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Election

Election Abstract

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A summary of the discussion of election

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]T[/dropcap]he discussion of election contains both stories and detailed discussion.  For those who prefer to get to the heart of the matter, this page will serve as both a summary and a table of contents to the full discussion.

Election in Brief

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]I[/dropcap]n the Greek, the word for elect has three forms: verb, adjective, and noun.  A word study in the Bible clearly shows the definition of each form.

Verb Form

  • eklegomai
  • Strong's number G1586
  • Definition:  Deliberate and careful selection.
  • The selection of Aaron as high priest illustrates the use of this word.  See the story of Korah.
[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]W[/dropcap]hen the word is used to describe God's choice, the choice typically contains four distinct elements.

  1. A clearly defined set of chosen items or individuals
  2. A clearly defined purpose.
  3. Permanent in nature.
  4. The chosen items became holy.
[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]T[/dropcap]he Bible used this word to speaks of a number of deliberate choices that God made, which can be grouped into categories.

  1. Priests:  Aaron's family.
  2. City:  Jerusalem.
  3. Ministers:  Levites.
  4. People:  Nation of Israel.
  5. Apostles:  the twelve disciples.

Notably, it never is used to speak of people chosen for salvation.  The most well-known verse that uses the word, Ephesians 1:3-4, indicates the purpose of God for people who are in Christ is that they would be holy and without blame.  It does not imply they were selected for salvation.

Adjective Form

  • eklektos
  • Strong's number G1588
  • Definition, as derived from the LXX: 
    • Choice, of excellent quality.
    • Having been selected as the best or most appropriate:  "music is his chosen vocation."
    • The chosen (and choice) people of God

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]S[/dropcap]criptural examples of the three nuances:

  • Excellent quality: “Hear us, my lord: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places.  None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”  (Genesis 23:6)
  • Selected as the best: “Let seven men of [Saul's] descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD chose.” And the king said, “I will give them.”  (2 Samuel 21:6)
  • People of God: For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.  (Isaiah 45:4)

In the LXX, the word is used as if the subject has significant value in the eye of the beholder.  It is used for both righteous and unrighteous people.

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]U[/dropcap]nlike the LXX, the NT use of the word generally does not provide adequate context to derive the meaning.  This would not have been a problem to the early Greek-speaking Christian readers, for they were familiar with the LXX.  They would have assumed the NT writers used the meaning given by the LXX.  If the NT authors intended a different meaning, they would have had to clearly indicate it in their writings.  No such indication can be found. 

Noun Form

  • ekloge
  • Strong's number G1586
  • Definition:  the choice, the selection
[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]T[/dropcap]his form of the word occurs only seven times in the New Testament, and never in the LXX.  It was only used to refer to a choice made by God of certain people.

  • Acts 9:15-16 the Lord tells Ananias that Saul was a chosen vessel.  This was intended to reassure Ananias regarding the Lord's command to heal Saul.
  • Romans 9:10-13  the younger brother was chosen according to God's purpose, independently of works (or faith).
  • Romans 11:2-7  there is a remnant according to the election of grace, not a remnant according to works.  The point is that those who obtained grace received it independently of works.
  • Romans 11:28-29  the Jewish enemies of the gospel are of the election, beloved for the sake of their fathers.
  • 1 Thess. 1:2-5  gives no indication whether election means people chosen for salvation or people chosen by God to be His people.  The common understanding of the verb form indicates the latter definition.
  • 2 Peter 1:8-11 the believers are exhorted to make their election sure.  Peter was exhorting them to achieve in the sight of all observers a full recognition of their position as the people of God.

The word was used to describe the choice made by God of certain groups to be His treasured people.

Conclusion

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]I[/dropcap]n brief, we find the apostles used 'elect, election' to refer to people whom God has made as His own, who are His inheritance, His most precious treasure of all He has created.

While God does choose certain individuals for salvation, it is not an arbitrary choice.  God calls to mankind, stretching His hands out to them in invitation.  Although they hear, many reject the call.  However, there are those who have humble hearts before God, receive His word and believe.  We can say with full confidence that God gives eternal life to these.  How can we be so confident?  For the simple reason that God said it would be so.  God has bound Himself to His word, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

We should not get this order mixed up and think that our faith somehow produces eternal life within us.  Or that we compel God to save us by the purity and strength of our faith.  We need to recognize that God makes a deliberate decision to save certain individuals.  We also need to understand that it is not a random choice by God.  God has clearly revealed to us His criteria in making the decision to grant an individual eternal life.  He looks for faith which is founded on His word.

Perhaps the summary above has left you with many unanswered questions.  Keep in mind that this article is a summary of the discussion on the topic in the rest of this site.  A higher level of detail is presented in the following articles, which can be explored by clicking on the button below.

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