Perhaps it’s such a generic phrase that it gets frequently overlooked. But as I was doing some study in Portuguese yesterday, I noted that in a goodly part of our literature, we don’t include the phrase, “people of God,” in our lists of descriptions of the Lord’s church.
The phrase is found in some key texts, such as 1 Pet 2.9-10, which it indicates the great place that God’s people play in his plan of salvation, and in his spiritual creation. It is a phrase full of doctrinal content. Jesus himself spoke of a great change that would occur in the new covenant:
For this reason I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people (ethnos) who will produce its fruit, Mt 21.43.
James noted that “Simeon has explained how God first concerned himself to select from among the Gentiles a people (laos) for his name” Acts 15.14.
It also reminds us that, considering the word people is a collective noun, no one lives to himself spiritually.
(Why doesn’t someone post a “People of God” sign on their building, rather than the usual denominationalized name that appears on most?)
Maybe this has been in the back of my mind for some time, since the name of a collaborative book project we have going on at the moment is titled, People of God.
Can you confirm this neglect of the phrase in our literature and teaching? Or am I off-base here? What meanings does this phrase carry in the Bible that you’ve noticed?