For many are called, but few are chosen

by Mike Ratliff

11 The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. 12 The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:11-14 NASB)

There are three attributes of those who belong to Christ. No one else has these attributes. We see them in Revelation 17:14. Those with Christ, the Lamb who will conquer all His enemies for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, are called and chosen and faithful. In Matthew 22:1-14, our Lord tells a parable called “The Parable of the Wedding Feast.” In it our Lord describes the consequences that will befall those who believe their religiosity or position in the visible church is what earns them a place in the Kingdom, but who, in reality, are not among the chosen. 

Here is Revelation 17:14 from the NASB: “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

Here is Revelation 17:14 from the NA28 Greek text: 14 οὗτοι μετὰ τοῦ ἀρνίου πολεμήσουσιν καὶ τὸ ἀρνίον νικήσει αὐτούς, ὅτι κύριος κυρίων ἐστὶν καὶ βασιλεὺς βασιλέων καὶ οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ κλητοὶ καὶ ἐκλεκτοὶ καὶ πιστοί.

The word “called” translates κλητοὶ the nominative, plural form of the adjective κλητός or klētos. All uses in the New Testament speak specifically of those being “called” by God. No one comes to Christ unless they are first called. However, there is more to being in Christ than being called. The second requirement is that they are “chosen,” which translates ἐκλεκτοὶ the nominative, plural form of the adjective ἐκλεκτός or eklektos, which means “chosen, elected, set apart,” with the biblical implication that God is the one who chooses. The third attribute of those who truly belong to Christ is that they are “faithful,” which translates πιστοί the nominative, plural form of the adjective πιστός or pistos, which means “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable.” This reference in Revelation is referring to those who refuse to compromise the Christian faith, even in the face of persecution and martyrdom. I believe that definition holds along with the Apostle Paul’s stance that he was “trustworthy” in his teaching because he never compromised. You get the idea.

So what we have here is that those who truly belong to Christ are called and chosen and faithful and we just looked at what that meant. Now think with me my brethren in our time of once faithful pastors and Christian leaders who have now compromised and allowed their teachings and ministries to become adulterated by mysticism or by fellowship with obvious compromisers of the truth. An example of this would be John Piper who was an excellent Christian Pastor and writer and Evangelist who has now partnered with Rick Warren and is also become associated with the compromised Acts 29 Network. John Piper would protest and say that we are accusing him through guilt by association, but how can any two walk together unless they are in agreement?

1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “ The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he *said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast. ’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he *said to him, ‘ Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? ’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14 NASB)

Here is v14 from the NASB: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Here is v14 from the NA28: πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοί, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί.

Yes, Jesus used the very same adjectives here that John used in Revelation 17:14 to describe real believers. The only difference is that, here, we do not have καὶ πιστοί. In any case, let’s look at what our Lord is teaching us. As I said earlier, in this parable our Lord describes the consequences that will befall those who believe their religiosity or position in the visible church is what earns them a place in the Kingdom, but who, in reality, are not among the chosen.

The analogy of the kingdom of heaven is compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants to invite the right people, but those invited would not come and even disrespected the invitation even going so far as to kill some of the servants. The king sent troops to kill them, burning their city. The wedding feast is still ready though. Therefore, the king had his servants invite everyone they could find to come in so the wedding hall was filled.

However, when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. He said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? The person without the wedding garment was speechless. Then the king had his servants bind the man hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Why? “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The called is who? This is referring to the “general call” of the Gospel or the “external call.” This is a summons to repentance in faith that is inherent in the Gospel message. This call extends to all who hear the Good News. Many hear it, but of those, how many respond? Those who truly respond in faith are the “chosen” or “elect.” The call that results in people responding to the Gospel refers to God’s irresistible calling extended to the elect alone (Romans 8:30). This is the effectual call. We see this in John 6:44 as well. The “chosen” enter the kingdom only because of the grace of God in choosing and drawing them. That is what Jesus meant in Matthew 22:14.

Now, in light of this and Revelation 17:11-14 in which those truly in Christ are also the faithful, what does this say about those who once appeared to be genuine, but later compromised and went apostate? I suppose their answer might be that they do not consider those compromises to be moves into apostasy, but they clearly are moves away from Orthodoxy and despite how faithful one is at one point in ministry it is faithfulness from beginning to end that counts. If you do not believe that then I suggest you read some of Paul’s epistles about some of his former associates who fell away…

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “For many are called, but few are chosen

  1. Reblogged this on The love of God and commented:
    Scary topic, this. There are so many who teach that whatever is done can be forgiven. Jesus said that every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, except for the sin against the Holy Spirit.

    Along with this page, I think I would recommend a reading of Hebrews 6 & 10.

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  2. John Piper has compromised. He’s also pushed Lectio Divina…

    One cannot assume anymore that you are ‘safe’ and can ‘drop your guard’ just because you are being taught by certain people. We must always watch and listen closely to make sure leaders who have seemed trustworthy in the past still remain that way. Test everything, always…

    ~Andy

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