1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We are a royal priesthood declares Peter. So what does this mean? Let’s begin with royal. the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines royal, “Either belonging to a king (kingdom) or having kingly power, dignity, authority, etc.” Later it asserts: “royal priesthood,” the Hebrew rendering would be mamlekheth kōhǎnīm, “a kingdom of priests,” i.e. a kingdom whose citizens are priests, emphasizing the two facts that the true Christians have free access to the grace of God and that they enjoy the liberties and privileges of His kingdom (1 Pet 2:9).
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines royal: “a : of kingly ancestry the royal family b : of, relating to, or subject to the crown the royal estates c : being in the crown’s service Royal Air Force.” So we see that royal indicates a powerful connection between a king and that which closely connected to him.
The Apostle Paul describes tis powerful connection this way in Romans 8:16–17 (ESV)
“16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” We are royal because God has made us joint heirs with Christ through His finished work of redemption. God has made us daughters and sons of the Most High God. Recalling the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition, “c:: being in the crown’s service” we are entrusted with the great privilege and responsibility of serving the Kingdom of Heaven.
Our are of service is identified as a priesthood. Baker’s Encyclopedia of the Bible tells us
“Priestly duties, in general, fell into three areas (Dt 33:8–10). First, they were responsible in conjunction with the high priest for declaring God’s will to the people. Second, they had responsibilities in religious education; they were to teach to Israel God’s ordinances and Law (Torah; Dt 33:10). Third, they were to be the servants of the tabernacle, participating in Israel’s sacrifices and worship. There were a number of other duties which may have fallen to them, which they would have shared with the Levites in general.”
A shorthand way of thinking about priesthood is representing God to the people and the people to God. Essentially the function of the priest is to mediate between God and the people. Carrying the Word from on high to the people and offering sacrifices from the people to God. I like the Apostle Paul’s metaphors in 2 Corinthians 2:15–17 (ESV) “15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
We are a royal priesthood “commissioned by God, . . . to speak in Christ” To tell the world of the wonderful grace of Jesus. To call sinners to repentance and belief in Christ. To “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)
We are what most people first see of Jesus. How we live, and speak and what we set as goals reveals to others what is most important in our lives. Because we are a royal priesthood it is our duty to represent Christ in the most alluring manner possible. Saint Peter puts it this way, 1 Peter 2:12 (ESV) “12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
God has called us to this great service, will you embrace it and execute it with zeal and grace?