Series 1 - Lesson 4 - Annotation 4
Why are the members of the "church of Christ" referred to in some translations of the Bible as a "peculiar people"?
"People" refers to generic man with customs and habits common to all mankind. "Race" has to do with physical characteristics; "nation" refers to a group that has established a political system of government. Our lessons relate to Biblical usage. (I Pet. 2:7-10) The only way the Bible is concerned with man is from the spiritual standpoint, man created as the image of God through which he is to prove his divinity by developing the likeness of his Creator, Jehovah. In its original significance "peculiar" meant a whole group distinguished by some mark or standard that was unlike anything possessed by other individuals of the same class. In Deut. 7:6 Jehovah told the Israelites that he had chosen them for his own possession. This makes them a peculiar people in the sense of being God-owned.
By Jehovah's act of adopting them they became a distinctive people in religious things, consecrated, set apart from races and nations everywhere, with Jehovah as their standard of life. The Israelites as assembled before God and considered as the religious element of all peoples were distinguished as the "church of God." They were not a race, neither were they a nation, but a people who individually and collectively put their dependence in God as their standard, supply, and support in all ways.
In translating the Old Testament into the Greek language, the Hebrew word which designated the Israelites as the religious element was rendered "ecclesia," which was the Greek word for "church." Both the word "ecclesia" and the word "peculiar" indicate men as coming out from under the tyranny of negative conditions as produced by negative thinking; men who through awareness of their own divinity establish God as the governing power of their life. God works in and through them, His church, to accomplish a universal good for all the earth.