Note, this article is part of a topical study series.

The English word "elect" is used 17 times in the KJV Bible, 4X in the Old Testament (Isaiah 42:1, 45:4, 65:9, 65:22) translated from the Hebrew word "bachiyr" which can mean either "chosen" or "elect". The Greek word eklektos is used 23 times in the New Testament, translated as elect 16x and as chosen 7x [1]. Because eklektos is translated as both elect and as chosen, we can think of these words as synonyms.

The way the word "elect" is used in the scriptures may refer to either Jesus (Isaiah 42:1, 45:4, 65:9, 1 Peter 2:6), angels (1 Timothy 5:21), God's people (Isaiah 65:22) / Christians (Matthew 24:24,31, Mark 13:22, 27, Luke 18:7, Romans 8:33, Colossians 3:12), and then is used for two specific sisters (2 John 1:1, 2 John 1:13) [2].

Christians are often referred to as "the elect", or God's chosen. What does this mean? Does this mean that God chose to save some and not save others?

One of the first times eklektos is used in the scriptures is in the context of the parable of the wedding feast. This parables is significant as it is parable explaining the kingdom of heaven, and specifically uses the word chosen (eklektos) in the context of salvation:

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son … For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:1-14

So who were those who were chosen? We see in the parable of the wedding feast that the king's servants were sent out to bid certain guests to the wedding (Matthew 22:4) But they made light of it, and went their ways.... So, the king sends his servants to the highways and says as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage (Matthew 22:9). Matthew 22:10 says So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. The chosen here are the people that responded to the broadcasted invitation to come to the wedding.

Election is based on foreknowledge.

Peter gives us a clue to how election works in 1 Peter 1:2. He says election is "according to foreknowledge". Foreknowledge here comes from the Greek word prognosis, which simply means beforehand knowledge of something (see how the verb form foreknow/proginosko is translated in 2 Peter 3:17). We take that to mean that God elects those whom He knows beforehand will believe on Him.

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
1 Peter 1:2

So even though Christians are often referred to as "the elect", just as in the wedding feast, the chosen ones were the ones that responded to the invitation to the wedding feast. The elect are those that have responded to the gospel message, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

Election not to salvation

There are a couple examples where the Bible says Jesus and angels are elect, but this does not mean election for salvation.

Jesus was Elect

The Bible says that Jesus was elect, but He never needed to be saved.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Isaiah 42:1
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1 Peter 2:6

Jesus was elected not to be saved but to be the Saviour of all mankind.

Elect Angels

And the Bible talks about elect angels, but these are not angels that need to be saved.

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
1 Timothy 5:21

Some have said means that this means that they have no will to choose evil [3].


  1. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G1588.
  2. https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/search.cfm?Criteria=elect
  3. https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_32.cfm

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