Can you explain/distinguish the doctrines of election and predestination?


The terms "election" and "predestination" each have a variety of uses. As the Bible uses them, their meanings overlap greatly, so that in many instances they are synonymous.

Election refers broadly to the act of choosing. In the Bible, it can refer to any type of choice made by anyone. Most commonly, however, we think in terms of God's choices when we talk about election. As the Bible uses the word in regards to God's choices, it sometimes pertains to God's choice of Israel as his people, sometimes to his choice of the church as his people, and sometimes to his choice of certain individuals for salvation. Generally, the context of a particular use makes its meaning clear.

Predestination broadly refers to anything that God ordains to take place. For example, he "predestined" the Crucifixion (Acts 4:28). The Bible also uses the word to speak of God's specific foreordination of certain people to be saved. In this use, it means the same thing as election to salvation.

When we speak in terms of the "doctrines" of election and predestination, we generally refer to this area of overlap. Thus, election is the doctrine that before the foundation of the world God chose certain people to be saved, and predestination is the doctrine that God foreordained certain individuals to be saved. There is no substantive difference between these two doctrines, only a difference in the vocabulary used to describe them.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.