"if it seems" suggests choice, also Joshua confirms that a choice has been made Joshua 24:22 "you have chosen the Lord". The reason I ask this is because I think there are two sorts of choice:

  1. God is always at anyone time for any person is either giving them the grace to obey His Law [e.g. 10 Commandments] or He is not giving them that grace. Any choice under these circumstances will be no more or less than an outworking of what God is doing in that situation. e.g. in Acts 17:26 God determines the times and places of the lives of people who are not seeking Him so that they should seek Him. Here human choices are determined by God; determined choice...

  2. The other way of seeing choose/choice is to leave grace, God's part, out of our lives and say, "it is all up to us," "we are free"; free choice...

I have read many comments by Christians where they have equated "choice" with "free choice". However if God chooses our nurture and nature, [inc' grace], not us, and we make our decisions based on who we are then our choices are determined and not free.

Free choice is an old discussion point but to assume "choice" is "free choice" without realising that there might be another way to look at this word is to have no choice in our understanding. "choose for yourselves" is in contrast to, "as for me and my house". Joshua is not going to choose for them.

Choice has two aspects A. what it is based on. B. the effect it will have going on into the future.

"choose for yourselves" emphasises that it is not going to be imposed by Joshua but it does not mean that the people making this choice are magically free from who they are...Who they are depends upon how they were made. How they were made depends upon God who made them. Therefore their choice will have been determined by God who made them... Can, or cannot, "choose" mean "determined choosing" and not "free choosing"?

  • I think this is only a problem for 5-point Calvinists who believe humans have no choice in salvation at all. This question might be better asked in Christianity Stack Exchange. This is not the place to debate Calvinism as a whole except to note that the Bible often askes people to choose.
    – user25930
    May 13, 2019 at 19:35

3 Answers 3


This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, it has always intrigued me how people who have walked with God and His angel for a very long time and have seen all His wonderful works will be presented with an option other than to serve Yahuah. We have a choice to make and it is entirely up to us whether we will serve God or turn to our own lusts.

The word in that passage is translated from the Hebrew בַּחֲר֨וּ Roman transliteration: ba·ḥă·rū, it occurs 5 times in the Hebrew Bible and it means "choose", which means you pick out the option that seems best for you. You decide, but it's gonna cost you, nothing is free. God decided that He was gonna make this particular people His, and with a number of wonderful signs He won them over for a while,.


The JPS Tanakh version, a Jewish translation of the Masoretic Text, puts it somewhat differently:

If you are loath to serve the LORD, choose this day which ones you are going to serve—the gods that your forefathers served beyond the Euphrates, or those of the Amorites in whose land you are settled; but I and my household will serve the LORD

Another Jewish translation of the Masoretic Text, this by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg:

And if it displeases you to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell, but as for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord

Regarding the theme of choice in this instance, Professor Nili Wazana, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Bible and the Department of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem notes:

The motif of choice is found in international treaties, the vassal depicted as choosing his overlord just as cattle choose their stable (e.g. the treaty between Hatti and Kizzuwatna, ca. 1400 BCE). But I ... will serve the Lord possibly [alludes] to the traditions that God would start a new nation with Moses (Num. 14.12; Deut. 9.14), implying that if all Israel is not obedient, God could start anew with the pios Joshua and his family.1

The Septuagint rendering here is (Brenton translation):

εἰ δὲ μὴ ἀρέσκει ὑμῖν λατρεύειν κυρίῳ, ἕλεσθε ὑμῖν ἑαυτοῖς σήμερον, τίνι λατρεύσητε, εἴτε τοῖς θεοῖς τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν τοῖς ἐν τῷ πέραν τοῦ ποταμοῦ, εἴτε τοῖς θεοῖς τῶν Αμορραίων, ἐν οἷς ὑμεῖς κατοικεῖτε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς αὐτῶν, ἐγὼ δὲ καὶ ἡ οἰκία μου λατρεύσομεν κυρίῳ, ὅτι ἅγιός ἐστιν.

But if it seem not good to you to serve the Lord, choose to yourselves this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods of your fathers that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, among whom ye dwell upon their land: but I and my house will serve the Lord, for he is holy.

where Brenton translates ἀρέσκει (from ἀρέσκω - areskō; please or satisfy) as "seems good".

Origen (184-253) put this verse in the context of the catechesis of Christians (a period of instruction undergone by early Christians prior to Baptism):

Therefore, what Joshua said to the people when he settled them in the holy land, the Scripture might also say now to us. The text reads as follows:

Now fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and righteousness (Joshua 24:14)

And it will tell us, if we are being misled to worship idols, what follows:

Destroy the foreign gods which your fathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord (Ibid.)

Then in the beginning when you were going to be instructed, it would have been rightly said to you:

And if you be unwilling to worship the Lord, choose this day whom you will worship, whether the gods your fathers worshiped in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites among whom you dwell on the land.

And the catechist might have said to you:

But as for me and my house, we will worship the Lord because he is holy.

He does not have any reason to say this to you now; for then you said:

Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods. For the Lord our God, he is God, who brought us and our fathers out of Egypt … and preserved us in all the way that we went (Joshua 24:16).

Moreover, in the agreements about religion long ago you gave your catechist this answer:

We also will worship the Lord, for he is our God (Joshua 24:18).

If, therefore, the one who breaks agreements with men is outside any truce and alien to safety, what must be said of those who by denying make null and void the agreements they made with God, and who run back to Satan, whom they renounced when they were baptized? Such a person must be told the words spoken by Eli to his sons, If a man sins against a man, then they will pray for him; but if he sins against the Lord, who will pray for him? (1 Kingdoms LXX/1 Samuel 2:25)2

I don't believe there is anything in the Biblical text itself, nor in Jewish or Christian interpretations of the text in antiquity (nor for that matter in modern Jewish or modern eastern Christian interpretations), that suggest that the choice being discussed was something other than free.

1. Oxford Jewish Study Bible (2d. ed.)
2. Exhortation to Martyrdom XVII

  • user33515 Does not "free choice" mean that at some level something comes from us [us as a first cause]. But Romans 11:36 "For from Him..... are all things".
    – C. Stroud
    May 14, 2019 at 22:01

Judges 24:15 is not the only place where people are told or asked to choose about their salvation. There are many other places such as: Deut 30:19, Judg 5:8, Job 34:4, 33, 21, Ps 119:173, Prov 1:29, 3:31, Isa 7:15, 16, 56:4, 65:12, 66:3, Jer 8:3.

Apart from this we also have numerous other places where people also choose negatively, despite obviously being chosen by God to do a special work such as:

  • King Saul who was a statesman and prophet called by God (1 Sam 10:11, 12, 19:24), yet was ultimately lost when he consulted demons for advice and then committed suicide.
  • Eze 18:21-28 also teaches that the wicked can reform and be saved, and the righteous can apostatise and be lost. Both situations are incompatible with Calvinism’s view of salvation and humanity.
  • Rom 11:17-21 discusses the warning that people who had been grafted into the “olive tree” of the Christian community could be broken off if they were unfaithful.
  • 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says he disciplines his body to keep it under control so that after preaching to others he does not become a castaway/disqualified. That is, Paul believed that it was possible that he could lose his way and become lost.
  • 1 Tim 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Thus, some people, despite being "called" can loose their faith by negative choices.
  • Similarly, Heb 6:4-6 also teaches that some “who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit…” can fall away.
  • Heb 10:19-35 contains an extended passage on enduring. It contains some real gems about the possibility of losing one’s faith and confidence such as:
  • Heb 10:26: If we(!) deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left
  • Heb 10:29: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and who has insulted the Spirit of grace. This verse clearly shows that it is possible to be sanctified and subsequently lost.
  • Heb 10:35: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward.
  • Heb 10:36: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.
  • Heb 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace …”
  • 2 Peter 1:10, “make your calling and election sure”. This clearly allows for the possibility of losing one’s election.
  • 2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
  • 2 Peter 3:17 contains a very stern and sobering warning to be on guard that we do not fall from our secure position. Verse 14 contains a similar warning.
  • 1 Cor 10:12 also contains a stern warning from Paul, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
  • Gal 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
  • Jesus’ parable of the sower, or perhaps the parable of the soils (Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15) contains several classes of people (soils) who start out well in the Christian life but lose their way. The conclusion is also significant: “by their constancy bear fruit”. (Luke 8:15)
  • Jesus’ parable of the banquet (Luke 14:16-24) contains a very good example of people rejecting the call (or “election”) of God as well as God having to ask some people more than once and begging them to the wedding banquet. Jesus’ conclusion is, again, significant, “not one of those men who have been invited shall taste of my banquet.”

Thus, personal choice is regularly and often depicted in the Bible as important part of our salvation process. "God is sovereign but man is responsible."

[Note: None of this should be interpreted to suggest that salvation by God is anything other than God's initiative (Phil 2:13, John 6:44, Rom 2:4; repentance is also a gift Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25), but this does not preclude the possibility that a person can reject the prompting and pleading of the Holy Spirit as shown above. See also Acts 7:51, 1 Thess 5:19, Eph 4:30 (resisting or "quenching the Holy Spirit) and Matt 23:37 - resisting the pleadings of Jesus Himself!]

  • In your verses we see "many are called". [But, few are chosen. Chosen for what other than to be given the grace necessary to respond with obedience?]
    – C. Stroud
    May 17, 2019 at 15:55
  • That is a theological comment and not a Biblical comment. The examples listed above are specifically listed to chow that people had been "chosen" but had turned away and rejected God; unless you indulge in Platonism and create two unbiblical types of calling.
    – user25930
    May 17, 2019 at 20:35
  • If God calls someone to do something but does not give them the grace to do it, God proves that they [created being] are less than His Son [uncreated]. That He might be preeminent in all as in Col 1:18. I think.
    – C. Stroud
    May 18, 2019 at 13:54
  • I fully agree. God has called all people to repentance and salvation John 12;32, Acts 17:30, Rom 3:23, 24, 5:8, 10, 15, 18, 2 Cor 5:14, 18, 19, 1 Tim 2:3, 4, 6, 11, Titus 2;11, Heb 2:9, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:2, Isa 53:6, etc. However, that does not prevent people from rejecting that offer and calling as the above list illustrates.
    – user25930
    May 18, 2019 at 20:16
  • Does 1 Tim really support your case? see hermeneutics "in 1 Tim 2:4 does "all" refer to all men or all sorts of men?"
    – C. Stroud
    May 23, 2019 at 11:57

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