In what is often referred to as His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, Jesus speaks about events that will take place before His second coming. One of the warnings Christ gives is this: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (verse 24).
The Greek word translated “elect” is eklektós, which means “chosen ones.” It’s a term used a number of times in the New Testament to refer to true believers in Jesus (e.g., Luke 18:7; Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12). Will the false miracles performed by the false messiahs and prophets in the end times be so convincing that even born-again believers will be led astray?
There are two reasons why the answer to this question is “no.” First, nearly all Bible commentators agree that the grammatical construction of the verse and its parenthetical statement “if possible” strongly point to such a thing being out of the question. The deception will be strong, the miracles will seem real, and the intent will be to mislead everyone, including the elect. But God’s grace will prevail. His chosen ones will not be drawn away into deception.
Second, the Bible firmly speaks to the fact that the elect are protected by God from deceptions that would result in eternal separation from Christ. Paul tells us that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4); Peter says that the chosen “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5); and Jude says that the chosen are “beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1). The elect will persevere in God’s strength.
With respect to following false Christs, Jesus says, “He who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:2–5). The sheep know their Shepherd.
Being deceived is a mark of the unregenerate: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). After salvation, we may stray from the truth at times, but the Bible makes it clear that the elect of God cannot be deceived to the extent of being finally lost. If God’s chosen ones could be deceived in such a way, God’s choice of them would be defeated, and that is not possible. All who are in Christ have been predestined, called, justified, and will eventually be glorified (Romans 8:30). They have been given to Christ; and of all those who have been given to Him, He will lose none (John 10:28).