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.
You are physically born into one race; you are spiritually born into another. The “chosen race” by New Testament standards is the race that you are spiritually born into. However, according to Calvinistic Unconditional Election, the chosen race is a mystery race of secretly hand-picked individuals marked for salvation, achieved by Irresistible Grace. However, what is troubling for Calvinism is that 1st Peter 2:9 discusses the “chosen race” in a way that is absent of any Calvinistic formula of an upper caste of eternally elect individuals. Hence, the chosen race could easily just be a designation for the saints of God, that is, Christians.
1st Peter 2:9 alludes to Deuteronomy 14:2, which states concerning Israel: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” The Jews are indeed the chosen people: “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Mac Brunson: “When you were born physically of your mom and dad, you reflect their race physically, but let me tell you something spiritually. You’ve been born again from the seed which is above. You are no longer white, black, or yellow. You are part of the elect race.” (The Flip Side of Hurt: The Hope for our Loneliness and Isolation; 1 Peter 2:4-10, emphasis mine)
New birth is the entrance into that elect race. Do unbelievers have any part of the elect race? No. There is no such animal as an elect unbeliever, at least by New Testament standards. The Jews, of course, are designated as God’s chosen people, as those who are elect in Abraham. The point here, though, is to show that there is a greater election, that you can be part of, but you must be spiritually born into it.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “Peter is using corporate language, as they did under the old covenant dealing with Israel, ‘chosen people’, ‘royal priesthood’, ‘holy nation’. This is a reference to say that NOW the Gentiles are truly apart of God’s chosen people, for he said that they ‘once were not a people’, but now they are people of God (Hos 1:9-10; 2:23, Romans 9:25). This does more to prove corporate election than individual election. They are elect ‘in Christ’. The point is that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, they are included in the blessing given to Abraham, they are God’s chosen too, and not second class Christians.”
Question: How does Old Testament Election relate to New Testament Election?
Answer: In the Old Testament, a person was born a Jew, in that you were born into a chosen race in Abraham, inheriting specific blessings, with a view towards being a blessing to all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:3) The Gentiles were not of the chosen race, nor were they a chosen people for God’s own possession. Rather, they were lost, uncircumcised pagans. But then what happened? Through the ministry of the apostles to the Gentiles, many heard the Gospel and believed in Jesus and became saved. Then questions arose in terms of whether or not, as believers, they needed to conform to the Jewish, Old Testament Laws. In fact, as recorded in Galatians chapter 2, converted Gentiles were looked down upon, as some Christian Jews would not eat with them, which led to a confrontation between Peter and Paul. (Galatians 2:11-16) The controversy was whether or not they should be circumcised, and Paul stated that there was no need to do so because as born again believers, they had already been circumcised by hands not made of flesh: “...in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands.” (Colossians 2:11) Paul states: “Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised.” (1st Corinthians 7:18)
Question: How could Gentiles become part of a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession”?
Answer: In the Old Testament, you were born into the chosen race, but in the New Testament, you must be born again into the chosen race, that is, of the redeemed race in Christ, and this applies to Jews and Gentiles alike, especially considering that Jesus confirmed this to the Jewish Pharisee, Nicodemus. (John 3:3-8) In other words, when you become spiritually born again, you are born into Election, and in Christ, we were foreknown in Him. (Romans 8:29) Just as you had to be born into the Jewish chosen race, you have to be born again into the chosen race in Christ. Jesus is the true Vine, and all who are attached to Him, have the favor and blessings of God the Father.
Question: Are the Jews no longer the chosen people?
Answer: God’s promises toward Israel remain: “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:28-29)
Question: When a person becomes a Christian, do they also become a Jew?
Answer: Yes and No. There is a sense of spiritual Israel, that when we become Christians, we receive the eternal promises of God that were also given to Abraham. However, Christians are not grafted into Israel. Rather, Christians are grafted into Christ: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6)
Romans 11:17-21: “But if some of the branches were broken off,
and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and
became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,
do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant,
remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the
root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off
so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off
for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be
conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches,
He will not spare you, either.”
Question: Is the “tree” Israel?
Answer: No. The “tree” is Christ, who is the true “Vine.” (John 15:5) The wild branches represent the Gentiles and the natural branches represents Israel.
Question: What else does this illustration tell us?
Answer: That branches can be cut off, and grafted in. Branches are not grafted into other branches, but rather, branches are grafted into the tree. Gentile Christians do not become Jews, but rather, comprise branches in Christ’s tree. Furthermore, the grafting and removal are based upon belief and unbelief: “And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11:23) Also, it is easier for the natural branches, the Jews, to be reunited with God, than the wild branches, the Gentiles: “For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:24) The purpose of the temporary, corporate rejection of Israel was for the salvation of the Gentiles: “By their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.” (Romans 11:11) “I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.” (Romans 11:13-14) Finally, there is coming a day in which Jesus will reveal Himself to Israel, similar to how Joseph revealed Himself to his brothers: “A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’” (Romans 11:25-26)
John Calvin: “He calls them an elect race, because God, passing by others, adopted them as it were in a special manner. They were also a holy nation, for God had consecrated them to Himself, and destined that they should lead a pure and holy life; and a people for God’s own possession, that they might be to Him a peculiar possession or inheritance. I take the words simply in this sense, that the Lord has called us, in order to possess us as His own people, devoted to Him. This meaning is proved by the words of Moses, ‘If ye keep my covenant, ye shall be to me a peculiar treasure beyond all other nations’ (Exod. 19:5).” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, pp.256-266, emphasis mine)
See, that’s the point. John Calvin is pulling things out of thin air. Nowhere, and I repeat, nowhere, does 1st Peter 2:9 say anything about the Calvinist formula that John Calvin just described. Ultimately, you have a discussion on Election with no mention whatsoever of anything Calvinistic, and John Calvin just assumes it, and demands that that’s what it must mean. That’s Assumology (or eisegesis). That’s just importing a given theology into a text without any justification.
Question: If Calvinistic Election is true, then why does 1st Peter 2:9 mention Election without any reference to a Calvinistic formula?
Answer: John Calvin simply imported his theology into the text.
Question: Before you came to Christ, were you already, secretly, among the “chosen race” of 1st Peter 2:9?
Answer: No. Pre-Christ, you remained alienated from God. “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13) Rather than being elect, secret sons, you remained cut off, being described instead as dogs and pigs.
John Hagee: “Jesus called a Gentile woman, a dog. He never called the Gentiles His brethren. Let me remind you of something. We did not get plugged in until the cross. We had no basis of standing with God until the cross. There’s where we were in Galatians 3 when Paul said you were outside the covenance of Israel, without hope and without God. That’s very important. Then at the cross, we were plugged in, and we received the riches of Abraham, and we received healing, and we received adoption, and we received all the cornucopia of the blessings of God. But before the cross, we were castoffs. You need to understand that.” (emphasis mine)
John Calvin: “In the matter of these benefits, there is a contrast between us and the rest of mankind to be considered, from which it is clear how incomparable is God’s goodness towards us, because He sanctified us, who are by nature polluted. He has chosen us, whom He could find nothing in us but evil and vileness; He makes us His peculiar possession from being worthless dregs; He confers the honour of priesthood on the profane; He brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to royal liberty.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.266, emphasis mine)
God does not “confer the honour of priesthood on the profane,” but upon the redeemed in Christ. (Romans 8:1) The reason why Calvin explains it as he does, is so that he can avoid admitting that God bestows eternal life to believers, so that he can instead spin it to mean that God bestows eternal life upon elect unbelievers, who, as “worthless dregs,” “profane” and “vassals of Satan,” believe through Irresistible Grace. As always, the controversy boils down to the Arminian Election in Christ vs. Calvinist Election in the Father.