Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Language of Election in Luke

“Loved by God and called to be saints” expresses the concept of election we find in Paul. Luke retained a collective concept expressed in the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge in these words: “And will not God vindicate his ἐκλεκτῶν, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” The Greek word for elect appears only once in Luke-Acts.

Earlier however, the Lucan Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes: yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.” The mission of the seventy had been a success. Jesus rejoiced because God has chosen individuals whose eyes will be opened.

The language of election is not an importance concern in the writings of Luke.

The last two chapters of Isaiah do not distinguish between Israel and the nations nor did Malachi. The distinction seems to be between the servants of YHWH and YHWH’s enemies who are also identified as brothers and sisters so the enemies are not the nations or gentiles. The enemies have not listened to the divine call and have not done evil in God’s sight. The servants of YHWH, according to Isaiah, will constitute the community of the end time.

Reiser, commenting on Isaiah’s use of the “chosen”, indicates that “the idea of election is transferred from Israel as a whole to one or several groups within the people. . . .” They are called the chosen for the first time in Isaiah 65:9, 15, 22. Reiser further states that the significance of this usage “can scarcely be overestimated.”

Isaiah concludes his book by stating the purpose of YHWH’s coming: "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.” The missionaries will bring the dispersed people back to Zion to participate in worship at the Temple. Some of the dispersed people will even participate as priests and Levites.

Luke tells us many priest and Levites joined the followers of Jesus.

If the enemies are, as identified by Hanson, the Zadokite priestly circles, then certain allusions of the Lucan Jesus become especially pointed when spoken in the presence of the Temple establishment. This is particularly true when we recognize that Luke has used Isaiah as an important source and may have adopted the Isaianic idea of election as “transferred from Israel as a whole to one or several groups within the people. . . .”

Yet I am left wondering why is it that Luke did not use the word ἐκλεκτῶν more frequently in his writings. Is it because he was writing to most excellent Theophilus and not to a community of the elect?

Copyrighted 2007


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