Romans 8:30—Are all the called ones saved or only some?

Problem: Paul indicates here that all who are “called” by God are eventually “justified” and “glorified” (Rom. 8:30). But Jesus said that “many are called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:16).

Solution: The word “called” is being used in different senses. This is not uncommon in languages. Take, for example, the following sentence: “The dog would bark by the tree but did not scratch the bark from the tree.” Clearly the word “bark” is used in two different senses. Likewise, Paul and Jesus are using different senses of the word “called” which can be contrasted as follows:

In brief, when Jesus referred to a “call” He was speaking of a general invitation for all to believe. Paul, however, has reference to the specific “call” of God by which God brings believers to salvation. The first is the call for salvation to all; the last is the call of salvation to some.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.