What does Call, Calling mean in the Bible?

Dictionary

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Call, Calling
This prominent biblical term is used with particular theological significance in three ways: in connection with worship, with election, and with vocation.
Worship . To "call on" God or the Lord is a frequent biblical expression: it occurs fifty-six times in total (Old Testament, 45; New Testament, 11); on four occasions it is applied to other gods. It often appears in the fuller form, "call on the name of" (31 times). The highest concentration is in the psalms (16 times).
Across the range of its occurrences this expression acquires several nuances. The basic meaning, always present, is simply to utter the name of God (Psalm 116:4 ; Zechariah 13:9 ). But it can mean more broadly to pray (Psalm 17:6 ; John 1:6 ; Matthew 26:53 ), and indeed can signify a whole act of cultic worship (Genesis 12:8 ; 1 Chronicles 21:26 ). More particularly, to call on God's name can mean to appeal to his mercy and power from a situation of weakness and need (2 Kings 5:11 ; Psalm 116:4 ; Lamentations 3:55 ; Matthew 26:53 ), but more often it connotes a basic commitment to the Lord as opposed to other gods (1 Kings 18:24 ; Psalm 79:6 ; Zechariah 13:9 ; Acts 9:14 ), sometimes an initial commitment (Genesis 4:26 ; Acts 22:16 ). With this thought of commitment prominent, calling on the Lord can even have a proclamatory flavor: "Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done" (1 Chronicles 16:8 ; cf. Psalm 116:13 ; Isaiah 12:4 ).
The New Testament use of this expression is remarkable for the way in which it is applied to Jesus. Joel 2:32 is quoted in both Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 , but in both places "the Lord" is then identified as Jesus (Acts 2:36 ; Romans 10:14 ). The dramatic conviction of the first (Jewish) Christians was that Israel's worship needed to be redirected: people could no longer be saved by calling on Yahweh/Jehovah, the Old Testament name of God, but only on that of Jesus: "there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 ). To "call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:2 ) therefore means worshiping him with divine honors.
Election . "Call" is one of the biblical words associated with the theme of election. In both Hebrew and Greek, "call" can be used in the sense of "naming" (Genesis 2:19 ; Luke 1:13 ), and in biblical thought to give a name to something or someone was to bestow an identity. Names often encapsulated a message about the person concerned (Ruth 1:20-21 ; John 1:42 ; cf. Matthew 16:18 ). When God is the one who bestows names, the action is almost equivalent to creation: "Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing" (Isaiah 40:26 ).
This theme is developed particularly in Isaiah 40-55 , which forms an important background to the New Testament use of the term. The creative "calling" of the stars is matched by the "calling" of Abraham, which meant both the summons to leave Ur and the call to be the father of Israel: "When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many" (51:2). Similarly Israel the nation has been called-"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you" (41:9; cf. 48:12)-and this means that they are "called by my name ... created for my glory" (43:7; cf. Hosea 1:10 ). God has bestowed his own name upon Israel as part of the creative act that made Israel his own elect people. Now also the Servant of the Lord has been "called" to be the Savior of the world (42:6; 49:1); and so has Cyrus, to be the instrument of judgment of Babylon (48:15).
Thus in Isaiah "call" brings together the ideas of naming, election, ownership, and appointment, as the word is used with different nuances in different contexts. It connotes the creative word of God, by which he Acts effectively within the world.
The New Testament picks up all these ideas and takes them further. The influence of Isaiah is seen particularly in the writings of Paul and Peter, who use "call" as a semitechnical term denoting God's effective summons of people to faith in Christ; verb and noun together are used approximately forty-three times with this general denotation. However, within this overall usage various shades of meaning of and nuances may be discerned:
Initiation . "Were you a slave when you were called?" (1 Corinthians 7:21 ). In this verse and many other places "called" is almost equivalent to "converted, " pointing to the moment of initiation when faith was born. But it means more than "converted, " for it points beyond a change of mind and heart to the action of God. This theological hinterland comes out clearly in Romans 8:30 : "those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified." Here the creative word of God is clearly visible. This is not a "call" that can be ignored: It comes from one who "gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17 ). By such a creative act God, says Peter, has "called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" and thus formed "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9 ).
Naming . To be "called" by God means to be "called" something different: the new name "sons of living God" is given to those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 9:24-26 ). Here the notion that God's people bear his own name receives a new shape. In baptism converts were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11 ), so that his is "the noble name of him to whom you belong" (James 2:7 ). Because they bear his name, Paul prays that "the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you" (2 Thessalonians 1:12 ).
Destiny . In a string of references "call" and "calling" connote the ultimate destiny of believers. The moment at which they were called points ahead to the final goal to which they are called by God (1 Corinthians 1:9 ; Ephesians 4:4 ; Philippians 3:14 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ; 1 Timothy 6:12 ; Hebrews 3:1 ; 1 Peter 5:10 ).
Holiness . "We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling" (2 Thessalonians 1:11 ). The fact of God's call, and the destiny it involves, has moral consequences now. Believers are called to be holy (Romans 1:7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:2 ), and must walk worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1 ). Peter twice uses the phrase "to this you were called" with reference to the meekness Christians must show their opponents, following the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21 ; 3:9 ).
Vocation . The notion of appointment to office, which we observed in Isaiah, is also taken up in the New Testament. When Paul was "called by grace, " it meant not just his conversion but also his appointment as apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15 ). He is therefore "called to be an apostle" (Romans 1:1 ; 1 Corinthians 1:1 ).
Apostleship is the only spiritual gift in connection with which the word "call" is used, and it may be that this reflects the uniqueness of the office in Paul's mind. However, from another perspective he regards all spiritual gifts as equally "the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines" (1 Corinthians 12:11 ), and therefore it would probably not be biblically inappropriate to extend the idea of vocation to all ministries within the church. The exercise of whatever gifts we possess is a "call" from God (vocation is not just to the "ordained" ministry!).
May we extend the idea of vocation also to cover secular employment? Luther took this step, radically teaching that any work may be a "calling" from God. Some have argued that Paul uses the word "calling" in something like this sense in 1 Corinthians 1:26,7:17,20 : "each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him" (7:20). Here "called" clearly refers to conversion, but "calling" could refer to the socioeconomic state of the convert (here, slave or freed).
Since Paul is happy for this state to be changed, if opportunity presents (7:21), it seems unlikely that he would regard it alone as a full "calling" from God. Probably he is using the word in a broad sense: "Let everyone remain loyal to God's call, which means living as a Christian in whatever situation you find yourself."
However, even if "calling" is not used in this way in the Bible, it is surely biblical to regard all work as an opportunity to glorify God and to serve him.
Stephen Motyer
Bibliography . G. W. Bromiley, ISBE , 1:580-82; A. A. Hoekema, Saved by Grace ; D. Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship .
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Call, Calling
Generally denotes God's invitation to man to participate the blessing of salvation: it is termed effectual, to distinguish it from that external or common call of the light of nature, but especially of the Gospel, in which men are invited to come to God, but which has no saving effect upon the heart: thus it is said, "Many are called, but few chosen." Matthew 22:14 . Effectual calling has been more particularly defined to be " the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds with the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel." This may farther be considered as a call from darkness to light, 1 Peter 2:9 ; from bondage to liberty, Galatians 2:13 ; from the fellowship of the world to the fellowship of Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:9 ; from misery to happiness, 1 Corinthians 7:15 ; from sin to holiness, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 ; finally, from all created good to the enjoyment of eternal felicity, 1 Peter 5:10 . It is considered in the Scripture as an holy calling, 2 Timothy 1:9 ; an high calling, Philippians 3:14 ; an heavenly calling, Hebrews 3:1 ; and without repentance, as God will never cast off any who are once drawn to him, Romans 11:29 . It has been a matter of dispute whether the Gospel call should be general, 1:e. preached to all men indiscriminately. Some suppose that, as the elect only will be saved, it is to be preached only to them; and, therefore, cannot invite all to come to Christ. But to this it is answered, that an unknown decree can be no rule of action, Deuteronomy 29:29 . Proverbs 2:13 ; that, as we know not who are the elect, we cannot tell but he may succeed our endeavours by enabling those who are addressed to comply with the call, and believe; that it is the Christian minister's commission to preach the Gospel to every creature, Mark 16:1-20 ; that the inspired writers never confined themselves to preach to saints only, but reasoned with and persuaded sinners, 2 Corinthians 5:11 :
and, lastly that a general address to men's consciences has been greatly successful in promoting their conversion. Acts 2:23 ; Acts 2:41 . But it has been asked, if none but the elect can believe, and no man has any ability in himself to comply with the call, and as the Almighty knows that none but those to whom he gives grace can be effectually called, of what use is it to insist on a general and external call? To this it is answered, that, by the external call, gross enormous crimes are often avoided; habits of vice have been partly conquered; and much moral good at least has been produced. It also observed, that though a man cannot convert himself, yet he has a power to do some things that are materially good, though not good in all those circumstances that accompany or flow from regeneration: such were Ahab's humility, 1 Kings xxi 29; Nineveh's repentance, Jeremiah 3:5 ; and Herod's hearing of John, Mark 6:20 . On the whole, the design of God in giving this common call in the Gospel is the salvation of his people, the restraining of many from wicked practices and the setting forth of the glorious work of redemption by Jesus Christ.
See Gill and Ridgley's Body of Div.; Witsius on the Cov.; and Bennet's Essay on the Gospel Dispensation.
Holman Bible Dictionary - Call, Calling
Invitation, summons, commission, or naming.
Old Testament Five main uses of call appear in the Old Testament. First, “to call” means “to invite or summon.” For example, God called to Adam (Genesis 3:9 ); Moses called the elders together (Exodus 19:7 ); and Joel gave a command to call a solemn assembly (Joel 1:14 ).
Second, the verb can have the sense of “calling on God,” hence, to pray. We first meet this expression in Genesis 4:26 : “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (See also Psalm 79:6 ; Psalm 105:1 ; Isaiah 64:7 ; Jeremiah 10:25 ; Zephaniah 3:9 ).
Third, “to call” is used very often in the sense of naming, whether of things (Genesis 1:5-30 ; day, night, heaven, earth; Genesis 2:19 , the animals), or of persons (Genesis 25:26 , Jacob; Genesis 30:6-24 , Jacob's sons), of a city (2 Samuel 5:9 , the city of David), or of qualities (in Isaiah 35:8 a way and in Exodus 12:16 a day are called holy).
Fourth, God calls by name with a view to service. The call of Moses (Exodus 3:4-22 ) and the call of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1 ) are good examples.
Fifth, “to call” may be used in the sense of “to call one's own,” to claim for one's own possession and to appoint for a particular destiny. Especially noticeable is Isaiah 43:1 , when the Lord addressed Israel: “I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” This calling of Israel stands closely related to its election (Isaiah 45:4 ). It thus points to the covenant relation in which Israel is called to salvation, is given its name, and has the function of God's witness.
New Testament All the senses found in the Old Testament appear again in the New Testament. The meaning “invite/summon” is encountered principally in the parables of the great banquet (Luke 14:16-25 ) and the marriage feast (Matthew 22:2-10 ). Calling in the sense of naming has special importance in the infancy narratives (2 Thessalonians 2:13-152 ; Luke 1:60 ; Luke 2:21 ). Calling on the name of the Lord is found in a quotation from Joel in both Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 . The choosing of the apostles can be expressed in terms of calling (Mark 1:20 ). Finally, Christ's people are those whom He has called and who are rightly called by His name (Romans 8:28 ; Galatians 1:6 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ; 1 Peter 1:15 ).
The New Testament refers to the Christian life as a calling (Ephesians 1:18 ; Ephesians 4:1 ; 2 Timothy 1:9 ; Hebrews 3:1 ; 2 Peter 1:10 ). The basic call is to Christ as Lord and Savior; thus, all Christians are “called ones.” It is employed in a comprehensive way to depict what has happened to those who through the Father's love are now called children of God (1 John 3:1 ). However, there are further callings to special ministries (Acts 13:2 ).
The noun “calling” takes on great significance in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. First, there is the goal of calling. We are called to salvation, holiness, and faith (1618650244_45 ), to the kingdom and glory of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12 ), to an eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15 ), to fellowship (1 Corinthians 1:9 ), and to service (Galatians 1:1 ).
The means of calling is clearly stated as being through grace (Galatians 1:6 ) and through the hearing of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14 ).
The ground of calling is specifically established in 2 Timothy 1:9 . The starting point for the divine calling is not works but the purpose and grace of God in Christ Jesus.
The nature of God's calling is described as an upward (Philippians 3:14 ), heavenly (Hebrews 3:1 ), holy (2 Timothy 1:9 ) calling. It is filled with hope (Ephesians 1:18 , Ephesians 4:4 ). Christians are urged to lead lives that are worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ). Also, they are urged to make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10 ). Finally, the “called, and chosen, and faithful” are with the Lamb (Revelation 17:14 ) indicating that those whom God called (saved) He glorified (Romans 8:30 ). The stress is on the initiative of God. The one who experiences God's calling can only break forth in praise with Paul: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33 ). See Election ; Predestination .
J. A. Reynolds
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Call, Calling
CALL, CALLING
1.Terms.
(a)OT.
(b)Gospels.
(c)Epistles.
2.Secular calling.
3.Spiritual calling.
(a)Our Lord’s Messianic vocation.
(b)The Apostolic calling.
(c)Other calls to service.
(d)The Gospel call in Christ’s own teaching.
Literature.
 
1. The Terms.
(a) The OT.—The substantive ‘call’ is not found in the English Bible. If used of an animal’s call, it tends to imply a significant note—e.g. a mother’s call to her brood (Bunyan, PP ii. 62)—not a mere emotional cry. The English verb ‘call’ has for its primary meaning ‘to speak loudly.’ In Hebrew we note the same implication in קָרִא, .g. Proverbs 8:1; but in Hebrew the word still more strongly suggests articulate speech, even perhaps in Psalms 147:9 (although the partridge probably derives its name קרא from its ). It is indeed the technical word for reading (.g. Isaiah 29:12): the Hebrews read and prayed aloud. Eli suspected Hannah (1 Samuel 1:13) not because her lips moved in private prayer—rather because in the intensity and modesty of her desire she prayed without sound. Loudness may express authority; or it may be a simple effort to attract notice. Anyway, a ‘call,’ Hebrew or English, is a loud and definite communication from one person to another. Either language may use the verb intransitively, but always with a sort of latent transitiveness. In Greek, on the other hand, καλέω is transitive. What is implied in the other languages is explicit in this one. Definiteness (and perhaps authority) receives reinforcement when the calling is name. We are probably not to confuse this with the mere of a name; though, according to the ideas of the ancient world, so much power is wrapped up in names that there may be a certain infiltration of that thought in the Biblical usage of calling name. But, more simply, one’s name arrests one’s attention, and assures one that the call is addressed to him. In Deutero-Isaiah it is said that Jehovah has a name for every star (John 1:35-511 [1], imitated in Psalms 147:4). That signifies His power; it is rather His condescension that is shown when He calls the prophetic servant, Israel, by name (Isaiah 43:1). Again, He calls Cyrus ‘by name’ to his historic functions (Isaiah 45:3-4, cf. also Exodus 31:2 [2]). If our text is to be trusted, Jehovah even ‘surnames’ Cyrus (Isaiah 45:4). It is a mark of kindliness when a servant is not simply ‘waiter’ or ‘guard’ to his rich employer, but has a name and a recognized personality of his own. (Here cf. Exodus 33:12; Exodus 33:17). To ‘surname,’ at least in the strict sense, is a still stronger proof of friendly interest; surnames are a token of some new destiny, or else imply knowledge of idiosyncrasies. (Acc. to P, Jehovah renames ‘Abram’ and ‘Sarai,’ Genesis 17:5; Genesis 17:15, while Moses renames ‘Hoshea,’ Numbers 13:16; cf. also the surnames given by our Lord to the three leading Apostles, Mark 3:16-17). It is also in Deutero-Isaiah that we find the emergence of ‘call’ in a sort of theological sense; the ‘call’ of Abraham (Isaiah 51:2 ‘I called him’).
Another important section of the OT for our terminology is the ‘Praise of Wisdom,’ Proverbs 1-9. Several things are noticeable here; the loud call—Divine Wisdom as a street preacher (Proverbs 8:1; cf. Proverbs 1:20); the solemn religious conception of the call rejected (Proverbs 1:24); the call as an invitation to a feast (ch. 9). This last usage (‘call’ = ‘invite’), while obsolete in modern English, is found in its literal sense both in OT and NT of our version; e.g. 1 Kings 1:9, John 2:2 Authorized Version.
Still another group of OT passages may seem to require notice—those describing the ‘call’ of various prophets. The term is not so used in OT (unless Isaiah 51:2?—see above—Abraham is a ‘prophet’ in Genesis 20:7 [3]). But there is a passage which would lend itself excellently to this interpretation—the tale of the call of the young Samuel, where we have three interesting parallel usages: Jehovah ‘called to Samuel’ (1 Samuel 3:4 literally), ‘called Samuel’ (1 Samuel 3:8), ‘called … Samuel, Samuel’ (1 Samuel 3:10).
There are therefore several usages of the word ‘to call’ in OT which we ought to keep in mind as we approach the Gospels. It means command, or it means invitation. It means a summons to special function, or it means (along with that) a peculiar mark of gracious condescension.
(b) In the Gospels, the verb may occur in the literal sense (Matthew 20:8). But in general a compound form is preferred for such sense; e.g. when Jesus calls (προσκαλεσάμενος) His disciples near Him for a short talk (Mark 10:42). We have the simple form in one important passage when James and John are ‘called’ (Mark 1:20 || Matthew 4:21 ἐκάλεσεν), though the compound (προσκαλεῖται) is found in Mark’s record of the selection of the Twelve (Mark 3:13), while in the parallel in Luke (Luke 6:13) προσεφώνησεν is employed. It might be argued that, even here, the mere word ‘called’ means no more than ‘called to Himself.’ Still, in view of OT antecedents, that is questionable. Anyway, as a matter of fact, those ‘calls’ were commands and invitations, to ‘leave all’ (Mark 10:28) and follow Jesus—to take up solemn functions in His service. When compounds of καλέω are used, or when φωνέω is used, we need not suspect deep religious or theological significance in the word. Yet here again the fact has to be dealt with. Jesus may simply ‘call to’ (φωνεῖν) Bartimaeus (Mark 10:49); but the result of the conversation (and miracle) is that be who had been blind ‘follows Jesus in the way’ (Mark 10:52). In two other passages the group of meanings associated with Proverbs 1-9—privilege rather than authority; invitation, rather than command—come to the front: ‘I came not to call (καλέσαι) the righteous, but sinners’ (Luke 5:1-11 Matthew 9:13; Luke 5:32 adds ‘to repentance’), and ‘many are called (κλητοί), but few chosen’ (Matthew 22:14; in Matthew 20:16 these words are rightly dropped by Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 as not belonging to the original text).
(c) Though our concern is with the Gospels, we cannot refuse to consult the Epistles for the light they may throw on Gospel usage. They give us a cognate substantive; not ‘call’ but ‘calling.’ ‘Call’ as a substantive occurs in English much earlier than our Authorized Version, but presumably the purely physical idea—the audible call—was too strongly marked in it to allow of its standing for God’s address to the conscience. ‘Calling,’ which was preferred, reproduces the form of the Greek substantive κλῆσις. This term is mainly Pauline (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:26), though it extends into Hebrews (Hebrews 3:1) and (at least so far as the verb is concerned) into 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:21). As moulded by St. Paul, there is no doubt that the ‘call’ is primarily one to salvation (Romans 8:28-30), though it may also signify special (Apostolic) function (Romans 1:1). The Epistle to the Hebrews preserves the same twofold reference. All believers ‘partake of a heavenly calling’ (Hebrews 3:1), but none may take high honour or office upon himself except when ‘called’ by God thereto (Hebrews 5:4). Later in the history of English speech, the physical implications of the noun ‘call’ having been in some measure rubbed off, it came into religious use, so as generally to displace ‘calling.’ We say the ‘call’ not ‘calling’ of Abraham; but if Scripture had used a substantive, ‘calling’ would have been installed by our translators in this phrase. The NT ‘calling’ is a single definite act in the past, whether personal conversion [4] or the historic mission of Christ. He who ‘called’ us is holy (1 Peter 1:15). In our modern use of ‘calling,’ something seems borrowed from the idea of a worldly calling, viz. habitualness. Acc. to Murray’s Dictionary, 1 Corinthians 7:20 introduced—almost by an accident—the use of ‘calling’ for worldly rank, station, external surroundings. ‘Hence,’ it adds, ‘ “calling” came to be applied to the various means of bread-winning.’ [5]. Both these senses—viz. (1) station, and (2) trade—are often (unwarrantably, the Dictionary seems to think, as far as etymology goes) regarded as Divine vocations. This is surely obscure. If 1 Corinthians 7:20 taught so little, can we hold it responsible for a twofold set of meanings? May not professional ‘calling’ rather mean, in the first instance, ‘what I am called’—William [2]3 Smith, John [2]3 Tailor? a still humbler etymology. However that may be, the idea of Divine vocation in daily concerns could not be ruled out from Christian thought. Thus inevitably Christians have been led to formulate the idea of a lifelong Divine vocation, covering all externals, but centring in the heart. It may be repeated that ‘calling’ (the substantive) is not found in the Gospels; of course the word is not found anywhere in the Authorized and Revised Versions in the sense of ‘trade.’
2. Secular calling.—It is unnecessary to pass under review the occupations followed by our Lord in youth and by His Apostles. See artt. Trades, Carpenter, Fishing, etc.
3. Spiritual calling
(a) Our Lord Himself, who calls all others, was ‘called of God’ (Hebrews 5:4) to the Messiahship. It is an irrelevant sentimentality that dwells too much on the ‘carpenter of Nazareth.’ Jesus was full of the consciousness of His calling, its requirements, its limitations. Not to cite the Fourth Gospel—abundant signs of this, but in the usual golden haze blurring all sharp outlines—we have Mark 1:38 (?) Mark 2:17; Mark 10:45, Matthew 5:17; Matthew 15:24 etc. etc. It is one of the services of Ritschl to recent theology—with anticipations in von Hofmann—that he has made prominent the thought of Christ’s vocation, displacing the less worthy and less ethical category of Christ’s merit. In the Gospels this vocation is expressed by the word ‘sent’ or I ‘came’ (as above; or’. ‘him that sent me,’ John 4:34 etc.), not by ‘call.’ If there is any one point in our Lord’s life where it may be held that the ‘call’ definitely reached Him,—where He became conscious of Messiahship,—we must seek it at His baptism (Mark 1:9-11; three parallels).
(b) In dealing with the call addressed by Christ to His disciples, we begin with the Apostles. Taking the different Gospels together, we seem to recognize three stages. (1) According to St. John, Christ’s first disciples were Galilaeans who, like Himself, had visited the Jordan in order to be baptized by John: Andrew, John, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael (presumably = Bartholomew; see art. Bartholomew, above), and presumably James the brother of John (1618650244_30). The only one mentioned as called with a ‘follow me’ is Philip (John 1:43); and it is possible that this is rather an invitation to follow on the journey to Galilee than through life (and death). For the rest, we have acquaintanceships and attachments apparently forming themselves—elective affinities displayed, rather than the Master’s will exercised ad hoc; but the result, according to St. John, is the formation of a small yet definite circle, who are disciples (John 2:2; John 2:12; John 2:17 etc. etc.) of Jesus now, as others are (and as they themselves previously were) of John the Baptist. (2) The Synoptists tell us of the call in Galilee (‘Come ye after me,’ Mark 1:17 || Matthew 4:19; ‘He called them,’ Mark 1:20 || Matthew 4:21) of Peter, Andrew, James, John. The first two are called with a sort of pleasantry; they are to be ‘fishers of men,’ in allusion to their former occupation. St. Luke has the same narrative (Mark 2:17,) in a more picturesque form; the borrowing of Peter’s boat, in order to teach from it as a pulpit; payment after sermon in the form of a miraculous draught of fishes; Peter’s fear as a sinner at the near presence of the supernatural; the same kindly bon mot; all four fishermen [8] on the spot; all four becoming disciples. Here the call (see art. Disciple below) involves leaving everything to follow Christ (Luke 5:11, Mark 10:28; cf. Mark 1:18; cf. Mark 1:20, Matthew 19:27; cf. Matthew 4:20; cf. Matthew 4:22). Previous acquaintance with these men may have induced Jesus to begin His teaching by the Sea of Galilee [9]. Other members of the disciple circle in Galilee must have been added one by one; some by elective atlinity! Not all volunteers might be repelled like the scribe of Matthew 8:19 || Luke 9:59. Matthew the publican, however (Matthew 9:9, Luke 5:27 Levi, Mark 2:14 Levi the son of Alphaeus), is called straight from his place of toll to ‘follow,’ and instantly obeys; a memorable incident. (3) The final ‘call’ in this series appears when Jesus ‘calls to him whom he himself will,’ and ‘appoints twelve, that they may be with him, and that he may send them forth to preach and … cast out devils’ (Mark 3:13 etc.; so too, though less clearly, Luke 6:13; not in Matthew 10:1 ‘his twelve disciples,’ Matthew 10:2 ‘the twelve apostles’). (4) Or, if there is another stage still, it is marked when they are ‘sent out’ for the first time (Matthew 10:5, Mark 6:7, Luke 9:1), or when in consequence of this the name ‘apostles’ (see art. Apostle) is attached to them. Thus, in the case of at least twelve men, the call has issued in a very definite calling; permanent, and in a sense official.
(c) Another group possesses a varied interest. It includes volunteers; it relates ‘calls’ to service addressed to those who were not destined to be Apostles; it offers examples of the call rejected. There are four cases; the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17 etc. and parallels), and a group of three found together (Luke 9:57-62; partial parallel Matthew 8:19-22). The scribe (see Mt.) who volunteers means, or professes to mean, discipleship in the intenser sense. He will follow ‘wherever the Master goes’; he will ‘leave all,’ like the Twelve; the stumbling-block of property, which was too much for the young ruler, is no stumbling-block to him. This volunteer meets not with welcome but rebuff; and, so far as we know, there is an end of his gospel service. Again, the man whose father is just dead—that seems the inexorable sense of the words—is needed immediately as a herald of the ‘kingdom of God’ (so Luke). And the other volunteer, who, with less urgency (so far as we are told) is anxious ‘first’ to bid farewell to his home circle, is ‘looking back’ from the plough. St. Luke seems well justified in making these narratives introduce a wider mission (that of the ‘Seventy’). And here we get important light on the demand that the rich young ruler should give away his property. This may have seemed to our Lord’s discer

Sentence search

Vocation - See Call, Calling
Call, Called, Calling - [8] 639-732; article ‘Call’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ; ‘Call, Calling’ in Dict
Call, Calling - CALL, CALLING...
1