Pre-Trib. Rapture theorists believe the Elect of Matt. 24 are the Jewish remnant. Pre-Wrath Rapture theorists believe they are Christians. This is not a trivial question. If they are the Jewish remnant, the Pre-Wrath Rapture theory is incorrect. If they are the Church, the Pre-Trib. Rapture theory is incorrect. So who are the elect of Matt. 24?
Who are the Elect of Matt. 24?
The most controversial word in Matthew 24 is “elect” which is a translation of the Greek word EKLEKTOS in the following verse :
And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect (Gk: EKLEKTOS) from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matt. 24:31 NASB)
Exclusive of this controversial usage, if asked who the Elect are, we would say they are all who have placed or will place their faith in Jesus. This would include Old Testament saints (placed their faith in the Messiah to come), Christians and the Jewish remnant that will one day place their faith in Him. Let us see how this common sense approach is confirmed by Scripture.
This Greek Word EKLECTOS is utilized frequently (23 times) in the New Testament and 13 times in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, two uses are in regard to Jesus, one use is in regard to a Christian brother, and one use is in regard to angels. The remaining 19 uses of this word are all in regard to Christians and the word is translated both by “elect” and “chosen” in English translations:
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect (EKLEKTOS)? (Rom. 8:31-33 NASB)
There is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen (EKLEKTOS) of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion. (Col. 3:11-12)
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen (EKLEKTOS) of God. (Titus 1:1 NASB)
The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen (Gk: EKLEKTOS) and faithful. (Rev. 17:12-14)
These passages show that in the New Testament, this word (EKLEKTOS) refers to Christians (those who have already placed their faith in Jesus), and in the case of Titus 1:1 can refer to Gentile Christians.
So what possible basis can Pre-Trib. theorists use to claim the “elect” are solely the Jewish remnant? Their reasoning is that this same Greek word EKLEKTOS is used to refer to righteous Israelites in the Septuagint Old Testament. The Hebrew equivalent word is BACHIR and ten of the thirteen occurances refer to God’s chosen people. Some are like this verse:
Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, O seed of Israel His servant,Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones (EKLEKTOS)! (1 Chron. 16:12-13)
This verse obviously refers to the Sons of Jacob or the saved found within national Israel. Some other Old Testament verses that reference EKLEKTOS do not necessarily refer only to national Israel
I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, And an heir of My mountains from Judah; even My chosen ones (EKLEKTOS) shall inherit it, and My servants will dwell there (Isa. 65:9)
And He brought forth His people with joy, his chosen ones (EKLEKTOS) with a joyful shout. He gave them also the lands of the nations, that they might take possession of the fruit of the peoples’ labor (Psalm 105:43-44)
Both of these verses refer to the end times and the inheritance that will be given God’s Elect. The first verse mentions Jesus as the heir of his mountains (Kingdom). In both verses, however, the chosen ones are not exclusively Jews. And the following verse shows that God will call the chosen ones by a new name! (not Judah or Jacob)
You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones (EKLEKTOS), and the Lord God will slay you. But My servants will be called by another name. (Isa. 65:15)
Who are the Elect?
Based on this analysis of the entire Bible, we see that Old Testament references to EKLEKTOS are mixed. Some refer strictly to national Israel, some could refer to the Church as well, and some seem to refer strictly to the Church. This makes complete sense. Old Testament saints such as Moses and Daniel placed their faith in God and his coming Messiah. By this faith they were saved and they are definitively EKLEKTOS. So in the Old Testament, we see references to EKLEKTOS that are Jews such as Daniel, and in prophetic passages we see references to future Christians who will be EKLEKTOS.
After the resurrection of Jesus, only those who have placed their faith in our Risen Savior are EKLEKTOS. For this reason, in the New Testament, all references to EKLEKTOS are to those who have placed their faith in Jesus.
In and of itself, this analysis does not solve our dilemma. If the Pre-Trib. Rapture theorists are correct, then Matt. 24:31 is the physical Second Coming when Jesus returns to fight Armageddon. If this were true, then at that point the Jewish remnant would have already placed their faith in Jesus and would be EKLEKTOS at that point.
If the Pre-Wrath Rapture is correct, then Matt. 24:31 is the Rapture and EKLEKTOS refers to those who have placed their faith in Jesus at that point and it would include Christians.
On its own, a word study of EKLEKTOS neither proves nor denys the Pre-Trib. Rapture. I must say that it highly favors the Pre-Wrath Rapture since every New Testament reference refers to Christians, but this isn’t complete proof.
Other Evidence-The Apostles’ Opinion
The Didache is a highly regarded Christian document from the First Century, and is substantiation for the Elect being Christians. Although the Didache is not part of the canon of scripture, many believe it may be the oral tradition of the disciples. The document is universally accepted as authentic, and it is referenced in the writing of numerous early Church Fathers . It is considered by many to be the oral tradition and teaching of the Apostles prior to the writing of the New Testament books.
The final chapter of the Didache is entirely devoted to eschatological issues, but even in earlier chapters, end time references are found. Of greatest interest is the ending of a Eucharistic prayer found in Chapter 10 which is an exact quote from Matt. 24:31.
Remember, Lord, your church, to save her from every evil, and to perfect her in your love, and to gather her together from the four winds, the sanctiﬁed into your kingdom which you have prepared for her. (Didache 10:5, emphasis mine)
And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds. (Matt. 24:31 NASB, emphasis mine)
It is obvious from this early Church document that First Century Christians believed the Apostles equated “the elect” of Matt. 24:31 with the Church and a Pre-Wrath Rapture. Again, this proof highly favors a Pre-Wrath Rapture, but because the Didache is not canon, it is not 100% conclusive proof.
Evidence from the Gospel of Mark
The verse quoted at the beginning of this article (Matt. 24:31) has a parallel passage in Mark. The one slight difference between the verses, however, provides us with a very, very interesting twist:
Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. (Mark 13: 26-27)
This verse is nearly identical to Matt. 24:31. But pay strict attention to the end of the verse. The destination of the gathering together of the Elect is given. They are gathered FROM the farthest end of the earth TO Heaven. This subtle difference is ignored by nearly all Rapture theorists.
Pre-Trib. Rapture theorists (and Post-Trib. Rapture theorists) don’t consider Heaven the destination of the gathering together. Both main Rapture theories consider this a horizontal gathering from the ends of the earth back to Israel. However, Mark clearly indicates that this gathering together is to Heaven. This is very strong evidence that this is the Rapture not a simple gathering back to Israel because Israel is not the destination; heaven is.
Some might argue that “heaven” is sometimes used simply to mean sky in some passages. However, this word in Mark 13:27 is the same “heaven” that Jesus uses extensively in the gospels for the true heaven; such as in “Kingdom of Heaven,” or “your reward in Heaven is great,” or “Our Father who art in Heaven.” To completely substantiate this meaning, the Holy Spirit had Mark add the words “the farthest end” of heaven to the verse. Obviously a gathering wouldn’t be to the farthest end of the atmosphere! Rather this clearly references the abode of God himself, which is the destination of the Rapture.
Because only 4% of the Church currently realizes that the Rapture will be Pre-Wrath, this verse in Mark is one of hundreds that is under-examined. Items like the destination of the gathering of the Elect have been ignored because they don’t fit with the other Rapture theories.
The book associated with this ministry’s new “Mystery Project” examines 147 separate Rapture proofs, all of which consistently prove the Pre-Wrath Rapture. If you are interested in learning more about this project and receiving other emails from this ministry, sign up utilizing the form below:
So, we have looked at the word “Elect” in both the Old and New Testaments and found that because the New Testament exclusively uses this word for Christians, it most likely means that in Matt. 24 as well. We also looked at the First Century Church document, the Didache, which supports this finding as well. We then looked at Mark 13:26-27 which is a parallel passage to Matt. 24:31 to finally prove that the event in Matthew is the Rapture and that the Elect in that passage are the Church who have placed their faith in Jesus.