[Note: This is the second of two studies regarding Paul's concept of election; the notes are the same because the teaching sessions required more time than a set of notes typically requires.]
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election,
5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and [in] much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.
I. Paul's Knowledge of the "Election" of the Thessalonians.
A. Of whom did he know?
a. This is a most logical progression since his characterization of "the God" was that He is "our Father".
b. It also, however, lends itself clearly to Paul's claim to "know" of their "election" (only the "elect" are "brethren"; to call someone "brother" is to tacitly acknowledge his claim to the identity as one of the "elect"; but we need to keep Paul's declaration in 2 Timothy 2:19 in mind).
2. "Beloved" by God.
a. The "beloved" concept reaches back to the "faith, love, hope" trilogy in 1:3. Only those who recognized their status as "beloved" can respond with "love" (we love Him because He first loved us: 1 John 4:19).
b. The preposition is visually significant in that "upo" is best visually illustrated as "under". The visual puts "the God" under the Thessalonians as their support as the One whose love sustains their experience of the joy of Life. Just as "epi" signifies "resting upon", "upo" signals "support".
B. What did he know?
1. The Scriptures are not silent about the fact that God "elected" certain human beings unto a grace-based salvation even before the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8).
2. The details of this "election" are drawn out in selected portions of the Scriptures, but the main issue is that God "elected" those who are eventually saved (Acts 13:48).
a. One of the major reasons for this "election" is that God's Plan was always to be understood to be an issue of "grace" (Romans 9:11 and 11:5). Divine election is the most fundamental bulwark against the hubris introduced by Lucifer into the angelic hosts and then further pressed into the mindset of the humanity of most of Adam's offspring.
1) That "grace" must begin with the decision of God rather than the decision of an angel or a man cannot be dismissed. The fundamental character of "grace" is that it disallows any and every basis for "boasting" by taking man's attitudes, choices, and actions out of the "fundamental mix" (1 Corinthians 4:7).
a) There is a fundamental mix of things that resides under every concept that gives each concept its essential character.
b) There is also, however, a less than fundamental mix of things that develops out of that fundamental mix and that plays a significant part in the myriads of details that are involved in the progress from "foundation" to "final capstone".
c) It is invariably the case that Lucifer and his minions, both angelic and human, seek to subvert the foundations by attempting to insert the superficial into that base.
d) Man's opposition to "election" rests entirely upon this subversion of the order of things, and it always begins with antagonism toward God. There is never any opposition to God and His ways that does not have its roots in a primal antagonism. Thus, there must always be, for the believer, a willingness to evaluate our reactions to God's truth to see how they are "rooted" -- either in the flesh or in the Spirit.
2) That the underlying rationale for "election" is "grace" means that our take on the Plan of God must flow along the lines of a divine intention to "enhance the Joy by means of the revelation of the glory of grace".
a) Thus, the issue is not so much a divine Plan that makes salvation open to everyone so that it is the individual's "faith" that makes the Plan work; rather, it is a Plan to eliminate human hubris by making salvation simply a matter of faith with a demonstrable revelation of human unwillingness to "believe". The lack of willingness is notable as a characteristic of depraved hatefulness toward God. God has always had it in mind to make it as clear as possible that the relational breakdown in the totality of His creation is rooted in the depraved hatefulness of those who accuse Him of a lack of integrity ("...you will NOT die..." was Satan's accusation of a fundamental lack of integrity in the One Who had said "...ye shall surely die...").
b) Therefore, "election" is the beginning of the process by which "the God Who loves" brings depraved haters into the Joy of Life and transforms them from "hateful" to those who are characterized by "the Labor of the Love".
C. How did he know?
1. The "knowing" is "eidote" knowing; more rational than experiential.
2. Rational knowing means that there is evidence that one must "reasonably" consider in order to draw conclusions.
3. Anyone who evidences all three of the big three (the work of the FAITH, the labor of the LOVE, and the endurance of the HOPE) over a period of time long enough to overcome Jesus' parable of the soils is "reasonably" showing his/her "election" so that all observers can claim to "know" the reality of his/her "election".
D. Why did he mention it?
1. Every mention of "election" is a not-so-subtle insertion of two basic doctrines: the depravity of hate; and the transformational power of Love.
2. Also, the mentions of "election" are the bottom line presentation of the issue of "security" for the souls of those involved. Technically, one cannot sense any significant level of security if the issue of "election" is suspended; nothing is secure that is outside of the Plan of God.
3. And, in keeping with his "endurance of hope" thesis, "election" is, bottom line, the only way any person can actually have any "hope". "Squishy hope" will not manufacture the level of determination needed for "endurance" in the face of deadly opposition.