Posts Tagged ‘Predesitination’

For the Sake of the Elect

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.

2 Timothy 2:10

Long ago when I was doing a local radio program, I had an Arminian caller gently point out that the term “elect” in Ephesians 1 could be describing the position of being “in Christ” and not particular individuals. We had a pleasant exchange and when we were done, he hung up. Since it was my show, I got to continue to discuss it. :)

I was not convinced that elect is a position and not a people. This verse from 2 Timothy seems to reinforce that point (wish I’d have had it handy back then). How can a position of being in Christ “obtain salvation”? Isn’t that what being in Christ means? To maintain the Arminian position, I guess you’d have to say that God had no one in particular in mind when he elected ‘them’ to salvation.

Another potential interpretation is that “the elect” is referring to ethnic Israel. After all, Paul says, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Rom. 9:3) so he had genuine concern for the Jews. In 2 Timothy 2:13 he says “if we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.” God remains faithful to Israel even though the rejected the Messiah, right? To get that from those verses, you have to import a bunch of presuppositions that just aren’t present in 2 Timothy. Also, right after that, Paul tells Timothy to “remind them of these things.” Timothy was in Ephesus, a largely gentile city, so God’s faithfulness to apostate Israel probably wasn’t their major concern. It just doesn’t fit.

What seems to make more sense is that Paul is pursuing those God has chosen from the foundation of the world. He preaches the gospel so that they may come to faith and be saved. He preached it indiscriminately because we don’t know who the elect are till they believe and persevere to the end.