Who are the “Elect”?

In case you are new to the party, this blog post is connected to much of the other end times posts I have made in the past. It has been a while since I have posted, so I wanted to make this connection clear. This blog is still alive and well, but because of my great passion for eschatology, I have shifted gears and devoted much of my studies and writing to completing my book, “Terms and Conditions”. It’s a very familiar name if you have read any of my end times blog posts already. I am happy to announce that I am just about finished with my book, and I will be showcasing it here on this site soon. There is a lot of additional topics I cover in the book that I do not have here on my site, so I encourage you to get a copy when it is finally published. However, I am way too impatient for that process to finish. I am just too excited to share God’s word with you that I wanted to keep the ball rolling on here before that happens. If you are familiar with my older end times content, you may remember the few times I mentioned the pushback I get regarding Matthew 24 and post-Revelation 6. Here is the argument I hear:

“There is no mention of the word, church, after chapter 6, therefore, the church is raptured before these events take place.”

The basis for this argument is once again rooted in terminology. The pre-trib position NEEDS to rely on a very specific definition of the word, “elect” or “election” for this argument to stand. The reason for this is because, yes, the specific word, “church” is not found after chapter 6 in Revelation. However, we do see the terms, “elect” or “election” scattered all throughout Revelation and parallel passages in the gospels. The only way to get around it is to falsely claim that any time the Bible mentions the word, “elect”, it must refer to the nation of Israel. Ironically, this is the same inconsistent use of the word “elect” as we saw with the term “tribulation”. People know what tribulation has always meant and how it was used all throughout scripture. But for some reason, (or lack of reason) when it comes to applying it to end times texts, we throw that understanding out the window. We turned “tribulation” into something it never was and use it in a way it was never used. We see that same problem with the term “elect”. We know, (at least, I hope) that the elect are those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He has chosen/elected them according to their faith, not works, that no man can boast. But again, for some reason, when it comes to end times passages in scripture, like Revelation or Matthew 24, we draw back and conclude that it must mean only Israel. And then we make the cheap argument that Revelation doesn’t talk about Christians because it doesn’t use the specific word we like. We are so stubborn! For that sake, I will dumb it down and carefully comb through the term, “elect”, as it is mentioned in scripture. As I have said before, the Bible is its own dictionary. We must let contextual scripture define itself and not blindly assume the definitions of words that men tell us. We must look to scripture to see how these terms were used and to whom they were referring to. I encourage you to do your homework yourself, but here in this chapter we will begin to analyze the Bible’s uses of the terms, “elect” or “election”. The evidence is very convincing.

There are 22 uses of the word, “elect” in scripture. Of those mentions, only 1 time does it refer to Jewish believers. Another mention refers to Jacob/Israel, and 1 mention has it referring to an elder lady of unknown ethnicity. 3 times it refers to Jesus Christ as the elect. 8 times it refers to all believers in general. And get this, 5 times it is used referencing believers that are primarily gentiles. Not every mention of the term, “elect”, will prove much. I’m referring to the mentions where it is clearly talking about Christ or the Jews. Those mentions do not prove much because the argument I am making is not that ethnic Jews aren’t elect. I am arguing that “election” doesn’t stop there; there is more to it. That is why gentile Christians are counted among the elect. Our purpose here is to see whether the Bible supports the idea that a non-Jewish person, under any circumstance, is counted as elect. Even one clear example of this debunks the idea that only ethnic Jews are elect. Fortunately, there’s a whole lot more than just one, which will make our conclusion very concrete. We will start easy and slowly move our way to blatantly obvious support found in scripture.

1 Peter 1:1-2 – “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

I’m giving this passage the benefit of the doubt and opting that the audience may be Jewish. However, the audience is heavily debated. In support of it being written to Jews, there is an argument that highlights the description of the audience as exiles being dispersed. “Diasporas” is a Greek term used to describe the Jews who fled and scattered from their homeland. We see this terminology being used in the Old Testament as well when referring to Jews fleeing after being exiled. Here is my pushback; were these people in 1 Peter fleeing because they were Jews? No. They were fleeing because they were Christian. Furthermore, evidence for the audience being gentile lays in Peter’s description of their sinful behavior. In 1 Peter 4:3, Peter describes the audience’s character as “unrestrained behavior, drunkenness, orgies, and idolatry”. This is not very characteristic of the behavior of Jewish people. These are sinful cultural norms of the surrounding gentiles. And to cap it all off, the territories Peter addressed were mostly Gentile regions. This passage in support of having a Jewish audience definitely has an asterisk beside it. Nonetheless, I’ll give the pre-tribbers this one though there is much doubt. It could very well be that these were Jewish Christians fleeing persecution. This is the one use of the word, “elect” where it is directed at a group most likely Jewish. Again, I say, were they fleeing because they were Jews? No. They were fleeing because they were faithful Christ followers. Did Peter call them the elect solely because they were Jews or because of something else? This really doesn’t prove anything for or against the notion that Jews alone are the elect. Especially when lined up with the evidence I have yet to get to.

Luke 18:7 – And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?

God avenges his elect. The same vengeance God had for his elect, Israel, he now promises for the church. Romans 12:19 says, Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” The audience in Romans is a VERY non-Jewish audience. Yet, Paul finds no problem in repeating God’s promises given to elect Israel to the gentile Christians in Rome. What’s the point of calling someone “chosen” if they aren’t afforded any additional benefits? Here is one example, but look at what Christians are afforded in general? What isnt afforded to gentile believers that are to ethnic Jews? Nothing! God’s not in the business of handing out participation trophies. He’s not going to merely call national Israel “elect”, but not offer them anything more than he offers anyone else. Cool, Israel gets a meaningless trophy. The title, “elect” is cheapened if it only applies to Jewish people, who are afforded nothing greater than what gentile Christians are. The election are those who God foreknew since the beginning of time. It’s those who belong to Christ, believe in Him and are given eternal life! THAT is a distinguishing mark.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – 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.

Wait a second! What more assurance does Israel need of their election than their blood? If you are a Jew, you are Jewish. There is nothing about that fact that will ever need to be called into question. There is nothing more that can be done to make you more sure of that reality. This makes NO sense if the elect are only Jewish people.

Secondly, Peter addresses his audience in a very specific way. He begins chapter 1 in saying, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours”.

Question: Does it say “To those who are of Jewish blood?” No. It says to those who are in Christ. THAT is the standard for election. There is simply no basis for solely designating the term, “elect” for those who are ethnically Jewish people. Again, there is more to it than that.

Our next passage is regarding Matthew 24. Any seasoned pre-trib believer would hold to the idea that Matthew was “written for the Jews”. Therefore, this passage can’t possibly be talking about the rapture! It’s about the Jews!

Matthew 24:22-24 – And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Pre-tribbers hold to the idea that this passage is referring to the time of God’s wrath, and that the Jews are the “elect” mentioned. However, we are told that only 144,000 Jews are sealed during the wrath of God. This already sets up a problem for pre-tribbers. If the nation of Israel is the elect, but only 144,000 of them are sealed for their faithful testimony, that would mean that the rest of the Jewish nation will be deceived by these false prophets. If every Jew is inherently elect, then why are they not all sealed? There will be Jews who are deceived. That’s a problem if you believe all Jews are considered elect. There is a whole lot more than 144,000 Jews in Israel. The only way to fix this contradiction is by coming to terms with the fact that there is an underlying qualification for election besides merely being a Jew. So, rather, it could be said that someone who is elect not only needs to be a Jew, but also faithful and obedient to the Lord. This would satisfy most respectable scholars. It could now be said, “Of course the elect can’t be deceived. The Jews this passage refers to only consists of the 144,000 sealed Jews. The rest of the Jewish nation don’t qualify as being elect.”

We are already one step in the right direction. If what I have brought into the light isn’t revealing enough, now we get into the passages that directly refer to people groups specifically gentile.

Romans 8:33 – Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies

And also, Romans 9:11 says,

(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),

It the beginning of Romans, Paul makes it very clear who his audience is in this letter. He says, “To all who are loved by God and called to be saints.” The churches in Rome were gentile churches. There is no getting around that fact. He’s addressing believing Gentiles, NOT Jews. His desire is for all Christians in Rome to read this epistle. There is zero theological purpose to change gears and all of a sudden to talk about the Jews. Paul is addressing the gentiles he is writing to as “elect”. This is undeniably evident.

Colossians 3:11-12 – “In this new life, there is neither Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all, and he lives in all of us. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.”

Paul sets the record straight here. First off, the audience of this letter doesn’t effect the truth of what Paul is saying here. “In Christ” there is neither Jew or Gentile. “Therefore, as the elect of God… do these things.” It can’t get more obvious than this! “Therefore” is a connecting word. It connects the previous statement with the latter. It is because we are all one in the same in Christ, neither Jew nor Gentile, that we ought to treat each other in these ways. We are all equally God’s elect people because of Christ. Paul leveled the playing field and called both the gentile and Jewish believer in Christ the elect. This is unmistakable.

This kind of statement from Paul was very necessary in Colossians because the people residing in the Lycus Valley were a mixed basket of Jews and Gentiles. There were roughly 50,000 Jews populating the Lycus Valley at the time. The language Paul uses all throughout the book seems to be geared towards a primarily gentile audience. We see this is verse 12, where Paul addresses his audience as those who are “to share in the inheritance of his holy people.” Gentiles are blessed in that way.

Verse 21 alludes to a gentile audience because it describes them as those “who were once alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Obviously, that could be applied to anyone who is without Christ. But traditionally, when addressing the Jews, the apostles point to Christ being the fulfillment of the law. Their “vice” wasn’t reckless outward sinful behavior. Their vice was legalism or self-righteousness. They overemphasize the law and count their own self-righteous works as a means for their salvation, instead of humbling themselves before Christ, the only one perfect before the law. So, when we hear the language Paul uses here in Colossians, it is often because he is speaking to a gentile audience who did not know or care to follow the law.

Another piece of very telling evidence for Colossians being written to a gentile audience is that the book lacks Old Testament allusions. What’s the best way to show a Jew that Christ is the Messiah? You show them how He fulfills Old Testament prophecy. What do we not see in Colossians? We don’t see Paul referring to Old Testament prophecy. This makes sense if Paul was addressing a gentile audience. Why would Paul consistently reference Old Testament texts to a gentile audience who do not know the Old Testament as Jews do? If this was a largely Jewish audience, then Paul missed a great opportunity to effectively reach them. But if we know anything about Paul, we know that he was an expert at contextualizing the gospel to appropriately connect with his audience. That being the case, there is no reason to doubt that his target audience was gentile in this book; a gentile audience that he considered “the elect”.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 – knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.

The argument for this passage is very similar to the last. The sinful behavior Paul addresses in this book are largely gentile “vices”. Thessalonica was located in the Northern Greek region of Macedonia. That being said, the people of that region interchangeably worshipped Roman, Greek, and Egyptian gods. Paul states that this church has “turned to God from idols”. In a gentile context, this makes perfect sense. This church is filled with people who once served Roman, Greek and Egyptian gods because they are gentiles. Gentiles, who Paul says are elected by God. Between this evidence and the lack of Old Testament allusions, it is pretty clear who Paul was addressing.

Matthew 3:7-10. States,

“But when he (John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

John is warning these Jewish leaders that being Jewish, being a seed of Abraham does not automatically make you righteous. It does not make you elect. In fact, if God really wanted, he could raise up a new people to call his own. Your head is on the chopping block, ready to be cut off. Your “election” is conditional, and you are failing at holding up your end of the bargain. Hellfire awaits those who are not faithful to the Lord. The condition is good fruit. Fruit that can only be produced through the work of the Holy Spirit. Our good works are like filthy rags. John wasn’t adding to the covenant. He wasn’t adding to the law. He merely pulled back the layer of flesh they took pride in to reveal the type of heart a truly elect person must have. And it became evident that they did not have it. These people were Jews. God’s desire was never that the entire world become Jewish. His desire is that all people would become Christ followers. And by becoming a follow of Christ, we are all adopted into the spiritual bloodline of Christ, the seed of Abraham. Only by accepting Christ are we given the Holy Spirit and become able to produce good fruit. There is no other way. This has always been God’s desire. This has always been his plan. The Jews are not forgotten. God’s plan was simply much bigger than them. They were God’s catalyst to reach all those made in the image of God that they may be saved. Christ was always the singular means to fulfill this task. Only arrogance and pride would lead someone to believe that Christ as the world’s Messiah as opposed to Israel’s Messiah is somehow anti-semetic.

In Paul’s letters we see unmistakable evidence that he considers saved gentiles “elect”. But how does this blend with the rest of the story throughout the Old Testament? Is Israel forgotten? Is Israel replaced?

Understanding the relationship between the people of God in the Old Testament and the people of God in the New Testament is best recognized along the same lines to how we understand the relationship between the law and Christ. Christ came and ushered in a new covenant in his blood. He extends grace and mercy towards those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Him. What purpose does the law now have because of Christ? Has the law been replaced? Did Christ abolish the law? Certainly not!

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” – Matthew 5:17

Christ did not replace the law. He fulfilled it. In the same manner, God did not come to abolish his covenant with Abraham. God promised Abraham seed/descendants that will be of many nations, have many kings, and possess the land of Canaan for all eternity. We see this in Genesis 17:4-8, which says,

“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall you be named Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your seed after you. Also I give to you and your seed after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

These promises of God stand, but they are not fulfilled in the manner one might have expected. In fact, Paul has a very interesting exposition on this passage in Galatians chapter 3:13-18. He says,

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

Paul is saying here that the past covenant God made with Israel and his seed is not annulled or canceled. It is still in effect. But then he continues on to say that the promise has been fulfilled. This statement catches everyone by surprise. Christ is the fulfillment. The blessing offered to Abraham has come upon Jesus and extends to his spiritual bloodline; his adoption. Christ is the “seed” this covenant is fulfilled by. It is by Christ’s adoption that kings will come from. It is by Christ’s adoption that Abraham becomes a father of many nations. It is by Christ’s eternal adoption that this covenant may be everlasting. This world has an expiration date, but it’s only by Christ’s undying bloodline this covenant may be fulfilled. If this covenant was about the physical land of Israel, how can it be eternal? This world comes to an end and God makes a new heaven and a new earth. If this covenant was about a physical pure Jewish bloodline, then how can many nations be made from it? There is no everlasting hope that can exist in a dying finite physical world. Christ fulfills this covenant because he transcends the physical world. It is fulfilled by Christ’s spiritual bloodline. THAT IS NOT replacement theology. That was and is and will always be God’s redemptive plan to reach all those who he foreknew since the beginning of time: his elect. That is why Christ is a stumbling block for the Jewish people. It stirs rotten jealousy. “How dare Christ come and try to strip away the promises only afforded to us! How dare he claim to be everything our scriptures promised and then extend our exclusive blessing to undeserving gentiles! How dare he claim to be more than just Israel’s messiah, but the entire world’s messiah!” The nation of Israel has hardened its hearts. It is by this hard rejection and disbelief that the gift of salvation has been extended to gentiles. But has God forgotten them by doing this? Absolutely not. Even this serves a greater purpose. Romans 11:11-15 says,

“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it. I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!”

We tend to view the term, “jealousy” in a negative sense. But often times in scripture, we see it being described in a positive light. What better is there to be jealous of than the believer’s closeness with the Lord? Shouldn’t we share that motivation with Paul? Shouldn’t we desire for the light to shine so bright within our hearts that it causes others to desire what we have? That is the kind of jealousy we ought to try to stir amongst our unbelieving neighbors. I believe God will answer Paul’s prayer. We have evidence in scripture to support this.

Israel’s Jealousy of the church will one day reach a height never seen before in all of history. There is a day when their jealousy will rise to a climactic, heart rattling point. It is a day when truly the “men will be separated from the boys.” The remaining true elect remnant of Israel will be drawn out from the crowd of unbelieving, self-righteous Jews and devote all that they are to the Lord Jesus Christ. This singular event is the Day of the Lord. What greater event will stir Jealousy in the hearts of Israel than the day Christ cracks open the sky to be seen visibly by all, blast a trumpet and call to gather all those who believe in Him. What greater event will ache the heart of every Jew than to hear the voice of God calling his children, and then watch as every Christian you thought was a fool be gathered unto him in the sky. This event will cripple the spirit of every unsaved Jew on the planet. But there will be two very distinct responses from the Jewish crowd. There will be anger. “You abandoned us, God! That was supposed to be us! Have you not seen all the works we have done in your name? Are we somehow unworthy? We deserved thrones! We deserved possession of the inheritance! Curse you, God, for not upholding your promise to us, your chosen ones!” Their hearts will be sealed hard as stone. They will reject God in finality because the words coming from heaven come from the mouth of Jesus Christ, their stumbling block.

Amidst the chaotic yelling and cursing that takes place following this great cosmic event, there will be a select number of hearts sinking to the lowest depths of humility humanly possible. There will be knees bending, faces thrown to the dirt, and eyes swelling with tears as the gravitational weight of their wrongs presses upon their shoulders in the

Paul’s words in Romans will scream in their heart, “LORD! You know my zeal is great for you! But how misplaced it was! I was wrong! I’ve worked my whole life trying to reach you, but I was blind to the loving reality that you came in flesh to reach me! YOU, Jesus Christ, are my God, savior, promise keeper, king of kings, Lord of Lords. Your deserving wrath falls upon me. Your fiery anger against me is just! I am counted among those who go down to the bottomless pit. I fear that I’m too late. But if there are any breadcrumbs of grace leftover to be cast down as you sup with your beautiful bride above, I pray for just that, though I am underserving. Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned greatly against you.”

This heart-wrenching jealousy will breed life-changing repentance in 144,000 Jewish souls. There IS room at the table for them. They will get much more than just the crumbs of Christ’s grace and mercy. They will feast. They are the last who will complete the full number of Christ’s chosen ones. They will be sealed in God’s foreknowledge of their repentance on the Day of the Lord. Though they didn’t know Him prior, (else they would be caught up with us) they are the remnant of true Israel who God foreknew since the beginning of time. They are counted among the elect according to their faith.

Will all Israel be saved?

Romans 11:25-26 says, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.”

Keith Mathison, author, and professor of systematic theology at Reformation Bible College, wrote a great article on Ligonier Ministries concerning Israel and the Church in the New Testament. He eventually addresses this “mystery” Paul speaks of here. His conclusion is very noteworthy, and I’d like to comment on it. His claim is that “all Israel” refers to national Israel; not necessarily every individual, but the nation as a whole will be saved. We would both agree that jealousy arouses Israel ultimately in the end to turn to Christ. However, he believes that the “mystery” spoken of here is that all national Israel will be saved. His reasoning is that “Paul is not in anguish over the salvation of the remnant. They are already saved. He is in anguish over unbelieving Israel. It is this “Israel” for whose salvation he prays (10:1), and it is this Israel that he says will be saved in verse 26.” The then goes on to conclude, “The interpretation of “all Israel” that best fits the immediate context is that which understands “all Israel” as the nation of Israel as a whole, but not necessarily including every individual member of ethnic Israel.” This would be quite the surprise if that is the case.

I believe it makes more sense for us to understand this use of the term, “mystery”, in relation to how Paul has mentioned it elsewhere in his letters. In Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, he is seen once again mentioning a “mystery” of some sort. In Ephesians 3:2-6, Paul says,

“Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

The mystery is very clear here, and no respectable scholar questions what this mystery is referring to. The gentile church was an unseen mystery to the Old Testament Prophets. The church age is a gap in time that was unprecedented by man. That’s why our interpretations concerning Daniel’s 70th week considers us in between the 69th and 70th “seven/week”. The 70th seven, or as we come to understand it, the final 7 years of Biblical prophecy, are future events that begin on a day and hour no man knows. That is because the current time we are living in, the time of the gentiles, was a mystery. Paul, here, very clearly describes this mystery for the Ephesians. Would it be unheard of for him to reference this same mystery again to the gentiles in Rome? Not at all. In fact, as we look at the context of the passage, we will see that this understanding fits much better and gives more clarity on who true Israel really is. Romans 11:13-26 says,

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.”

What mystery does Paul not want them to be ignorant of? He doesn’t want them to be ignorant of the “mystery” that gentiles are grafted into the tree! The Mystery is the very thing Paul described for his audience in the statements prior. This corresponds directly to how Paul referenced the mystery of the gentile church in Ephesians. “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 3:6. Is this not exactly what Paul described in Romans? This is not an additional mystery that reveals the entirety of national Israel will be saved. Elect gentiles, or those who the Lord foreknew since the beginning of time will be saved, that all “true” Israel will be saved alongside their believing Jewish elect counterparts. The analogy of grafting in the church perfectly answers the question of why gentile believers are not to be ignorant. We are not to be ignorant because we are not our own tree. The original tree has not been cut down, merely some branches have due to unbelief. We are not to be ignorant of this mystery because we are not the root of the tree. We do not support the tree; the roots support us. What reason do we have to be conceited then? None at all! Though we are blessed by Christ through his extending hand of grace to the gentiles, we shall never allow it to “get to our head”. Our history is Jewish history. Our foundation is based on Jewish prophesy. Our pride is solely Christ, the fulfillment of the Jewish faith. This was Paul’s caution to his gentile audience. The gentile church was a mystery, but by no means is it a replacement. Faith has always been the condition for election. I’m jumping back one last time to drill this point home.

Romans 11: 1-8 says, I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.”

It’s impossible to miss the fact that Paul is not referring the nation of Israel as the elect. In fact, it says they did NOT obtain it – salvation. The ELECT among them did. The elect, who were chosen by God as a remnant for their faithfulness to him. In other words, it’s not good enough that they are born Jews, descendants of Abraham. Biblically, you are not considered the “elect” just because you are a Jew. Obedient faith is the qualification. This truth has always been carried throughout scripture. Paul is addressing a primarily gentile audience with justification for why this “election” invitation has now been extended out to them. It’s deeper than blood. Election follows with the spiritual bloodline of Christ that is offered to all people.

To conclude this wildly unnecessary segment, I admit, there is no mention of the term, “church” in Revelation. I admit that the term, “church”, isn’t mentioned in Matthew 24. But believers in Christ Jesus are overwhelmingly represented in these texts. All those in Christ are God’s elect. Interestingly enough, in Revelation 7, immediately after mentioning “souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” (great tribulation), after the sun and moon darkened, the heavens being rolled back like a scroll, the lamb of God appearing visibly in the heavens, immediately after sealing 144,000 Jews, we see a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

Revelation 7:9a says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”

Who is this group who just appeared in heaven on the Day of the Lord? Is it elect Israel? No. They were just mentioned separately. Furthermore, this group is of many tribes and tongues, and they are uncountable, unlike the 144,000 Jews mentioned. Who are they? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the elect. They are the elect; saved from the coming wrath. The wicked are seen running and hiding themselves. The elect, however, are preserved. They will forever be with the Lord. That is you and me if you know Christ. We are well spoken of in end times scripture. You cannot miss this simple truth.

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