1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Sermons
What the Church is forA. Maclaren 1 Peter 2:9
Newborn Babes and the Higher IsraelR. Finlayson 1 Peter 2:1-10
Christian Life Crowned with Wonderful HonorC. New 1 Peter 2:4-10
A Living DoxologyC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 2:9-10
A Peculiar PeopleW. Arnot.1 Peter 2:9-10
A Peculiar PeopleJ. Trapp.1 Peter 2:9-10
A People Proper to the LordJohn Rogers.1 Peter 2:9-10
A Purchased PeopleHubert Brooke, M. A.1 Peter 2:9-10
Children of LightScientific Illustrations and Symbols1 Peter 2:9-10
Christians Must be Real and TrueChristian World1 Peter 2:9-10
Consider What You WereJohn Rogers.1 Peter 2:9-10
Corporate HolinessA. Grant, D. C. L.1 Peter 2:9-10
Darkness and LightHomilist1 Peter 2:9-10
Darkness and LightT. B. Baker.1 Peter 2:9-10
Every Baptized Man a Priest of GodH. Melvill, B. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
Mirrors of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
Opened EyesG. W. Bibb.1 Peter 2:9-10
Out of Darkness into LightW. Harris.1 Peter 2:9-10
Refusing LightR. Miller.1 Peter 2:9-10
Showing Forth God's ExcellencesJ. Trapp.1 Peter 2:9-10
Showing Forth the Excellences of ChristE. H. Hopkins.1 Peter 2:9-10
Spiritual Darkness and LightProf. R. Flint.1 Peter 2:9-10
The Christian EstateAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 2:9-10
The Church of ChristR. Glover, D. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
The Glory of the Church as a CommonwealthU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 2:9, 10
The Glory of the Church as a CommonwealthHomilist1 Peter 2:9-10
The Gospel a LightJ. Parker, D. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
The People of GodE. Steane, D. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
The Sacred in the SecularJ. S. Shipman, D. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
The Superior Light of the Gospel1 Peter 2:9-10
The True IsraelJ. C. Jones, D. D.1 Peter 2:9-10
1 Peter 2:9 (last clause)
This people have I formed for myself, says the Divine voice through the Prophet Isaiah; "they shall show forth my praise." The Revised Version gives the latter clause as the purpose of the former, "that they might set forth," thus showing still more distinctly a verbal correspondence with the text, which is evidently quoted from the prophet. The apostle's mind is full of the Old Testament representations of the sacred office and dignity of Israel as a royal priesthood and God's chosen possession, and he transfers the whole without hesitation to the Christian Church, which he, like all the New Testament writers, regards as the heir of Israel's forfeited position. The remarkable word rendered "praise" in the Authorized Version makes the quotation from Isaiah unmistakable, as it is found in the Septuagint rendering of the verse, from which the apostle is quoting. It literally means "virtues," or, if that word is felt to be inappropriate to the Divine nature, the translation of the Revised Version, "excellencies," may be adopted. In either case the meaning is that the great end of the Church's existence is to manifest the glories of the Divine character, and so to praise him. We praise God best when we set forth what he is. The act of praise follows on the exhibition of the Object of praise.

I. WE HAVE HERE A REMARKABLE VIEW OR THE GREAT PURPOSE OF GOD IN HIS HIGHEST WORKING. The manifestation of his own character that his creatures may see it and magnify him, is his end, so far as we can speak of God as having ends which he reaches by his acts. Self-manifestation to creatures who can somewhat feel the infinite beauty and bow adoring and blessed Before it, is his supreme purpose in all his acts. Such an end alone is fully congruous with anal worthy of God. For this end creation came into being, that it might be a mirror of God, and eyes were made that in the mirror they might behold him and rejoice in the vision. Every creature has this for its highest end, to glorify God, because that was God's end in its creation. Of creatures man is the highest revelation of the Divine character; and among men, man redeemed is the highest. This great thought as to God's supreme end being the manifestation of himself has often been stated so as to repel, and to make God almighty selfishness. "For a man to seek his own glory is not glory," and the same thing is true about some forms into which this truth has been thrown. But rightly understood, it is but another way of saying, "God is love." For the impulse and need to impart one's self is the very life of love, and he seeks in all his acts to reveal himself, because, being love, he delights to give himself to his creatures, and because their highest blessedness and their eternal life stand in the knowledge of his Name.

II. WE HAVE, SECOND, AN IMPRESSIVE THOUGHT AS TO THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS GREAT PURPOSE IS EFFECTED. It is largely entrusted to the members of the Christian Church, who are, as George Herbert says of mankind as a whole, "the secretaries of his praise." And there are three ways in which they are and should be so.

1. The very existence of the Church proclaims God's excellences. Its founding, in the one wondrous act of Christ's death, proclaims his wisdom, power, and love, all in superlative degree. All his character shines forth there with brightness before which the revelation of him in creation pales and dwindles, and is as a nebula to a sun. Its preservation, notwithstanding the imperfections and sins of its members and the opposition of its enemies, shows forth his guarding and sustaining power no less than his long-suffering. If the Church had less than almightiness to preserve it, the faults of Christians would have destroyed it long ago, and would have provoked him to destroy it if he bad not been infinite in patience. The great evidence of Christianity is Christ, and the second is the Church.

2. The characters of Christian men reclaim God's excellences. They are "called out of darkness," as the text says, "into his marvelous light," That implies, as part of its meaning, that Christian men do in some measure enter into and walk in that light in which he is. The process of conversion is their passage from the darkness of self, which is ignorance, and sin, and sadness, into the possession, in part at least, of his light, which brings knowledge and goodness and joy. The black thunder-clouds are borne into the sunlight, which pours on their ebon masses and touches them into luster or thins them away. Thus we may and should become means of making God visible and lovely to dim eyes which could not bear to look on his brightness except as reflected in the mirror of our characters. All the beauty of self-sacrifice which has ever irradiated a saint, all the heroism of the martyr, all the wisdom and eloquence of the teachers, all the prudence of the leaders, all the charity and benevolence, are but the reflex of his excellences. All these, which gleam so brightly in the dark world, are but diamond dust, microscopic fragments, as it were, from the solid rock of his infinite perfection. They tell of him, as the stream of its source. How profound the depth, how wide the expanse, how pellucid the waters of that great lake which pours through the ages that broad stream of human goodness that flows between the banks of the Christian Church!

3. We should proclaim God's excellences by direct works, as occasion serves. Every Christian is bound both to witness for God by a life made fair by communion with him, and by speech, when 'speech may be used. It is not enough to show forth his Name in our lives, for sometimes life needs a commentary, and a Christian will often have to avow the principles which guide his actions, in plain words, if the actions are to be intelligible or he to be faithful. Common honesty requires it. Loyalty to our Lord requires it. Ordinary humanity requires it. God has entrusted all Christian men with the treasure of his love in Christ, not that they may themselves be enriched only, but also that by them it may be ministered to others; and the dumb Christian who has never opened his mouth to press the gospel on others incurs a worse "curse" than that which falls on him who "withholdeth bread" from starving lips. Alas! for the many professing Christians who do their best to thwart the Divine purpose in their conversion by cowardly indolent silence! Their duty cannot be delegated, their responsibility cannot be evaded, nor the punishment which comes in their feeble hold of the concealed truth eluded.

III. WE HAVE HERE, TOO, AN EXHIBITION OF SOME OF THE MOTIVES IMPELLING THE DISCHARGE OF THIS DUTY. The greatness of the blessing is suggested by the emphatic words which describe God as calling us out of darkness into his marvelous light. His love and his power have summoned us into light which is his own, thus giving us to participate in the very element of his own being, and which is marvelous, as being bestowed by processes beyond nature which may well call forth wonder, and as in its own luster so far transcending all other light. A gift so wondrous is meant to call forth gratitude, and that gratitude should express itself in a continual offering up of self to manifest God's glory. Thankfulness, then, to him who has called us is the first motive to which the apostle appeals. It is a poor gratitude which never mentions the name of its benefactor. Dumb thankfulness is no thankfulness. If his praises die on our lips, gratitude must be dead in our hearts. A second motive is a sense of responsibility arising from possession of the gift. If we have the light, and are walking in it, how can we bear to know that there are poor souls stumbling in the dark! Put the candle in your window. It may light home some lost wanderer on the dreary moor. A third motive arises from the consideration of God's purpose to which we have already referred. Surely his purpose should be our aim. Our own happiness or salvation is not all God's meaning in his mercy towards us.

"Heaven cloth with us, as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves." We have received Christ that we may impart Christ. "God hath shined in our hearts, that we might give to others the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Let us see to it that we fulfill that Divine purpose. Let us not be silent recipients of his grace, like the sand that sucks up the rain and bears no flowers; but let us give back in praise and witness what his mercy gives to us. - A.M.







But ye are a chosen generation.
I. "Ye are a CHOSEN GENERATION" — the word "generation" here meaning not contemporaries but the offspring of one common parent, the offshoots of one original stock.

1. The Israelites were a special "generation," having sprung from Abraham as their common progenitor. Similarly, believers are a distinct "generation" of men, being all born of one God, and animated by the self-same Divine life. Consequently a striking family likeness prevails among them.

2. The Jews were, moreover, a "chosen generation" — called out of the darkness of Chaldaean idolatry to the marvellous light of Divine revelation. And so it is with believers now,

3. "Ye are a chosen generation, that ye should show forth the praises — the excellences — of Him who hath called you." The mistake of the Jews was to take for granted that they were chosen to show forth their own excellences. Their election they converted into food for pride. Let us remember the Church is a generation to show forth the excellences of God. Through good men, not necessarily great men, does God reveal His character; through holy men, not necessarily able men, does He make known the benevolence, the uprightness, the genial warmth of His nature.

II. "Ye are a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD" — a phrase borrowed from Exodus 19:6.

1. The Jewish nation was a nation of priests, its fundamental idea being religious, not secular. This idea is now embodied in the Christian Church. Every believer is now a priest, having a right to enter into the Holiest of all.

2. "A royal priesthood." "Ye are kings and priests" — kings over yourselves and priests unto God.

3. "Ye are a royal priesthood, to show forth the excellences of Him who hath called you." By your holy conversation, upright demeanour, you are to show forth the character of your God.

III. "Ye are a HOLY NATION."

1. The Israelites in Egypt were a "chosen generation," but not a "holy nation." Not till they were established in their own land, with laws and a king of their own, did they develop into a nation. Believers, scattered in the world, without mutual recognition, might be of the right seed; but not till they attach themselves to a Christian institution, variously termed the kingdom or the Church, do they become a nation.

2. "A holy nation." God set the Israelites apart from all the world. He made them what all nations ought to be — holy. True, they did not live up to their profession; but in theory, in ideal, they were holy.

3. As a people bound together for the purposes of holiness, we should show forth the excellences of our God. As a holy nation, scattered amongst all the nations of Europe, we ought to propagate the principles of God's kingdom.

IV. "Ye are a PECULIAR PEOPLE."

1. "Ye are a people." The Israelites were brought out of Egypt a host of undisciplined slaves, capabilities of great things slumbering within them, but only half civilised. But after forty years' pilgrimage in the wilderness, God was able to form them into a people, and settle them in the land promised unto their fathers. And in our natural state, we cannot be said to be a people in the true sense of the word, bound together by rational and spiritual ties. As individuals you can hardly be said to really exist till you believe. "Of Him ye are in Christ Jesus." Ye were not before, but now ye are — you live in the higher ranges of the soul. Before you only lived in your animal nature — you did not live the distinctive life of man. But through union with Christ first, and with the Church afterwards, you fulfil the idea of your being, you live in the higher faculties instead of the lower, having higher purposes and different interests from the rest of the world.

2. "Ye are a peculiar people," the word "peculiar" here being used in its etymological, not its colloquial sense, as meaning property, not singularity. "These people have I formed for Myself — they are My very own."

3. But mark, we are God's, purchased at a great price, in order that we may tell forth with a loud voice His praises. The word for "show forth" means literally "to proclaim to those without what has taken place within." Here Israel failed. Let the Christian Church beware of committing the same mistake — God has purchased us to be His special possession, on purpose that we should proclaim to the world lying in darkness the excellences of His love in the Gospel of His Son. We must either send or carry the light to the heathen.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

I. THE STATE OF CHRISTIANS, "a chosen generation;" so in Psalm 24. The psalmist there speaks first of God's universal sovereignty, then of His peculiar choice. As men who have great variety of possessions have yet usually their special delight in some one beyond all the rest, and choose to reside most in it, and bestow most expense on it to make it pleasant; so doth the Lord of the whole earth choose out to Himself from the rest of the world a number that are a chosen generation. "Generation." This imports them to be of one race or stock. They are of one nation, belonging to the same blessed land of promise, all citizens of the New Jerusalem, yea, all children of the same family, whereof Jesus Christ, the root of Jesse, is the stock, who is the great King and the great High Priest. And thus they are a "royal priesthood." They are of the seed royal, and of the holy seed of the priesthood, inasmuch as they partake of a new life from Christ. Thus, in Revelation 1:5, 6, there is first His own dignity expressed, then His dignifying us. There is no doubt that this kingly priesthood is the common dignity of all believers; this honour have all the saints. They are kings, have victory and dominion given them over the powers of darkness and the lusts of their own hearts, that held them captive and domineered over them before. This royalty takes away all attainders, and leaves nothing of all that is past to be laid to our charge, or to dishonour us. Believers are not shut out from God as they were before, but, being in Christ, ale brought near unto Him, and have free access to the throne of His grace. They resemble, in their spiritual state, the legal priesthood very clearly.

1. In their consecration. The levitical priests were washed; therefore this is expressed (Revelation 1:5), "He hath washed us in His own blood," and then follows, "and hath made us kings and priests."

2. Let us consider their services, which were diverse. They had charge of the sanctuary, vessels, lights, and were to keep the lamps burning. Thus the heart of every Christian is made a temple to the Holy Ghost, and he himself, as a priest consecrated unto God, is to keep it diligently, and the furniture of Divine grace in it; to have the light of spiritual knowledge within him, and to nourish it by drawing continually new supplies from Jesus Christ. The priests were to bless the people. And truly it is this spiritual priesthood, the elect, that procure blessings upon the rest of the world, and particularly on the places where they live.

3. Let us consider their course of life. We shall find rules given to the legal priests, stricter than to others, of avoiding legal pollutions, etc. And from these, this spiritual priesthood must learn an exact holy conversation, keeping themselves from the pollutions of the world: as here it follows: "A holy nation," and that of necessity; if a priesthood, then holy.

II. THE OPPOSITION OF THE ESTATE OF CHRISTIANS TO THAT OF UNBELIEVERS; we are most sensible of the evil or good of things by comparison. Though the estate of a Christian is very excellent and, when rightly valued, hath enough in itself to commend it, yet it doth and ought to raise our esteem of it the higher, when we compare it both with the misery of our former condition, and with the continuing misery of those that abide still and are left to perish in that woeful estate. We have here both these parallels. The happiness and dignity to which they are chosen and called, is opposed to the rejection and misery of them that continue unbelievers and rejectors of Christ.

III. THE END OF THEIR CALLING. That ye should show forth the praises, etc. To magnify the grace of God the more, we have here:

1. Both the terms of this motion or change, from whence and to what it is.

2. The principle of it, the calling of God.(1) From darkness. The estate of lost mankind is indeed nothing but darkness, being destitute of all spiritual truth and comfort, and tending to utter and everlasting darkness. And it is so, because by sin, the soul is separate from God, who is the first and highest light, the primitive truth. And the soul being made capable of Divine light, cannot be happy without it. And as the estate from whence we are called by grace is worthily called darkness, so that to which it calls us deserves as well the name of light. Christ likewise, who came to work our deliverance, is frequently so called in Scripture, not only in regard of His own nature, being God equal with the Father and therefore light, but relatively to men: "The life was the light of men." There is a spirit of light and knowledge flowing from Jesus Christ into the souls of believers, that acquaints them with the mysteries of the kingdom of God, which cannot otherwise be known. And this spirit of knowledge is withal a spirit of holiness; for purity and holiness are likewise signified by this light. Then from this light arise spiritual joy and comfort, which are frequently signified by this expression. There are two things spoken of this light, to commend it, "His marvellous light;" that is — it is after a peculiar manner God's — and it is marvellous. All light is from God, the light of sense, and that of reason; therefore He is called the Father of lights. But this light of grace is after a peculiar manner His, being a light above the reach of nature, infused into the soul in a supernatural way, the light of the elect world, where God specially and graciously resides. Now this light being so peculiarly God's, no wonder if it be marvellous. And if this light of grace be so marvellous, how much more marvellous shall the light of glory be, in which it ends! Hence learn to esteem highly of the gospel, in which this light shines unto us; the apostle calls it therefore the glorious gospel. Surely we have no cause to be ashamed of it, but of ourselves that we are so unlike it.(2) The principle of this change, the calling of God. "He hath called you." Those who live in the society and profess the faith of Christians, are called unto light, the light of the gospel that shines in the Church of God. Now this is no small favour, while many people are left in darkness and in the shadow of death, to have this light arise upon us and to be in the region of it, the Church, the Goshen of the world; for by this outward light we are invited to the happy state of saving inward light, and the former is here to be understood as the means of the latter. This is God's end in calling us, to communicate His goodness to us, that so the glory of it may return to Himself. As this is God's end, it ought to be ours, and therefore ours because it is His. And for this very purpose, both here and elsewhere are we put in mind of it, that we may be true to His end and intend it with Him. This is His purpose in calling us, and therefore it is our great duty, being so called, to declare His praises. All things and persons shall pay this tribute, even those who are most unwilling; but the happiness of His chosen is, that they are active in it, others are passive only.

(Abp. Leighton.)

I. THE DIVINE ORIGIN OF THE CHURCH.

1. "An elect race." Separated, called, chosen, quickened. Not a casual result out of ordinary forces.

II. HER FUNCTION IN THE WORLD — "a royal priesthood." Here king and priest are blended to show the power and function of the priesthood. We plead with man for God and with God for man: the regal kings are the saints of God.

III. THE BEAUTY OF HER CHARACTER — a holy nation." With us holiness frequently is a bundle of negation, an emptiness; but holiness is a cluster of positive glories, the glory of courage, the gleam of tenderness, the radiancy of mercy.

IV. HER PRECIOUSNESS TO GOD. "A peculiar people." His delight, joy, resting place. It is easy to depreciate. It takes a wise man to see the background as well as the figure on it. If the Church can be chosen, royal, priestly, beauteous, dear to God, she wants no earthly help.

V. HER WORK IN THE WORLD — "that ye may show forth the excellencies of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."

1. Every quickened soul has its own story to tell. There is a gospel according to you and me. The truth of God is the gathering up of all these gospels.

2. We have the power to utter praise.

3. We have the motive — gratitude for deliverance from darkness.

(R. Glover, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH IN ITS CHARACTERISTICS. A people for God's own possession. First, by acquirement — "He gave," etc.; second, by endearment — "He loved," etc.

II. THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH IN ITS MISSION. Here is its great purpose — "That." This throws us back on the thought in the word "elect" — chosen for what end, choice for what uses? The purpose is:

1. A great manifestation. "That ye may show forth." Tell out by word and deed some great message.

2. A great manifestation of the true greatness of God. "The excellencies of Him." The virtues, the glories of God; what

(1)a lofty theme;

(2)boundless theme;

(3)sacred theme.

3. A manifestation of the excellencies of God in blessing men. "Who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." The Spirit of God calls from

(1)the darkness of ignorance;

(2)the darkness of guilt;

(3)the darkness of dread.The Spirit of God calls to

(a)the "marvellous light" of truth;

(b)the "marvellous light" of holiness;

(c)the "marvellous light" of love;

(d)the "marvellous light" of heaven.

III. THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH IN ITS PRESENT CONDITION AS CONTRASTED WITH THE PAST HISTORY OF ITS MEMBERS. "Which in times past" — the mention of this is to kindle gratitude, to inspire humility, to awaken watchfulness.

(Homilist.)

A royal priesthood
I. It is amongst the most common, and certainly not the least dangerous, of THE MISTAKES OF THE PRESENT DAY TO IDENTIFY THE CHURCH WITH THE CLERGY, AS THOUGH THE LAITY WERE NOT TO THE FULL ONE OF ITS CONSTITUENT PARTS. I am indeed a minister of the Church, but not on that account more a member of the Church than any of those amongst whom I officiate. We are not speaking of what that community may be by practice, but only of what it is by profession; and of what it would be if it acted up to the obligations taken on itself. Let a parish of nominal Christians be converted into a parish of real Christians, so that there should not be one within its circuit who did not adorn the doctrine of the gospel; and what should we have but a parish of priests to the living God? We call it a parish of priests, because we can feel that it would be as a kind of little sanctuary in the midst of country or city, which might elsewhere be deformed by great ignorance and profligacy. There would be no trenching upon functions which belong exclusively to men who have been ordained to the service of the temple; but, nevertheless, there would be that thorough exhibition of Christianity, which is amongst the most powerful of preaching, and that noble presentation of every energy to God, which is far above the costliest of sacrifices and burnt offerings, And you will easily see that, in passing from a parish to a nation, we introduce no change into our argument! We only enlarge its application. We cannot tell you what a spectacle it would be in the midst of the earth, if any one people as a body acted on the principles of Christianity; but we are sure that no better title than that of our text could be given to such a people. Neither is it only through the example they would set, and the exhibition they would furnish of the beneficial power of Christianity, that the inhabitants of this country would be as the priests of the Most High, You cannot doubt that such a nation would be, in the largest sense, a missionary nation, Conscious of the inestimable blessing which Christianity had proved to its own families, this people would not send forth a single ship on any enterprise of commerce, without making it also a vehicle for transmitting the principles of religion.

II. But consider next: CERTAIN OF THE CONSEQUENCES WHICH WOULD FOLLOW, IF THE PRIESTLY CHARACTER WERE UNIVERSALLY RECOGNISED. We begin with observing that the members of the church watch its ministers with singular jealousy, and that faults which would be comparatively overlooked if committed by a merchant or a lawyer, are held up to utter execration when they can be fastened on a clergyman. We might press them home with the question, are not ye priests? You may be forgetful, you may be ignorant of your high calling; but, nevertheless, you belong incontrovertibly to "a royal priesthood"; and if there be avarice amongst you, it is the avarice of a priest; if there be pride amongst you, it is the pride of a priest; if there be sensuality amongst you, it is the sensuality of a priest. We are quite persuaded that men vastly underrate, even where they do not wholly overlook, the injury which the vices of any private individual work to the cause of God and religion.

III. If you were to regard yourselves as the priests of God, YOU COULD NOT BE INDOLENT WITH RESPECT TO ANY ENTERPRISE OF CHRISTIAN PHILANTHROPY. You have been appointed to the priesthood that you may "show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." If ye be priests of Christianity, for what end can you have been consecrated, if not that you may disseminate the religion which you have embraced as the true?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The New Testament knows no such thing as different degrees of consecration to God's service for different men. A man is no more consecrated to the work of God when he is made a clergyman than he was before as a layman. He is simply consecrated to a special department of that work; to the department, namely, of the Word and Sacraments. But, in fact, the ministry of Christ takes in much more than this. The word "ministry" means simply service; and in this sense all Christian people belong to the Christian ministry. We are all ordained to it in Holy Baptism. In which department of this one great ministry a man is to work — whether in the department of the Word and Sacraments or in what may be called the department of temporal supplies — this is a question which the man must settle for himself; but whether or not he shall serve in the ministry of Christ at all, this is not an open question for anyone. It has been settled. One man may go to the altar, and another to the counting room; but the man who goes to the counting room has no better right to be selfish than the man who goes to the altar. Many people in entering the Church think not to do anything in particular, but to keep out of danger; not to battle for the truth, but simply to "flee from the wrath to come." In the most solemn manner they pledge themselves wholly to God's service, and yet seem to have no idea of serving anyone but themselves in what they call their secular sphere; that is, in by far the greater part of their inner and outer life. What is worse than all, the Church does not seem shocked at the inconsistency. If pleasure have been a man's aim in the world, pleasure may continue to be his aim in the Church; only in the Church his pleasures must be innocent. They may be selfish, but they must be innocent. If the man's aim in the world was to amass wealth just for selfish uses, he may pursue that aim quite as safely in the Church, and perhaps a trifle more successfully; only his methods must be honest. If he has no ambition in this direction; if he says, "I have enough to supply my wants, I have no desire for further gains, I will retire from work and live on what I have"; the selfish indifference is likely enough to be taken as a mark of Christian moderation. "I have enough." No matter for others. No matter that want, myriad voiced, is crying from altar and from hearthstone. Suppose that a clergyman should talk in this way: "I am now fifty years old; I have for many years been in receipt of a large salary; I have, by God's blessing, been able to lay up enough of it to maintain me the remainder of my days; I will stop preaching." The inconsistency in that case would shock people. Why not the same inconsistency in the case of a layman? Simply because of the unscriptural distinction between religious and secular in a Christian's life and work. A gospel which does nothing more than simply provide Christian manners for selfish lives will never do. Only the gospel which directs all human motives to the one supreme end, of serving God; which proclaims the priesthood of all believers, and the sacredness of all spheres of duty and of life; only this is the true gospel of the kingdom, and only this can win the world.

(J. S. Shipman, D. D.)

An holy nation
On first hearing these words, we may think that they have more of a Jewish than a Christian sound. Undoubtedly they have a Jewish application. Three times over, at the least, it was declared to the Jews by God: "Ye are a holy nation"; "Thou art an holy people to the Lord thy God"; and certainly they were so. It was both their glory and their condemnation. But, besides that we cannot think that any blessing conferred upon the Jews is withheld from Christians, these words were expressly spoken by St. Peter of Christians — of Christians as a body, and they declare one of the great blessings resting upon them, a condition of their individual and personal blessings, one which they could not forget or deny without great injury to themselves. I propose to draw out this great truth, the truth, I mean, of the corporate holiness of Christians, a holiness of which, by being incorporated into Christ, they are made to partake together; and separation from, or loss of, which is death. See how this is brought out, not merely by the apostles, but by our Lord Himself. It is remarkable how the words and the symbols of our Lord all pointed to the disciples as a body; how He called them the salt of the earth; called them friends; how He addressed them as His flock, His household, as a vine branches at least of it, for He was the Vine, and they all lived in Him. Observe how St. Paul enlarges the same idea, using his favourite image of a body; the whole body living in Christ, and Christ in it; how he speaks of Christians as a family, a peculiar people, a Temple of God; nay, addresses them all as saints, though we know that several of them personally could not claim the title of holy. Still, in virtue of their having been made members of a spiritual body, they were sharers of the Spirit that dwelt in the whole body until they had utterly cast it from them and were reprobate. Even their children were declared in this respect to be holy; they themselves were said to be "called with an holy calling," "partakers of the Divine Nature"; not some only, but all. What the exact nature of this corporate holiness pervading the whole body is, I do not attempt to describe beyond saying that it is union with Christ. Only it is not a fiction, not merely a title, it constitutes a real consecration to God and the participation of a real gift, which cannot be done despite to without danger of sacrilege. Let us try to grasp this truth. It brings into full light and gives reality to the relation of each Christian to Christ. There is not a baptized soul to whom we may not say, "God hath chosen and called you by a holy calling in His Son; He hath sealed you, as He has consecrated the whole body, with the spirit of promise"; and if in that soul there is any power of making a true response, we use the strongest engine in our hands to quicken it to newness of life. See the power of this argument in effecting a true conversion. The first prerequisite in a converted soul is repentance. Must it not deepen that repentance for one to feel that all along, up to that time (in whatever measure it may be so) he has been sinning against grace, resisting his holy calling, dishonouring Christ? See, too, how this truth tends to check that narrow spirit which leads many pious people to form themselves into small parties of those like minded with themselves; thus, not merely rending the body of Christ, but frequently fostering a temper of much uncharitableness and self-assumption.

(A. Grant, D. C. L.)

A peculiar people
That is a people proper to the Lord which He Himself hath purchased, whom He keeps under His protection, to whom also He reveals His secrets: His undefiled. In the flood He saved His Church, when all others were drowned. No marvel, though the Lord set such store by His Church, seeing He hath been at such cost therewith, as to redeem it with the blood of His Son, and to give His Spirit thereto, to sanctify and make it like Himself. The lands we purchase are dear to us; we are God's purchase.

1. If we be so peculiar and choice to the Lord, how choicely should we walk; how should we set as great store by the Lord and His commandments, as He hath done by us!

2. This is a comfort that God makes such special reckoning of His; therefore, though we have many and mighty enemies, yet we need not fear.

3. Terror to the wicked. How dare they hurt or persecute any of these little ones, lest their angel he let loose to destroy them (Judges 5:23)!

(John Rogers.)

The word "peculiar," by which the thought is expressed in English, we derive directly through the Latin, and the use of the term in the secular life of the Romans will throw light on its meaning here in the spiritual sphere. The system of slavery prevailed in the Roman Empire. It interpenetrated all society. An elaborate code of laws had sprung up to regulate its complicated and unnatural relations. The slave, when he fell into slavery, lost all. He became the property of his master. But if he served faithfully, law and custom permitted him to acquire private property through his own skill or industry. A man might, for example, hire himself from his owner, paying him so much a day. He might then employ himself in art or even merchandise, and, if successful, might soon accumulate a considerable sum. Some slaves in this manner purchased their own liberty and raised themselves to a high position. Now the savings of a slave, after satisfying the demands of the master, were called his "peculium." The law protected him in his right to this property. It may be supposed to have been very dear to the poor man. It constituted his sole anchor of hope. He cherished it accordingly. From this a conception and expression have been borrowed to show the kind of ownership that God is pleased to claim in the persons who have been won back to Himself after they were lost.

(W. Arnot.)

A people of purchase; such as comprehend, as it were, all God's gettings, His whole stock that He makes any great reckoning of.

(J. Trapp.)

(margin, A.V.): — Suppose you go out and make some purchase. You pay down the price and get the receipt, and tell the seller to send it home to you at once. The day goes by and it does not come. Weeks go by and it does not come. You send to the shop a message, "What are you doing with what I bought?" They reply, "We sent it up." "Well, it has not arrived." "Then the errand boy has kept it on the way; we suppose he is using it for himself for a bit before he gives it over to you." You do not make purchases on these terms. How often God's own people are like that errand boy! You have been bought with a price. Have you sent yourself home to the purchaser, or have you kept yourself on the way? "I keep myself to myself," people will say. That is the last thing a Christian ought to do; he ought to give himself away to God at once.

(Hubert Brooke, M. A.)

Show forth the praises of Him
The Revised Version, instead of "praises," reads "excellencies" — and even that is but a feeble translation of the remarkable word here employed. For it is that usually rendered "virtues"; and by that word, of course, when applied to God, we mean the radiant excellences and glories of His character, of which our earthly qualities, designated by the same name, are but shadows. It is, indeed, true that this same expression is employed in the Greek version of the Old Testament in Isaiah 43, in a verse which evidently was floating before Peter's mind: "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise."

I. Here we get A WONDERFUL GLIMPSE INTO THE HEART OF GOD. Note the preceding words, in which the writer describes all God's mercies to His people, making them "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation"; a people "His own possession." All that is done for one specific purpose — "that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness." Now that aim has been put so as to present an utterly hard and horrible notion. That God's glory is His only motive may be so stated as to mean merely an Almighty selfishness. But if you think for a moment about this statement, all that appears repellent drops away from it, and it turns out to be another way of saying "God is love." Because what is there more characteristic of love than an earnest desire to communicate itself and to be manifested and beheld? That is what God wants to be known for. Is that hard and repellent? Why does He desire that He should be known? for any good that it does to Him? No; except the good that even His creatures can do to Him when they gladden tits paternal heart by recognising Him for what He is, the Infinite Lover of all souls. But the reason why He desires most of all that the light of His character may pour into every heart is because He would have every heart gladdened and blessed forever by that received and believed light. The Infinite desires to communicate Him self, that by the communication men may be blessed.

II. There is another thing here, and that is A WONDERFUL GLIMPSE OF WHAT CHRISTIAN PEOPLE ARE IN THE WORLD FOR. "This people have I formed for Myself," says the fundamental passage in Isaiah already referred to, "they shall show forth My praise." It was not worth while forming them; it was still less worth while redeeming them except for that. But you may say, "I am saved in order that I may enjoy all the blessings of salvation, immunities from fear and punishment, and the like." Yes, certainly! But is that all? I think not. There is not a creature in God's universe so tiny but that it has a claim on Him that made it for its well-being. That is very certain. And so my salvation is an adequate end with God, in all His dealing, and especially in His sending of Jesus Christ. But there is not a creature in the whole universe, though he were mightier than the archangels that stand nearest God's throne, who is so great and independent that his happiness is the sole aim of God's gifts to him. Every man that receives anything from God is thereby made a steward to impart it to others. So we may say, "You were not saved for your own sakes." One might almost say that that was a by-end. You were saved — shall I say? — for God's sake, and you were saved for man's sake? Every yard of line in a new railway when laid down is used to carry materials to make the next yard; and so the terminus is reached. Even so Christian people were formed for Christ that they might show forth His praise. Look what a notion that gives us of the dignity of the Christian life, and of the special manifestation of God which is afforded to the world in it. You, if you set forth as becomes you His glorious character, have crowned the whole manifestation that He makes of Himself in Nature and in Providence. What people learn about God from a true Christian is a better revelation than has ever been made or can be made elsewhere.

III. Lastly, WE HAVE HERE A PIECE OF STRINGENT PRACTICAL DIRECTION. The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say that they belong to God's family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus Christ. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" nor any likeness of the Divine, but thou shalt make thyself an image of Him, that men looking at it may learn a little more of what He is. If we have any right to say that we are a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, God's "possession," then there will be in us some likeness of Him to whom we belong stamped more or less perfectly upon our characters; and just as people cannot look at the sun, but may get some notion of its power when they gaze upon the rare beauty of the tinted clouds that lie round about it, if in the poor, wet, cold mistiness of our lives there be caught, as it were, and tangled some stray beams of the sunshine, there will be colour and beauty there. A bit of worthless tallow may be saturated with a perfume which will make it worth its weight in gold. So our poor natures may be drenched with God and give Him forth fragrant and precious, and men may be drawn thereby. Nor does that exclude the other kind of showing forth the praises, by word and utterance, at fit times and to the right people. But above all, let us remember that none of these works can be done to any good purpose if any taint of self mingles with it. "Let your light so shine before men that they may behold your good works and glorify" — whom? you? — "your Father which is in heaven."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE SPHERE IN WHICH WE ARE TO SERVE GOD. In "His marvellous light." There is —

1. The light of His truth (Psalm 118:29; Psalm 119:105, 130).

2. The light of His favour (Psalm 4:6; Numbers 6:26).

3. The light of His holiness (Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:7).

II. IN WHAT DOES THIS SERVICE CONSIST?

1. In a life of gratitude (Hebrews 13:15; Ephesians 5:20).

2. In a life of testimony (1 John 1:1-3; Philippians 2:15, 16).

3. In a life of godliness. Show forth the excellences of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:10; Philippians 1:11).

III. WHAT ARE THE CHIEF HINDRANCES TO THAT SERVICE?

1. Some are afraid to begin, lest they should fall back (1 Corinthians 1:8; Jude 1:24; Psalm 56:13).

2. Some are hindered by a feeling of shame (Mark 8:38; Romans 1:16).

3. Others are idle, because they do not see their resources (Philippians 4:13; Ephesians 1:3).

(E. H. Hopkins.)

Christian World.
There is a headman of a kraal in Natal, South Africa, who does not object to his people becoming Christians, but who decidedly objects to their becoming bad Christians. This is how he puts it to natives who profess conversion: "If you become better men and women by being Christians, you may remain so; if not, I won't let you be Christians at all."

(Christian World.)

The picture of a dear friend should be hung up in a conspicuous place of the house; so should God's holy image and grace in our hearts.

(J. Trapp.)

A child of God should be a visible beatitude for joy and happiness, and a living doxology for gratitude and adoration.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Called out of darkness into His marvellous light
Homilist.
I. THE DARKNESS FROM WHICH THE SOUL HAS BEEN DELIVERED.

1. It is a darkness which involves the loss of truth, the light and life of the soul, and of the soul itself.

2. This darkness carries with it a heavy load of guilt.

3. This darkness, as regards the moral nature, is woe and misery.

II. THE MARVELLOUS LIGHT TO WHICH THE SOUL IS ADMITTED.

1. Its nature.

2. Its source.

3. Its effects.

(Homilist.)

I. WHAT FROM.

1. The power of Satan.

2. Moral confusion.

3. Impurity.

4. Spiritual loss — ignorance.

5. A state of misery.

6. A state of danger.

7. God calls us out of this darkness; and if we do not obey His call we "love darkness rather than light, because our deeds are evil." But let us count the cost of such a choice.

II. WHAT TO.

1. God's kingdom.

2. Moral order.

3. True wisdom.

4. Spiritual purity.

5. Heaven in prospective.

III. WHAT FOR.

1. That we may be obedient to His will, and follow the example of Christ — God's ideal of perfected humanity.

2. To live as His children, and render unto Him a loving, loyal service, bearing His gentle yoke with cheerfulness and meekness, and so recommend the service of God by our conduct before men, that they shall be drawn to God by our example.

(W. Harris.)

It is very desirable that Christians should realise both what they have been and what they are; both the degradation and disadvantages of the condition from which they have been delivered, and the dignity and privileges of the condition into which they have been called. Peter contrasts the two conditions of life by characterising the one as "darkness" and the other as "marvellous light." Perhaps it may help in some degree to give vividness to his thoughts if we recall an incident in the history of Israel in Egypt. One of the plagues sent on the Egyptians — the last but one, and probably the severest, except the last — was a darkness which might be felt. The humblest hut of an Israelite was far preferable to the palace of Pharaoh. When we regard this as a figure of what still exists, there are everywhere two peoples dwelling side by side, one of which is enshrouded in a darkness more dismal than that which lay upon the Egyptians, while the other is enjoying a far more pleasant light than was in the dwellings of the Israelites. There are two conditions of life which divide between them all human society — a state of nature and a state of grace. And these two states are as opposite as night and day. God's people know both conditions, for they have been delivered out of the one and brought into the other. The world lieth in darkness; there is darkness in our natures, a darkness which hides the light, which turns away from it, although the light may be shining all around it. This darkness extends to the whole spiritual nature, and affects its observation, sentiments, and actions, after the manner that physical darkness affects the senses, sensations, and emotions of the body; broods, for example, over and within the intellect of man. It hides from him, in consequence, one vast region of most important truth, and it does not allow him to attain what is the highest kind of knowledge. There is a natural world with which natural sense and intellect are competent to deal, but it does not follow that there is not also a spiritual world with which they are incompetent to deal. This is what Scripture testifies. Natural things do not need to be spiritually discerned, spiritual things do. We may know, indeed, much about even many of these things in a natural way; we may become versed in the controversies of theology, we may be able to discourse learnedly of the Divine attributes — on redemption, on regeneration, and kindred themes — but so may a blind man theorise and discourse on optics or painting. A true perception of spiritual things, however, is as impossible to the merely natural man as a true perception of light and shade and colour is to the bodily blind. Let us not suppose that this spiritual blindness is a slight misfortune. There can be none greater. Physical blindness only excludes the perception of some of the works of God, and from enjoyment of some of His gifts; spiritual blindness deprives us of the perception and enjoyment of God Himself, and of all living insight into His ways and dispensations. God can easily and richly compensate a man for the want of knowledge of anything finite; but what compensation can there be for the want of knowledge of His own perfections, and especially of His love and mercy in Jesus Christ, when that knowledge is the highest good, true, and eternal life? Spiritual blindness is the most awful blindness; blindness as to what is alone essential, and as to all that is essential; blindness which involves loss of the truth, the light and the life of the soul, the loss of the soul itself. The darkness of which Peter speaks presses not merely on the intellect of man, it extends also to his will, and affects his whole moral life and dignity. It involves moral as well as intellectual blindness, wickedness not less than ignorance. For one thing, this darkness, implying as it does love of the darkness and aversion to the light, is not only a cause of sin, but is of itself a grievous sin. Our rejection of this light can only be because while it is pure we are impure; while it is Divine love, there rages in us selfish and carnal passion; and, in short, that through perversity of heart, we will not recognise God to be what He is, or acknowledge His claims to our admiration, gratitude, and services. This darkness is itself sin, but it also calls forth and shelters all other sin. The evil in us is not only unchecked, but fostered, and every passion which prompts to wicked action is allowed a most dangerous advantage. Spiritual darkness thus tends to spread and deepen into outermost moral darkness and corruption. But yet, further, the darkness of man's merely natural state is, as regards the intellect, ignorance and blindness; and, as regards the will and moral life, a guilt and sin. As regards our moral nature, it is guilt and misery. Light and enjoyment are always associated; darkness and sadness are as naturally joined. It is pleasant to the eyes to behold the light of the sun. Gladness seems to shrink away in proportion as light is withdrawn. The happy rejoice in the light, but the sorrowful seek to be in darkness; night is the season of terrors, of dismal clouds, and of a million fancies and gloomy forebodings. Here, too, outward darkness is a symbol of the inward. So long as a man is in the spiritual darkness of his natural state, so long as he is not cheered by the light from the countenance of a reconciled God and Father, he cannot be happy. God has so made each human heart that it can only find true satisfaction in Himself, and when it lives under the light of His approval. Happiness must be something real, permanent, and elevating, not something fleeting, delusive, and degrading. And it is only this true happiness which I say cannot be where God is ignored, where the light of His presence is not recognised, and the blessings of His presence are not felt. I have dwelt long on the state and condition of life which Peter calls darkness, but I may touch so much the more briefly in consequence on that which he calls "marvellous light." For darkness and light are contrasted, and not only cannot be understood except as contrasted, but whatever is truly said about either implies something true about the other. Therefore, as you have already had explained to you how the darkness of which Peter speaks is in one ignorance and error, in another sin and unrighteousness, and in yet another disquiet and unhappiness, so you may, without further explanation, conclude that the light of which Peter speaks must be knowledge and truth in the intellect, obedience and holiness in the moral life, and joy and happiness in the heart. "Marvellous" light! So St. Peter most appropriately calls it. It is marvellous in its source, a marvellous light of Him who is called the Father of Lights. It comes from no earthly luminary, but directly from Himself, specially revealed through His Son Jesus Christ, conveyed to the soul by the Divine genius of His own Spirit, freely given to whom, in His wisdom, He will; so given, that many a poor, uneducated man can see what the wise of this world are blind to. It is marvellous, too, as appearing after such darkness; the nature of the light of the world is very marvellous, although, owing to its commonness, we seldom think how marvellous it is. But a prisoner brought from long confinement in a darkened dungeon, or a blind man restored to sight, will not fail to appreciate it aright. It is those who have just been brought out of the darkness of the state of nature into the light of a state of grace who feel most vividly how marvellous the light of the Father is. It is marvellous, also, in its own nature; marvellous for its exquisite beauty, and marvellous because it is so pure and penetrative. It reveals to men sins and shortcomings in their own hearts of which the light of nature had awakened no suspicion, and causes evils of all kinds, even the most secret and subtle, to be seen in their real hatefulness. It is marvellous in the extent of its disclosures, in rendering clear and intelligible to us the wonders of redemption, and marvellous in its power of diffusing light and happiness. It is exceedingly marvellous in its issues, for it is this light of grace which shineth more and more unto the perfect day, and ends as the light of heavenly glory. I have still to remind you that, according to the teaching of the apostle, those who have passed from the darkness to the marvellous light are bound to show forth the praises, or — as may be more accurately rendered — the excellences of Him to whom the change is due. They have not worked their own way out of the darkness into the light, but God has had compassion on them. The final end of redemption, as of creation, is to show forth the glory of God. It becomes every rational creature, and it becomes still more every partaker of redemption, to act on this truth. But what will doing so imply? Clearly this at least, that we are not ashamed to honour His name, or defend His cause with our lips; that we are willing to declare His perfections when we can do so; that whenever a word in season tending to exalt the character or justify the ways of God can be uttered by us with good effect, we are ready and glad to utter it. But not less certainly it means also that whatever excellence of nature or grace God has imparted to us, we should so use it as that the glory should redound to the Giver, and the wealth of His excellences be seen in the richness of His love to us. It implies that we should consecrate our talents to His services, dedicate to Him our reasons, imaginations, affections, and souls, and strive to render and keep them as worthy of Him as we can.

(Prof. R. Flint.)

I. OUR ORIGINAL CONDITION AS SINNERS. In darkness.

II. THE GRACIOUS CHANGE PRODUCED. "Called out of darkness into marvellous light."

III. THE RESULTS OF BEING THUS CALLED. "That ye show forth God's praises."

1. By extolling His mercy (Psalm 103:3-5, 11-13).

2. By exhibiting His image (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 6).

3. By obedience to His authority (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

4. And by zeal for His glory (2 Corinthians 10:17; Galatians 6:14).

IV. THE IMPROVEMENT.

1. Consider the state of the sinner before God, as in darkness of soul.

2. The only way of deliverance is by the death and obedience of Jesus Christ, as made known by the gospel.

3. Also let the Christian learn from this subject his great obligations to God, and consider what ought to be his conduct.

4. But especially let him see to whom the glory of so much mercy belongs.

(T. B. Baker.)

Why is this a marvellous light?

I. Because it is a light upon SPIRITUAL REALITIES. The sun can light up landscapes, but where is the light which can reveal man to himself and God to man? We need another light — a light above the brightness of the sun.

1. The gospel throws a marvellous light upon sin.

2. Upon the holiness and awfulness of Divine law.

3. Upon the elements which are requisite to a perfect reconciliation to God.

II. Because it is a light upon SPIRITUAL DESTINIES. Man can throw no light on his own future. He can but speculate and hope. The gospel distinctly deals with the mystery of time to come.

1. Judgment.

2. Rewards and punishments.

3. Duration.

4. Service.The fact that the gospel claims to be a marvellous light shows —

(1)That the world is in a state of marvellous darkness.

(2)That the diffusion of the gospel is a diffusion of light.

(3)That all who believe the gospel should walk as children of the day.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Is it not strange that any will refuse to receive this light? If anyone would persist in living in a dark cave far away from the light of the sun, with only dim candles of his own making to pour a few feeble, flickering beams upon the gloom, we should consider him insane. What shall we say of those who persist in living in the darkness of sin, with no light but the candles of earth's false hopes to shine upon their souls?

(R. Miller.)

There is an old legend dating back to the seventh century, of St. Modabert, who had such sympathy for his blind mother that he one day rushed forward and kissed her eyes, and her sight came immediately to her, and she rejoiced in the beauties of nature as they shone about her. Whether the legend contains any truth it matters not; but it certainly gives us a very striking illustration of the kiss of Christ's love as it opens the eyes of the penitent believer, and reveals to him the riches and beauty of the pardon of all sin, and makes him a dweller in the kingdom of our God.

(G. W. Bibb.)

In the old dispensation the light that broke through clouds was but that of the rising morning. It touched the mountain tops of the loftiest spirits; a Moses, a David, an Elijah; caught the early gleams while all the valleys slept in the pale shadow, and the mist clung in white folds to the plains. But the noon has come, and from its steadfast throne in the very zenith, the sun which never sets pours down its rays into the deep recesses of the narrowest gorge, and every little daisy and hidden flower catches its brightness, and there is nothing hid from the light thereof.

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
There are children of light and children of darkness. The latter shun the bright, the pure azure shining sky of truth with all its loving beams. Their world is like the world of insects, and is the world of night. Insects are all light shunners. Even those which, like the bee, labour during the daytime, prefer the shades of obscurity. The children of light are like the birds. The world of birds is the world of light — of song. Nearly all of them, says Michelet, live in the sun, fill themselves with it, or are inspired by it. Those of the south carry its reflected radiance on their wings; those of our colder climates in their songs; many of them follow it from land to land.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

Which in time past were not a people
In that he sets before them the time past, and what they were; note, that for a people to look to their beginnings is of singular use. As for us, who since Christ's coming are admitted to the same privileges with the Jews. This serves —

1. To make us humble and take down our pride.

2. To stir us up to thankfulness.

3. To strengthen our faith to believe in God forever afterwards, and for all blessings needful to salvation.

(John Rogers.)

The apostle is speaking of believers not individually, but collectively. He says of them that in their former condition they "were not a people"; that is, they had no organised existence. The present condition of the Jews may supply us with an illustration. They are now "not a people." They exist as individuals, and in a state of distinctness from all the nations amongst which, in their calamitous dispersion, they are scattered; but they have no national existence — no king, no country, no organisation, no government, no political being. Just so the great community of believers — God's spiritual commonwealth — had no being; for the members who now compose it stood in no covenant relation to God, and they had no bond of union, no spiritual incorporation among themselves. Reverse the statement and you have their present condition. For, in the first place, all believers, by virtue of their faith in Christ, are in covenant with God. God and believers walk with each other in amity. Whereas once there was alienation and enmity, there is now mutual love. They have taken Him to be their God, and He has taken them to be His people. And then, secondly, being in covenant with God, all believers are in union with each other. This second conjunction flows by a necessary consequence from the first; for, being reduced under one sovereignty, they necessarily compose one community. While they were estranged from God, they were estranged from one another. Now of this commonwealth of the faithful, many things may be said.

1. God places Himself at its head. As He stands in close connection with every individual member of it, so He establishes a connection, not less close, between Himself and all the members collectively. He originates the community, and He governs it.

2. It is composed of all believers. This great community excludes from its fellowship none whom Christ does not exclude from salvation. All the saints are your fellow subjects in that kingdom. Not all the saints on earth simply, but the saints also in heaven.

3. The blessings of the new covenant constitute its privileges. These blessings consist in whatever is obtained through the blood of Christ; all "spiritual blessings in heavenly places," or heavenly things; things, that is, which have a heavenly origin and nature, and a tendency to prepare us for heaven. Hence all believers are justified and sanctified.

4. Heaven is the place of its perfect development, and its everlasting home. It is never seen as a whole on earth. Here it has never existed otherwise than in detachments, and separated portions. And these never stay long. God's people are gathered out of the world, collected into little fellowships, trained, sanctified, and then drafted away to the great meeting place of the redeemed.

(E. Steane, D. D.)

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