Election

The word “elect” (chosen) is used, in some form, nearly thirty times, to refer to the saved or God’s saving man (Matthew 20:16; 22:14; 24:22; 24:24; 24:31; Mark 13:20; 13:20; 13:22; 13:27; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:33; 11:5; 11:7; 11:28; Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:9; 5:11; 2 Peter 1:10; 2 John 1:1; 1:13; Revelation 17:14).  At times,  the word is connected with other words addressed in this series: “predestined” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 11); “foreknowledge” (1 Peter 1:2).  However, for simplicity sake, at this time we will consider some of the passages where the word is not joined with the other words (we will look at the passages where they appear together at a later time).

Definition

The most common word is eklego “to pick out” or eklektos “picked out”.

Another word is haireo “to take”.  Only one passage that we will consider is of this original word, and that passage is 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

2 Timothy 2:10

“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

The Calvinist assumes that election was entirely of God, arbitrary and without standards.  However, if this is so, why did Paul endure the things he did “that they also may obtain salvation”?

This passage is saying that Paul endure the things he did, so that man may be saved and receive eternal glory.  The term elect is either being used of: (1) Those who had been forgiven, but had not entered into heaven at this point, and thus needed to remain faithful, or (2) it is being used of those who will ultimately make it to heaven in the end.  Either way, Paul did what he did “that they…  may obtain salvation.”

A choice may be based on standards.  F. Furman Kearley illustrates: “Prospective parents who are in negotiation with an adoption agency for adopting a child often predetermine the characteristics that the child should meet.  Likewise, the adoption agency predetermines the characteristics the parents should meet.  Prospective parents can discuss these matters with the adoption agency and learn what their criteria are, and even work to develop their situation so as to meet those criteria.  Similarly, especially for older children, since good behavior is usually a desirable characteristic the adoption agency attempts to teach the children how to behave in a becoming manner” (Kearley, The Biblical Doctrine of Predestination, Foreordination, and Election, p. 9).  Another illustration: “A young Christian man or woman who is seeking a mate will likely predetermine that their mate should have certain characteristics and meet certain qualifications, especially in the spiritual realm” (ibid, p. 8).  One more illustration: The church at Jerusalem chose seven men to care for the daily distribution to the widows (Acts 6:5).  Yet, this choice was standard based (Acts 6:3).

2 Peter 1:10-11

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

This is a key verse in understanding election.  This was written to brethren (v. 10).  They had been cleansed from their old or former sins (v. 9).  Yet, they were instructed to “be diligent” (to exert one’s self, endeavor – Thayer) “to make your call and election sure” (v. 10 cf. v. 5).  They were told “if” (a conditional conjunction) “you do these things,” then you will make it into the everlasting kingdom (v. 10-11).  What things?  Watch the context, “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (v. 5-7).  God’s election is standard based.  We have something to do with whether we are elected or not.  It is not entirely, and arbitrarily of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

“We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

Lynn Blair commented, “Paul was thankful for these brethren because they had been chosen to salvation.  How did God choose them?  Through two parts: God’s part (sanctification on the Spirit) and man’s part, or reaction (belief of the truth).  God chose them through their belief of the truth” (Houston College of Bible Lectureship, Calvinism, p. 447).  Remember that sanctification comes through the truth of God`s word(John 17:17).  The Holy Spirit reveals this truth.  it is up to man to receive it (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).  Paul rejoiced that God chose to save these Gentiles.  His decision to do so was “from the beginning” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:4; 3:5-6, 11).

There is another possibility.  Some manuscripts read “firstfruits” instead of “from the beginning.”  The English Standard Version reads, “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved…” If this be allowed, Kearley says, “The passage simply means that God chose, in His providence,  that the Thessalonians should be (among) the first to have opportunity to hear the Gospel in that area” (The Biblical Doctrine of Predestination, Foreordination, and Election, p. 11).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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