1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (Elect Status)


The following translations render 1 Thessalonians 1:4 as:


4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. (ESV)

4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;
5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. (NASB)

4 knowing, brothers [dearly] loved by God, {that he has chosen you},
5 because our gospel did not come to you with word only, but also with power and with the Holy Spirit and with much certainty, just as you know what sort of [people] we became among you for your sake.  (ALT – Analytical Literal Translation)

However, the following translations render verse 4 as:

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.  (ASV)

4 having known, brethren beloved, by God, your election,
5 because our good news did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance, even as ye have known of what sort we became among you because of you, (YLT)

4 knowing brothers [and sisters], having been loved by God, your* election.
5 Because our Gospel did not come to you* in word only, but also in power and in [the] Holy Spirit and in much assurance, even as you* know of what sort we became among you* for your* sake.  (ALT – Analytical Literal Translation)

While the second group of translations make it more clear, either way, I believe Paul is simply referring to their status in Christ. We are elect in Christ. Thus I think Paul is merely expressing the confidence that he has in their elect status, not that God chose them to believe, as Calvinism teaches.

Election is corporate. God chose to save mankind from their sins through His Son, Jesus. God has chosen to save anyone who comes to Him via faith in His Son. Those who do are “the elect.” We as Christians have elect status. We become a member of God’s elect people when we place our faith in Jesus.

Those who try to come to God via any other way, He rejects. They are the “non-elect,” the “non-chosen.” He has not chosen to save anyone through any other way except through His Son.

In regard to verse 5:

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.  (ASV)

No one can come to Christ without the work of the Holy Spirit within us. He must convict us of our sins and open our eyes to the truth. This work of the Spirit is God’s grace, also known as prevenient grace. This illuminating and enabling work of the Spirit allows us to freely choose Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, this grace is not irresistible as Calvinism teaches, but one can also choose to reject Christ out of a heart of pride.

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