“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…” (Titus 1:1–2 (ESV)
Titus 1:1-2 is rich in theology. It is an important portion of Scripture. This is especially ironic in that it is Paul’s greeting or introduction. The apostle did not waste any words; neither did the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
One of the biblical truths that generates the most controversy is the doctrine of election. Discussion between believers regarding this topic can often become contentious. This prompts some to advocate ignoring the subject completely. This will not do because the word elect is found in today’s text. It is a biblical word representing a biblical doctrine or teaching.
Since the doctrine of election is so controversial, it must be handled skillfully, gently and graciously. Some try, few succeed. I’m going to make an effort to succeed in explaining the doctrine of election.
When the verb “elect” is used theologically in the Bible, God is its subject. In the OT the word “elect” is used for God’s choice of Israel to be his people (cf. Acts 13:17). Israel became God’s people because God took the initiative and chose them. Nor did God’s choice rest on any particular virtues that his people exemplified, but rather on His promise to their forefather Abraham (Deut.7:1–8).
“God also chose their leaders, such as King Saul and King David (1 Sam 10:24; 2 Sam 6:21). This was done apart from any vote by the people of Israel. “The word thus indicates God’s prerogative in deciding what shall happen, independent of human choice,” explains the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.
In the New Testament (NT), God’s people are described as his “elect” or “chosen ones.” This is a term Jesus used when speaking of the future time when the Son of Man will come and gather together God’s people (Mark 13:20-27). He will vindicate them for their sufferings and for their patience in waiting for his coming (Luke 18:7).
In 1 Peter 2:9, God’s people are called a “chosen [elect] nation.” This phrase was originally used of the people of Israel (Is. 43:20). This means that the people of God in the OT and the Christian church in the NT stand in continuity with each other; the promises addressed to Israel now find fulfillment in the church.
“In Romans 9–11 Paul discusses the problem of why the people of Israel as a nation have rejected the gospel, while the Gentiles have accepted it. He states that in the present time there is a “remnant” of Israel as a result of God’s gracious choice of them. This group is “the elect.” They are the chosen people who have obtained what was meant for Israel as a whole, while the greater mass of the people have failed to obtain it because they were “hardened” as a result of their sin (Rom 11:5–7).”
More to come. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!