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1 Peter 2:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession,[1] so that you may proclaim the excellencies[2] of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

But you are a chosen race. In contradistinction from those who, by their disobedience, had rejected the Savior as the foundation of hope. The people of God are often represented as his chosen or elected people. See Notes on chap. 1:2.

A royal priesthood. See 1 Peter 2:5. The meaning of this is, probably, that they ‘at once bore the dignity of kings and the sanctity of priests.’—Doddridge. Comp. Rev. 1:6: ‘And hath made us kings and priests unto God.’ See also Isa. 61:6: ‘But ye shall be named priests of the Lord; men shall call ye ministers of our God.’ It may be, however, that the word royal is used only to denote the dignity of the priestly office which they sustained or that they constituted, as it were, an entire nation or kingdom of priests. They were a kingdom over which he presided, and they were all priests so that it might be said they were a kingdom of priests—a kingdom in which all the subjects were engaged in offering sacrifice to God. The expression appears to be taken from Exod. 19:6—‘And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests’—and is such language as one who had been educated as a Jew would be likely to employ to set forth the dignity of those whom he regarded as the people of God.

A holy nation. This is also taken from Exod. 19:6. The Hebrews were regarded as a nation consecrated to God, and now that they were cast off or rejected for their disobedience, the same language was properly applied to the people whom God had chosen in their place—the Christian church.

A people for special possession. Comp. Titus 2:14. The word (περιποίησις peripoiēsis) special possession, would mean something that a person has come in passion of, possessions, property (Eph 1:14; 1Pe 2:9+). “That which is acquired, presumably with considerable effort—‘possessions, property.’ λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν ‘a people that has become (God’s own) possession’ 1 Pe 2:9.”[3] The Greek (λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν) means ‘a people for a possession;’ that is, as pertaining to God. They are a people which he has secured as a possession or as his own; a people, therefore, which belong to him, and to no other. In this sense, they are peculiar as being his; and being such, it may be inferred that they should be peculiar in the sense of being unlike others in their manner of life. But that idea is not necessarily in the text. There seems to be here also an allusion to Exod. 19:5: ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.’

So that you may proclaim the excellencies. The Greek word (ἀρετὴ) means properly good quality, excellence of any kind. It means here the excellencies of God—his goodness, his wondrous deeds, or those things which make it proper to praise him. This shows one great object for which they were redeemed. It was that they might proclaim the glory of God and keep up the remembrance of his wondrous deeds on the earth. This is to be done (a) by the proper ascription of praise to him in public, family, and social worship; (b) by being always the avowed friends of God, ready ever to vindicate his government and ways; (c) by endeavoring to make known his excellencies to all those who are ignorant of him; and (d) by such a life as shall constantly proclaim his praise—as the sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, the streams, the flowers do, showing what God does. The consistent life of a devoted Christian is a constant setting forth of the praise of God, showing to all that the God who has made him such is worthy to be loved.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

Who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. On the Greek word (καλέω kaleō) rendered called, means to authoritatively communicate a demand for the presence or participation of. Darkness is the emblem of ignorance, sin, and misery and refers here to their condition before their conversion; light is the emblem of the opposite and is a beautiful representation of the state of those who are brought to the knowledge of the gospel. See Notes on Acts 26:18. The word marvelous in some older translations means wonderful; and the idea is that the light of the gospel was such as was unusual, or not to be found elsewhere, as that excites wonder or surprise which we are not accustomed to seeing. The primary reference here is, undoubtedly, to those who had been unbelievers and to the great change which had been produced by their having been brought to the knowledge of the truth as revealed in the gospel; and, in regard to this, no one can doubt that the one state deserved to be characterized as darkness, and the other as light. The contrast was as great as that between midnight and noonday. But what is here said is substantially correct of all who are converted and is often as strikingly true of those who have been brought up in Christian lands as of those who have lived among the heathen. The change in conversion is often so great and so rapid; the views and feelings are so different before and after conversion that it seems like a sudden transition from midnight to noon. In all cases, also, of true conversion, though the change may not be so striking or apparently so sudden, there is a change of which this may be regarded as substantially an accurate description. In many cases, the convert can adopt this language in all its fullness as descriptive of his own conversion; in all cases of genuine conversion, each one can indeed say that he has been called from a state in which his mind was dark to one in which it is comparatively clear.

By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews

[1] That is, a people that has become (God’s own) possession –BDAG
[2] Lit the virtues; that is, his praiseworthy qualities and deeds
[3] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 564.

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