A Peculiar People – 1 Peter 2:9

Dr. Dan Hayden •

Have you ever known any peculiar people? I could tell you many stories of people I have known who were just plain odd. Like the man who said to the psychologist, “People think I’m weird because I like potato pancakes.” To which the psychologist responded, “That’s not weird, I also like potato pancakes.” At that point, the man became excited and said, “That’s wonderful, Doc. Listen, why don’t you come over to my house — I have closets and closets full!”

When the King James translators used the word “peculiar” in 1 Peter 2:9, identifying Christians as a “peculiar people”, this is not what they had in mind. According to A. T. Robertson, the word “peculiar” comes from the Latin word, “pecus” which means “flock”. The KJV translators were simply reflecting the idea that believers in Christ are the unique possession of God — they are His flock.

Actually the word in 1 Peter 2:9 is the Greek word peripoiesis, which has the idea of possession, or personal property. It is the preposition peri, which means “around” — connected to the noun poiesis, which refers to something that is made, or done. Kenneth Wuest, the Greek scholar, says “the Greek word means literally ‘to make around,’ that is, to make something and then to surround it with a circle, thus indicating ownership.” Thus, the New American Standard version translates this phrase as “a people for God’s own possession.” The NIV says, “a people belonging to God” and the NKJV says “His own special people.”

The verb form of this word (peripoiéomai) is found in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) to translate the words of God through the prophet Isaiah, when He said, “This people have I formed for myself” (Isa. 43:21) — [emphasis mine]. It is a strong statement of personal possession — the people belong to God. They are His. So this word peripoiesis is certainly a special word to describe how unique we, as believers in Jesus Christ, are as the personal possession of God. He made us a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17) and then He put a circle around us to indicate His ownership, and said in effect “these people belong to Me.” We are indeed a “people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9 – NAS).

Christian friend, I hope that you are encouraged to know that you really are “peculiar”. You belong to a special group of people who are the unique possession of God. You are a member of His eternal family. And that means, of course, that you are the special object of His love and care. It also means however, that we are to live consistent with who we are.

We’re not like other people in the world. We’re more than different — we’re unique. And so, we live unique lives to the glory of God who has given to us His Holy Spirit “as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession (peripoiesis), to the promise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14). ■

For further study, read The Unique Christian