555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

177. What Is Meant by the "Elect"?

"Elect" is a term variously applied. It sometimes meant the ancient church, and the whole body of baptized Christians; again, it was those elected to baptism; and still again, it was the newly baptized who had just been admitted to full Christian privileges. Further it is applied to those especially chosen for the Lord's work, like his prophets and evangelists, and to those who had undergone tribulation and even martyrdom. It has been applied to the whole Jewish people as chosen of God. Finally, it is applied to individuals who, not of their own merit, but through God's grace, through Jesus Christ, are chosen not only to salvation, but to sanctification of the spirit and who are holy and blameless before the Lord. They are individuals specially chosen out of the world to be heirs of salvation and witnesses for God before men. This is not of works, but of free grace. In a general way, the "elect" are the sanctified—those chosen to salvation through sanctification of the spirit, as explained in Peter 1:2 and similar passages. They are the special vessels of the Spirit chosen in God's good pleasure to carry out his purposes. This election is of grace and not of works (see Rom. 9:18, 22, 23). In all ages such men have been evidently chosen by the Lord as his witnesses. This choice is at once an expression of his sovereignty and his grace. Paul himself was so chosen. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that salvation is by grace. The whole subject of election has been one of acute controversy for ages and has given rise to many differences of opinion. The attitude of Christians with regard to the Second Coming should be one of prayer, expectancy and constant preparation.