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1 Peter 2:9–10 (SBLGNT)

9 Ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς· 10 οἵ ποτε οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες.

 

Ὑμεῖς δὲ

But you (plural, all of you).

The de marks a movement the flow of thought.  The contrast stands against the preceded statement: those appointed to stumble.

The “but” (de) beginning v. 9 is most naturally understood as a contrast to what immediately precedes.261 As Thurén says, “A negative example adds the appreciation of the positive.”262 God has appointed the disobedient to destruction, but on the contrary believers are a “chosen people” (eklekton genos). They belong to God people because they have been elected, chosen by him.

Thomas R. Schreiner, vol. 37, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 114.

The words ὑμεῖς δέ, picking up the ὑμῖν οῦ̓ν of v 7, introduce a series of honorific titles spelling out the τιμή of those who believe. If the “honor” of v 7 was eschatological because of its connection with the οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ of v 6b, its basis “in God’s sight” (παρὰ δὲ θεῷ, v 4) implied a present dignity for Christian believers as well. Vv 9–10 unfold both the present and future aspects of this “honor.”

J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 107.

γένος ἐκλεκτόν

            [are] a chosen generation

Genos is a broad term used to describe some grouping of people: whether a small group such as a family (Acts 4:6, the high priest’s family); one who is a descendant (of David, Revelation 22:16); an entire nation (Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:5); a kind of entity: fish (Matthew 13:47), evil spirits (Mark 9:29), languages (1 Corinthians 14:10).

Jobes notes that the status of Christians as a new “race” –as Setonius writes, “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class [genus] of men given to a new and mischievous superstition” (Jobes, 159).

Elektos: adjective:  one elected, chosen. The word does have reference to election to salvation (e.g., Revelation 17:14).

The phrase comes from Isaiah 43:20:

Isaiah 43:20–21 (ESV)

            20         The wild beasts will honor me,

            the jackals and the ostriches,

                        for I give water in the wilderness,

            rivers in the desert,

                        to give drink to my chosen people,

            21         the people whom I formed for myself

                        that they might declare my praise.

 

βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα

a royal priesthood

Interesting: in this phrase, the adjective precedes the noun; in the phrases before and after, the adjective follows the noun. The word rendered “royal” here is typically used as a substantive meaning “royal city” or “capital” (Selwyn, 165). Selwyn, based upon the usual meaning and the word does not take it as an adjective (166). Belkin explains such a translation would read, “a body of kings, a body of priests” (50). Ramsey translates it, “the king’s priesthood”.

These three phrases all come from Exodus 19:5-6:

Exodus 19:5–6 (ESV)

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; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Exodus 19:5–6 (LXX)

5 καὶ νῦν ἐὰν ἀκοῇ ἀκούσητε τῆς ἐμῆς φωνῆς καὶ φυλάξητε τὴν διαθήκην μου, ἔσεσθέ μοι λαὸς περιούσιος ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν, ἐμὴ γάρ ἐστιν πᾶσα ἡ γῆ, 6 ὑμεῖς δὲ ἔσεσθέ μοι βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα καὶ ἔθνος ἅγιον. ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ.

NETS translates the relevant phrases as “a people special”, “a royal priesthood,” and “a holy nation” (Jobes, 159).

Bigg writes:

The Christians are a body of [priests], because they offer spiritual sacrifices; the [priesthood] is royal because it belongs to the King, who has chosen it as His own possession, and because, therefore, it shares his glory; not because the [priests] are themselves kings (134).

The phrase is also used in 2 Maccabees 2:17:

2 Maccabees 2:17 (LXX)

17 ὁ δὲ θεὸς ὁ σώσας τὸν πάντα λαὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀποδοὺς τὴν κληρονομίαν πᾶσιν καὶ τὸ βασίλειον καὶ τὸ ἱεράτευμα καὶ τὸν ἁγιασμόν,

2 Maccabees 2:17 (NRSV)

17 It is God who has saved all his people, and has returned the inheritance to all, and the kingship and the priesthood and the consecration,

 

ἔθνος ἅγιον

a holy nation

“Ethnos describes their position as one of the nations of the world, who were distinguished from others by being consecrated to God. Laos describes them as the covenant people of God” (Belkin, 50).

λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν

A people for possession

Malachi 3:17 (ESV)

17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.

Malachi 3:17 (LXX)

17 καὶ ἔσονταί μοι, λέγει κύριος παντοκράτωρ, εἰς ἡμέραν, ἣν ἐγὼ ποιῶ εἰς περιποίησιν, καὶ αἱρετιῶ αὐτοὺς ὃν τρόπον αἱρετίζει ἄνθρωπος τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν δουλεύοντα αὐτῷ.

 

(4) God’s own people is literally “a people for possession,” an allusion to Exodus 19:5 (RSV “my own possession among all peoples”); Malachi 3:17 (RSV “my special possession”); and Isaiah 43:21 (RSV “The people whom I formed for myself”). The Old Testament background of the expression indicates that God is the implied subject of “possession,” and most translations make this fact explicit (for example, NEB “a people claimed by God for his own”; Knox “a people God means to have for himself”; Mft “the people who belong to him”; GECL “God has chosen you to be his people”; SPCL “a people that belongs to God”). The word for people here is laos, a term used for Israel in the Old Testament to describe its intimate relationship with God; this term is now used of the Christian community. What is being emphasized here is that the Christians now have a relationship to God which is different from that of non-Christians: they are God’s people and are completely dedicated to him.

Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene Albert Nida,  A Handbook on the First Letter from Peter, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1980), 63.

    d.      εἰς (LN 89.57): ‘for’ [BNTC; REB], ‘destined for’ [WBC], ‘he claims for’ [NAB], ‘to be’ [NJB], ‘for the purpose of, in order to’ [LN], not explicit [CEV, KJV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TNT].

    e.      περιποίησις (LN 57.62) (BAGD 3. p. 650): ‘possession’ [BAGD, LN], ‘God’s possession’ [BNTC], ‘God’s own’ [NIC; NRSV, TEV], ‘belonging to God’ [NIV], ‘belonging to him’ [TNT], ‘a personal possession’ [NJB], ‘his very own possession’ [NLT], ‘claimed by God for his own’ [REB], ‘special’ [CEV], ‘peculiar’ [KJV], ‘he claims for his own’ [NAB], ‘destined for vindication’ [WBC].

David Abernathy, An Exegetical Summary of 1 Peter, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 78-79.

“eis” + accusative: for the purpose of. This designates “God’s purpose”. Ramsey takes the “eis” as an eschatological reference:

This interpretation is supported by the fact that three of the other four NT occurrences of περιποίησις use the word similarly as the object of εἰς and with a future reference (cf. 1 Thess 5:9; 2 Thess 2:14; Heb 10:39; Eph 1:14 is slightly different). In each instance περιποίησις in itself means simply “attainment” or “acquisition”: to complete the thought of “salvation” an additional noun in the genitive is needed (i.e., σωτηρίας in 1 Thess 5:9; δόξης in 2 Thess 2:14; ψυχῆς in Heb 10:39).

J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 109.

ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε

in order that the virtues you may proclaim/announce

This follows the thought of Isaiah 43:21, “that they might declare my praise”.

Hopos introduces the purpose clause: The reason God has done so to the Christian is so that they may proclaim his praise. This is a “primary sequence” purpose clause (Hansen & Quinn, 68)

“Arete ….Here is used in its proper Greek sense of any shining or eminent quality, such as makes a man noble in himself an glorious in the eyes of others….In the current Greek of St Peter’s time the miracles wrought by a god were called his aretai ….” (Bigg, 134-135).  “The plural is very rare in the LXX but it would have appealed strongly to Greek ears and would have suggested to them not only the intrinsic glory of God’s character but his ‘noble acts’ (cf. Ps. 110:2)” (Selwyn, 167).

Of “proclaim” Selwyn writes that it is a “more striking word” than the more common dieyesthai [used in LXX, Is. 43:21] (Selwyn, 167; he translates the word as advertise!).

In translating this clause, one should be careful to relate it not only with what immediately precedes, but with all the four previous designations.

Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the First Letter from Peter, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1980), 64.

τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος

of the one who called you out of darkness

The idea of “calling” means more than merely speaking words. God’s words are operative. In the NT, “calling” by God often/always entails the effectiveness of the call:

Rom 9:24

οὓς καὶ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς οὐ μόνον ἐξ Ἰουδαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἐθνῶν;—

even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Rom 9:25

ὡς καὶ ἐν τῷ Ὡσηὲ λέγει· Καλέσω τὸν οὐ λαόν μου λαόν μου καὶ τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην ἠγαπημένην·

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”

Rom 9:26

καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ τόπῳ οὗ ἐρρέθη αὐτοῖς· Οὐ λαός μου ὑμεῖς, ἐκεῖ κληθήσονται υἱοὶ θεοῦ ζῶντος.

“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

1 Cor 1:9

πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς διʼ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Cor 7:18

περιτετμημένος τις ἐκλήθη; μὴ ἐπισπάσθω· ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ κέκληταί τις; μὴ περιτεμνέσθω.

Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.

Gal 1:6

Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι Χριστοῦ εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον,

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

Eph 4:1

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε,

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Eph 4:4

ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν·

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—

Col 3:15

καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι· καὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

1 Thess 2:12

παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι, εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν.

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

1 Tim 6:12

ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Tim 1:9

τοῦ σώσαντος ἡμᾶς καὶ καλέσαντος κλήσει ἁγίᾳ, οὐ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ἡμῶν ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἰδίαν πρόθεσιν καὶ χάριν, τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων,

who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

This makes for an interesting question concerning the passages which refer to moral conduct to which we were “called”.

εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς

into his marvelous light