"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen" (Matthew 20:16).
These words of Christ make it clear that being called by God and being chosen by Him are not the same. The two items are similar in the Greek, with the second somewhat like an extension of the first-that is, kletos and eklektos, or "called" and "called-out." The same truth is emphasized again in Matthew 22:14: "For many are called, but few are chosen." Note also that the word for "chosen" (eklektos) is the word from which we get the English word "elect." In fact, it is often rendered "elect" in the Bible.
It often seems, however, that the two words are used almost as synonyms. Both apply only to true believers. For example, those who are "called" are set out as distinct from all others. "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the [Gentiles] foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and [Gentiles], Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:23-24).
Yet, as our text says, only a "few" of those that are "called" are also "chosen." All Christians are "the called" of God, but only some of these are "chosen" by Him for some special ministry. For example, Paul was called "a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles" (Acts 9:15).
Both the "calling" and "choosing" (or "election") are strictly works of God. In fact, He has "chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).
And yet, we are also exhorted to "give diligence" to make both "[our] calling and election sure" (II Peter 1:10). Though the dual nuances may be impossible to comprehend with our minds, they are a blessing to the hearts of all who are the "called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). For all "they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14). HMM