Thoughts on the (Other) Election


Today is Election Day in the United States. Naturally, I’ll be talking about something else entirely.

I’m going to take a look at a much more important election—one that occurred before time began.

This election was not voted on democratically. A single person had absolute say in the matter.

Though the election was decided long ago, it has over the years created more controversy among Christians than the US election could ever hope to.

But it seems to me that most Christians argue about the wrong aspect of this election.

The argument is typically centered around whether or not God’s choice in election is affected by man’s choice. However, that question skips over a very important piece of information.

To What Have We Been Elected?

When we talk about the US election, it is often assumed that we are talking about the election to the presidency. However, that is not always the case.

Elections occur for senators, governors, and pretty much all other public offices in this nation. (I recently learned that even coroners are elected. Go figure.)

Similarly, when election comes up in the Bible, Christians often assume that it references election to salvation. But that is not necessarily the case either.

Each instance must be examined contextually to determine what it refers to.


The word elect comes from the Greek word eklego and simply means to make a choice. Most modern English translations of the Bible render this word as both “elect” and “choose” in different passages.

In the New Testament, believers are often called “the elect” (eklektos) because they have been chosen by God.

But the question still remains: To what have believers been chosen?

Jesus was Elected

When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, a voice spoke from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One” (Luke 9:35, ESV).

Obviously, Jesus was not elected for salvation. Rather, God the Father chose him to be the Messiah. He was chosen as the sacrifice for our sins—the source of our salvation.

Jesus Elected Apostles

“You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16, ESV)

Many theologians have tried to apply this statement to all believers, but the context of the chapter shows that Jesus was talking to the twelve and speaking of choosing them as apostles.

This was the same choice referenced in Luke.

He called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles. (Luke 6:13, ESV)

That’s not to say that the overall message of John 15 applies only to the twelve. I do believe that God has chosen duties for all of his children, but not all are chosen to be apostles.

What Has God Elected Us For?

We are chosen

  • to “be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4, ESV),
  • to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” (1 Peter 1:1–2, NASB), and
  • to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).

This is our election. Believers are chosen to be holy, blameless, and obedient. We are chosen to be sprinkled with his blood and to proclaim his excellencies.

To sum it up, we are chosen to serve God.

Furthermore, God has chosen each of us to our own areas of service. Just as the twelve were chosen as apostles, we too are chosen for some specific role in God’s kingdom.

We must seek his will and allow him to show us how we are to serve him.

Similar Terms

The Bible contains many similar terms, such as predestine and call, that are likewise assumed to refer to salvation. But we must put aside any preconceived notions and actually look at what the passages state.

What has God predestined for believers? (Hint: Ephesians 1:5)

What has God called believers? (Hint: Romans 9:25–26)

Believers have been predestined to adoption, called sons of God, and elected for his service.