Who are God's
chosen or elect?
The transliterated word "elect" (Greek "eklektos") also sometimes appears as the word "chosen". A directly related Greek word ("eklogee") expresses "election" or, by definition "choice". It is safe to say that to be elect means to be chosen, so we will use the words interchangeably (as do most translations). Using the principle of Scriptures interpreting Scriptures, an examination of how God used this word will provide a better understanding of what it means to say that someone is chosen by God or is the elect of God.
Jesus is chosen. The Messiah was portrayed in Old Testament prophecy as one who would be specifically chosen and appointed by God to save His people. While not recognizing Jesus as that "Chosen One", the religious rulers clearly understood this...
Peter emphasizes that Jesus is this chosen One, appealing to Old Testament Scriptures (Isaiah 28:16).
Without a doubt the election (choice) of Jesus was solely by the will of God without any outside influence or obligation - prior to the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). Hear the Father on this...
Some angels are chosen. Scriptures testify that some of the supernatural beings that stand in the presence of God rebelled against Him. The Devil or Satan was the first. In His rebellion against His creator and Lord, he found allies amongst the angels, taking about one third of them into His folly (Revelation 12:3-4, 7-9). This event obviously did not take God by surprise or become something to merely react to; it was obviously by the determined eternal counsel of God's will. Why? Because God had chosen all the angels who would stay faithful to Him.
Before Satan even had sinned, God had already decreed the outcome. The devil would be defeated (Hebrews 2:15, 1 John 3:8). The place of punishment for this fallen angel and his cohorts was likewise established (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:10).
Some people are chosen. Those God has chosen are the ones who will believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him for eternity. Only these chosen ones have eternal life and will inherit the new heaven and new earth. Paul spoke of how he knew that God had chosen the believers in the Thessalonian church.
The quick list of attributes of a chosen one, from the passage above, is as follows:
With a glimpse toward the end of time, the book of Revelation acknowledges that the ones who will be with Jesus are His chosen ones. Take note that "chosen" is one of three attributes identifying Christ's followers:
For the record, in list form, the three attributes of all followers of Jesus Christ are:
Called (A). Believers, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, are all supposed to be involved in the universal call of the gospel. The message is to be proclaimed wherever and whenever possible to whoever will listen. But, in truth, the Scriptures are clear that this universal call (or professed response to this universal call) should not be mistaken for being synonymous with being chosen. Many are externally called but three responses are in view. Firstly, some reject this calling and remain in their sins. Secondly, some respond out of human excitement or motivation, but have not heard God's call. Thirdly, others have heard through the spoken word of truth God's inward call, made effectual by His Holy Spirit. It is this later group that is also chosen (and made ready) by the will of the One who calls. Jesus' parable shows the contrast between all three responses.
Chosen (B). The ones capable of responding to the external call are those who have been inwardly enabled to respond because they were chosen. This cannot be turned inside out with a claim that God "chooses" those who respond to His call, as this would make the responder, in fact, the primary chooser. God, in contrast, claims to have chosen his people before the world even began. Those He chose, He then predestined - an act of "His pleasure and will."
This passage in Ephesians, in showing the order of God's grace (chosen, predestined, adopted), makes clear that a related section in Romans must be held in similar view.
The order of God's grace by Romans is: foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. Put together with Ephesians, since all Scripture is in harmony, a combined summary could be as follows: Foreknown because God has chosen, predestined, and then adopted into God's family through being called, justified, and glorified. All of this is accomplished through the free choice and power of God.
Faithful (C). God calls His chosen, "faithful." This is not to claim that followers of Jesus Christ have yet attained sinlessness. Rather it holds that true believers, those responding to the inward call, having been chosen by God, with continue with Christ. In fact, it is stated that we are "in Christ" for eternity. God's chosen (elect) cannot be deceived to the point of falling away from Christ.
The elect may stumble and fall down, but it is God's power that picks them up and keeps them going by His grace.
Scriptures is clear that the entirety of salvation is all about God's grace! He alone is able to keep His chosen from falling.
It was on this basis of seeing these Scriptural attributes (God's grace in action), and having heard the testimony of the individual, that the apostle Paul greeted other believers by name as chosen/elect:
Paul went so far as to declare that all he was doing - in missions, evangelism, church planting, and strengthening existing churches - was for the elect.
The apostle Peter, likewise, wrote with a focus on the elect wherever they may be.
The beloved apostle John also had a focus on the elect (chosen). It is likely in these passages that John is referring to the whole church (personified as a lady). God's church is always chosen, though all who are inside the visible church may not be.
When John referred to God's church as being elect, it reflects wording that Jesus used while He was bodily present with the disciples.
Jesus is coming back for His church - the elect of all nations. It is in response to the cries of his persecuted church (2 Timothy 3:12) that God will bring about final justice.
In the book of Revelation the elect are also referred to as priests.
While many think of priesthood only in regards to the Levitical one found throughout most of the Old Testament and the gospels. That priesthood was only a temporary one, for a specific time and place in history. Even in the Mosaic Law God hinted that there was to be a priesthood that was far greater. The Levitical priesthood was only open to descendants of Levi, but God points to a priesthood that would encompass all believers (elect).
The apostle Peter makes it clear that it is believers in Christ that are a part of that priesthood - as chosen people! This includes all who looked forward in faith to the coming of the Messiah (Christ) as well as all who now look back to His finished work.
This greater priesthood of all believers is not, nor ever was, the Levitical priesthood, though believers that were part of it are also part of the greater. The priesthood of all believers is in the order of Melchizedek, a priesthood that is not restricted to a nation or genealogy (Hebrews 7:11-18). This eternal priesthood of the elect has one High Priest (Hebrews 6:20) who alone can appoint others as priests under Him.
The need of a greater priesthood, and God's specific choice of people both Jew and Gentile, does not mean that God has rejected Israel. In the bigger picture it was never about physical descendants.
God's specific focus from the very beginning was on His chosen (elect). Paul as one who was chosen (Acts 9:15) emphasized that he and all believers among the Jews were a remnant saved by grace.
Jew or Gentile, it's all about God's grace. It is He that chooses and He that saves. His elect will believe and will spend eternity with Him. Are you elect? The answer is this... Do you believe? Do you see evidence that God is at work in your life? The Scriptural attributes considered above will be seen in your life even as they are with all who are chosen.
Written by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 2006
Duplication permitted as long as the source is cited.