I read a rather strange comment that held Matthew 24:24 as an undeniable certainty of the truth of Calvinism. Since the elect cannot be deceived, they cannot be wrong. So what is the context here?
Matthew 24 shows Jesus forewarning His disciples of the coming tribulation. Verse 24 suggests the appearance of false Christs and prophets and that it is not possible for the elect to fall for them.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
As always, context is key in defining the meaning of a verse. We can lay out a three-point guiding system in order to determine proper context. These are:
- The context of the entire passage or chapter: is Jesus merely talking about false prophets or something more.
- Historical context: How did the disciples or people of this time interpret this verse? What’s the social context behind it?
- Literary context: Does this verse indicate extreme language or hyperbole? Is it meant to be proverbial or absolute?
To claim that this passage includes, not only false Christs but also false teaching or skewed theology misses the context. Firstly, note the future tense of this passage. Of course, there were false views of the messiah at this time. That’s why Jesus had enemies. They believed the messiah was going to destroy Rome and bring them victory. There were also plenty of false gods and teachers in Jesus’s time. As noted in link one below, there were little to no atheists in this time. Everyone worship and pledged loyalty to some kind of deity.
Yet, Jesus talks of a time after Him. This indicates it’s not false teaching or theology He’s forewarning, but those who will claim to be Jesus Himself. The fulfillment of His promised return.
Referring back to our findings on election as primary casualty, this verse makes perfect sense. It is not possible for the elect to turn to another god as that would contradict their very nature. The elect are those who will accept Christ’s grace and loyally follow Him. This does not mean we can’t hold a false Christian doctrine. That requires following, studying, thinking critically and listening to the Spirit. If we believe we cannot be deceived by false doctrine the only basis we have for determining truth is our own perception of what we think is right. And we think we’re right because we believe we are the elect. Our thinking becomes circular and results in nothing more than “I’m part of the elect, so because I think this doctrine is correct, it must be correct, as I cannot be deceived because I’m the elect.” What need is there for further study if there is no way we could be wrong?
Link 1 here.
Note: This will be my final post of the year as I am taking a break for the holidays. However, the list of my favourite records of the year will be coming real soon.