Called, Appointed, And Remaining

Q. What is the difference between being called, being appointed, and remaining. In 1 Cor. 7:20 Paul said “Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.” What did he mean?

A. The Greek word for called is kaleo. A compound form of the word is translated church (ekklesia). It literally means a gathering or assembly that has been called out of one place into another. In the spiritual sense, to be called is to be called out of the unbelieving world into the body of believers. A calling (klesis) is another form of the word and means a vocation. Today we use the word in a higher sense, thinking of a calling as work having greater significance or meaning than an ordinary vocation.

Literally translated, 1 Cor. 7:20 says we should remain in the same vocation were in when God called us into the Church. By reading the whole chapter we can see that his main point in saying that was to advise people who became believers not to divorce their unbelieving spouses and slaves who became believers not to run away from their masters. Becoming a Christian does not relieve us of the responsibility to fulfill our worldly obligations. But I don’t think Paul meant to say that a person in a job that requires him to act in a manner that conflicts with his new found beliefs is forbidden to change jobs if he has the option of doing so.

A number of different Greek words are translated appointed, but the general idea is that it refers to something that is set forth or predetermined, rather than just being selected to take on a particular responsibility.

From this we can see that these words originally carried a different meaning than our current usage would indicate. To gain the full intent of a particular passage of Scripture it’s sometimes necessary to consult a concordance to see what the words being used meant when they were written.

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