Q. I’m having a difficult time separating God’s chosen people from God’s elect. I’ve always thought that Israel is God’s “chosen” people, but when we get into verse like cutting short for the Elects sake in Matt. 24 I get a little confused. Is Israel both the “Chosen” and the “Elect” and if so what is a Christian to identify with? I ask this because I find it nearly impossible to convince post-trib believers that the verses in Matt. 24 are only about Israel and the 2nd coming, not the rapture of the church. Is there a way to convince them with scripture that show clearly that Jesus is speaking of Israel and not the church?
A. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated “elect” (8 times) is also translated “chosen” (4 times) and refers to both Israel and the Messiah.
In the New Testament the Greek word translated “elect” (16 times) is also translated “chosen” (7 times) and can refer to believers on Earth, believers in Heaven, Israel, the Church, Jesus, and certain angels.
This tells us the person or persons the Bible is referring to when using these words has to be determined by the context in which they appear. In Matt.24:22 we see the word “elect” referring to believers on Earth, while in Matt. 24:31 the same word is used to describe believers in Heaven, but in neither case can they be specifically identified as the Church.
Showing that Matt. 24 pertains to Israel can be done by pointing out that the Lord never mentioned the Church there, but did mention the people in Judea (Israel), the Temple (Israel), travel on the Sabbath (Israel), and a warning against being fooled by false Christs (Israel).
Also, His phrase “He who stands firm to the end will be saved” in Matt. 24:13 cannot apply to the Church because our salvation is guaranteed from the moment we believe (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The entire chapter was devoted to the Lord’s answer to three questions of Matt. 24:3. When will these things happen (the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem), what will be the sign of your (2nd) coming, and of the end of the age, (completion of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy). All these were of primary importance to Israel.
In all the gospels you won’t find any direct mention of a Church Age, or a rapture of the Church, because Jesus never spoke of these things. The few hints of we can see of them are only clear to us because we already know about them.
Therefore, it is not accurate to assume the inclusion of either the Church or the rapture in Matt. 24. Even after His resurrection the disciples still expected Him to restore the Kingdom to Israel at that time (Acts 1:6), and the doctrine of the rapture was unknown to the early Church until Paul introduced it 20 years after the resurrection in his letters to Corinth and Thessalonica. The phrase. “Listen, I tell you a mystery” in 1 Cor. 15:51 means he was revealing a secret. He was talking about the rapture.
In short, to place the Church in Matt. 24 requires us to alter the context of the chapter, and then assume Jesus was implying something He had never specifically taught about.