What is predestination and election?

by Matt Slick

Predestination and election are both biblical teachings. The English "predestination" is translated from the Greek word proorizo which means 1) to predetermine, decide beforehand; 2) in the NT, of God decreeing from eternity; 3) to foreordain, appoint beforehand.1  Predestination, then, is the biblical teaching that God predestines certain events and people to accomplish what He so desires. The word proorizo occurs six times in the New Testament--each time demonstrating that God is the one who is foreordaining and bringing about certain events:

  1. Acts 4:28, "to do whatever Your hand and purpose predestined to occur."
  2. Rom. 8:29, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
  3. Rom. 8:30, "and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."
  4. 1 Cor. 2:7, "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory."
  5. Eph. 1:5, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will."
  6. Eph. 1:11, "also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

You must also note that God predestines people as Rom. 8:30 and Eph. 1:5, 11 demonstrate. There is, however, controversy as to the nature of this predestination. In the Reformed (Calvinist) camp, predestination includes individuals. In other words, the Reformed doctrine of predestination is that God predestines whom He wants to be saved; and that without this predestination, none would be saved. The non-Reformed camp states that God predestines people to salvation but that these people freely choose to follow God on their own. In other words, in the non-Reformed perspective God is reacting to the will of individuals and predestining them only because they choose God where by contrast the Reformed position states that people choose God only because He has first predestined them.

Election

The word "election" or "elect" comes from the Greek word, eklectos, and occurs about 25 times in the New Testament. It signifies "to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one's self, a choosing one out of many."1 The one who does the choosing--the electing--is God.

  1. John 13:18, "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ˜He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me."
  2. Eph. 1:4,"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him."
  3. 1 Tim. 5:21, "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality."

Again, there is debate within Christianity as to the means and purpose of God's election. Some say that God elects individuals, and others say He only elects nations and/or groups of people. If God elects individuals, this means that God is predestining them and electing them into salvation; and He is not electing others. This does not sit well with many Christians. On the other hand, some Christians state that God elects based upon a foreknowledge of what an individual will do.

Whichever side you believe, remember that predestination and election are biblical concepts. You must also remember that how you believe or not in predestination and/or election does not affect your salvation. Therefore, you should be gracious to other Christians who differ with you on this subject.

  • 1. Strong, J., Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, electronic ed., Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996, GK4309.

 

 

 

 
 
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