Who are God's chosen or elect?
How do I know that I am chosen of God?

The transliterated word "elect" (Greek "eklektos") also sometimes appears as the word "chosen". A directly related Greek word ("eklogee") expresses "election" or, by definition "choice". It is safe to say that to be elect means to be chosen, so we will use the words interchangeably (as do most translations). Using the principle of Scriptures interpreting Scriptures, an examination of how God used this word will provide a better understanding of what it means to say that someone is chosen by God or is the elect of God.

Jesus is chosen. The Messiah was portrayed in Old Testament prophecy as one who would be specifically chosen and appointed by God to save His people. While not recognizing Jesus as that "Chosen One", the religious rulers clearly understood this...

Luke 23:35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." (NIV)

Peter emphasizes that Jesus is this chosen One, appealing to Old Testament Scriptures (Isaiah 28:16).

1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- (NIV)

1 Peter 2:6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (NIV)

Without a doubt the election (choice) of Jesus was solely by the will of God without any outside influence or obligation - prior to the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). Hear the Father on this...

Luke 9:35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." (NIV)

Some angels are chosen. Scriptures testify that some of the supernatural beings that stand in the presence of God rebelled against Him. The Devil or Satan was the first. In His rebellion against His creator and Lord, he found allies amongst the angels, taking about one third of them into His folly (Revelation 12:3-4, 7-9). This event obviously did not take God by surprise or become something to merely react to; it was obviously by the determined eternal counsel of God's will. Why? Because God had chosen all the angels who would stay faithful to Him.

1 Timothy 5:21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. (NIV)

Before Satan even had sinned, God had already decreed the outcome. The devil would be defeated (Hebrews 2:15, 1 John 3:8). The place of punishment for this fallen angel and his cohorts was likewise established (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:10).

Some people are chosen. Those God has chosen are the ones who will believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him for eternity. Only these chosen ones have eternal life and will inherit the new heaven and new earth. Paul spoke of how he knew that God had chosen the believers in the Thessalonian church.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia - your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (NIV)

The quick list of attributes of a chosen one, from the passage above, is as follows:

  1. The gospel is more than words to them. It speaks with the power of the Holy Spirit, guiding them into all truth, and enables them to hold to it with deep conviction.

  2. They imitate Jesus and, whereas they imitated the Lord, they also follow the example of the apostles.

  3. They hold to the message and example of Christ in spite of persecutions and extreme suffering. (Their faith is tested!)

  4. They are godly examples to other believers.

  5. They proclaim God's word in speech and example for all people to see.

  6. They turned from their past godless way of living and serve God.

  7. They long for and are prepared for Jesus' return, securing in the knowledge that through faith in Christ they will escape His coming wrath.


With a glimpse toward the end of time, the book of Revelation acknowledges that the ones who will be with Jesus are His chosen ones. Take note that "chosen" is one of three attributes identifying Christ's followers:

Revelation 17:14 They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings - and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." (NIV)

For the record, in list form, the three attributes of all followers of Jesus Christ are:

A. Called

B. Chosen/Elect

C. Faithful

Called (A). Believers, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, are all supposed to be involved in the universal call of the gospel. The message is to be proclaimed wherever and whenever possible to whoever will listen. But, in truth, the Scriptures are clear that this universal call (or professed response to this universal call) should not be mistaken for being synonymous with being chosen. Many are externally called but three responses are in view. Firstly, some reject this calling and remain in their sins. Secondly, some respond out of human excitement or motivation, but have not heard God's call. Thirdly, others have heard through the spoken word of truth God's inward call, made effectual by His Holy Spirit. It is this later group that is also chosen (and made ready) by the will of the One who calls. Jesus' parable shows the contrast between all three responses.

Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 " The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 "Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' 5 "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 "But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 "Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 'Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' 10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 11 "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, ' Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. 13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." (NASU)

Chosen (B). The ones capable of responding to the external call are those who have been inwardly enabled to respond because they were chosen. This cannot be turned inside out with a claim that God "chooses" those who respond to His call, as this would make the responder, in fact, the primary chooser. God, in contrast, claims to have chosen his people before the world even began. Those He chose, He then predestined - an act of "His pleasure and will."

Ephesians 1:3-6 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (NIV)

This passage in Ephesians, in showing the order of God's grace (chosen, predestined, adopted), makes clear that a related section in Romans must be held in similar view.

Romans 8:28-33 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (NIV)

The order of God's grace by Romans is: foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. Put together with Ephesians, since all Scripture is in harmony, a combined summary could be as follows: Foreknown because God has chosen, predestined, and then adopted into God's family through being called, justified, and glorified. All of this is accomplished through the free choice and power of God.

Faithful (C). God calls His chosen, "faithful." This is not to claim that followers of Jesus Christ have yet attained sinlessness. Rather it holds that true believers, those responding to the inward call, having been chosen by God, with continue with Christ. In fact, it is stated that we are "in Christ" for eternity. God's chosen (elect) cannot be deceived to the point of falling away from Christ.

Mark 13:22-23 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect - if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. (NIV)

The elect may stumble and fall down, but it is God's power that picks them up and keeps them going by His grace.

Proverbs 24:16a for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again... (NIV)

2 Corinthians 12:9a But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (NIV)

Scriptures is clear that the entirety of salvation is all about God's grace! He alone is able to keep His chosen from falling.

Jude 24-25 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Emphasis ours. NIV)

It was on this basis of seeing these Scriptural attributes (God's grace in action), and having heard the testimony of the individual, that the apostle Paul greeted other believers by name as chosen/elect:

Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. (NIV)

Paul went so far as to declare that all he was doing - in missions, evangelism, church planting, and strengthening existing churches - was for the elect.

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (NIV)

The apostle Peter, likewise, wrote with a focus on the elect wherever they may be.

1 Peter 1:1-3 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)

1 Peter 5:13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. (NIV)

The beloved apostle John also had a focus on the elect (chosen). It is likely in these passages that John is referring to the whole church (personified as a lady). God's church is always chosen, though all who are inside the visible church may not be.

2 John 1-2 The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth - and not I only, but also all who know the truth- 2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: (NIV)

2 John 13 The children of your chosen sister send their greetings. (NIV)

When John referred to God's church as being elect, it reflects wording that Jesus used while He was bodily present with the disciples.

Mark 13:26-27 "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (NIV)

Jesus is coming back for His church - the elect of all nations. It is in response to the cries of his persecuted church (2 Timothy 3:12) that God will bring about final justice.

Luke 18:7-8 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (NIV)

Revelation 6:10-11 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. (NIV)

In the book of Revelation the elect are also referred to as priests.

Revelation 1:5-6 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV) [See also Revelation 5:10, 20:6]

While many think of priesthood only in regards to the Levitical one found throughout most of the Old Testament and the gospels. That priesthood was only a temporary one, for a specific time and place in history. Even in the Mosaic Law God hinted that there was to be a priesthood that was far greater. The Levitical priesthood was only open to descendants of Levi, but God points to a priesthood that would encompass all believers (elect).

Exodus 19:5-6 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." (NIV)

The apostle Peter makes it clear that it is believers in Christ that are a part of that priesthood - as chosen people! This includes all who looked forward in faith to the coming of the Messiah (Christ) as well as all who now look back to His finished work.

1 Peter 2:7-9 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," 8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

This greater priesthood of all believers is not, nor ever was, the Levitical priesthood, though believers that were part of it are also part of the greater. The priesthood of all believers is in the order of Melchizedek, a priesthood that is not restricted to a nation or genealogy (Hebrews 7:11-18). This eternal priesthood of the elect has one High Priest (Hebrews 6:20) who alone can appoint others as priests under Him.

The need of a greater priesthood, and God's specific choice of people both Jew and Gentile, does not mean that God has rejected Israel. In the bigger picture it was never about physical descendants.

Romans 9:6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. (NIV)

Romans 9:10-13 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad - in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls - she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (NIV)

God's specific focus from the very beginning was on His chosen (elect). Paul as one who was chosen (Acts 9:15) emphasized that he and all believers among the Jews were a remnant saved by grace.

Romans 11:1-6 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah - how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? 4 And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (NIV)

Jew or Gentile, it's all about God's grace. It is He that chooses and He that saves. His elect will believe and will spend eternity with Him. Are you elect? The answer is this... Do you believe? Do you see evidence that God is at work in your life? The Scriptural attributes considered above will be seen in your life even as they are with all who are chosen.

 Written by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 2006
Duplication permitted as long as the source is cited.