General Information

The Elect are those chosen by God for some special purpose (Ps. 106:23; Isa. 43:20; 45:4). Among the Elect mentioned in Scripture are Moses, the Israelites, Christ, angels, and Christ's disciples.

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General Information

Election is God's eternal decree to choose from sinners deserving condemnation those whom He will Save, providing Salvation through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The source of Election is in God alone (John 6:37, 44; Eph. 1:4). The cause is His compassionate Mercy and His own Glory. The objects of Election are individual men (Matt. 22:14; John 15:19; Rom. 8:29; 9:13, 15, 18 22).

Elect, Election

Advanced Information

Scripture employs a rich vocabulary to express several aspects of God's sovereign election, choice, and predestination. Five types of election call for distinction.

  1. There is only one reference to "the elect angels" (1 Tim. 5:21; cf. 1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).

  2. Election to service or office is evident in God's sovereign choice of David as Israel's king (1 Sam. 16:7 - 12) and in Jesus' choosing of the disciples and apostles (Luke 6:13; John 6:70; 15:16; Acts 9:15; 15:7).

  3. The election of Abraham's descendants to form the theocratic nation of Israel is a common biblical theme (Deut.4:37; 7:6 - 7; 10:15; 1 Kings 3:8; Isa. 44:1 - 2; 45:4; 65:9, 15, 22; Amos 3:2; Acts 13:17; Rom. 9:1 - 5). The election of Israel originated in God's sovereign choice, expressed his covenantal love, and served the goal of redemptive history culminating in Jesus Christ.

  4. The election of the Messiah is a fourth type of election. Isaiah referred to the servant of the Lord as "my chosen one" (42:1; cf. Matt. 12:18). Of the Synoptics only Luke refers to Jesus as the Chosen One (9:35; 23:35). Peter echoes another Isaiah reference (28:16) in 1 Pet. 1:20 and 2:4, 6. These references indicate the unique mediatorial office of Christ and the Father's pleasure in him. It is an election basic to the final type,

  5. election to salvation, with which the rest of this article is concerned.

The most common NT reference to election is God's eternal election of certain persons to salvation in Jesus Christ. The subject is dealt with comprehensively in Eph. 1:3 - 11 and Rom. 8:28 - 11:36. John Calvin, who became a major defender of the Reformed doctrine, saw the whole doctrine of election summarized in Eph. 1. All the Reformed confessions include divine election, but the Canons of Dort, reflecting the controversy with the Arminians, provide the greatest detail. Election is part of God's eternal decree and it has a soteriological role: "That some in time are given faith by God and that others are not given faith proceeds from His eternal decree" (1.6). Election is then defined as "the unchangeable purpose of God whereby, before the foundation of the world, out of the whole human race, which had fallen by its own fault out of its original integrity into sin and ruin, He has, according to the most free good pleasure of His will, out of mere grace, chosen in Christ to salvation a certain number of specific men, neither better nor more worthy than other, but with them involved in a common misery" (1.7).

Double predestination is the typical Reformed doctrine

The Canons of Dort distinguish election and reprobation because the Scripture "declares that not all men are elect but that certain ones have not been elected, or have been passed by in the eternal election of God. These God out of His most free, most just, blameless, and unchangeable good pleasure has decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have by their own fault plunged themselves, and not to give them saving faith and the grace of conversion" and "finally to condemn and punish them eternally" for all their sins (1.15). Predestination thus includes election and reprobation, and reprobation involves both a sovereign passing by (preterition) and a just condemnation.

Principles of Election

Six main features of election deserve attention.

F H Klooster

(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

G C Berkouwer, Divine Election; L Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination; J Calvin, Institutes 3.21 - 24; P Y De Jong, ed., Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dort, 1618 - 1619; F H Klooster, Calvin's Doctrine of Predestination; B B Warfield, "Predestination," in Biblical Doctrines, "Predestination in the Reformed Confessions," in Studies in Theology, and "Election," in Selected Shorter Writings of B B Warfield, I.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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