The apostle Peter clearly identified this new nation. He wrote the following to his fellow Christians: “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)
As foretold, natural Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah were the first members of that new nation. (Dan. 9:27a; Matt. 10:6) Later, many non-Israelites were also included in this nation, for Peter went on to say: “You were once not a people, but are now God’s people.”—1 Pet. 2:10.
To whom was Peter here speaking? In the beginning of his letter, he says: “[God] gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.” (1 Pet. 1:3, 4) So this new nation is made up of anointed Christians, who have the heavenly hope. They are “the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:16)
In a vision, the apostle John saw that these spiritual Israelites number 144,000. They are “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” to serve as “priests” and to “rule as kings with [Jesus] for the thousand years.”—Rev. 5:10; 7:4; 14:1, 4; 20:6; Jas. 1:18.