(Predestination, Elected, Chosen, Called)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SAY?
The following three paragraphs are designed to give you a quick look at the CONTEXTUAL BIBLICAL TRUTH about the teaching of "predestination." To see a thorough, clear and biblically contextual explanation of this paragraph - PLEASE read the study below. It will take you about 30 minutes to complete...but upon completion, you will know the BIBLICAL TRUTH about this topic.
SYNOPSIS PARAGRAPHS OF THE TRUTH ABOUT PREDESTINATION
"PREDESTINATION" - EVERY scripture that uses the terms associated with Calvinism (predestined, predestination, elect, chosen, called) refers SPECIFICALLY to the JEWS, especially the Jews of the first century - as the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was being revealed to THEM! Paul and Peter are the ONLY writers to use these terms. They were both Jews CHOSEN by God's sovereignty (Peter - a reluctant Jewish fisherman and Paul - a Christian killing Jewish Pharisee.)
The Biblical context of ALL the scriptures addressing this topic is clearly and specifically written to and about the first century JEWS (God's promised remnant of the time of the Messiah - predestined and chosen by God from the beginning - as He did Israel.) Neither of these writers indicates in ANY passage that they believed that ALL people of ALL times would be "pre-determined" or predestined by God for SALVATION. This is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture.
The clearly preached GOSPEL of Jesus Christ with a response by FAITH of the hearer was the way that both Peter and Paul said that the nations of the world would be saved down through the ages. (That is the WHOLE POINT of Romans 11 and Paul's treatise of how the Gentiles were "grafted" in through the Gospel with the "elect" of Israel.) The "elect" or "predestined" were the Jews of the first century (like Peter and Paul) whom God had specifically "tapped" for the task of spreading the Gospel and birthing the church.
SO WHAT DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SAY? In the following study, we will LET THE BIBLE SPEAK FOR ITSELF! When the scriptures are examined in their proper historical, inter-testamental and theological context, this issue becomes much less complex.
First, we must deal with the fact that the Bible DOES speak of predestination, choosing, election, calling - and so forth. These actual words are used in the scriptures. But here is the key, we must also deal with the fact that many of the biblical statements using these words (in my opinion, MOST if not ALL of these statements) deal SOLELY with the nation of ISRAEL and God's election of THEM to be His special people for His special purpose for a sign and a witness to the world, particularly and beginning with THEIR specific time of the beginning of the New Testament period. (Rom. 11:1-8, see especially verse 5 the words, "at THIS PRESENT TIME there is a remnant chosen by grace.")
Where the words elect and predestined are used elsewhere in scripture they must be interpreted in light of the way they are defined in Romans 8-11, since this is the ONLY place in scripture where the meaning of them is defined. If one will do a thorough, contextual, passage-by-passage exegesis of the scriptures dealing specifically with the words and concepts of "predestined", "elect" and "chosen", the proper interpretation of this subject becomes much clearer and much easier to understand.
The words "predestined" and "elect" only occur a handful of times each, so the study is not that hard. These are the words that are particularly associated with the "Calvinism" or the "Predestination" or "Reformed Church" movements so popular today. The word "chosen" is, of course, a more predominately used word in common language in general and must be especially interpreted in light of its immediate context. However, sometimes the English word "chosen" is translated directly from the Greek word, "eklekton". In these cases especially, more emphasis would be given to the idea of "election".
With this in mind, I have found that far and away the predominate theme and proper context of the words "elect" and "predestined" have to do most specifically with the Jews (however, some Gentiles are included as well, as is explained below). More specifically these words apply to the those Jews in New Testament times who understood that they were a part of the remnant of Israel, promised in the Old Testament, but fulfilled in the immediate New Testament days through Jesus Christ and his blood.
They were the ones that God had "reserved" for himself to burst forth the New Testament Covenant and Gospel. (See Rom. 11:1-8, see especially verse 5 the words, "at the PRESENT time there is a remnant chosen by grace.")
Note Paul's emphasis of the present time and his use of the illustration of Elijah and the seven thousand that God had "reserved for myself ... who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Paul understood that in this PRESENT time, (Paul's immediate day - the beginning of the New Testament) in order to spread the Gospel and fulfill all prophecy and promises concerning the Messiah, that God had reserved for himself in this PRESENT time, through election, people who would serve Him through Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel as a whole would reject Jesus, but not the ELECT, those PREDESTINED to bring forth the gospel truth to the entire world.
INTERESTINGLY - Paul also understood that in the beginning days of the New Testament that the "elect" would also include some Gentiles of his day! (See Romans 9:22-29) In this passage Paul clearly states that the predominance of the ELECT have to do with Israel, but also to elect Gentiles of that day as well. God would do this, simply to bring his word to fruition ... that is, he would make sure that his promise would be fulfilled that even those from the Gentile nations would serve Him and be a part of His people.
This would be especially important in the early New Testament days, because even a cursory reading of the first 15 Chapters of Acts reveals that the early New Testament Church, at first made up almost entirely of converted Jews, had a tough time believing the God would save Gentiles. They had a particularly hard time with Paul's ministry to the Gentiles and the church at Antioch's outreach to the Gentiles.
Never doubt, however, that Paul clearly understood that the primary way people (Jews and Gentiles) were to be saved from this point forward was through the clearly preached gospel of Jesus Christ! (See Romans 1:16-17, Romans 3:21-23, Romans 10:9-17) Paul never set forth ELECTION or PREDESTINATION as the way or the only way in which all are saved for all of eternity. He merely expresses the awesome sovereignty of God, Who is accomplishing His purpose of salvation through Jesus Christ in these last days by "reserving" unto Himself "at this present time" those who are the ELECT to take forth the Gospel and usher in the New Testament days.
Peter and Paul, the only writers to speak of election and predestination, understood that they were somehow a part of God's sovereign plan. They understood that they were a part of the "elect" of God, having been "predestined" to belong to and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the beginning of the New Testament days. Peter understood that his primary ministry was to the Jews, although he would also minister the Gospel to Gentiles. Paul understood that his ministry was primarily to the Gentiles, although he would always carry a burning desire for his fellow Jews to be saved as well and often preached to Jewish audiences in the synagogues when he first entered a town.
This subject of election would not have been a difficult subject at all for Paul and Peter to talk about since having a thoroughly Jewish, Old Testament background, they understood entirely that God had elected and predestined the Jews and the nation of ISRAEL from ancient days to be a nation unto God.
They understood that God had his hand upon their forefathers and directed and guided history for the direct fulfillment of His covenants and promises. God's ability to PREDESTINE or ELECT was not even a question to them. It was not a point of theology that they would even begin to argue. From the covenant given to Abraham to the deliverance through Moses and the Red Sea and the establishing of David's throne, they had seen His predestinating hand over and over again in their national history. Peter understood this as he remembered how the Lord Jesus "chose" him on the shores of Lake Galilee. He had been a fisherman and started as a reluctant follower of the Lord Jesus.
Peter would remember Jesus' words to the original 12 disciples, "You did not chose me, I chose you." (John 15:16) After Pentecost, he was the first to preach to the "God fearing JEWS from every nation under heaven"(Acts 2:5, 14) and then continued for the rest of his life preaching Jesus to all, but primarily to the Jews. Peter was the Pastor of the first Christian Church born at Pentecost in downtown Jerusalem. This church was at first made up primarily of Jews who had become Christians.
Peter understood that they were a part of God's elect and predestined to serve Jesus in these last days as a part of the prophecy of the "remnant" of Israel. Paul certainly understood the concept that he had been "elected" as he was on his way to kill Christians and destroy more churches when Jesus confronted him, blinded him and incapacitated him for three days. After which he understood that his ministry? Predestined by God - Was to preach the Gospel primarily to the Gentiles.
Paul, being a Jew, still had a burning desire that his fellow Israelites would be saved (Romans 9:1-3 and 10:1-3) and often took his message first to the synagogues. Paul passionately expressed his overwhelming awe that God would chose him, the "chiefest of sinners" to serve Him and minister the Gospel of Jesus.
Since Peter and Paul are the ONLY writers to use the terms "elect" and "predestined", I think that it is extremely important that we understand this background and context in order to properly interpret what they write and speak. Paul uses both words in his writings; Peter uses only the word elect. He never uses the word - predestined. Romans, Chapters 8,9, 10 and 11, (written by Paul) are the only actual theological "treatise" of the subject of election and predestination in the Bible. It is not the only place in the New Testament where these words are mentioned but is the only place where the concept and context of the usage of these words are EXPLAINED.
Clearly, when one reads these chapters, it quickly becomes evident that Paul is explaining this concept of the elected and predestined remnant of Israel, chosen in Jesus Christ, at that present time, by the Grace of God. He also explains how the Gentiles are "grafted" into Israel, through this same Jesus, some apparently by election, but primarily through the preaching of the Gospel! (To which Paul had been appointed the chief messenger.) He speaks of God's Sovereign choice in Chapter nine, clearly speaking of the Jews and the "remnant" (verse 27) of Israel. In Chapter ten, verses 12 and 13, Paul emphatically states that there is "no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.""
Then, in verse 16, he says, "But not all the Israelites accepted the good news?" This segues into Chapter 11 concerning the Remnant that God would elect in spite of Israel's national rejection of the Messiah. Verses one through seven make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that Paul is speaking of ISRAEL and the Remnant, specifically, that they are saved, by grace, through ELECTION.
In Chapter eleven beginning with verse 11 and going through verse 24, Paul explains how the Gentiles were "grafted" into the "vine" of Israel in these last days. Verse 26 declares that "all Israel" (referring to the REMNANT and the ENGRAFTED GENTILES - in other words - the true believers, the CHURCH, of the last days!) will be saved. So, you see, God's SOVEREIGNTY applies to ALL of history. It applies to ALL of salvation.
I do not discount the power or sovereignty of God in saving a man's soul. I understand that even the faith that we must exercise in order to be saved is a GIFT of God! (Eph. 2:8ff).
I understand that in the beginning of the New Testament days, by this sovereignty, God "reserved" for himself a "remnant" to burst forth the New Testament Church and carry the Gospel worldwide. I also understand that this remnant was reserved by election. They were predestined by God's Sovereign choice to fulfill his Word, promises and prophecy. I further understand that this "remnant" elected by God was primarily Jews and included some Gentiles as well, all as fulfillment of the Prophet's declarations and the promises of God's Word.
But to apply the terms "elect" and "predestined" to ALL believers, Jew or Gentile, of ALL ages in ALL churches, as an understanding that God "chooses" some over others for salvation, in my opinion, simply is not contextual in any sense of the proper interpretation of this subject.
Certainly, generally speaking, there is a sense in which ANY born again Christian can speak of being a part of the "elect" of God. That is to say, that when hearing the Gospel (God's elect way) and responding to Jesus (God's elect Son) and surrendering to Him as Lord (God's elect plan) by faith (God's elect vehicle of salvation), that one truly is a part of the ELECT whether Jew or Gentile!
But, again, to speak of being a part of the "elect" in the sense that the strict Calvinist would speak ("I was chosen by God through "Irresistible Grace" and I had no part or choice in it") simply is not Biblically correct. Certainly God's Grace has been resisted and rejected by men, both Jew and Gentile, since the beginning of time. The Bible records such truth. We understand that is the reason there is a Hell and a Final Judgment. However, The strict BIBLICAL usage of the word elect and predestined applies specifically to the REMNANT, primarily JEWS elected by God Grace in Jesus Christ in the beginning of the New Testament days.
This whole concept is relatively easy for Paul to talk about and explain; yet the profound nature of it is overwhelming to Paul as he considers the Sovereignty of God. Paul expresses this in Chapter eleven verses 33-36, known as the "doxology" to the treatise of chapters 8, 9, 10 and 11 on the subject of election and predestination. IN SHORT - the words elect and predestined and often, the word chosen, refer most specifically to the remnant of Jews in the last days, particularly in New Testament times. They were chosen in Christ Jesus, by God's gracious, sovereign choice. This fulfills God's promises of the Old Covenant and puts the exclamation point on the New Covenant.
Again ... where the words elect and predestined are used elsewhere in scripture, it is my opinion that they must be interpreted in light of the way they are defined in Romans 8-11, since this is the ONLY place in scripture where the meaning of them is defined. Any Christian can speak generally about being a part of God's elect if he is truly born again, however, he can not use these words to indicate that he was "chosen" in any particular sense over and above any one else who may be perceived as "not one of the chosen". (As Calvinism does). In my opinion, the contextual interpretation of the scripture, especially Romans 9-11, simply does not support this vein of theology.
A QUICK LOOK AT ***ALL*** THE SCRIPTURES THAT USE THE WORDS ELECT AND PREDESTINED. THE WORD PREDESTINED USED BY PAUL:
There are ONLY TWO passages of scripture where the word predestined is used only FOUR TIMES. All are written by PAUL and they are found in only two books, Romans and Ephesians. Let us look at each.
ROMANS 8:29-30 -"for those God foreknew he also predestined...and those he predestined..." These two places in Romans, the word predestined is used. Who was Paul writing to? The answer is found all the way back in Romans 2:17..."Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God..." And in Romans 7:1 where Paul confirms that he is still talking to "those who are familiar with the Law." Paul is talking to the Jews!
He never breaks from this audience all the way through chapters 3-8 especially because he is dealing with the issue of the Judiazers or the Jews who claimed to be Christians but held that one still had to come to God through the Law. Many of them also held that only a Jew could be saved, because of their special relationship to God! Paul spends seven chapters straightening these false beliefs out that apparently existed in the Roman church among Jewish believers. In Chapter 8, he brings up the issue of predestination by God's foreknowledge to explain how God had reserved for himself, among the Jews, those who would preach and live the Gospel in its truth.
EPHESIANS 1:3-12. Here Paul twice uses the word predestined as well as the concepts of choosing. Here it cannot be any more crystal clear that he is talking of New Testament Jews, like himself, who had been chosen and reserved by God to take the Gospel worldwide. Especially if interpreted by the ONLY explanation of this subject which is in Romans.
Chapter 1:12 - He identifies himself and his first audience of Ephesians as "We who were the first to hope in Christ..." THOSE WERE JEWS!
Chapter 1:13 - " You, however, were INCLUDED..." His audience shifts! Now he is talking to the Gentile believers and identifies that the way they were saved and included in the church was through hearing and responding to the Gospel!
Chapter 2:11 - you can still see that his audience since 1:13 is Gentiles! The shift is so clear... In Chapter 1:3-12 - he speaks of Jews who were chosen and predestined, then in Chapter 1:13 and following he speaks of Gentiles coming to Christ through hearing the preached gospel of Jesus and responding by faith!
1. Romans 11:7 (Paul is the Author)- This passage is dealing specifically with ISRAEL. (See verse 1-10)
2. II Tim 2:10 (Paul is the Author)- "for the sake of the elect" - again, you hear the passion of Paul and his desires for his fellow Israelites to come to Jesus and be saved. (Reflections from Rom. 9:3-5.) You can tell that he is speaking primarily of the Jews again here by the way that he describes Jesus as the one who "Descended from David" - a strictly Jewish understanding of the lineage of the Messiah.
3. Titus 1:1 -(Paul is the Author)- Paul is introducing himself as, among other things, one who has been appointed an apostle "for the faith of God's elect". - Again, Paul has clearly told us who he thinks that "God's elect" are in Romans Chapters 9-11. They are the last-days remnant of Israel who now belong to God, by election, through Jesus Christ. He is simply using this as an element of his ministry as he is introducing himself in the letter, nothing more.
4. I Peter 1:1 - (Peter is the Author)- "to God's elect" - Peter was the first Pastor of the first Christian Church born at Pentecost. Almost all of the first Christians were Jews. Peter's ministry of the Gospel was primarily to the Jews and he apparently had a problem with the concept that God would even extend his salvation to the Gentiles. You can read of this problem in Acts 10 and Galatians 2:11ff, and, in fact, we read that Paul even opposed Peter's apparent hypocrisy in this matter. God's elect, very clearly to Peter were the remnant Jews. He certainly would have not referred to Gentiles as God's ELECT!
The letter, called First Peter, was an early circular letter written by Peter to the early church that had already been scattered, probably in connection with Stephen's stoning (See Acts 8:1). We know that he is talking to Jews here, primarily because in verse 18 he refers to the "empty way of life handed down by your forefathers". (A phrase very nearly the same as what Jesus continually used concerning the Jewish legalistic system, especially employed by the Pharisees.) This is a clear reference to the Jews and their empty legalistic system that blinded them to the true gospel of Jesus.
Also, Peter, as mentioned above, opens his letter to the "scattered" - referring to the early church scattered in response to Stephen's persecution, primarily made up of Messianic Jews. It would not be until the church scattered and began to spring up in other areas of the empire, and particularly the church at Antioch, (Acts 11:19ff) that the early church began to actively reach out to Gentiles with the Gospel. Acts records that the church at Jerusalem, pastored by Peter, was vehemently opposed to them reaching out to the Gentiles and sent several "envoys" to check out the situation. (Acts 15:1ff) Peter eventually offered the leadership that the church, should indeed, reach out to the Gentiles.
I Peter 2:9 - "But you are a chosen (eklekton) people..." Here is an example of the word - chosen - used in the English interpretation that is from the original Greek word -eklekton - from which we can also get the word elect.
Again, the English word, chosen, is a bit more common and has several usages as opposed to the more specific word, elect. Context is very important when this word is used in scripture. So how do we interpret this verse and the use of the word "elect"? The proper context here is from all we said before about Peter, his background, his understanding concerning this subject and the immediate context of the book of I Peter as defined in Chapter One verses 1 and 18.
He is speaking to remnant Jews, to whom this book was largely and firstly written. These were Jews who had come to Christ through election in the New Testament days. Look at the strictly Jewish terms used in verse 9; "Royal Priesthood", "a holy nation", and "a people belonging to God." These were ALL phrases that would have had very special meaning to the Christian Jews to whom Peter was primarily writing, to help them understand their special elected place in history and in the forming of the early New Testament Church.
By the time this letter had circulated to all the early New Testament churches and most certainly by the canonization of the New Testament, this word was understood to mean specifically the elect remnant, (Messianic Jews) but, also, generally ALL who were a part of the New Testament Church (God's elect body of influence in the world) through the Gospel (God's elect power unto salvation) of Jesus Christ (God's elect Son).
Romans 9:11 -"in order that God's purpose in election might stand". - Here the clear reference is to God's election of Israel as a nation through the son Jacob rather than the son Esau.
Romans 11:28 -"but as far as election is concerned they are loved on account of the patriarchs." Here also is a clear reference to Israel. The "they" spoken of in this passage are the Jews! Those who are decedents of the patriarchs.
II Peter 1:10 -"be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure." - This passage does NOT have to do with one losing their salvation as so many mistakenly interpret it. If one will read verse 3 through verse 11, it is discovered that Peter is talking about making sure that your salvation is "effective and productive" and that your calling and election are clearly evident to the world around you. The "falling" Peter is speaking of is not "falling from salvation", which is impossible, but "falling into Satan's traps, or falling into areas of sin that would hinder your usefulness for God's work.
The word election here is certainly used, at least, in the general sense of ALL of those who are born again through God's elect way, a relationship with Jesus Christ, and belong to God's elect body, the church. However, Peter is still clearly writing to the same audience (See II Peter 3:1-2) that he was writing to in I Peter. That is "to God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered..."
In other words, He is still primarily writing to the earliest of Christians, Messianic Jews.
THE WORD ELECT USED BY JESUS:
Found recorded only in the books of Matthew and Mark. Both of these gospels records are of the same instance of Jesus using the word elect. They are found in:
1. Matthew 24: 22, and Matthew 24:31
2. Mark 13:20, and Mark 22:27 They all refer to the "deceiving of the elect" or the "gathering of the elect" in the last days just before and at Jesus' return to earth. Jesus does not go into a theological treatise on the meaning of these words. His immediate audience was his disciples, who were Jews. They would have understood this to simply mean those that belonged to Jesus.
The words elect, election, predestined and often, the word chosen refer most specifically to the remnant of Jews in the last days, particularly in New Testament times. They were chosen in Christ Jesus, by God's gracious, sovereign choice. They were chosen to carry forth the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was God's power unto salvation. They were to carry this message to the entire world, Jew and Gentile. Those who heard, believed and responded by faith would be saved. This fulfills God's promises of the Old Covenant and puts the exclamation point on the New Covenant.
Where the words elect and predestined are used anywhere in scripture, it is my opinion that they must be interpreted in light of the way they are defined in Romans 8-11, since this is the ONLY place in scripture where the meaning of them is defined. Any Christian can speak generally about being a part of God's elect if he is truly born again, however, he can not use these words to indicate that he was "chosen" in any particular sense over and above any one else who may be perceived as "not one of the chosen". (As pure Calvinism does).
In my opinion, the contextual interpretation of the scripture, especially Romans 9-11, simply does not support this vein of theology
It is my prayer that this booklet has done several things for you on this
Familiarized you with terminology that you may have heard and not previously understood.
Familiarized you with the fundamentals of the theology involved.
Put the scriptures into their proper CONTEXT and understanding regarding
COPYRIGHT, CARL GALLUPS, JANUARY 1995 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED A "Truth Series" Ministry of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church, Carl Gallups, Pastor.