1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 – Election through the Gospel

By Wayne Jackson

The theology of John Calvin contends that before the foundation of the world, God elected certain ones (both angels and men) to be saved, and others to be lost.

There is no biblical basis for this. In the opening remarks of his first letter to the brethren at Thessalonica, Paul makes an interesting comment which helps put this topic into proper focus.

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father; knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election, how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake” (1 Thes. 1:1-5).

In verse four, the apostle reminds them of their “election.” The original term merely denotes one who has been selected. The nature of the selection must be determined by additional information.

In this instance, the context clarifies the matter. The election was effected through the proclamation of the gospel and these folks’ acceptance of the same.

Underline “election” (v. 4), and “gospel” (v. 5), and connect the two words with a line. Marginally note: Election is through acceptance of the gospel.

This is further corroborated by a statement in Paul’s second letter to these same Christians: “… he [God] called you through the gospel …” (2 Thes. 2:14).

The Bible knows nothing of an arbitrary divine election separate from human responsibility.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.