The Eternal God desires that those who are called out of this world be His chosen ones as well. What exactly does it mean to be called and chosen?
When Jesus Christ returns to the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), the Bible reveals a specific description of who will be with Him: “He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).
Called, chosen and faithful
These three words actually define who the saints of God are. Each of these words denotes a different meaning, and it is important to understand what it means to be “called, chosen and faithful.”
In the Greek language of the New Testament, the word for “called” is kletos. It is related to the noun klesis, which means “a calling” and is used “especially of God’s invitation to man to accept the benefits of salvation” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “Call, Called, Calling”). It is interesting to note the similarities to the Greek word for “church,” which is ekklesia, meaning a calling out of. So the Church consists of those who are called (invited) by God to understand His plan, to repent of their sins and to receive His Holy Spirit.
It is important to understand that one’s calling is an act of God! Only He calls (invites) someone. That is quite evident in John 6:44 when Jesus told the crowds, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”
There are a number of scriptures that speak of a Christian’s calling. When the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans, he referred to his audience as “the called of Jesus Christ,” and the “beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:6-7). Later, when writing to the Corinthian brethren, Paul wrote: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Not only is a Christian to be called into the “fellowship of His Son,” which indicates a relationship with Him, but there is a calling “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This is a true blessing to be called out of the confusion of erroneous teachings that are so extant in this world into the light of God’s truth.
However, being called is not enough to be a saint. We must respond to that calling (invitation). Positive action is required! To be chosen, a person must accept his or her calling, be grateful for it and move forward in serving God and His Son.
The word for “chosen” in the Greek language is eklektos, meaning “chosen out, select.” It can also be translated as “elect” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “Choice, Choose, Chosen”). God truly calls and He chooses, but after one’s calling, an individual decision has to be made as well. One must accept the calling and act accordingly.
“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15).
The apostle Paul clearly states the combined decision by God to both call and choose His people, but the brethren (saints) were to hold fast to what they were taught, whether it came from God’s Word or from sermons. They had to become and remain obedient to God.
This is further explained in Ephesians 1:13: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (emphasis added throughout).
We have to make a decision after we hear the word of truth. We must trust God and believe in His Son, and then be sealed with the Holy Spirit. (The Holy Spirit is given after repentance, belief and baptism. Click the links for more on these subjects.)
We all are to be obedient to God. We cannot just accept the wonderful calling of God and continue to live a life following our own desires. We are to be the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).
The called and chosen must be faithful! They must continue to actively believe, obey and rely on God. The called and chosen will need to faithfully endure, both in good and in bad times.Paul very clearly stated the responsibilities of the called: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).
Being faithful comes from the Greek word pistos. There are two senses in which this word can be understood. It means “to be trusted, reliable” and, secondly, “active, signifying believing, trusting, relying” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 402).
The called and chosen must be faithful! They must continue to actively believe, obey and rely on God. The called and chosen will need to faithfully endure, both in good and in bad times.
The hope of the called and chosen and faithful is to receive eternal life at the resurrection. It is a belief and trust that is deep within each one. Paul reminded Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called” (1 Timothy 6:12).
The Bible is full of examples of the faithfulness of His people—those who looked forward to the coming Kingdom of God. The author of Hebrews 11 points out a number of the men and women of faith. Despite difficult trials, they relied on God and always looked to the future. They were the called and chosen, and they were full of faith. (See the accompanying articles describing some of these people in the “Faith” section of this website.)
“Many are called, but few are chosen”
This particular phrase was used by Jesus after He spoke a parable in which someone was invited to a wedding but did not have on a wedding garment (Matthew 22:11-14). The lesson of the parable is that when someone is called by God, that person has a responsibility to respond to the calling and make spiritual changes in his or her life.
We see an example of this obligation in Job 29:14, where Job said: “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban.” Here the putting on of righteousness was compared to putting on clothing.
This symbolism is also found in Revelation 19:8: “And to her [the Church] it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
The man in the parable who was invited to the wedding had a duty to come dressed for the occasion, which symbolically meant that he was to put on righteousness, but he didn’t do that. So Jesus made this famous statement that “many are called, but few are chosen.” Therefore, the called-out ones must be spiritually prepared and be clothed with righteousness.
Make your call and election sure
The apostle Peter specifically reminded the brethren to be diligent in their calling: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).
As Peter implied, one’s calling must not be neglected. Since the called and chosen have “exceedingly great and precious promises” (verse 4), it is “for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, … knowledge, … self-control, … perseverance, … godliness, … brotherly kindness, … love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Peter continued, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8).
What a wonderful blessing!
In the concluding chapter of 1 Peter, we read the following statement: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
It is the will of God to open our minds to His truth. He wants us to remain faithful to Him after our calling, so that we can be His chosen—His elect. Sure, life in this world is not easy. But there is hope! Let’s be about the business of being the called and chosen and faithful!
For more about our calling and the response God wants, see the following articles: