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Pet 2:9 (NIV)
A quick reading of each passage reveals that the phrase in the King James Bible, “peculiar people,” is also translated as “a people for God’s own possession” or “a people belonging to God.” The actual Greek states, “people for possession.” Now we want to ask, “What does that mean?”
The answer is found in the words that came before this passage. Verses 1-2 reveal that the passage is written to people who had believed in Jesus Christ. They were encouraged to grow “with respect to salvation.” That is, they were “saved” from their sins. They were Christians. In verse 5 we read that they were “living stones” and each one was a member of the “holy priesthood.” That is, they no longer needed an earthly priest. They were already regarded “holy” because God had forgiven their sins, and they were regarded as priests. In verse 7 we find that they had “believed” in Jesus Christ. They are believers and consequently Christians. So when we arrive at verse 9, we discover that these Christians are a “chosen race,” “a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation,” and a people whom God owned. Christians include Jews and non-Jews or Gentiles – everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their God and Savior.
The conclusion in verse 9 calls us to tell others about Jesus Christ because Christians are those things. We are not spiritually perfect individuals, but God considers us to be holy for the purpose of salvation. You may find the concept of “Position versus Practice” to be helpful. You are encouraged to read it.
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