When Jesus Chose the Twelve, was He Choosing Them for Salvation?
Everything has its purpose in the will of God. This is true for all of creation. It all has meaning and significance because God is the architect and builder of all things (Heb 3:4; 11:10). This includes the Fall (Gen 3). All the works of God were finished from the foundation of the world (Heb 4:3), and God’s purposes are eternal (Eph 3:11). God is willing and doing all things in alignment with His will and for His good pleasure (Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13).
God’s works of both election and reprobation were also pre-creation acts of the Father (Rom 9:22–23), as noted by the Apostle Paul, “According as He (the Father) has chosen us in the Him (Christ, the Son) before the foundation of the world…(Eph 1:4),” and “because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation…(Eph 2:13b).” Thus, the answer to our titled question is “No.”
The “no” answer should also be recognized by John 6:70, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil.’” The allusion to Judas Iscariot is explained by John, the apostle (Jn 6:71). Obviously, in choosing the twelve, Judas Iscariot was included. Being the son of perdition, an iconic reprobate, Judas was not chosen by Jesus for salvation.
The Greek word employed for Jesus choosing the disciples is eklegomai in John 6:70 and John 15:16. Judas Iscariot was numbered among the twelve disciples of Jesus (Acts 1:17), but when he was replaced, Matthias was chosen (Acts 1:24). Again, the Greek word here is eklegomai, as when Jesus chose the twelve at the beginning (Lk 6:13). The same Greek word is employed when referring to salvation (Eph 1:4). Hence, the language is neutral in our discussion.
In choosing His elect people for salvation, Jesus’ elect disciples were obviously included in that number. By itself we cannot interpret Jesus’ statement about choosing the disciples as a reference to salvation. This was a more specific choosing.
This type of distinction is also seen in the idea of calling. Many are called to salvation in Christ, but there are some of that number who are called to more specific works. This predilection is especially true for men of God who are called to preach the Word.
In no way does this more specific use of the word in the context of Capernaum (Jn 6) or Gethsemane (Jn 15) comments by Jesus diminish the passages referring to election in salvation. In this context the allusion is to His choosing His disciples to follow and learn from Him as their teacher and Lord.
By way of application, the same situation exists, today. There are some called by God, to follow the Spirit of Christ for specific tasks. Some children of the devil occupy those spots of serving Christ like Judas Iscariot. Obviously, these are not believers, and they must be exposed for being evil doers. If Jesus chose a wicked worker of iniquity, it was to show us that they will be among us, too (Acts 20:28–29).
Salvation is of God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1) and so is specific direction (Prv 3:5–6; Mt 28:19–20; Mk 10:21; Lk 10:1; Acts 1:8; 8:29; 16:17; etc.). Let us be glad in both.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 9, 2021