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Charles Welch's avatar
September 16, 2021

Calling – Doctrinal (from Alphabetical Analysis)

For the different ‘callings’ of Scripture the article Calling1, should be considered.  Calling enters into the doctrinal teaching of Scripture as well as into the dispensational, and the former aspect falls to be considered here. The verb kaleo is found in combination with epi, meta, pros, para, eis and sun, but these words do not enter into the discussion before us, namely, the character and adjuncts of the call of God. Kaleo, kletos and klesis will supply all the material necessary for this investigation.

‘The called’ appears as a title or designation of the redeemed (Rom. 1:6). Where Romans 1:7 reads, ‘called to be saints’, the verb to be is unwanted and misleading. The teaching of the apostle is not that the believer will one day in the future attain unto the status and rank of a saint, but that he is ‘a called saint’, a saint by calling, quite independent of his subsequent growth in grace or standard of saintliness. ‘The word called denotes not merely an external invitation to a privilege, but it also denotes the internal and effectual call which secures conformity to the will of Him Who calls’ (Barnes). That some such peculiar and internal character pertains to this call of God, 1 Corinthians 1:23,24 makes clear. In contrast with the Jews and the Greeks, to whom the preaching of Christ crucified was a stumbling block and foolishness, the apostle places ‘Them which are called, both Jews and Greeks’ and to such Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. He proceeds:

‘For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called’ (1 Cor. 1:26),

and then aligns ‘calling’ with election, saying, ‘But God hath chosen the foolish … the weak … the base … the despised … things that are not … that no flesh should glory in His presence’ (1 Cor. 1:27 -29). This intimate association of calling with the Divine purpose is seen in Romans 8:

‘Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified’ (Rom. 8:30).

It will be observed that the calling, the justification and the glorification of the believer are all spoken of in the aorist tense, which is usually translated by the past. While due regard must be paid to Greek grammar, we must never forget that behind the Greek of the New Testament is the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and that through the LXX version, the Hebrew has influenced the usage of the Greek in a thousand ways. It may be of service to give a few examples of the way in which the past tense of the verb is used in the Hebrew Old Testament to denote the certainty that something will take place in the future:

‘Unto thy seed have I given this land’ (Gen. 15:18).

‘Thou hast become a father of a multitude of nations’ (Gen. 17:4).

‘Lo, I have sent unto thee Naaman, my servant, and thou hast recovered him of his leprosy’ (2 Kings 5:6).

In the last example given the king was mistaken, but his meaning is clear.

The four words used in Romans 8:30 may be likened to links in a chain, the first and the last belonging to the remote past and the eternal future, while the second and third, calling and justification are apparent in time.

While calling takes place in time, it is according to purpose; it is a holy calling … ‘which was given us in Christ Jesus before age times’ (2 Tim. 1:9).

Haldane commenting on Romans 8:30 says,

‘Here the apostle connects our calling which is known, with God’s decree which is concealed, to teach us that we may judge of our election by our calling (2 Pet. 1:10) … Effectual calling, then, is the proper and necessary consequence and effect of election, and the means to glorification … The Author of this calling is holy, and it is a call unto holiness (1 Pet. 1:15). It is a calling unto the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6).  In this effectual calling the final perseverance of the saints is also secured, since it stands connected on the one hand with election and predestination, and on the other hand with sanctification and glorification. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. Calling as the effect of predestination must be irresistible, or rather invincible, and also irreversible’.

The reader will recognize in this extract the heartfelt faith of one who would be called a Calvinist, and while it is not possible to subscribe to all that John Calvin taught concerning the Divine decrees, no one that believes what Paul has written in Romans 8:30 can refuse to follow him here.