Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him…(Ephesians 1:4 NASB95)
In this verse, it is very clear that someone was chosen. We even know when they were chosen, and the purpose of their chosen status. But who was chosen? The interpretation of “us” is key to understanding Ephesians 1. When understood, the interpretation of “us” is also key to a long-standing doctrinal debate on election.
The Biblical concept of election is clear and strong. One would have to deny Scripture to deny that God chose someone. However, the doctrinal concept of election and predestination is far from clear in the church today. If we can define “us” in Ephesians 1:4, we’ve gone a long way in answering the debate on election in general.
When we use the Greek word eklektos to find out who is “chosen according to the Bible, we find that this Auguste group of people seems to be none other than the nation of Israel. It is the people for home God shortened the days of the great tribulation (Mark 13:20). Rufus, who is mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:30, is described as one of the elect. Many believe that Rufus was the son of Simon, who bore the cross. This Simon, from Sirena on the northern coast of Africa, was a Jew who is visiting Jerusalem for Passover. In 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul said that he endures all things, “for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” These are almost precisely the same words he uses in Romans 9 to describe his prayer for the salvation of his kinsman, Israel. Peter begins his first epistle by addressing “those who reside as aliens… Who are chosen.” This is the same people home Peter reminds, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). When it is understood that these words are direct references from the Old Testament, it is easy to see that day clearly reference the selection of the Jews.
So, election is the selection of the Jews to be God’s holy people. Whenever you see the word chosen or elect, when in reference to a group of people, you can rest assured that it is a reference to the Jews. What about Gentiles? The Bible has a word for them as well. That word is “called” or, as it’s often translated “invited.” God’s word, as you would suspect, is tremendously precise. And when we follow it in its precision, it is easily understood.
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White
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