Explore the Bible: 1 Peter 2:1-10
Peter uses many quotes from the Old Testament in his epistle. This is natural, since what we call the Old Testament was the Scriptures not only for Jews, but for all the new Gentile believers who were responding to the gospel. There was no set of writings in the early days of the church that were already recognized as part of the Biblical canon, although recognition of a number of apostolic writings as Scripture arose very early. (We’ll talk about this more in 2 Peter.) Peter is clearly familiar with the Scriptures and uses them both to make his theological and practical points and to illustrate truth.
In 1 Peter 2:10, Peter doesn’t directly quote an Old Testament passage, but he does make a strong reference to one. This verse is influenced by the names the Lord tells Hosea to give his children in chapters 1 and 2 of his prophecy. There, the children, probably born as the result of an adulterous affair by his wife Gomer, symbolized the Lord’s rejection of Israel as His people. Their unfaithfulness caused Him to turn away from His chosen people. Yet even in this rejection, God states that He cannot entirely give up on them, and that one day they will once again be His people and He will be their God.
This was a comforting promise to Israel, but it may have left Gentiles wondering how they fit in to the people of God. Did you have to become a Jew? Were Gentiles second-class Christians? Peter uses the experience of Hosea and the words of his prophecy to assure all believers, Jew and Gentile, that they were now part of God’s people. They had been called out of darkness into light, received God’s mercy through Jesus, and were now included as part of the people of God.
Some have seen this passage as one that indicates that the church has replaced Israel as the people of God permanently. In this view, Israel served as God’s people until the cross, but since the death and resurrection of Christ the church has now become the object of all of God’s promises to Israel as a kind of new “chosen people.” I believe that the very fact of Peter’s using Hosea as his cue in this verse shows the opposite: that while the church is certainly the people of God, He is also not letting go of Israel forever.
The key point here is that all believers, who by nature are sinful and deserving of God’s rejection, have been brought into the people of God through Jesus’ work. By grace we have been shown mercy, and through that mercy we gain a great salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We do not have to fear what our status before the Lord is if we have put our trust and hope in the One who calls us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of His eternal presence.