Who are the “elect”? That is a frequently asked theological question. The answer is that it is a biblical term for those chosen by God for various reasons. Sometimes it is for service (1st Peter 1:1-2) and sometimes it is for salvation (2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14), depending upon the context. (Romans 8:33; 1st Peter 2:9) In other words, believers in Christ are called “elect” on the grounds that Jesus is called “Elect,” and so, those who are identified with Him as the Bride of Christ, or in the Body of Christ, jointly share in what is His election.
Isaiah 42:1: “‘Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.’”
Luke 9:35: “Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!’”
1st Peter 2:6: “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and He who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’”
As such, God didn’t choose who would be in Christ; He chose Christ as the One who all needed to be in. God also knows who will be in Christ; that doesn’t mean He predetermined who would be found in Christ.
In certain contexts, the Jews are also called “elect” (Matthew 24:16-24, 31; Luke 18:7) because they are the chosen people of the Old Covenant. (Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 45:4) Although there is no spiritual distinction between Jews and Gentiles in Christ (Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28), there remains a physical distinction between Jews and Gentiles since the Jewish people retain the gifts and calling of God. (Romans 11:29) Additionally, faithful angels are also called “elect” (1st Timothy 5:21) which may signify an approved status such as being worthy, as holy angels. Such a chosen status may be indicative of Matthew 22:11-14; Luke 14:8; 1st Peter 2:9.
What do Calvinists believe?
Erwin Lutzer: “When D.L. Moody quipped, ‘The elect are the whosoever wills and the nonelect are the whosoever wont’s,’ he was right. Calvinists could not agree more.”106
As a non-Calvinist, I could not disagree more, as it would imply that there exists elect-unbelievers. In other words, in a New Covenant context, if the elect are Christians, then there could be no such thing as an elect-unbeliever, any more than there could be a Christian-unbeliever. So, the elect are not the “whosoever-wills” and the non-elect are not the “whosoever-wont’s.” Instead, the elect are the “whosoever-has” and the non-elect are the “whosoever-hasn’t.” The elect are in Christ and free of condemnation (Romans 8:1, 33), while unbelievers remain already judged and under condemnation. (John 3:18) So, for there to be an electunbeliever—in a New Covenant sense—it would mean that someone is simultaneously redeemed and condemned, which is a contradiction. 107
105 The most common meaning of the “elect” are Christians.
106 The Doctrines That Divide (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 192.
107 The point of qualifying a “New Covenant” context is because under the Old Covenant, Israel remains God’s elect people, chosen as God’s witness nation, all while currently being subject to a partial hardening, as per Romans 11:25, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.