The 2001 Commentaries

Called and Chosen

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There seems to be quite a bit of difference between the Bible’s use of the words called, and chosen, and their implications for the people involved.
For notice what Jesus said as recorded at Matthew 22:14:

‘However, many are called but few are chosen (gr. polloi eisin gar cletoi, oligoi de eclectoi).’
And this verse could be possibly even be translated as:
‘Many are nominated, but few are elected.’

These words of Jesus seem to put an end to the notion that everyone who is called by God was foreordained to a favored position before his/her birth (as some teach). For what he said here seems to indicate is that there would be people who would be chosen from among a larger number of those that are ‘called.’ And not all who are called will be chosen. This is elaborated on at Revelation 17:14, where it says that those who are ‘called, elected, and faithful’ will be fellow conquerors with Jesus. So ‘the called’ also have to prove faithful and then be ‘elected’ or ‘chosen’ in order to be with Jesus when he conquers.

This seems to have been the point of Jesus’ parable of those who were invited to a banquet by a king, as found at Matthew 22:1-14, which (as Jesus said) was an illustration concerning ‘the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God).’
Because in that parable;
Though many were ‘called’ to the banquet, they didn’t choose to come.
And the obvious reference here is to the Jews that were the first to be invited, but who for the most part, rejected the invitation.

So the story goes on to tell us that the king then ordered his slaves to go out into the streets and ‘call’ anyone that wished to come to the banquet… Which obviously referred to the calling of people of the nations or the gentiles (gr. tas ethne – the ethnics).

But is this parable talking about being called to heaven to rule with Jesus…
For isn’t the wedding banquet for God’s son to be held in heaven, and aren’t those that are invited to God’s banquet the same as the bride that will be with Jesus in heaven? We have always thought so, but notice that the guests in this parable aren’t referred to as virgins (as was the case of those mentioned in Revelation 14:1-4). Rather, Jesus spoke of them as, ‘both the wicked and the good,’ which is a strange way to refer to the ‘Saints.’

Also notice that at Isaiah 65:23, we read that God’s elected (or ‘chosen’) are spoken of as fathering children.
For we read there:
My elected won’t labor for nothing,
Nor will they produce children for a curse;

For their seed and all their descendants,
Will then be blessings from God.’

So if this reference to the elected in Isaiah has reference to the same elected of whom Jesus was speaking (and we suspect that it does); Then these ‘chosen’ or ‘elected’ may have the hope of living on the earth, where they will father (or give birth to) children.

Also notice that, as the parable in Matthew continues;
Jesus said that the king saw a guest that wasn’t properly dressed for a wedding feast (he apparently didn’t have the required qualities).
So this guest was then bound and thrown outside of the banquet hall (but not killed).
So it appears as though:
Although he was called, he wasn’t chosen.

And if this banquet of which Jesus spoke was to be held in heaven, we would then have to ask,
Was this person being kicked out of heaven?
And if so;
Why was he taken there to begin with?

Therefore, the conclusion that we must reach is that Jesus’ parable of those who were invited to the banquet doesn’t refer to being called to heaven, but rather, to being called as Christians. And the ‘electing’ seems to refer to being found faithful and worthy of a special position with Jesus.

Is this the same position that Paul (the Apostle) was speaking about at Philippians 3:10-12, when he said:

‘Therefore, I’ve been willing to share in his sufferings and resign myself to a death like [that of Jesus] so that I can somehow be found worthy of an out-resurrection from the dead. [I’m not saying] that I’ve made it yet or that I’m already perfect, just that I’m chasing after it
I’m trying to grab hold of that for which the Anointed Jesus grabbed hold of me!’

And he continued with the words (at Philippians 3:14):
‘I’m running toward the goal, the prize of the higher (gr. ano – upward or higher) calling from God, through the Anointed Jesus.’

So, is there more than one type of calling… a general calling of those who (if elected) will bring forth children on the earth, and a ‘higher’ or ‘upward’ calling?
We don’t know.
But notice that in this text in Philippians, Paul spoke of a different type of resurrection, the ‘out resurrection’ (gr. ek anastasin), which seems to refer to being called to heaven, because Paul referred to it as ‘the higher calling from God.’
And there does appear to be special requirements for one to be so chosen.

What did Paul say would be the requirement for achieving the higher calling?
He said that he would have to ‘share in [Jesus’] sufferings and resign [himself] to a death like [that of Jesus] so [he could] somehow be found worthy.’ Therefore, it appears as though the requirement to receive such a calling is that a person must first endure incredible suffering for his/her beliefs (as did Jesus and Paul);
For notice what Paul wrote at Romans 8:17:

We have to suffer together so we can also be glorified together.’

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