what does the bible say?

What does “Many are called but few are chosen?” mean?

In Matthew 22:14 Jesus told His disciples, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  What is the difference between being called and being chosen?

God’s calling is an invitation.  The Greek word translated “church” in the New Testament is ecclesia, which literally means “called-out ones.”  When God calls a person, He invites him into His Church to help the church perform its great commission of preaching the Gospel to the world (Matthew 24:14), and to prepare to rule with Jesus Christ and teach God’s way in the world tomorrow (Revelation 5:10; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 3:21).  That is the main reason for being called now. Jesus Christ said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…”  No one can be called unless God Himself decides to call him or her.  

In John 10:2-4, 14 – Christ likens true believers to sheep, and Himself as the good shepherd.  He says the true sheep will know their spiritual shepherd because they will hear His voice and understand His words.  The point of the analogy is this:  one whom God is calling will have his or her mind opened to understand when they hear God’s truth.  One who is not being called may hear the words, but, like a foreign language they will not understand – those words will not be mixed with understanding and belief (Matthew 13:11).  

God is not calling everyone now in this age.  This is not to say they will never be called – just that they are not called yet at this time. If we study the parable of the king who made a marriage for his son in Matthew 22:1-14, we can better understand the meaning of Christ’s statement “Many are called but few are chosen.”  Christ said in this parable that “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come” (verses 2-3).  God calls “many”, but most pay little or no attention to God’s royal invitation.  Of those who have been reached or witnessed to with Christ’s true Gospel and who have been called by God, only a very few have ever fully accepted and responded to that call.

The parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15) reveals what happens that when the “seed” – God’s Word – is sown.  Some seeds fell by the wayside, other seed fell on a rock, some fell among thorns, but others fell on good ground, sprang up and yielded a crop.  “Now the parable is this:  The seed is the word of God.  Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.  And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (verses 11-15).

If we respond to God’s call, then God chooses us and grants us repentance, forgiveness, His Holy Spirit, and His grace.  When the Bible speaks of God’s “elect” they are God’s chosen ones.  God’s elect are the ones He calls out of this world and who respond to that calling.  He opens their minds to grasp and understand His Word, His plan, and His will.  Those whom He calls out of this darkened world and into “the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ: (2 Corinthians 4:4) collectively form the Church of God.  

The apostle Peter addressing true Christians – true members of God’s Church said, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9). When the glorified, crowned Jesus Christ returns to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, He will gather unto Himself His elect (Matthew 24:31).  However, even if Christ chooses us, we must remain faithful to the very end (Matthew 24:13).  “And those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).  We must be faithful unto death, or we will never be born as glorified, spirit-composed beings, into the Kingdom of God (John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).

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