“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:10).
It is always good to remember our responsibility to tell everyone what God has done for us in the person and work of Christ. It is also good to remember to live a holy life before God and others in light of all we are in Christ. This is what the Apostle Peter reminds us in 2:10. God once again tells us what believers were and what they are now.
Once we were not a people. What the apostle means is that at one time we were not God’s people. In our unconverted condition we did not belong to God, but rather were His enemies (Romans 5:10) and objects of His holy and righteous wrath (Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:1-3; Acts 3:23).
Once, we had not received mercy. Mercy (ἐλεέω; eleeo) means to receive compassion, when you deserved judgment. Mercy is often defined as God not giving us what we as sinners deserved: damnation. It is often compared with God’s grace, which is God giving sinners what they do not deserve: salvation.
As one theologian explains, “The practice of holiness, in which God’s people serve as a holy and royal priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices and extolling His excellencies, is the proper response to the mercy (1 Peter 1:3) they have received.”
Musician Steven Curtis Chapman expresses the need to remember God’s mercy in his song Remember Your Chains.
Remember your chains,
Remember the prison that once held you,
Before the love of God broke through.
Remember the place you were without grace,
When you see where you are now.
Remember your chains
And remember, your chains are gone.
Soli deo Gloria!