Chapter 11

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Who are the Elect?

 

 

Who are the elect in Matthew 24:22, 24, and 31?

 

Jesus referred to the Church in these verses. He mentioned the elect three times with reference to their going through the Great Tribulation and to being gathered by the angels immediately afterwards. (This same account is given in Mark 13:20,22,27.) While it is obvious that the elect of the New Testament is the Church, some obscure this truth by insisting that the elect refers to Israel.

By comparing each of these verses with parallel verses in the New Testament, we will see clear evidence that the elect is the Church.

First, compare Matthew 24:22 with Luke 18:7,8. Both passages speak of the elect and show that the days of the Great Tribulation will be shortened for their sake. Not even those who teach that the elect of Matthew are the Jews would make the same claim for Luke’s gospel.

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22).

“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7,8).

Second, Matthew 24:24 and Second Thessalonians 2:9 both show that false prophets and lying wonders will deceive many during the days before the coming of our Lord. So “the very elect” in Matthew 24:24 are as much the Church as those whom Paul addresses in Second Thessalonians.

Third, a comparison of Matthew 24:30,31 with First Thessalonians 4:16,17 suggests unmistakable similarities between the two passages: the Lord’s descending from heaven, the angels, the clouds, the trumpets, and the gathering. Surely, “the elect” of Matthew 24:31 and “the dead in Christ” and “we which are alive and remain” of First Thessalonians 4:16,17 are the same company of people—the Church.

Fourth, the apostle Peter stated, “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you” (1 Pet. 5:13), which also supports the truth that the elect refers to the Church.

Lastly, the words “elect,” “elect’s,” and “election” are found twenty–three times in the New Testament, not once referring to the nation of Israel. In addition to the six times they are used in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, fifteen times in other verses they pertain to the Church, once to Christ, and once to the angels. In fact, we can see a clear distinction between Israel and the elect in two particular verses: “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:7); “As concerning the gospel, they [ Israel] are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Rom. 11:28).

 

What else does the Bible say about the Church’s being the elect?

 

1. The elect are “the chosen.” The words “elect” and “chosen” are the same in the Greek. Both of these terms are used Mark 13:20: “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.” In the New Testament, the word “chosen” often refers to the Church. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4). See also John 15:16,19; 2 Thess. 2:13; Jam. 2:5; Rev. 17:14.

2. The elect are brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church. “Paul . . . unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ . . . Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God” (1 Thess. 1:1,4).

3. The elect are the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus. “To the saints . . . and to the faithful in Christ Jesus . . . According as he hath chosen [elected] us in him” (Eph. 1:1,4).

4. The elect are they who are in Christ Jesus. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. . . . Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” ( Rom. 8:1,33).

5. The elect are all who believe in Jesus, the chosen cornerstone of the Church. “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. . . . But ye are a chosen [elected] generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:6,9).

6. The elect are those who are saved by grace, not those who are Israelites by birth. “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:5–7).

Thus, the Bible uses various terms to describe the elect, who are the Church: the chosen, the brethren, the saints, the faithful, they who are in Christ Jesus, all who believe in Him, and they who are saved by grace.

 

Are believers, then, spiritual Israel?

 

Yes, because the seed of Abraham is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Therefore, they who are Christ’s are “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). In other words, if we belong to Christ, by grace through faith, we are Abraham’s seed—the spiritual Israel—the elect of God: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). See also Rom. 3:28–30; 4:1–18; 9:24–26,30–32; Gal. 3:8–14.

Throughout the New Testament, believers are seen as the people of God: “But ye are a chosen generation. . . . Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God” (1 Pet. 2:9,10). “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16). “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). See also Hos. 2:23; Isa. 65:1–16; Titus 2:14; Rev. 18:4.

Believers are even called the Israel of God: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15–16). Consider the following chart:

 

 

Natural Israel

Spiritual Israel, the Church

 

 

Romans 2:28,29

 

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh.

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit.

 

 

Romans 11:7

 

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for;

But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

 

 

Romans 9:7

 

Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:

But, in Isaac shall thy seed be called. [Isaac represents those who are God’s “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28), through “faith” (Rom. 4:16).]

 

 

Romans 9:8

 

They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:

But the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

 

 

John 1:11,12

 

He came unto to his own, and his own received him not

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

 

 

 

Who are the 144,000 redeemed mentioned in Revelation chapters 7 and 14?

 

By comparing various scriptures, we find that the description of the 144,000 is identical to that of the elect, the Church. First, consider the following chart.

 

 

The 144,000

The Church

 

 

Hurt not . . . till we have sealed the servants of our God—Rev. 7:3.

Ye [the Church] are sealed unto the day of redemption—Eph. 4:30.

 

 

The servants of our God—Rev. 7:3.

A great multitude. . . . are they before the throne of God, and serve him—Rev. 7:15; 22:3.

 

 

A Lamb stood on the mountSion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand—Rev. 14:1.

But ye [the Church] are come to Mount Zion—Heb. 12:22.

 

 

Having his Father’s name written in their foreheads—Rev. 14:1.

I will write upon him the name of my God—Rev. 3:12; 22:4.

 

 

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder—Rev. 14:2.

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, . . . the marriage of the Lamb is come—Rev. 19:6,7.

 

 

And I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song—Rev. 14:2,3.

Having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song—Rev. 5:9; 15:2,3.

 

 

Were redeemed from the earth—Rev. 14:3.

Christ hath redeemed us—Gal. 3:13.

 

 

Were not defiled with women; for they are virgins—Rev. 14:4.

[The Church is] a chaste virgin to Christ—2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 3:4; 21:27.

 

 

These are they which follow the Lamb—Rev. 14:4.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me—John 10:27.

 

 

Being the firstfruits unto God—Rev. 14:4.

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures—James 1:18; see also Heb. 12:23.

 

 

And in their mouth was found no guile—Rev. 14:5.

For our exhortation was not . . . in guile—1 Thess. 2:3.

 

 

For they are without fault before the throne of God—Rev. 14:5.

Faultless before the presence of his glory—Jude 1:24; Rev. 7:14,15.

 

 

Second, as already discussed, the Church is spiritual Israel: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).

Third, by comparing Ephesians 2 with Revelation 21, we see that the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (the 144,000) are symbolic of the Church, which is built on the foundation of the twelve apostles:

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

“And [the holy Jerusalem] had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. . . . And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. . . . And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits [144]” (Rev. 21:9–12,14,17).

Fourth, it is interesting to note how often the number twelve is used with reference to the holy Jerusalem: twelve gates, twelve angels, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, twelve foundations, the names of twelve apostles, twelve manner of precious stones, twelve pearls, and twelve manner of fruits (Rev. 21:12–21; 22:2).

Finally, since the holy Jerusalem where the Bride of Christ (the Church) dwells is measured in terms of 12 and 144, it is reasonable to believe that the 144,000 redeemed is a figure that represents the complete Church or elect of God, whether they be Jewish or Gentile believers.

 

Who are the two witnesses in Revelation 11?

 

We know that the two witnesses must be symbolic of the Church because the Church is alluded to in four specific ways:

1. The temple of God (Rev. 11:1,2)—John was told to measure the temple, the altar, and them that worship therein. What does the temple represent, and who are they who worship in the temple and at the altar? The temple of God represents the Church (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21) as well as those who worship in the temple and at the altar. The Church has “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19), and their prayers are as “incense . . . upon the golden altar” (Rev. 8:3; Psa. 141:2). (According to Exodus 31:7–11, “the holiest” and “the golden altar” represent the holy place in the Old Testament tabernacle or temple.) The temple of God (the Church) in Revelation 11:1 is contrasted in verse two with the court that is outside the temple. This represents the Gentiles, those who know not God.

2. The holy city (Rev. 11:2)—The trampling of the holy city relates to the destruction of the mighty and the holy people by the Antichrist. (Compare Dan. 8:13 with 8:23,24 and Rev. 13:4–7.) In Revelation 21:9,10, the holy city is seen as “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” which is the Church. In contrast, Jerusalem is symbolically called “ Sodom and Egypt” (Rev. 11:8). It is also called “the great city,” a term that is used eight times with reference to Babylon in Revelation.

3. An olive tree (Rev. 11:4)—Paul refers to the Church as a good olive tree: “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed [grafted] contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” (Rom. 11:24). See also Psa. 52:8; Zech. 4:3,11–14.

4. A candlestick (Rev. 11:4)—Jesus said to John, “And the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20). He also said to His followers (the Church), “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matt. 5:14,15).

 

What additional scriptures suggest similarities between the two witnesses and the Church?

 

As the Church, the two witnesses are:

1. Witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 11:3,7)—Jesus says to His followers, “Ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48). The Church is depicted as giving witness (or testimony): “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11) and “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God” (Rev. 20:4). See also Rev. 12:17.

2. Able to speak with Holy Ghost fire (power) (Rev. 11:5)—God said to Jeremiah, “Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jer. 5:14). Jesus gave a similar promise to the Church: “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:15). When “certain of the synagogue” were disputing with Stephen, “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake” (Acts 6:9,10).

3. Avenged by God of their adversaries (Rev. 11:5)—Jesus promised His Church that “God [shall] avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him” (Luke 18:7). Paul wrote that “it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you” (2 Thess. 1:6).

4. Promised that their enemies will be killed in the same manner that they are killed (Rev. 11:5)—This same promise is given to the saints—“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Rev. 13:10). In fact, just as “their dead bodies [the two witnesses, the Church] shall lie in the street” (Rev. 11:8) to be “meat unto the fowls of the heaven” (Psa. 79:2), so the slain bodies of the wicked will be left for the fowls of the air when Jesus comes in judgment (Rev. 19:17,18; Matt. 24:28; Luke 17:37).

5. Endued with all power so that nothing is impossible (Rev. 11:6)—When writing to the Church, James indicated that the fervent prayer of a righteous man is able to control the rain as did the prayers of Elijah (James 5:16–18). See also Matt. 17:20,21; Luke 10:19; John 15:7; Acts 1:8.

6. Persecuted by the beast who “shall make war against them” (Rev. 11:7)—If the beast were coming against only two men—the two witnesses—why the term “war”? According to Revelation 13:7 and Daniel 7:21, the beast makes “war with the saints.”

7. Killed (Rev. 11:7)—But at the resurrection, “the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet” (Rev. 11:11). Ezekiel’s prophecy says almost the exact same thing. “The breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet” and adds, “an exceeding great army” (Ezek. 37:10). In Revelation 19:19, the Church is referred to as an army.

8. Seen by their enemies ascending “up to heaven in a cloud” (Rev. 11:12)—Paul wrote that the Church will be “caught up . . . in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17). And Jesus declared that “all the tribes of the earth” shall see this event (Matt. 24:30,31).

 

Is election for one particular nationality or for people of all nationalities?

 

Jesus and the apostles give us reason to believe that election is for all:

“Of a truth . . . God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34,35).

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Pet. 1:1,2).

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

 

In Christ, is there any difference between Jew or Gentile? Is one the elect of God more than the other?

 

It’s wonderful to know that in Christ Jesus there is no difference between Jew or Gentile! We are made one through His blood. The apostle Paul states:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:12,13).

The chart below confirms that in Christ there’s no difference between Jew and Gentile; one isn’t more the elect of God than the other.

 

 

 

The Elect Described

Old Testament
(Believing Jews)

New Testament
(Believers—Jew and Gentile)

 

 

 

A holy people

Lev. 19:2

1 Pet. 1:16

A chosen people

Deut. 7:6,7

1 Pet. 2:9; Eph. 1:4

A peculiar people

Ex. 19:5

1 Pet. 2:9; Titus 2:14

A kingdom of priests

Ex. 19:6

1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6

A holy nation

Ex. 19:6

1 Pet. 2:9

A covenant people

Ex. 19:5

Heb. 8:10–12; 10:16–19

A separated people

Lev. 20:24

2 Cor. 6:16–18

“My people”

Lev. 26:11,12

2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3,7

 

 

 

How may I become one of God’s elect?

 

By faith in Jesus—“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). True faith includes repentance (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21). See also 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1.

By believing the truth—“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).

By the grace of God—“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12).

By being justified by God (declared righteous)—“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Rom. 8:33).

By the Spirit, the Word, and the blood of Jesus—“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience [to the Word] and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2).

Each of these is a facet of the same precious gem and an experience of personal salvation that makes us God’s elect.

 

How should the elect live in everyday life?

 

Since the elect are the Church, the New Testament is full of exhortations concerning godly living. Specific exhortations to the elect include the following:

Be merciful, kind, and humble. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:12,13).

Be holy and blameless in love. “According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love . . . To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:4,6).

Be adding diligently to your faith. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. . . . Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:5–7,10,11).

 

Objection Answered

 

In the context of Revelation 7, the 144,000 are declared to be of the twelve tribes of Israel and are contrasted with an innumerable host of white–robed Gentiles. Therefore, how can they be symbolic of the Church?

 

Nowhere does the Bible say that the white–robed throng are Gentiles. Rather, they consist of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9). Also, as discussed earlier in this chapter, the description of the 144,000 is identical to that of the elect, the Church. In fact, several of these descriptions of the 144,000 are the same as the white–robed throng in Revelation 7:

• The 144,000 are “the servants of our God” (7:3); the white–robed throng “serve him [God] day and night in his temple” ( 7:15; 22:3).

• The 144,000 are “they which follow the Lamb” (14:4); the white–robed throng are they whom “the Lamb shall lead” ( 7:17).

• The 144,000 are “before the throne of God” (14:5); the white–robed throng are “before the throne of God” ( 7:15).
 
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