What does it mean to be a peculiar people?
The dictionary gives us two definitions of the word peculiar when used as an adjective. The first use refers to something that is strange or odd. But the second use refers to something particular or special. It is this definition that is used in the context of the biblical description of God’s people.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special [peculiar] people … .” 1 Peter 2:9
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special [peculiar] treasure above all the peoples … .” Deuteronomy 14:2
“Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special [peculiar] people … .” Titus 2:14
“That which more especially distinguishes God’s people from the popular religious bodies is not their profession alone, but their exemplary character and their principles of unselfish love. The powerful and purifying influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart, carried out in words and works, separates them from the world, and designates them as God’s peculiar people. The character and disposition of Christ’s followers will be like the Master. He is the pattern, the holy and perfect example given for Christians to imitate. …” That I May Know Him, 317
“The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself, and this consecration to God and separation from the world is plainly declared and positively enjoined in both the Old and New Testaments. There is a wall of separation which the Lord Himself has established between the things of the world and the things He has chosen out of the world and sanctified unto Himself. The calling and the character of God’s people are peculiar. … and these peculiarities distinguish them from all people.” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1875
“God’s people are to be distinguished as a people who serve Him fully, wholeheartedly, taking no honor to themselves, and remembering that by a most solemn covenant they have bound themselves to serve the Lord, and Him only.” Our High Calling, 345
“I saw that God was purifying unto Himself a peculiar people. He will have a clean and a holy people, a people in whom He can delight.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 6, 221
“The religion of Christ does not consist in merely having our names written on the church book; they must be written in the Lamb’s book of life. Examine again the text [Titus 2:11–14]. From this it will be seen that there is a decided difference between the followers of Christ and the world. They are a peculiar people; Jesus came to make them thus. …
“Let us open the door of our hearts, that Jesus may come in and that sin may go out. Let us forsake the evil and choose the good … .” The Review and Herald, March 16, 1886