1 Peter 2:9, 10
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…
To the apostle's vision the Church was a whole. Its unity did not depend upon geography, or upon chronology, but on character, temper, spirit.
I. The glory of the Christian commonwealth in ITS CHARACTERISTICS. "An elect race;" "a race," i.e. descendants from one stock and kindred one to another. "Elect;" that is, at once choice and chosen. Chosen to be blessed, and to be made a blessing. "A royal priesthood." A kingdom of priests. "Thou hast made us kings and priests." What is the true conception of a king or of a priest? One who lives for others; the king, if you will, in open field; the priest in sacred retirement. We are both. "A holy nation;" i.e. consecrated to religion. Rome may be a martial nation, Greece a cultured nation, Babylon a commercial nation. Israel was nothing if not religious. The Christian commonwealth is to be the Israel of today. "A people for God's own possession," or for special reservation. "Peculiar," a word used to describe the earnings of the slave in his overtime - his "very own." We are the "very own" of God. "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem," etc.; "bought with blood."
II. The glory of the Christian commonwealth in ITS MISSION. "That ye may," etc. This throws us back on the word "elect." We are chosen for this purpose. "Ye may show forth;" tell out to those without what has taken place within. "The excellences of him" - virtues, glories, of God. What a boundless theme! "Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." God's call, by his Spirit, through his Word, through the conscience, through the ministry, through the sacraments, through providential events, reaches all of us. But "the called" usually denotes those who have responded to the call. The call is from "darkness," i.e. ignorance, error, misery, sin, helplessness, to "light," truth, joy, purity, activity; from the sepulcher to the garden, from the dungeon to the temple, from midnight to noon.
III. These glories of the Christian commonwealth ARE IN STRIKING CONTRAST WITH THE FAST HISTORY OF ITS MEMBERS. "Which in time past." The reference is doubtless
(1) to quicken humility;
(2) to kindle gratitude;
(3) to awaken watchfulness. Were no people; isolated, each self-centered; a chaos, not a commonwealth. "But are now the people of God;" not merely a commonwealth, but a sacred commonwealth, a theocracy. "Which had not obtained mercy," etc.; had not realized it as their own. Pity is care for the weak. Compassion is care lot the suffering. Mercy is care for the undeserving. And it is mercy that has met the Christian man, and made him what he is. - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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:
WEB: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: