Can the Elect be Deceived?

Matthew 24 24 a

Q. Mt 24:24 says, “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (KJV) What is the deception? Can and will the elect be deceived?

A. The context indicates the deception to be false Christs and false prophets. I believe the elect can be deceived. The confusion arises in a mistranslation in the KJV. Note that the two words “it were” are in italics in the KJV. They are not in the original Greek. By adding these two words, the KJV gives the wrong impression that it is impossible, when the meaning is only that it is difficult, to deceive the elect. The Bible has many warnings for believers against being deceived:

Mt 24:4-5 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (Mk 13:5-6; Lk 21:8) Jesus was talking with His disciples, not the crowd. If it were impossible to deceive them, why bother warning them about being deceived?
Jas 1:16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. James was addressing Christians, the elect.

Not only can the elect be deceived, they can also deceive themselves – by thinking they are wise, somebody, only listening to the word but not doing, and claiming to be without sin:

1 Co 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.
• Ga 6:3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
• Jas 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
• 1 Jn 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

What are some of the lies that deceive the elect? They include thinking that you will inherit the kingdom regardless of how/how much you sin, believing that you won’t reap destruction by pleasing the flesh, erroneous timing of the Day of the Lord:

1 Co 6:9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men
• Ga 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
• 2 Thes 2:3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

Finally, how are the elect deceived? By empty words and fine-sounding arguments:

Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
• Col 2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

Do not be deceived. Watch and pray.

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