Below is the video broadcast walking through 2 Thess. 2:13 with a response to Calvinistic pastor, Paul Washer. Or you can download the podcast version HERE.
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14
“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is commonly quoted text by Calvinistic scholars seeking to prove that certain individuals were chosen for salvation to the neglect of all others. I believe this is very Western individualized interpretation of the scripture, however. We tend to read texts from an individualized (me, I, my) perspective in our egocentric society. This was not the common way of understanding such texts in the first century’s collectivist society where people were seen as under the headship of their cultural heritage, not merely as individuals.
We must understand that the predominately Gentile congregations of Paul’s day were constantly being told they were not the elect of God, but instead barbarian rejects. The Judaizers of the first century insisted that only Jews were chosen by God and Paul spent much time attempting to debunk this commonly held false belief (see the book of Galatians).
In the “Jew versus Gentile” context of Paul’s ministry he often references himself and the Jewish apostles as “us” and “our” in contrast to the Gentile believers as “you” and “your.” For instance, in verse 14 Paul seems to indicate that “you” (the Gentile believers) were called “through our” (the Jewish Apostles’) gospel. Therefore, it makes perfect sense, in Paul’s context, to thank God for his Gentile audience being chosen, or engrafted (Rom. 11:13-24), to salvation through faith. This, after all, is the mystery which had been hidden for generations which is just now being made known through men like Paul (Eph. 3:1-11).
In short, the “Apostle to the Gentiles” is likely combating the false view that the Gentiles were not the elect of God by writing this affirmation of God’s choice to include them from the very beginning.
17 thoughts on “2 Thessalonians 2:13: With Response to Paul Washer”
Please explain to me how the word “chosen” in this passage means “engrafted”? Prof. Flowers you cannot pour the context of Romans 11:13-24 and use it to change the meaning of “chosen” in order to fit your perspective. This is a common error of yours and people have repeatedly admonished you to stop isogeting the text by conflating contexts. But yet you continue to do it sir. Remember that teachers of the word have a greater condemnation because they’re responsible for feeding the flock.
Paul can’t make it any clearer here that God has chosen a remnant for salvation “from the beginning”. Fortunately for His elect, false teachers/doctrine will not keep Christ from saving that remnant! Please handle the Word with care sir!
Troy. Before pointing out any error, you ought also to be careful that you do not fall into the same trap.
Just where in this verse does Paul say anything about a ‘remnant’? The answer is a resounding NOWHERE! You are therefore adding in something which you’ve got from elsewhere and forcing this meaning on the text.
Neither does the verse simply say that God has chosen any one particular person for salvation, without any qualification. It states that God has chosen from the beginning to save ‘you’ THROUGH sanctification and FAITH. If God had really chosen to save those whom he decided beforehand that he would save, there would be no point in stating any requirements because if God had decided to do it, he would simply carry out his own wishes. In fact what this verse is reiterating is the truth which is taught throughout scripture which is that God has always had in mind to save ALL those who come to him in FAITH and repentance. It has always been God’s choice to do this.
The true biblical perspective is one which shows God providing salvation to all those who express faith, hence Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. All the biblical ‘greats’ are there because they are men and women of faith. Nobody ever gets to be saved just because God has decided to ‘choose’ them from out of the crowd. But nobody!
As to eisogesis (which is what I assume you were referring to?) you appear to be a very efficient proponent of the art! To handle the word of God correctly, one must first understand it!
Just a comment, a young man who was newly saved in his late twenties watched a video of Leighton Flowers and James White, when he shared it with one of the elders who fills in also as a pastor who is a very calviistic ,educated criminal lawyer and a brother in Christ, the lawyer first was insulted and told the young man that he was a bound into their dog not understanding God’s sovereignty, after he saw the video God transformed his mind and he texted the young man and told him that he was set free… I am very blessed by the change in his disposition as a person also he has become much more humble(the lawyer), I am grateful to God, I know those who are truly saved are really brothers and we will find out in the end but I see this that most people who are calvinistic that I have met are or seem to be prideful and intolerant and while that is not always the case it is my experience so far, Steven
Hello Steven – and thank you for the wonderful testimony!
I will forward this on to Dr. Flowers.
He will be glad to read it.
Pastor Flowers writes, “In the ‘Jew versus Gentile’ context of Paul’s ministry he often references himself and the Jewish apostles as ‘us’ and ‘our’ in contrast to the Gentile believers as ‘you’ and ‘your.'”
Pastor Flowers is correct in recognize the need to combat, “…the false view that the Gentiles were not the elect of God by writing this affirmation of God’s choice to include them from the very beginning.” When John writes, “For God so loved the world…” we naturally read this to mean that John has Jew and Gentile in mind – God did not love just the Jew but the Gentile also.
However, is his conclusion correct that Paul is referring to that distinction here? As an alternative, Paul could have been referring to himself and those who were traveling with him as “us,” and to those to whom he was writing as “you.” Paul begins the letter, “Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians…We ought always to thank God for you, brothers,…” Here, “we,” might naturally be read to mean “Paul, Silas, and Timothy,” with this sense carrying through the book and particularly, 2:13-14. Pastor Flowers has offered his opinion and that opinion needs to be accompanied by a sound Scriptural analysis (or exegesis) if it is to be taken as more than a personal opinion.
An interesting variant of this passage is: “But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved of God, for that God hath chosen you firstfruits unto salvation, in sanctification of the spirit and faith of the truth”: This has a different connotation, doesn’t it?
What I thought was interesting in the variant, ” God hath chosen you firstfruits unto salvation” is that there is no reference to the phrase “from the beginning” which the Calvinists put a lot of emphasis on.
Hi Eric! The phrase “from the beginning” is a more literal translation, but of no help to the Calvinist in my opinion, who often wrongly interprets the word “from” to mean “before”, though it only infers “after”. Also, Paul is most likely talking about from the beginning of the gospel ministry in Europe, more than from the beginning of creation.
See Phil 4:15 – “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” Paul was talking about the Macedonian vision that God gave him while in Asia Minor as being God’s choice for the “beginning” of the gospel in Europe, of which the Thessalonians benefited.
Eric Bean writes, “What I thought was interesting in the variant, ” God hath chosen you firstfruits unto salvation” is that there is no reference to the phrase “from the beginning” which the Calvinists put a lot of emphasis on.”
Apparently, the difference is tied to different language in different manuscripts. So either God has chosen the Thessalonian believers as a first fruit unto salvation or God has chosen the Thessalonians from the beginning unto salvation. Whether “a first fruit” or “from the beginning,” the point is still that it is God who chose according to His purpose – salvation – through His means – through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
interestingly, we are chosen (elected) unto salvation not only by “sanctification in spirit.” but also our faith in the truth! Hence, our election is not only based on “sanctification in spirit,” but also FAITH IN THE TRUTH. Thus, our election is based, in part, on God’s foreknowledge our of faith in the truth.
It should also be considered that the term, “sanctification in spirit,” could be referred to our repentance at the time of our conversion. (There is no definite article in front of “spirit” in the text of 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Hence, God could be telling us in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 that he has chosen us from the beginning–that is, this is the way God has planned it from the beginning–that through REPENTANCE and FAITH we enter the kingdom of God.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; REPENT and BELIEVE in the gospel.” Mark 1:15.
harry murphy writes, “Hence, God could be telling us in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 that he has chosen us from the beginning–that is, this is the way God has planned it from the beginning–that through REPENTANCE and FAITH we enter the kingdom of God.”
We can also bring in Ephesians 2 – “by grace you have been saved through faith;” We are saved by grace; it is God who chose to save us. God conveys faith to those He has chosen to save by means of the preaching of the gospel. The Holy Spirit seems to be active in this as well as in the conviction of sin leading to repentance. As John 3 tells us, we must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven and this is also something the Holy Spirit brings about. We see abundant evidence of God’s intimate involvement in saving people – first by choosing whom to save and then through sanctification – a process God directs.
He chose us all, not leaving anyone out (2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”).
Unfortunately, not all have accepted. Narrow path/wide path.
See James Mc Carthy article on “Chosen to Salvation” at http://jamesgmccarthy.com/index.shtml James is the author of “John Calvin Goes to Berkley (2010) and the following:The Gospel According to Rome (Harvest House Publishers, 1995); What You Need to Know About Roman Catholicism—Quick Reference Guide (Harvest House, 1995); What Every Catholic Should Ask (Harvest House, 1999), and Talking with Catholic Friends and Family (Harvest House, 2005). He has also coauthored a book with John Waiss, a Catholic priest and member of Opus Dei, titled Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical (Harvest House, 2003).
The passage states that God chose you (plural), but says nothing of how this choice is made or actualized. Given that the Gospel “s the power of God for salvation”, could not choosing be simply the Holy Spirit’s inspiring the evangelists to share the gospel in Thessalonica? Nothing in this passage requires a caustic determination of who accepts salvation.
Brother Daniel asks, “Given that the Gospel “s the power of God for salvation”, could not choosing be simply the Holy Spirit’s inspiring the evangelists to share the gospel in Thessalonica?”
2 Thessalonians 2
13. But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
You might be correct except that Paul is very specific as to his audience – it is “brethren beloved by the Lord.” So, Paul is not writing to everyone in Thessalonica but to a subset within that group. It is to “brethren beloved by the Lord” that Paul writes, “God has chosen you.” So God chose these specific people for what purpose – “for salvation.” Thus, in this particular case, we don’t have Paul speaking generally of the work of the Holy Spirit to prompt Paul to share the gospel in Thessalonica, but we have Paul dealing with those who are saved.
In chap 1, Paul said, “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.” Paul is encouraging the believers in Thessalonica who are suffering and as part of this encouragement, he says, “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”