Mat 24:29-31 NKJV 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Agreement over the identity of those being gathered by the Lord’s angels in this well-known passage has been the subject of much debate and controversy for a long time. I believe the key to understanding this passage and to approach eschatology in general, is to do so from the Bridal paradigm, which is inclusive of Israel. The core issue is over the term ‘the Elect’, although it’s worth pointing out, that the passage doesn’t say ‘the Elect’ but ‘His Elect’. The word ‘Elect’ is the word ‘eklektos’ and simply means ‘chosen’, in other words this passage in Matt 24 when speaking of those being gathered it means the ones that Jesus has chosen. It’s really not my intention to argue for a particular viewpoint, as I believe there are problems with any viewpoint, whether it be pre-trib, mid-trib, pre-wrath or post-trib, unless any view is approached from a renewed bridal mindset it will invariably fail to see the bigger picture of the Bride with the Bridegroom who returns to reign upon planet earth. The Bride isn’t a doctrine, that we tag onto the end of the eschatological timeline in Rev 19 onwards, but she is our corporate identity and her footprints are to be seen throughout all scripture, especially as we move into the end times, because it’s as we approach the end that the Bride becomes increasingly evident, as her final preparations are being made. My passion is for the Bride to be ready, to make clear her critical role to play in the end times that necessitates her presence upon the earth during the tribulation. But before I can move on to share more about those things, it’s important to establish this crucial identification of the ‘Elect’ or should I say ‘His Elect’? To do this is not difficult if we approach scripture as we should with an open mind, not looking to put anything into the text that it doesn’t say, but just let the text speak for itself. We must let scripture interpret scripture rather than filter the interpretation through our own prejudices and suppositions, because we’re not looking for scripture to support what we already believe, but calibrate what we believe against what the scripture explicitly teaches. A classic example of this is the pre-trib supposition that the Elect must be Israel because the church would have been raptured before the tribulation. But the text doesn’t say Israel, it says His Elect. In this case, the pre-trib view forces a conclusion on the verse to support its position and doesn’t allow the verse to speak for itself. I hope you can see how dangerous that can be. The right approach is to step back, separate what is being said from what is not, and let scripture interpret scripture. So here’s what I believe is a good exegesis of the term ‘His Elect’. First of all,
- Does Jesus use the word ‘eklektos’ (chosen, elect) to refer to Israel elsewhere? The answer is no. When Jesus meant to refer to Israel He did so directly. For example: Matt 10:5,6 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. There isn’t any scripture in which Jesus refers to Israel as ‘His Elect’.
- Does Jesus use the word ‘eklektos’ (chosen, elect) elsewhere in His teaching? Yes. When He teaches the parable of the wedding banquet, remember the one who was found at the banquet without the wedding garments on was thrown into outer darkness, Jesus said Matt 22:14“many are called but few are chosen (Elect)”. The Elect are those who shall attend the Marriage Banquet, and as I have shared in our earlier study of the 10 virgins, these are the Bride, for the terms “guest”, “virgin”, “friend of the bridegroom” are all interchangeable depending upon the underlying principle being taught at the time.
- Do we know who Jesus’ disciples saw as being ‘His Elect’? The answer is yes we do. Amongst those closest to the Lord was the apostle Peter. Listen to what he writes in 1 Peter 1:1-2 NKJV 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect (eklektos) 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.
Surely, Peter’s view on the Elect should be able to persuade us once and for all, since his view is a reflection of what Jesus’ taught Him. It’s very significant how Peter begins his letter, for he writes to ‘the pilgrims of the Dispersion’ which was a term originally used of the Jews who had been scattered into different lands because of the Roman invasion. Does that mean that Peter saw the Elect as the scattered tribes of Israel? Well, I’ll address that question and more next time.