We begin working through 2 John tomorrow morning. We’ve just finished a series in John’s greater epistle. The first two verses put me on an aside topic that I don’t really care to preach about tomorrow because it has nothing to do with my text. 2 John 1–2 says, “The Elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever.”
It is interesting to study what commentators think about this salutation. I agree with those who believe that John wrote to an actual lady and her children. One commentator spoke of her name being “Electa” (kind of a transliteration of the Greek word). That would be a moniker worthy of a staunch Calvinist woman for sure!
Many struggle with the concept of election. You will need to determine what you believe about this doctrine as a Christian. I will say that whether you believe in individual, corporate, or some other modified understanding of election, it will not affect a whole lot when it comes to your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That said, I will tell you what I beleive to be true about this doctrine. Notice, I said what I believe – in the sense that I’m not sure. Here are two verses that govern my understanding of election:
Ephesians 1:3–4 (NKJV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…
If you take your highlighter and mark every time the phrase “in Christ” appears in Ephesians 1, you should find a total of 14 references (counting pronouns and one use of the Beloved One as a title for Jesus Christ). This is a significant literary feature often overlooked. What does this emphasis teach us about the doctrine of election?
I would argue that the only possible worthy individual that could ever be chosen by God is Jesus Christ, the Elect One. Isaiah refers to Him in this way:
Isaiah 42:1 (NKJV) — 1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
If we are in Christ, it is because we have believed or depended upon God’s chosen Beloved One alone for eternal life. Being in Christ, we find ourselves incredibly blessed (Ephesians 1.3-4). We are adopted (5-6). We have redemption (7-10). We have an inheritance (11-12). We are sealed (13-14). All because we are in Christ.
I believe that I am elect or chosen by God because I am in Christ. I don’t believe God predetermined that some individuals are elect and others are passed over as sons of perdition. Many of my friends disagree with me. That’s fine. I will wait to hear the verdict from the Lord when I see Him.
However, my personal understanding is that God elected His Son, Jesus Christ. He alone is worthy of such a choice. We are the chosen or elect only if we are in Christ. Our only basis for a standing before God is in Christ – this is the method the Father has chosen. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord may have this standing:
Romans 10:13 (NKJV) — 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
God knows those who will and those who won’t come to Jesus Christ. He offers saving grace to every man, but only some will trust in the Lord Jesus. I have certain theological presuppositions that govern what I believe about election and predestination. I’ve done my best to build a good biblical case. In the end I trust in God’s plan in election and predestination. I really think there are difficulties for all three main positions of election: individual, corporate, or my modified understanding which might be deemed methodological. It’s up to you to choose!