Who are the elect of Mark 13:27?
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened … And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven” (Mark 13:24-27).
To discover who these elect are, we need to discern “when” and “why” this wonderful gathering will take place! The word “elect” means “chosen one.” In this case it is plural, referring to a special group or groups of chosen ones in God’s purposes. The word is used three times in this chapter (vv 20, 22, 27), all in the context of the great tribulation with its climactic conclusion: the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory and power (v26). It is very important to establish the prophetic context and setting involved. The setting is clearly Jerusalem and its temple (vv1-4), and the future desecration of the temple, called “the abomination of desolation” (v14), quoted from Daniel 9:27 and 12:11. According to this key prophecy of Daniel, 70 “weeks” (actually “sevens” of years: 70×7 = 490 years) are determined upon the Jewish people and Jerusalem to bring about the successful completion of God’s purposes to restore and redeem Israel. From the command to rebuild Jerusalem by the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus in approximately 445 BC to “the cutting off of Messiah” by crucifixion in AD 32 completed 69 “weeks” of the prophetic timetable (483 Jewish calendar years based on 360 days per year, equivalent to 476 Gregorian calendar years).
We are presently in a hiatus, a gap in the program, during which God is fulfilling a purpose kept secret from the prophets of old, the Church as a distinct group of “elect” ones with a heavenly destiny (Eph 1:3). From our present vantage point, we understand that the rapture of the Church by Christ into heaven will coincide with the resumption of God’s prophetic program for Israel, beginning with the final seven years, also designated as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7).
The “prince that shall come” (Dan 9:26-27) is elsewhere identified as “the man of sin” (2Thes 2:3-4) and as the first “beast” (Rev 13). He will “confirm a covenant with many for one week; in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” introducing the “abomination of desolation.” This special time is marked off in a variety of ways in prophetic Scriptures (42 months; 1260 days; a time, times, and a half = 3 1/2 years), and uniformly describes the last half of the tribulation period, during which a world ruler, energized by Satan, will place an image of himself in the temple of God at Jerusalem, demanding universal worship. Satanic deception and persecution, mingled with divine judgments poured out, will make this earth’s darkest era. It will culminate with the armies of the nations converging on Jerusalem to wipe out God’s chosen people on earth forever. Christ will appear as Israel’s Deliverer from heaven, and His people will finally embrace Him as their true Messiah and Sovereign.
Many Old Testament passages refer to a final regathering of Israel, both back to the land and to God (Isa 11:11-12; 27:12-13; 49:5-7; Jer 31:7-12). This is confirmed in Romans 11:25-29, where Israel’s election as a future redeemed people is also declared. From Mark 13, we understand that there will be those chosen of God as His faithful witnesses (first, a Jewish remnant, then also Gentiles – see Rev 7) who are saved and preserved through the tribulation period to enter into His glorious kingdom; there will also be a wonderful repentance and restoration of Israel as a chosen people at the revelation of Christ at the climax of that period. Mark 13:27 suggests a gathering from all parts of the earth; whether scattered because of tribulation persecution, or the dispersed of Israel centuries ago. The “elect” of Mark 13:27 are God’s redeemed people: first indeed restored Israel, and then also those of all nations who receive the gospel of His kingdom. Will this angelic harvesting of the earth be simultaneous with the Lord’s arrival, or subsequent to it? The expression, “and to the uttermost part of heaven,” may also embrace the martyred tribulation saints, as well as Old Testament saints, who will be raised from the dead at His coming to reign with Him (Dan 12:2-3, 13; Rev 20:4-6).