Who are the chosen ones in the Bible
The concept of the “chosen ones” in the Bible refers to those who are selected by God for a special purpose or relationship. There are several groups in Scripture that are identified as chosen by God, but the meaning and implications vary depending on the context.
The nation of Israel as the chosen people
The most prominent reference to chosen ones in the Bible applies to the nation of Israel as a whole. God chose Abraham and his descendants to be His special people and enter into a covenant relationship with them.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)
This chooseness of Israel is a key theme that runs through the Old Testament. God promises to bless them, protect them, and make them a great nation, through whom all other nations will be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). The chooseness of Israel is not based on any inherent merits – in fact the Old Testament makes it clear that Israel was the smallest and weakest nation of all (Deuteronomy 7:7). Rather, God sovereignly chose to set His affection on Israel and adopt them as His special people.
Some implications of Israel’s chooseness include:
- Israel has a unique relationship with God marked by intimacy, responsibility, and accountability
- Israel is called to follow God’s laws and be a light to the nations
- God protects, provides, and preserves Israel despite trials and opposition
So in the national sense, the “chosen ones” refers to ethnic Israel as God’s covenant people. But within Israel, there are smaller groups who are identified as chosen individuals.
Prophets and apostles as chosen
Within the Bible, there are many individuals who are specifically chosen by God for leadership roles, such as prophets, kings, and apostles. For example:
Jeremiah – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Jesus’ disciples – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…” (John 15:16)
These chosen individuals are appointed by God to speak and act on His behalf through exercising leadership, spiritual gifts, or fulfilling specific missions.
Common traits of God’s chosen instruments include:
- Chosen by grace before birth
- Called to carry out special assignments
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit to lead God’s people
- Positioned for God’s sovereign purposes
So within the “chosen nation” of Israel, God selected certain individuals to play key roles according to His divine plan.
The messianic Servant as the Chosen One
While the nation of Israel and its leaders were chosen ones, the Bible also points to a special Chosen One who will ultimately fulfill God’s purposes – the Messiah. Isaiah’s prophecy refers to this figure:
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights.” (Isaiah 42:1)
This verse speaks of the Servant of the Lord, the coming Messiah who will bring justice, salvation, and hope to the world. This servant will succeed where Israel failed in being the light to the nations.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah applies Isaiah’s prophecy to Himself, indicating He is the ultimate Chosen One (Luke 9:35). As the Son of God, Jesus was chosen before the foundation of the world to redeem and reconcile humanity to God.
So while Israel and key leaders were chosen ones with a special purpose, Jesus is the Chosen One par excellence – chosen to bring salvation to the world as its Savior and Lord.
Followers of Jesus as the elect/chosen
Another New Testament theme around chosen ones is the idea of Jesus’ followers being “the elect” or “the chosen.”
For example, Romans 8:33 states: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
This refers back to Israel’s chooseness but applies it now to the church comprised of Jewish & Gentile believers in Jesus. Followers of Jesus now relate to God through the New Covenant rather than the old Mosaic Covenant. They also participate in Jesus’ identity as the Chosen One.
Key aspects of Christ-followers as chosen include:
- Chosen by grace & predestined for salvation
- Set apart from the world as holy to the Lord
- Adopted as heirs with Christ and children of God
So Galatians 3:29 explains believers’ chosen status: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Based on their faith-union with Christ, followers of Jesus inherit the blessings and responsibilities of being God’s new chosen people.
Chosen for service, not salvation
An important distinction regarding the elect is that the Bible does not teach God only chooses some people to be saved. Divine election for salvation includes all who exercise faith in Christ (John 3:16).
But Ephesians 1:4 clarifies there is also an election “for service”:
“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
So God chooses some from among the saved for special service to His kingdom purposes. This explains how someone like the apostle Paul can be “chosen” and sent to the Gentiles after his conversion. He was not saved because he was chosen, but saved and then chosen for service.
In summary, while Israel according to the flesh was God’s first chosen nation, the New Testament church composed of Jewish & Gentile believers now inherits that special chosen status. And from within God’s people, He sovereignly chooses some for strategic leadership roles to advance His Gospel mission. Ultimately, Jesus Christ fulfills the destiny of the Chosen One who makes salvation available to the world. Through faith-union with Christ, anyone can become part of God’s new cherished chosen people.
Chosen through faith, not works
Romans 9 makes it clear that God’s election or chooseness is not based on racial identity or good works, but on God’s merciful grace:
“Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:11-13)
Here Paul explains God’s election is based on His sovereign call, not human effort. God’s chooses whoever He decides purely by His grace.
Likewise, Romans 10 contrasts works righteousness versus faith:
“What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,“God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (Romans 11:7-8)
Therefore being among God’s elect (chosen) is a matter of faith in Christ, not good behavior or racial identity. Anyone who responds in faith can be grafted into God’s chosen people, irrespective of background.
A choice and a calling
In conclusion, God’s election in Scripture contains both individual and national aspects. God chooses people groups for special purposes but also calls certain persons to unique roles within His plans.
His sovereign choice is presented side-by-side with human responsibility. Revelation 22:17 expresses this tension:
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
God chooses nations and leaders by His grace, but extends the gift of salvation to the world. Humans must choose to respond to God’s gracious call with repentance and faith in order to receive eternal life.
The nation of Israel was God’s originally elect people, but now the church fills this role. Christ Himself is the Chosen One who fulfills the covenant promises to Israel by bringing salvation worldwide. And all those who put their faith in Jesus partake of His election and become adopted heirs of God’s kingdom as His new “chosen ones”.