God’s Called-Out People

KEY VERSE: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” —I Peter 2:9

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Colossians 3:1-3; 4:5,6; I Peter 2:9-17

JESUS, in quoting a prophecy about himself, said, “Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same became the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 21:42,43) It has always been God’s design that Jesus would have a group of faithful followers associated with him in the spiritual phase of the kingdom. One of the wonderful promises confirming this purpose is found in Revelation 3:21, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” This promise was first held out to the nation of Israel. When God inaugurated the Law Covenant with them at Mount Sinai, he said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people … and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”—Exod. 19:5,6

History records that Israel was not faithful, and when Jesus, the promised Deliverer, came, the nation refused to accept him; and he became the stone of stumbling to both the houses of Israel. Shortly before his death, Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee … behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:37,38) The Apostle Paul tells us, however, that there was a remnant from the entire Jewish nation who believed, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. … Israel has not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”—Rom. 11:7-9

The Apostle Peter was given the experience with the Gentile, Cornelius, which was an evidence and proof that the Lord had turned from Israel as a nation, to the Gentiles, to take out from them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14) The Apostle Paul in his ministry found that the Jews were truly blinded. We read of his experience in Acts 13:46, “Then Paul and Barnabus waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

The key verse of our lesson was evidently adapted from the text quoted from Exodus 19:5,6 by the Apostle Peter, as an encouragement to the Gentile converts, the purpose being to show that the Gentiles had been grafted into (Rom. 11:24) God’s arrangement to complete the foreordained called-out church. In I Peter 2:1,2, the apostle gives some advice to the converted Gentiles concerning their attitude, which should be free from all malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speaking. This is a precondition for anyone to receive the truth. Having laid these things aside, they should forget the sophistries of man and yield themselves as babes to receive the sincere milk of the Word. Then in verses three to five he states that if they find the Lord is gracious they will be led to Jesus, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” The simile is that of the Temple, where each stone was chiseled and shaped. This teaches that Jesus himself is a stone in the spiritual temple—the chief cornerstone, and that the called out members of the church are also considered to be living stones in that temple—the entire structure picturing God’s spiritual house.

It is this spiritual house that Paul describes as the Christ, saying, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body … and have been made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”—I Cor. 12:12-14; Gal. 3:16,27-29

Dawn Bible Students Association
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