Doctrine of Election

One of the great truths of the Bible is the doctrine of election. The English term “elect”, is used four times in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament of the Authorized Version. The Hebrew word translated “elect” is bachiyr (baw-kheer), and means “to select. The Hebrew word bachar is used as a verb, a word of action, 170 times throughout the Old Testament. Bachar first occurs in the Bible in Genesis 6:2: “…they took them wives of all which they chose.” Bachar is often used with a man as the subject: “Lot chose [for himself] all the plain of Jordan…” Genesis 13:11.

In more than half of the occurrences, God is the subject of bachar, as in Numbers 16:5: “…the Lord will show who are his, and who is holy; even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.” Nehemiah 9:7-8 describes God’s “choosing” (election) of persons as far back as Abram: “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram… and you made a covenant with him” (NIV).

Bachar is used 30 times in Deuteronomy, all but twice referring to God’s “choice” of Israel, or something in Israel’s life. “Because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them…” Deuteronomy 4:37.

Being “chosen” by God brings people into an intimate relationship with Him: “…the children of the Lord your God… the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” Deuteronomy 14:1-2.

God’s “choices” shaped the history of Israel; His “choice” led to their redemption from Egypt Deuteronomy 7:7-8, sent Moses and Aaron to work miracles in Egypt Psalms 105:26-27, and gave them the Levites “to bless in the name of the Lord” Deuteronomy 21:5. He “chose” their inheritance Psalms 47:4, including Jerusalem, where He dwelt among them Deuteronomy 12:5; 2 Chronicles 6:5, 21. But “they have chosen their own ways, and… I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them…” Isaiah 66:3-4. The covenant called men to respond to God’s election: “…I have set before you life and death…: therefore choose life…” Deuteronomy 30:19; cf. Joshua 24:22.

The Greek Septuagint version translated bachar chiefly by eklegein, and through this word the important theological concept of God’s “choosing” came into the New Testament. The verb is used of God’s, or Christ’s “choice” of men for service, as in Luke 6:13 (“of them he chose twelve…”) or of the objects of His grace: “…he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” Ephesians 1:4.

John 15:16 expresses the central truth of election in both Testaments: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you… that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain….”

When used as a noun, bachir, the word is used 13 times, always of the Lord’s “chosen ones”: “Saul, whom the Lord did choose” 2 Samuel 21:6; “ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” 1 Chronicles 16:13 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).

The Greek word translated “elect” in the English is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’) and means, “to select”; by implication, “favorite.” When used as an adjective it signifies “chosen out, select”.

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35).

“Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine” (Rom. 16:13).

“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious” (1 Peter 2:4).

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

There are almost seven billion people on planet earth at the present. Not all of them are Christians. Not all of them will go to heaven. The ultimate question is this. “How does a person come to faith?” Is a person saved because of the will of man? Is a person saved because of the will of God?

The Christian community makes up a very small percentage of all the religions in the world. Jesus spoke of His disciples as being “a little flock” (Luke 12:32). A question arises. “Who are those chosen by God?” The divine answer is, “Not many.” God does not choose many for salvation. “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

Those chosen by God are called the “elect”. “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days” (Mark 13:20).

Jesus Christ is said to be the One who chooses the elect.  

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

Saul of Tarsus came to faith because God chose him unto salvation.

“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

“And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth” (Acts 22:14).

Like Saul of Tarsus, Rufus was chosen in the Lord.

“Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine” (Rom. 16:13).

The divine selection was made before the foundation of the world.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

The elect of God are those who have been chosen to salvation, sanctification, and to service.

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).

It is God who chooses who will be saved, and not the will of any man.  While individuals are not saved against their will, the natural will of a person is not the determining factor, from a divine perspective. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious” (1 Peter 2:3).

The purpose of the divine undertaking is to bring glory to Christ. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Those that are chosen will be with Christ forever and ever to serve with Him and to help defeat His enemies. “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).

If you are a Christian, then you are one of the elect because God has chosen you to salvation, and beyond that, to service in the royal priesthood.

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