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1 Peter 2:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ye are a chosen generation - The titles formerly given to the whole Jewish Church, i.e. to all the Israelites without exception, all who were in the covenant of God by circumcision, whether they were holy persons or not, are here given to Christians in general in the same way; i.e. to all who believed in Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles, and who received baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

The Israelites were a chosen or elected race, to be a special people unto the Lord their God, above all people that were upon the face of the earth, Deuteronomy 7:6.

They were also a royal priesthood, or what Moses calls a kingdom of priests, Exodus 19:6. For all were called to sacrifice to God; and he is represented to be the King of that people, and Father of those of whom he was king; therefore they were all royal.

They were a holy nation, Exodus 19:6; for they were separated from all the people of the earth, that they might worship the one only true God, and abstain from the abominations that were in the heathen world.

They were also a peculiar people, λαος εις περιποιησιν, a purchased people; סגלה segullah, a private property, belonging to God Almighty, Deuteronomy 7:6; none other having any right in them, and they being under obligation to God alone. All these things the apostle applies to the Christians, to whom indeed they belong, in their spirit and essence, in such a way as they could not belong to the Hebrews of old. But they were called to this state of salvation out of darkness - idolatry, superstition, and ungodliness, into his marvellous light - the Gospel dispensation, which, in reference to the discoveries it had made of God, his nature, will, and gracious promises towards mankind, differed as much from the preceding dispensation of the Jews, as the light of the meridian sun from the faint twinkling of a star. And they had these privileges that they might show forth the praises of Him who had thus called them; αρετας, the virtues, those perfections of the wisdom, justice, truth, and goodness of God, that shone most illustriously in the Christian dispensation. These they were to exhibit in a holy and useful life, being transformed into the image of God, and walking as Christ himself walked.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But ye are a chosen generation - In contradistinction from those who, by their disobedience, had rejected the Saviour as the foundation of hope. The people of God are often represented as his chosen or elected people. See the notes at 1 Peter 1:2.

A royal priesthood - See the notes at 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. Compare Revelation 1:6; “And hath made us kings and priests unto God.” See also Isaiah 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 Exodus 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.

An holy nation - This is also taken from Exodus 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 peculiar people - Compare the notes at Titus 2:14. The margin here is purchased. The word “peculiar,” in its common acceptation now, would mean that they were distinguished from others, or were singular. The reading in the margin would mean that they had been bought or redeemed. Both these things are so, but neither of them expresses the exact sense of the original. The Greek λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν laos eis peripoiēsin) 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 special as being His; and, being such, it may be inferred that they should be special in the sense of being unlike others (unique) in their manner of life. But that idea is not necessarily in the text. There seems to be here also an allusion to Exodus 19:5; “Ye shall be a peculiar treasure with me (Septuagint λαὸς περιούσιος laos periousios) above all people.”

That ye should show forth the praises of him - Margin, “virtues.” The Greek word ( ἀρετὴ aretē) means properly “good quality, excellence” of any kind. It means here the excellences 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 in the earth. This is to be done:

(a)by proper ascriptions 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 excellences 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.

Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light - On the word called, see the notes at Ephesians 4:1. 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 the notes at Acts 26:18. The word marvelous 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 see. The primary reference here is, undoubtedly, to those who had been pagans, 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 pagans. 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 fulness, as descriptive of his own conversion; in all cases of genuine conversion it is true that each one can say that he has been called from a state in which his mind was dark to one in which it is comparatively clear.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Evil-speaking is a sign of malice and guile in the heart; and hinders our profiting by the word of God. A new life needs suitable food. Infants desire milk, and make the best endeavours for it which they are able to do; such must be a Christian's desires after the word of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ is very merciful to us miserable sinners; and he has a fulness of grace. But even the best of God's servants, in this life, have only a taste of the consolations of God. Christ is called a Stone, to teach his servants that he is their protection and security, the foundation on which they are built. He is precious in the excellence of his nature, the dignity of his office, and the glory of his services. All true believers are a holy priesthood; sacred to God, serviceable to others, endowed with heavenly gifts and graces. But the most spiritual sacrifices of the best in prayer and praise are not acceptable, except through Jesus Christ. Christ is the chief Corner-stone, that unites the whole number of believers into one everlasting temple, and bears the weight of the whole fabric. Elected, or chosen, for a foundation that is everlasting. Precious beyond compare, by all that can give worth. To be built on Christ means, to believe in him; but in this many deceive themselves, they consider not what it is, nor the necessity of it, to partake of the salvation he has wrought. Though the frame of the world were falling to pieces, that man who is built on this foundation may hear it without fear. He shall not be confounded. The believing soul makes haste to Christ, but it never finds cause to hasten from him. All true Christians are a chosen generation; they make one family, a people distinct from the world: of another spirit, principle, and practice; which they could never be, if they were not chosen in Christ to be such, and sanctified by his Spirit. Their first state is a state of gross darkness, but they are called out of darkness into a state of joy, pleasure, and prosperity; that they should show forth the praises of the Lord by their profession of his truth, and their good conduct. How vast their obligations to Him who has made them his people, and has shown mercy to them! To be without this mercy is a woful state, though a man have all worldly enjoyments. And there is nothing that so kindly works repentance, as right thoughts of the mercy and love of God. Let us not dare to abuse and affront the free grace of God, if we mean to be saved by it; but let all who would be found among those who obtain mercy, walk as his people.
Ellen G. White
Christian Service, 21

The Lord has made His church the repository of divine influence. The heavenly universe is waiting for the members to become channels through which the current of life shall flow to the world, that many may be converted, and in their turn become channels through which the grace of Christ shall flow to the desert portions of the Lord's vineyard.—The Bible Echo, August 12, 1901. ChS 21.1

Everyone who is connected with God will impart light to others. If there are any who have no light to give, it is because they have no connection with the Source of light.—Historical Sketches, 291. ChS 21.2

God has appointed His children to give light to others, and if they fail to do it, and souls are left in the darkness of error because of their failure to do that which they might have done had they been vitalized by the Holy Spirit, they will be accountable to God. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light, in order that we may show forth the praises of Christ.—The Review and Herald, December 12, 1893. ChS 21.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 37

The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ expressed in character is the very highest education. It is the key that opens the portals of the heavenly city. This knowledge it is God's purpose that all who put on Christ shall possess. CT 37.1

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He whose mind is enlightened by the opening of God's word to his understanding will realize his responsibility to God and to the world, and he will feel that his talents must be developed in a way that will produce the very best results; for he is to “show forth the praises” of Him who has called him “out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. While growing in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, he will realize his own imperfections, he will feel his real ignorance, and he will seek constantly to preserve and put to the stretch his powers of mind, that he may become an intelligent Christian. Students who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ will grasp knowledge with all their faculties. Without this experience, education is disrobed of its true brightness and glory. CT 37.2

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 110

The reason why we have no more men of great breadth and extended knowledge, is because they trust to their own finite wisdom, and seek to place their own mold upon the work, in the place of having the mold of God. They do not earnestly pray and keep the communication open between God and their souls, that they can recognize His voice. Messengers of light will come to the help of those who feel that they are weakness itself, without the guardianship of Heaven. The word of God must be studied more, and be brought into the life and character, fashioned after the standard of righteousness God has laid down in His word. Then the mind will expand and strengthen, and be ennobled by grasping the things that are eternal. While the world are careless and indifferent to the message of warning and mercy given them in the Bible, God's people, who see the end near, should be more decided and more devoted, and work more earnestly, that they may show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. FE 110.1

Knowledge is power, either for good or for evil. Bible religion is the only safeguard for human beings. Much attention is given to the youth in this age, that they may enter a room gracefully, dance, and play on instruments of music. But this education is denied them, to know God and to answer to His claims. The education that is lasting as eternity, is almost wholly neglected as old-fashioned and undesirable. The educating of the children to take hold of the work of character building in reference to their present good, their present peace and happiness, and to guide their feet in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, is considered not fashionable, and, therefore, not essential. In order to have your children enter the gates of the city of God as conquerors, they must be educated to fear God and keep His commandments in the present life. It is these that Jesus has pronounced blessed: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” FE 111.1

The blessing is pronounced upon those who are familiar with the revealed will of God in His word. The Bible is the great agent in the hands of its Author to strengthen the intellect. It opens the garden of the mind to the cultivation of the heavenly Husbandman. It is because there is so little attention given to what God says and to that which God requires, that there are so few who have any burden to do missionary work, so few who have been passing under drill, calling into service every power to be trained and strengthened to do higher service for God. FE 111.2

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 413

So we see that the highest line of earthly education may be obtained, and yet the men possessing it may be ignorant of the first principles which would make them subjects of the kingdom of God. Human learning cannot qualify for that kingdom. The subjects of Christ's kingdom are not made thus by forms and ceremonies, by a large study of books. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent.” The members of Christ's kingdom are members of His body, of which He himself is the head. They are the elect sons of God, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” that they should show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. FE 413.1

“For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.” If God's commandments are to be binding for a thousand generations, it will take them into the kingdom of God, into the presence of God and His holy angels. This is an argument that cannot be controverted. The commandments of God will endure through all time and eternity. Are they, then, given us as a burden?—No. “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.” The Lord gave His people commandments, in order that by obeying them they might preserve their physical, mental, and moral health. They were to live by obedience; but death is the sure result of the disobedience of the law of God. FE 413.2

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 462-3

“Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even unto them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” All men, women, and youth are appointed to do a certain work. But some stumble at the word of truth. It does not harmonize with their inclinations, and therefore they refuse to be doers of the word. They will not wear Christ's yoke of perfect obedience to the law of God. They look upon this yoke as a burden, and Satan tells them that if they will break away from it, they will become as gods. No one shall rule them or dictate to them; they will be able to do as they please, and have all the liberty they desire. True, they have been oppressed and cramped in every way in their religious life, but that religious life was a farce. They were appointed to be co-laborers with Jesus Christ, and yoking up with Christ was their only chance for perfect rest and freedom. Had they done this, they would never have been confounded. FE 462.1

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth [your own sufficiency, and attract attention to yourself, and seek your own glory?—No; no] that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you [to a distasteful, hard life of bondage?] out of darkness into His marvelous light.” FE 462.2

Will you think of the high position to which we were appointed? Will those who name the name of Christ depart from all evil? Will you or I fret under Christ's yoke? When you cherish unrest and love for amusement, and to have a high stirring time of exhibition of self, enjoying and pleasing the natural will in the place of doing the will of God, is there any rest? Is the temple of God upbuilt in your life by the frivolous view you take of Christianity? “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Is not the word of God to be our guide and our director? Shall any be slow to study that word? Shall any profess to be Christians, and yet by their course of action become a reproach to the faith, just because they desire to live to please their own natural inclinations? Will they, though professing faith in the truth, pursue a course to abuse that faith and dishonor the truth of heavenly origin? Who have appreciated the precious opportunities granted them in probationary time to form characters that God can approve, because they wear the yoke of obedience that Christ wore? What does He say in regard to this? “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” FE 462.3

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