Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Question or Topic
What is the meaning of the word "chosen"? (As used in Rev. 17:14, in the expression "called and chosen and faithful")
The Greek language, in many respects is more precise than English. In the English language, the exact meaning of a word must, at times, be determined by the context in which it is used, whereas in Greek, a different word is used to express a specific shade of meaning. In the New Testament, the words, "choose", "chose", and "chosen" are translated from six Greek words, depending on the meaning to be conveyed. The following examples illustrate, in the verb form, six slightly different meanings in Greek, for the single word "choose" in English:
This means, "to choose for oneself", not necessarily implying the rejection of what is not chosen. Thus, in Luke 6:13 it states, "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he CHOSE twelve, whom also he named apostles;" The remainder were not rejected; they were still disciples. It is significant to note that one of the twelve chosen was not faithful.
This form of the word means, "to choose in addition to or in succession to another". Thus, in Acts15: 39-40 we find, "And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul CHOSE Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God."
This word suggests "taking for oneself". Its special significance is to select by the act of taking, rather than by showing preference or favour. II Thess.2: 13 illustrates this usage. "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning CHOSEN you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The Thessalonians were not being singled out from all other believers because of God's special preference, but were simply among those who had a similar hope.
This word means, "to choose by reason of suitability". Thus in Matthew12:18, referring to Christ, we have, "Behold my servant, whom I have CHOSEN; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles." The suitability is without question.
This word is used for the "appointment" of elders by an ecclesia. Such a usage is found in II Cor. 8:18-19, "And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; And not that only, but who was also CHOSEN of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind."
Here, the word means "to choose before", as in Acts 10:40-41, "Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses CHOSEN before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead."
As an adjective, the word is EKLEKTOS and is related to the verb form EKLEGO. It signifies "chosen out" or "select". We find the word in I Peter 2:9, " But ye are a CHOSEN generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." In this form of the word we get a clue to the answer to our question.
In the verse just quoted, we find four very significant terms: "a chosen generation", "a royal priesthood", "a holy nation", and "a peculiar people". These expressions all have their origin in the Old Testament:
Deut. 10:15, "Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he CHOSE their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day." Deut. 14:2, "For thou art an HOLY PEOPLE unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath CHOSEN thee to be a PECULIAR people unto himself above all the nations that are upon the earth."
Exodus 19:5-6, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a PECULIAR treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
Although Israel was a chosen people to fulfill the Lord's purpose, they were, in the main, by no means an obedient people. By the same token, when Peter applies these words to the saints, they too can fall short of "the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."(Phil.3: 14) Another impressive text is found in Hebrews 6:4-6. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
Thus the term CHOSEN does not imply a guarantee of salvation, even of those who had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This term is equivalent to the term, "the called" in Romans 8:28 where Paul states, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are THE CALLED according to his purpose." When we respond to the call of the gospel and are baptized into the Saving Name of Jesus Christ, we become THE CALLED and THE CHOSEN.
"Called" and "chosen" and "faithful" describe a divine progressive process for accomplishing the salvation of mankind. "Call", is hearing; "chosen", is having decided and obeyed; "faithful", is performing and enduring unto the end.
Finally, as a noun, the word is EKLOGE. It means "a picking out" and is often translated by the word "elect", as is illustrated in II Peter 1:10, "Wherefore the rather brethren, give diligence to make your CALLING and ELECTION sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall." The exhortation, "to make your calling and election (choosing) sure", implies the possibility of failure.
Therefore brethren, let us strive to be found among "the called", and "chosen" and "faithful" on that great day.
Note: Some brethren have questioned the value of providing a number of Greek words and their meanings in such an article as the above. It is the writer's opinion that such an approach eliminates the tendency to arbitrarily decide the meaning of a word, based upon a preconceived opinion. Thus, in Rev.17: 4, the word chosen, translated from the Greek word "EKLEKTOS", means "select", as a result of baptism; it does not mean, "chosen by reason of suitability", which the Greek word "HAIRETIZO" would suggest. Christ alone was sinless and thus suitable. Nor does it mean "to choose before", indicated by the Greek word "PROCHIEROTONES", which some with an erroneous idea about predestination might suggest. The choosing is the result of baptism, pure and simple.