SEED & BREAD
(Originally published 10 Mar. 79)
The word election does not really belong in any translation of the New
Testament. It is actually a transliteration, a carrying over of a Greek
word into the English. This is sometimes good and even necessary when
there is no English word that will express the Greek. But it is wholly
unnecessary in the case of the words elect and election as there are
good English words that truly declare the meaning of the Greek
originals. The King James Version translators clearly acknowledged this
when they rendered each one of the twenty-one occurrences of the verb by
some form of the word choose.
The three Greek words that must be considered in the study of this
subject are eklegomai, which is the verb; eklektos, an adjective derived
from the verb and which is usually used as a noun; and ekloge, a noun
derived from the verb. These three words are found fifty-one times in
the New Testament. They are translated by some form of the word choose
twenty-nine times, a definite indication that the KJV translators well
knew what all of them meant. However, if they had translated them
faithfully and consistently, what would have happened to their precious
doctrine of election? It would have disappeared from the Bible, and this
they could not allow.
When the young believer is first confronted with the theological
doctrine of election he usually finds it quite disconcerting, especially
when he finds it presented by passages of Scripture which he does not
want to be guilty of rejecting. This was my own experience about
fifty-seven years ago. At that time I vowed to myself, and declared to
the one who was pressing the doctrine upon me, that someday I would go
into this matter from beginning to end, find all that the Bible says
concerning it, and that this would be what I would then believe. He
answered that the Bible was plain and specific, that it declared we were
"elect according to the foreknowledge of God," and that we had been
"chosen in Him before the creation of the world." I discovered later
that he had misquoted the last of these passages for his own purpose.
In due time I set myself to find what was taught in the Calvanistic
doctrine of election. This was not too difficult since it was defined
and explained in the third chapter of The Westminster Confession of
Faith. I will try to summarize the contents of this chapter and present
them as honestly as possible.
It declares that a certain number of individuals are by the decree of
God, for the manifestation of His glory, predestinated unto everlasting
life, and others are foreordained to everlasting death. Also, that the
particular individuals thus predestinated and foreordained are
unchangeably determined; and their number is so certain and definite
that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Furthermore, it is
declared that the decree of God that some men shall be saved does not
rest upon any foresight of their faith, and the decree of God that
others should be lost does not rest upon any foresight of their
unbelief. This, I believe, is an honest and fair summary of the
Calvanistic doctrine of election and predestination.
When the time arrived that I had gained a measure of proficiency in
handling the Greek language and knew how to use the excellent tools that
men of God had provided for the use of all who would dig into Godís Word
for the truth it contains, I determined to check out the Calvanistic
doctrine of election and see if it was in harmony with the Word of God.
And on the principle of giving honor to whom honor is due, I would
digress here and pay tribute to such men as George Wigram, Robert Young,
and James Strong for the wonderful tools they have placed in the hands
of all who would dig deeply into the Sacred Scriptures. I make constant
use of their concordances, and when, as a result, I find truth, there
can be no backing off. I will follow it out to all its conclusions and
accept all the consequences that come from following such a course.
I prepared them, and still have before me as I write, a sheet divided
into four columns. In the first is listed in order all the fifty-one
references where the Greek words are found, the second gives the exact
Greek form and parses the word, the third gives the KJV translation of
the word, and the fourth gives my own version as to how I think the word
should be translated. Thus, along with my Bible, I have before me all
the Biblical information that is available to anyone.
The first truth that the careful student will find when he examines the
fifty-one passages in their contexts is that in no occurrence are any of
these words ever related in any way to the gift of life, to salvation,
to justification, to forgiveness, to redemption, to eternal life, or to
eternal punishment. In the Bible there is no electing or choosing of
anyone in relationship to any of these things. Furthermore, in every
passage it will be seen that these words are always related to some
position or to some special service that is to be performed by a child
of God, and that they never have to do with the salvation of a sinner.
Let no one cite 2 Thess. 2:13 as a refutation of the above statement.
The word election does not appear in any form in this passage, as a look
at any analytical concordance will show.
Another fact that will be found in an examination of all passages is
that there is no chronology or time fastened upon any of these passages,
except Eph. 1:4, and that divine election or choice is something that
always takes place within the lifetime of one who is already related to
God. The childish idea that at sometime in the unknown past before any
man existed that God made a determination as to who among the members of
the human race should be saved is a grotesque idea that does not have
one line of support in the Word of God.
It will help if the student will also note that the three Greek words
being considered in this study mean exactly what the words elect and
election mean when they are used in connection with our political
processes, except that in our elections the choosing or electing is done
by the voters, while in the Bible the choice is made by God.
Nevertheless, in our elections men are chosen to fill an office and to
perform a service. No one is ever elected to citizenship, but only
citizens can be elected.
The truth found in Luke 6:13 is an example of most of the facts already
presented. Our Lord, after spending a night in prayer, summoned His
disciples at daybreak: "And of them He chose (eklegomai) twelve, whom He
also named apostles." These men were service. And this happened, not
before the world began, but on the day when He called His disciples
together. This action was in harmony with the declarations found in
Matt. 20:16 and 22:14: "For many be called, but few chosen" (eklektoi).
There were many that day who were positioned (called) as disciples, but
beyond this twelve were chosen for special service. This is what
Thus it was the Apostle (Heb. 3:1) gave to twelve others a position that
was out of Himself, so that they became individually and collectively
the out-positioned ones (ekklesia) of Jesus Christ. This is the ekklesia
the Lord had in mind when in speaking to His disciples (Matt. 18:1) told
them that if a brother committed a trespass against another, the
offended one was to take certain preliminary steps, and if these
produced no results, he was to tell it to the ekklesia (the apostles)
and if the offender would not hear the ekklesia, he was no longer to be
considered a disciple, but regarded as the gentile and the tax-gatherer
(Matt. 18:15-18). Our Lord also made it plain that any two of the twelve
apostles would constitute a quorum, that whatever two did would be
official and binding upon all disciples and apostles (Matt.18: 18-20).
In Luke 23:35 the work eklektos is used of Christ when His tormentors
said of Him: "Let Him save Himself if He be the Christ, the chosen of
God." And while this word was used by His enemies, we can rest assured
that He was the chosen (eklektos) of God, since this is declared of Him
in 1 Peter 2:4, 6.
If John 6:70 and 13:18 are examined it will be found that Judas
Iscariot, the betrayer of the Lord, was one of the elect. The verb
eklegomai is found in both passages.
In 1 Peter 1:2 we read of some who were "elect according to the
foreknowledge of God," but the translator had to do a hatchet job on the
Greek in order to get this idea into it. This epistle is addressed to
the chosen (elect) expatriates of the dispersion in the five places
named. Their position was in accord with the foreknowledge of God the
Father. All Bible students know that the descendants of Israel were
chosen or elected to fill a special place and perform a special service
in Godís predetermined plan for the government of the world. In 2 Peter
1:10 these same people are exhorted to make their position and their
election sure, something they could do by receiving Jesus as the Christ.
Space will permit one to deal with only one more passage. This is
Ephesians 1:4 which in the KJV reads: "According as He hath chosen us in
Him before the foundation of the world." It is the crude conclusion of
many that "foundation" is the same as "creation," and that the world
here is that world of God made in the beginning as recorded in Gen. 1:1.
Do they not know that the world that then was being overflowed with
water perished (2 Pet. 3:6), and another world was founded to take its
place? Furthermore, they should know that a new world is coming, the
world that will be when God governs the earth and all men upon it. By
"world" I mean not the earth, but the order, system, arrangement that
will be upon the earth. In Psalm 96:10 it is declared: "The world also
shall be established (founded) that it shall not be moved." This
establishing or founding of the world, spoken of in Gen. 1:4 is a future
event which will take place when God assumes sovereignty. Those who are
now believing in Jesus Christ are chosen in advance of God founding His
order to fill a special place in that order. We have been chosen to be
holy and flawless in His sight, for in love He has designated us
beforehand for the place of a son, for the great work of extolling the
glories of His grace. This choice took place in my lifetime. My real
service is yet future.
Issue no. 103