In 1 Peter 9-12, Peter now turns the corner to show us who we are and how we are to be identified as a Christian.
What Defines Us
Verse 9 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;
After Peter shows us the outcome of belief and unbelief he makes a point here to believers by saying “But you” He is speaking to the believers.
“But You are a chosen race”.
The term, chosen, or ἐκλεκτό in Greek means the elect or more specific ones who God has chosen to Himself. Matthew uses this same term as he writes what Jesus had said: “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14). We see the predestination or election language again.
God has predestined all who would be saved. This does not mean that all who are elect or chosen will be saved. There are many who are called “elect” that never came to faith. By whatever reason, the love of their sin, refusal of the truth of the Gospel or possibly never hearing the Gospel at all, many elect are not in heaven now.
Peter uses the term “race” speaking of the believers. He calls them a chosen race. This term race in Greek is “genos” which means people group or nation. “Genos” is translated race but it does not mean a specific race as we know it today.
There must be some clarity made here today. Since we have been in the Social Justice movement lately, we see that race is a major topic in Social Justice. This movement has impacted the world and has had some major effects on how people view one another. The critical race theory or any other social issue pertaining to racism is a secular world issue. Sadly, it has crept into the church. Now many denominations are fighting within themselves over all these issues of Social Justice. We will not discuss this in-depth the SJ issue but we do need to see what Peter is talking about here.
Race, it is viewed in the Bible, does not single out any specific race or nationality. The best way we can look at this today is how Paul explained it in Colossians. Turn with me to Colossians chapter 3. Here we are going to see what Christians are to be seeing themselves and other believers as. Paul writes in this letter in this chapter how the new Christian life should look like. As Peter is doing the same here we will see many similarities because they are teaching the same thing they were both taught about Christianity.
It is one walk/ by one faith /in One person.
Col. 3:11 explains how we are followers of Christ and our new identity as a race is no longer valid. We are now His chosen race. Our worldly identity does not determine who we are.
11: a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
So Paul explains this very clear for us. We are not who we were. We are now Christians in a new life in adopted into a new family. We are all the same. Nobody is above anyone else we are all equal. Our identity of where we came from or the color of our skin does not matter anymore. That is a worldly thing and a world view that Christians should not have anymore. We are not from here we are just passing through remember?
So our nationality now is Christian. Our home is in Heaven not earth. So it does not make a difference where you were born or where your family came from or the color of your skin. This means nothing anymore since you came to Christ. We are all the same now in one body. We are all the same, we belong to Christ and are His. We have been bought for a price and we are not our own anymore (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
As we keep moving we see Peter continuing to make references to who we are as believers. But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION.
We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people. Peter explains in these terms who we are just as the OT shows us
Chosen Race: Isa. 43:20 Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
Royal Priesthood: Isa. 61:6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD;
You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.
This royal Priesthood pertains to our status as ambassadors who mediate God’s presence to the world.
Holy Nation: Ex. 19:6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
A People for His own Possession: Deut. 14:2 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His 1own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
We are of God’s possession because we have been purchased by the blood of Christ.
Gal. 3:13 13 Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law.
1 Cor. 7:23 23 You were bought with a price;
1 Cor. 7:20 0 For you have been bought with a price:
*So why were we saved? *What is the reason that God made it possible for us, who are rebels, to actually be forgiven from our debts? Why?
Peter says: so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
We are to proclaim the excellencies of Him who saved us. 1 John 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also. Our Great Commission in Matthew 28 commands us to make disciples and to teach them to observe all Christ commanded you. All this is part of proclaiming His excellencies.
As believers, we are all called to minister or proclaim the Gospel to all the creation (Mark 16:15). Also, we see here that Peter illustrates who we once were. We were once in darkness but now in His marvelous Light. When we were dead in our sins we were in the dark and hated the Light. John tells us that many rejected Him because they could not understand the Light. John 1:4 4 aIn Him was life, and the life was bthe Light of men. 5 aThe Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not 1comprehend it.
When John writes about comprehension it is not about understanding but better translated as rejection. They rejected the Light and Christ is the Light. Identity is important to who we are. In our lives, we are marked by who we are or who we associate with. Our culture today is growing into a culture of assimilation.
Peter continues in verse 10 explaining who the Christian is by showing a contrast of who we were and who we are now.
10 afor you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
This analysis of who we are and who we were was also written about by Paul.
1Cor. 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? cDo not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will ainherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
As a Christian our life is not reflective of what we were but who we are. In these two verses, Peter makes it a point to show these believers in Asia Minor that we are not the same if we are in Christ. We are different and through sanctification and repentance of sins we are becoming Christ-like.
Now we will look at How we are Identified
The Bible is clear that when we become Christians we are not to be conformed to the world but transformed. Paul tells us this in Rom. 12:1-2.
There is a work that has begun and will not end until Christ is formed in us. Galatians 4:19, Paul writes that he labors as a minister see Christ formed in them, My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.
What Peter is going to do here in the next two verses is to show us what we are to abstain from and what we are to maintain.
1Pet. 2:11 aBeloved, bI urge you as caliens and strangers to abstain from dfleshly lusts which wage ewar against the soul.
Peter begins with a plea or strong exhortation as he uses the term “urge.”
Peter is not telling them but he is trying to get them to understand who they are and what their stand is in the world. What is their position and how they should view themselves? He is telling them you are not of this world anymore. We also need to view ourselves as strangers, aliens, pilgrims, and sojourners. We were once home in this world but now we are just passing through as foreigners, not homeless per se but worldless, we are not of this world.
Lev. 25:23 ‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for athe land is Mine; for byou are but aliens and sojourners with Me.
Psa. 39:12 “aHear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent bat my tears;
For I am ca stranger with You,
A dsojourner like all my fathers.
So Peter shows us how we are to see ourselves but he also adds that we are to abstain. In this exhortation, Peter uses the term “abstain”. This term is to keep away from, avoid contact, refrain from, not to obtain, not to receive or not to use. We as Christians have to refuse or not be engaging in certain practices of behaviors. Abstain clearly means that we must STAY AWAY!!!!
What are we to abstain from?
Peter is telling them they need to abstain from fleshly lusts. In this chapter, we saw in verse 1, That Peter makes a list of behaviors that all Christians are not to be engaging in.
He says, Therefore, putting aside all 1malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander which are fleshly lusts because these are actions of the flesh and we desire to react in these ways when the world acts against us or even if they themselves act out in these ways.
John writes in his first letter that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not of the Father but of the world.
Paul writes in Galatians But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Gal. 5:16-17).
So why is Peter saying this here in this verse? The natural man desires to fulfill the flesh but we are not to follow this anymore but abstain from that. This is the war that rages in us. Peter knows this and wants to tell the believers that it is war. The flesh and the Spirit are at odds with one another.
Rom. 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Rom. 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Rom. 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Gal. 5:16-17 says that the Spirit and the flesh are at odds.
Eph. 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Remember what Paul said, all the sinful things were did were who we once were but we are not that person anymore. Paul wrote after a list of sinful actions we saw earlier in 1 Cor. 6:11, “which were some of you” meaning we are not to be partaking in those sins of the flesh.
As Peter moves ahead in this letter he now addresses what we are to maintain.
In verse 12 Peter writes,
Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may 1because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Peter explains to all Christians that we must be aware of our behavior at all times especially around the Gentiles which Peter means the lost. We are separated from the world in order to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Being a Christian means that we are not of the world anymore, Scripture makes it clear we are not from here anymore and have our citizenship in Heaven so there must be some outward external behavior that makes us different from the world.
How is it possible to tell anyone about the Gospel and the changing effects that it had on your life when you are still the same person? Peter is telling them to keep your behavior excellent in the English but if we look at how it was written it is actually saying: “Keeping your behavior among or with the Gentiles” which shows us that this participle keeping is in the present tense which tells us that it is continuously happening. We must all, as Christians, be keeping our behavior excellent. Keep means to maintain. Peter showed us that we are to abstain now he is showing us how to maintain.
This is our application. Abstain and Maintain.
See as Paul writes speaking of maintaining Christian behavior: Phil. 2:15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
Titus 2:8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Why is Peter writing this? Always asking ourselves why is this in the Bible and why is it so important that God has to tell us this? Peter knows exactly what the church in Asia Minor is going through so he is comforting them. In this time when the Romans were in control of this region under Nero, Christians were being severely persecuted to the point of death.
This was brought upon by Nero. Nero had burned the city down in order for him to rebuild it since he loved building things, and he blamed the XTNs for it. This caused widespread persecution of all XTNs. They were being falsely accused of burning the city down.
They were being spoken of as evildoers, their character was being destroyed. They were being slandered. So Peter writes that, in the thing they slander you as evildoers, Peter is telling mainly of the blaming of the fires and destruction of the city.
But there were other matters that they were being blamed for such as, atheism (no idols or emperor worship), cannibalism (rumors about the Lord’s Supper), immorality (because of their love for one another), damaging trade and social progress, and leading slaves into insurrection.
All these things were being placed on all Christians as being the purpose of all opposition against Rome and their rule.
So we go back and see what Peter had told them earlier in the letter, in 2:1, he says to put aside or away malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. He was telling them that these ways of life which are prevalent in the nonbelievers need to be done away with. We don’t do those things anymore. So, keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles.
Peter shows the “what” of our behavior now we will see the “why”
they may 1because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
They, meaning the Gentiles, because of or a result of, your good deeds, as they observe them, your good deeds, glorify God. If our behavior as Christians, is as Christ acted, being patient and merciful to those who persecuted Him, instead of reacting or retaliating in a manner which they themselves act, we might be able to show them Christ in us. If we witness to the world Christ in our behavior and our actions then we would not be like the world. We would be different. We would be “odd” and even attractive to those who are perishing. The lost observe our actions all the time. What do they see?
Many refuse the Gospel on account of bad witnesses. Hypocrisy and immature believers turn so many away. So it is vital that we are true believing Christians in our speech and our walk. They are observing us. So in doing so, walking in a manner worthy of the Lord as Colossians 1:10 tells us, will allow the Gospel to be seen.
When they observe our actions and they are good in the light of adversity and even persecution, they are observing the working of the Spirit in our lives which in turn will allow them to come to the realization that the Gospel is the “good news”.
This is what will glorify God. Matt 5:16: “let your light shine before others so that when they see your good deeds they may glorify your father in heaven.
How will this bring glory to God? Our good deeds on display do bring Him glory. Our salvation brings Him glory and that is what Peter is telling us here. The conversion of unbelievers due to the observation of good conduct of Christians results in them glorifying God on the day of judgment because they are now part of the company of God’s people. Does this mean we have the power to save people? No, the power is not from us but it resides in us.
Salvation is all God. All we are just tools in His hands. We are just throwing seeds and living as Christians living by displaying good deeds and showing our joy even in times of persecution.
For it is the beginning of our conversion, when God is pleased to look on us with a paternal eye; but when his face is turned away from us, we perish. Hence the day of visitation may justly be said to be the time when he invites us to himself. calvin
Our lives should be models of Christ and all He shows.
The fruits of the Spirit are all attributes that Christ has and all Christians are marked by these fruits. It is our desire to have these fruits developing each day to be put on display for all to observe to glorify God.
We are a race of His people for His purpose
We are to abstain from the flesh
We are to maintain XTN behavior
We are to bring glory to the Father
This is Who we are
And this is How we are identified