Calvinist Specific Language and References

Election, Ordained, Ordination,

Predestination, Sovereignty,

Choose, Chosen, and so forth.

Before I begin, let me say that there is a danger in turning the Christian faith into an exact science.  It is better understood as a romance between two lovers rather than a formula.  Although there is much to be discovered and known, it is best played out in the human experience as art to be enjoyed, rather than chemistry to be distilled, analyzed or dissected. 

   There is no question that Paul and Scripture teach the doctrine of election.

However, words are used in a variety of ways.  (Some scholars even argue that the language of Calvinism emerges in the King James Version because of the strong Reform teaching at that time in ecclesiastical history [1612].  The actual language is, in reality, less hard-edged and specific than the translators selected for the Authorized Version).  Sometimes electionist vocabulary is used in regard to the Hebrew people, angels, or the Lord Jesus, but most often as a thing accomplished rather than something pre-determined.  Finally, there are a couple of troubling verses if one is to assert that election has nothing to do with human responsibility. 

Elect…17 mentions. 

Elected…1 mention.  (New Testament – 1 time)

Election…6 mentions.  (New Testament – 6 times)

Elect’s…3 mentions.  (New Testament – 3 times)


Total…23 mentions.  (Old Testament mentions – 4 times, New Testament – 23 times)

In the New Testament, the concept of election is dealt with in the following ways:

One way is in the Olivet discourse where Jesus speaks of the deception of the elect in the final days.  This is most often regarded (by Calvinists) as a statement referring to the last days and the Jewish people. This gives rise to the question, “In what manner could the elect ever really be deceived?”

The church “elect” (according to Calvinism) have no fear of being deceived.  The context seems to refer the following things to be of concern to the Jews:

            ~ The Anti-Christ in the Holy Place

            ~ Fleeing from Judea into the mountains.  This is something of no concern to the raptured church.

            ~ The word Sabbath, which has to do with the Old Covenant…etc.

The following six references deal with the elect in the end times:

               Matthew 24:22,24,31

               Mark 13:20,22,27

References in Romans 9 and 11 have little to do with the elect of the church age and have more to do with God’s dealings with Israel.  In both instances, Paul is referring to the election of Israel according to the sovereignty of God.  The promise of God and election is sure except that in Romans 11, God in His sovereignty cuts off Israel to graft in the Gentile believers.  Then Paul questions that if God did this to Israel (cut them off), is it possible that He could at some point cut off the “wild olive tree” and graft in Israel again?  This He will do in latter days.

Even in the “elect Israel,” there were those that sought the Lord and those that did not.  Those that sought the Lord are called the remnant of Israel, the “elect.”  These are those that had a heart toward the Lord.  Rebellious men will not be saved against their will.  No one will be saved that does not want to be.  No one seems to know who is responsible for the “want to” being there in the first place.  (See Romans 9:11; 11:5,7,28)

            -Other instances of excommunication:

The elect angels are referred to in 1 Timothy 5:21.  One must question here the nature of the angels “that kept not their first estate”.  Were they, in their rebellion, creatures of will or were they robotic beings?

One reference…

          -Jesus is referred to as “in Zion a chief corner stone, elect…”

One reference…

Many verses refer to the elect in the past tense, in other words, those that are already in the faith rather than that which is pre-determined.  Sometimes the word is a title or salutation, which evoke security and communion with others of like mind.  (see italics).

            “…angels will gather his elect from the four winds…” Mark 13:27

            “And shall not God avenge His own elect (chosen)…” Luke 18:7

            “…put on therefore, as the elect of, God…” Col. 3:12

            “…according to the faith of God’s elect…” Titus 1:1

            “The elder unto the elect lady…” 2 John 1

            “…of the elect sister greet thee…” 2 John 13

            “…elect together with you, saluteth you…” 1 Peter 1:10

In the end, there are only a few verses (less than 10) that deal with the specific pre-determined will of God, and even those leave us wondering what is meant.  This writer agrees that the concept of foreknowledge is implicit in the Scriptures and agreeable with the general thrust of Scripture, but disagrees with the fatalism of Calvinism. 

By now the reader can see that exegesis and hermeneutics is no easy task.  The writer has only scratched the surface by dealing briskly with one word.  He admits to not having the time to treat each word contested with the same intensity. 

Here the writer wishes to commend, then challenge a number of Scriptures often misrepresented or ignored by hyper-Calvinists.

1 Peter 1:2 –

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:  Grace unto you and peace, be multiplied”.

In verses like these, Calvinists interpret the word “foreknowledge” to mean actual or intimate knowledge of the individual before they are born.  In other words, those that are “foreknown” of God are those whom God has pre-human, eternal acquaintance.  Mormonism may hold a similar doctrine. 

 2 Peter 1:10 –

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”.

If one is elected why should they “give diligence in order to make their calling and election sure?”  Fall?  Fall from what?

Ordain, Ordained, Ordaineth

Concerning the word concept “ordain”, not one word of the five references has anything to do with pre-determination to eternal life.  All have to do with the ordination to an office, priest or elder.

Concerning “ordained” there are fifteen Old Testament references.  With the exception of one (Hab. 1:12), all others have to do with setting some thing or person apart or giving them special status. 

There are 21 New Testament references.  At least twelve of these verses have to do with ordaining someone to an office.  Several have to do with Jesus as the ordained executor of final judgment.  This leaves about seven verses to be considered of which only two or three are clear indications of the pre-determinate will of God.

The most serious of these to be considered here are the following:

Acts 13:48 

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed”.

Jude 4

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Predestinate, Predestinated

Definition: Predestination – “The act of predestining, or the state of being predestined; destiny; fate. 2  Theol.  The foreordination of all things by God, including the salvation or damnation of men”.

There are only four references in the entire Bible.

Romans 8:29,30

“For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren…30.  Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called He also justified: and them He justified he also glorified”.

To “foreknow”, means in God’s omniscience, He has prior knowledge of everything.  In this instance, any grammar teacher will point out that predestination has to do with conformity to the image of Christ.  The Scripture is clear on this, that when a person commits their life to Christ, they begin the process towards Christ-likeness that culminates in glorification.  “We shall be like him”…”from glory to glory”.

Ephesians 1:5, 11 –

“Having predestined unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”.

Here again, the subject of predestination is followed by the object of “adoption”.  To be fair, this Scripture in its context clearly indicates the sovereign and pre-determinate will of God.

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”.

Overall, the Scripture seems to reflect what we might call “specific election to a task.” Even Wesley felt a divine call to the task of restoring “holiness in the church and the world.” He referred to himself as, “a brand plucked from the burning”, recalling his miraculous rescue when as a small child, the family home was consumed by flames.  Wesley contended that there was the general revelation (conscience, creation, circumstance, etc.) of God to all men as well as the universal calling.  At the same time by Scriptural example, there was the foreknowledge of God of individuals and all men while yet unformed.  Moses, Jeremiah, David and Paul were clear examples of those “called” and “elected to a task.”


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