How The Bible Defines: Election
the apostles doctrine
Greetings. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Doctrine Of Election, but you may call me Doc if you wish. The fact that you are here indicates you have persevered through the word studies of G1586 (chose), G1588 (elect), and G1589 (election). I suppose you are to be commended for your tenacity. I trust the studies were helpful in clarifying the scriptural use of those terms? Perhaps there is yet a lingering question of the implications of the surveys in the present context of your life? Maybe you wonder what it actually means to be of the elect in the New Testament sense? If so, then I invite you to take a brief look with me at the Apostle’s doctrine regarding the topic. I can assure you that to be one of the elect is to inhabit the best position in all creation.
Generally, when the apostles spoke of the elect, they were referring to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, on occasion, they also referred to the Jews as a group of elect people. This election was distinct from the election of believers. It encompassed the entire nation of Israel and included both godly and ungodly Jews (see Romans 11:28 for an example of ungodly Jews who were called elect). Although they are distinct types of election, there are a number of similarities between the two. The similarities are so strong that the election of the Israelite nation can serve as a prototype for spiritual realities in Christ. By looking at the choosing of Israel, one can begin to understand the nature of God’s choice of the elect in Christ.
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
God did not choose Israel because they were better than everyone else
Israel was chosen to be God’s peculiar treasure, valued above all the nations of the earth. They were not chosen because they possessed inherent characteristics which set them apart from all other nations. Nor were they greater in number, but were small; they were not more willing to obey, but were stiff-necked; they were not more willing to follow, but continually went astray. With regards to characteristics and qualities, they were no different than the rest of humanity. Why, then, did God choose them to be His people?
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
He chose them because He is a God of love, and because they were the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The same applies with the elect in Christ. They are not chosen because they possess inherent characteristics which set them apart from all other people. They themselves readily confess that we “once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3). Why, then, did God choose them to be His people? “…because of His great love with which He loved us… …made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Thus, God chose them because He is a God of love, and because in giving them life He made them the children of God. If God would choose the nation of Israel as His special treasure because they were the children of Abraham, how much more will He choose as His special treasure those who are His children? Therefore, we see that the prototype of the nation of Israel first teaches us that the elect in Christ are God’s special treasure. We could look for further parallels, but let us leave that for later study and turn to the doctrine of the apostles themselves.
Let us turn to look at Peter’s teaching on the topic as recorded in his first epistle. In the second chapter, Peter drew the attention of his readers to the Lord Jesus Christ, reminding them that He was “rejected by men, but chosen (G1588) by God and precious…” (1 Peter 2:4).
The elect are God’s special, treasured people
Although mankind rejected Him, God greatly delighted in Him. You may recall how more than once the voice of God breached the veil of heaven to express His delight in His beloved Son. There is no question that none have been as greatly beloved or delighted in as the only begotten Son of God. Notice how Peter used the adjective G1588 to concisely convey the pleasure that the Father had in His Son.
Then, notice how he later used the same adjective in the description of the believers: “you are a chosen (G1588) generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people… …who once were not a people but are now the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Peter was encouraging these dear, persecuted believers with the reality that God had the same type of delight in them with which He had in His Son.
The fundamental truth is: the elect are God’s special, treasured people. While it is true God loves the whole world, He especially loves those who are His people. They are treasured and valued as the richest treasure in all creation.
Moving on from Peter’s doctrine, let us proceed to Paul’s writings. Paul expressed the steadfastness of God’s love for the elect in the eighth chapter of his epistle to the Romans. He writes that although the elect had suffered and continue to suffer under immense and terrible trials, yet no level of the world’s hatred or catastrophes can dampen Christ’s love for the elect. There is no power or living being mighty enough to shake loose the elect from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
The elect are the focus of God’s love
Turning to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we see he indicated the immeasurable extent of the love of God for His elect. He wrote of his prayer that the believers would be able to comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge (Ephesians 3:17-19).
We certainly get the sense from Paul’s doctrine that God does not hold back any of His love for the elect. Indeed, it appears that out of all God has created, there is nothing as precious and beloved as His elect.
This, in brief, is the apostle’s doctrine regarding the elect. When the term ‘elect’ occurs in the New Testament, it is referring to the group of people whom God has made His own, who are His inheritance, His most precious treasure out of all He has created.
We could continue, perhaps indefinitely, looking at how God views the elect in Christ, but I leave that for your personal exploration and discovery. Hopefully, what I’ve shared with you thus far will provide a good foundation for you to build upon. God bless.
The final book excerpt offered on this site discusses how God’s choice and man’s responsibility work in the process of salvation.