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These two words are extremely similar and it may be difficult to draw a distinctive difference between the two.  The topic of election and predestination has been a source of controversy for literally hundreds of years.  This topic is often misunderstood and often rejected.  Yet, the scriptures teach of an elect; it uses words such as election, predestinated, foreknowledge, and chosen.  At the same time, the scriptures teach that people are responsible to put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the broadest sense, predestination is the general term used for the Lord’s sovereign ordaining, or choosing, of people or events, while election is the specific term for the Lord choosing particular nations or people.  Let’s look at the scriptures for a couple of examples.  A portion that is very familiar to most Bible students is Romans 8:29-30 which says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”  Let’s also read Acts 4:27-28 which says, “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”  In both of these portions, the Greek word, “proorizo” is used.  In Romans 8:29, it is translated “predestinate”.  While in Acts 4:28, it is translated “determined before”.  The word means to predetermine and we see it used here in relation to both people and events.  In both cases, we see the Lord’s active hand.

The word, elect, has often been used in reference to the nation of Israel, as in Isaiah 65:9 which says, “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.”  There is very little debate among the Lord’s people that it was by the sovereignty of God that He chose the nation of Israel to be His earthly people.  We have the word elect used in reference to angels as in 1 Timothy 5:21, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.”  We also see the word “elect” in reference to the Church of God as in Ephesians 1:4 which says, “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.”  The words “elect” and “chosen” are very similar words that have the same meaning.  We see the word elect in reference to individuals as in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”  We have the words of the Lord to His disciples in John 15:16 where he says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…”

We should be so thankful that the Lord is actively working to fulfill His glorious purpose.  We read in Ephesians 1:3-12, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  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: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”  (55.1)