In Karl Barth's Doctrine of Election, Jesus Christ is the only elected individual, and no other individual is elected like Jesus (Act 4:12), but in him (c.f. Eph 1:4) all people are included in his election (1 Cor 15:22). Since Barth was not a Universalist, this syllogism indicates that there may be individuals who are included in Jesus' election that are ultimately condemned in the Final Judgment. So then, it is difficult to answer the question, "What does election mean to individuals?" (especially for those who are ultimately condemned). Does election directly apply to anyone besides Jesus? In this article, I will explore the election of Jesus and other individuals.
Karl Barth's reconstruction of John Calvin's Double Predestination
Karl Barth's Doctrine of Election is a reconstruction of John Calvin's Double Predestination. In order to understand Barth's schema of election, it is helpful to understand the Calvinist tradition from which it spawned. John Calvin began his doctrine of election in God's horrible, dreadful, and absolute decree before the creation of the world, where some people were elected and the rest were rejected. Calvin's view is not good news to all people, because it says to the non-Christian that they are predestined to perdition and there's nothing that may be done about it. Calvin's schema of election was only good news to the elected individuals. Calvinist tradition called the non-elected individuals "reprobates" or the "mass of perdition", and the person and work of Jesus Christ provides no benefits to such individuals, so what purpose is there in preaching Christ crucified to them? (1 Cor 1:23) This preaching is only bad news to these "reprobates".
Barth affirms Calvin's biblical support for Double Predestination, but dismantles Calvin's theory by restricting the scope of election to Jesus alone. According to Barth, Jesus is the sole subject and object of election, such that there is no longer two indiscriminate groups (i.e. the elect and the reprobate), but instead there is one man who is both the only elected one and only rejected one (CD II/2). This means that Jesus was elected to be rejected, specifically in that God sent his one and only son to die on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16-17). So Jesus is elected for all and rejected for all, and therefore in his resurrection, "Jesus is Victor" (CD IV/3.2) over all and has become the savior of all the world (1 John 2:2). Barth re-orientated the Doctrine of Election around the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ for the entire world, so therefore it is no surprise the Barth says that "the doctrine of election is the sum of the gospel":
"The doctrine of election is the sum of the Gospel because of all the words that can be said or heard it is the best: that God elects man; that God is for man too the One who loves in freedom. It is grounded in the knowledge of Jesus Christ because He is both the electing God and elected man in One. It is part of the doctrine of God because originally God's election of man is a predestination not merely of man but of Himself. Its function is to bear basic testimony to eternal, free and unchanging grace as the beginning of all the ways and works of God."
—Karl Barth (CD II/2) 
The strength of Karl Barth's Doctrine of Election is that it is good news to all people—not to the elect only (as in Calvin's schema). Centering election on Jesus has been incredibly helpful for me, especially in understanding how election and the person and work of Jesus are correlated. Calvin confessed that the absolute decree was "dreadful" and "horrible" but nevertheless believed it was true. So I still love John Calvin, because he would never call this absolute decree "good news" like some Calvinists today.
|1. God has elected Jesus alone
2. Jesus is rejected for all
3. Jesus is victor over all
4. Jesus is proclaimed
the savior of all the world
|1. God made a horrible
and absolute decree
2. Some people are elected,
the rest are rejected
3. Christians tell Non-Christians
they are predestined to hell
4. No mention of Jesus
The Election of Individuals Who Deny Their Election
Karl Barth's Doctrine of Election allows for the salvation of individuals who deny their own election. This doesn't mean that all people who deny their election will ultimately be saved (as in Universalism), but it does mean that non-Christians who reject Jesus do not understand what they are saying! For those individuals who deny the Christian Faith, Barth explains why they may ultimately be included in the saving work of Jesus Christ as follows:
"The man who is isolated over against God is as such rejected by God. But to be this man can only be by the godless man's own choice. The witness of the community of God to every individual man consists in this: that this choice of the godless man is void; that he belongs eternally to Jesus Christ; that the rejection which he deserves on account of his perverse choice is borne and cancelled by Jesus Christ; and that he is appointed to eternal life with God on the basis of the righteous, divine decision. The promise of his election determines that as a member of the community he himself shall be a bearer of its witness to the whole world. And the revelation of his rejection can only determine him to believe in Jesus Christ as the One by whom it has been borne and cancelled."
—Karl Barth (CD II/2) 
Barth's answer is similar to John Calvin's teaching in the Institutes III.21-24 regarding people who were elect but were not converted yet. In the preface to CD II/2, Barth said "I would have preferred to follow Calvin's doctrine of predestination much more closely, instead of departing from it so radically." Barth and Calvin are saying similar things about a person who has not yet realized that they are among the elect. Barth is not an enemy of Calvin, he is simply more optimistic than Calvin, and allows for the hope that all might be elected in the end.
Election, Vocation, and Faithfulness (CD IV/3.2 §70.1)
In the final complete volume of the Church Dogmatics (CD IV/3.2), Barth returned to the question of how election applies to other individuals in a fascinating paragraph that links election to vocation to faithfulness. In the CD IV/3.2 §70 "The Vocation of Man: 1. Man in the Light of Life", Barth explains that election and calling are "indissolubly coordinated". If all people are elected in Jesus, then therefore all people have a specific vocation (i.e. calling) that is determined by their election in Jesus. And the experience of this "calling" (a.k.a. vocation) is linked to faithfulness to Jesus (c.f. Rev 17:14). So the universal scope of Jesus' election has a vocational determination for all people, even if individuals deny this determination, it is nevertheless determinate upon them. This indissoluble link between the election of Jesus and the vocation of all people, means that even when individuals are not faithful to the their vocation, Jesus remains faithful in them (2 Tim 2:13).
The following small-print section in CD IV/3.2, Karl Barth explains how the election of Jesus determines the vocation of all individuals, especially those who believe (1 Tim 4:10):
It is of this that we must think first and supremely in relation to this event. We recall Isa 41:4: "Who hath wrought and done it? (The reference is to the calling of Cyrus to his work of deliverance in the service of the exiled people of God.) He who called to the generations from the beginning, I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he." Of the called, i.e., Christians, we have thus to say first of all with Calvin: "Those who approach Christ were already sons of God in his heart, since they had been enemies in him, but because they were foreordained to life, they were given to Christ" (Dei praed, C.R. 8, 292). Within the framework of his understanding of predestination, divorced at the crucial point from Christology, and of the vocation which follows this in time, Calvin could not, of course, speak of an election of all men to a real, true and certain vocation grounded in this election. According to him, not all men are elected in Jesus Christ, and therefore not all are called. Yet the fact remains—and this is our present point—that Calvin did speak plainly of the eternal election of man, or of certain men, as the presuppositions of their vocation and not vice versa, and of the vocation of man, or of certain men, as the historical fulfillment of their election. For him vocation and election are indissolubly coordinated. Election looks forward to the future event of vocation; vocation backward to election.
According to the New Testament norm we cannot speak of either except in this co-ordination. Christian are elect and therefore called. They are called because they are elect. And on the basis of both election and vocation they are holy and faithful. All these descriptions apply to them as Christians. This is intended even in passages in which only one or two or sometimes three are expressly mentioned. If calling and election are not identical, they are never independent but always go together. When in 1 Cor 1:1 and Rom 1:1 Paul calls himself a called apostle, he gives his own exposition by adding in Rom 1:1 set apart for the Gospel of God. He thus traces back his calling to be both a Christian and an apostle to his election. That is why he can say in Gal 1:15 that he was separated from his mother's womb and called by God's grace. According to Rom 8:28 Christians generally are called according to God's prior counsel (according to his purpose). And in the famous catena aurea of Rom 8:30 it is said of them generally that God called those whom He elected, and then that He justified and glorified them. In Rev 17:14 they are described in a single phrase as called and elect and faithful. From the very first (from the beginning) God has elected them to salvation and then called them by the Gospel, according to 2 Thess 2:13. It is not according to their works that God has done the latter, but in accordance with His purpose and the point in the same direction when it says of the called that they are "loved by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ."
—Karl Barth (CD IV/3.2) 
The Linchpin of Universalism: Matthew 22:14
In this exploration, Barth has not yet explained how an individual is elect and may be ultimately condemned in the Final Judgement. Barth does not answer this paradoxical question, but in this same small-print section of CD IV/3.2, he dismantles the strongest biblical text used against Univeralism: Matthew 22:14. Barth is not an Universalist, but he hopes that the final decision of God will be that no one is condemned: Barth once famously said, "I do not teach it [Universalism] but I do not not teach it either." In his commentary on Matthew 22:14, Barth demonstrates that the Bible is not clearly opposed to a theology of hope where all people are ultimately saved.
I've saved the best part for last: Karl Barth's exposition of Matthew 22:14. This verse is the "interpretive crux" to the question of Universalism. It is the most famous verse against Universalism in the bible, and read in isolation, it renders Universalism impossible. Barth approaches this verse "many are called but few are chosen" as a paradoxical saying that is in contradiction to the rest of the New Testament that has been introduced by a redactor to the Gospel of Matthew. Other interpreters have suggested that there are two groups among the elect, those elect who are good and noble and the rest, but Barth denies that the New Testament supports such a dichotomy. Barth believes that the best way to understand Matt 22:14 is to imagine that all individuals are elect, but few live out their election.
As for elect individuals who are ultimately rejected, Barth admits that in the case of Judas (alone), we have the only example of an individual who is elected and rejected without any future hope for that individual. Judas is specifically called for his vocation of denying Jesus, that results in his personal apostasy. Barth keenly reminds us that the other disciples denied Jesus like Judas, so we cannot say that Judas is unique in his betray of Jesus. So to affirm that Judas is ultimately condemned, concludes that all the other disciples are likewise condemned for participating in a likewise sinful act! However, Barth admits that it is a possibility that a person, such as Judas, may be an elect individual, yet ultimately be condemned. As soon as Barth acknowledges this problem, he immediately retreats from it. The case of Judas is difficult to understand, and it is no surprise that a forger capitalized upon it and wrote a pseudo-Gospel according to Judas.
The election of Jesus, was for his rejection on the cross, that resulted in the salvation of the world. So we have no example of a person who is elected, that ends tragically in rejection without a future resurrection. Barth provides us a precedent that when confronted with Judas or any individual who denies their election, that we may shrug and say that this is a paradox. So when an individual who denies their election, or a person (such as Judas Iscariot), that is called for the purpose of being rejected, that the best way we may respond is to immediately back way from that situation, and to remain silent, and to not provide an answer.
In my personal opinion, the New Testament provides us two possibilities, in John and Paul's writings we have hope for Universal Reconciliation of all people, but in Mark and Matthew we have a double judgment of some who are saved and the others who are not. New Testament scholars are in agreement that its impossible to harmonize these two threads in the New Testament. So we are forced to a make a theological conclusion whether the New Testament provides us a theology of hope or not. Barth is not opposed to this theological consensus, but his commentary on Matt 22:14 demonstrates that the argument for Double Judgement is not standing on equal foundation as the Universalist passages (c.f. John 3:17; John 6:51; 2 Cor 5:19; Rev 11:15; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).
Here is what Barth says regarding Matt 22:14 in CD IV/3.2:
A more difficult passage in this connection is Matt 22:14. Jesus has just told the parable of the wedding-feast, and especially the story of the rejection of the man who appeared without a wedding garment. There is then added the independent saying: "Many are called, but few are chosen." The verse forms a interpretive crux, since its most obvious meaning, in analogy to the saying quoted in Plato's Phaedo (69c) about the few real Bacchantes among the many Thyrsus bearers, seems to be in flat contradiction with all the other passages and to speak about a calling which has no election as its presupposition. Among those who rightly thought this contradiction intolerable, and thus could not accept the obvious meaning, R. Seeberg (PRE3 2, 657) took the view that in this passage elect is not a theological term but simply indicates the good and the noble of whom there are unfortunately only too few among those who are called. But if the saying is understood in this way it surely has a foreign ring in the synoptic tradition, and no such distinction between the good and noble and the rest of the called seems to be made anywhere else in the New Testament. Indeed, how could the saying be reconciled with what is said about the called and elect in 1 Cor 1:26f.? A. Schlatter again (Der Evangelist Matthäus, 1929, 640 f.) tried to avoid the contradiction by castigating and rejection as Greek the exposition which would "import into the supra-historical consciousness of God" the choice indicated by the word elect, Jesus and the Evangelist concentrating their attention consistently on history and therefore accepting the fact that the calling of man merely posits a beginning which contains the possibility of both of apostasy and also of preservation, so that election must be separated from vocation. But if this is the case, then the rest of the New Testament is at fault, and especially Paul, who unmistakably speaks of election as a divine purpose and the like. Can we really isolate it from this and link with the story of man's apostasy or preservation? And where in the New Testament, apart perhaps from Judas Iscariot, do we have any example of calling as a beginning which carries within it the apostasy of man?
My own view is that we may and must agree with K. L. Schmidt (Kittel II, 496) in regarding the saying as a paradox. It may thus be freely paraphrased as follows. Many are called, but there will only be few who in following the call will prove worthy of, and act in accordance with, the fact that as the called of God they are His elect, predestined from all eternity for life with Him and for His service. There will only be few who in the words of 2 Pet 1:10 are obedient to their calling and make sure, i.e., validate and confirm, their election. There will only be few who really are what they are as called, namely, elect or Christians. In this case the meaning of the redactor in Matt 22 is this. Like so many, and indeed the majority, the man without the wedding-garment has not been or done what he could and should have been and done when invited by the king to the feast and given like all the rest the robe with which to appear before him. If this is the meaning, the saying itself then points to the fact that both the calling and the underlying election in their co-ordination have and maintain the character of a free act of grace on the side of God and a free decision on that of man. On neither side, therefore, do we have the automatic function of a machine. Both vocation and election are always a free event. It is to be noted in conclusion that if this verse cannot be opposed to all the others in which the co-ordination of vocation and election is so clear and unequivocal, it cannot be adduced, as it often has been, in refutation of the universality of the election which underlies the future calling of all.
—Karl Barth (CD IV/3.2) 
Barth's Doctrine of Election is contained in the Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God, Vol. II/2 §32-35, and this includes an entire paragraph to the topic of the "Election of the Individuals" (CD II/2 §35). Barth also discusses the Doctrine of Providence in the CD III/4 that has bearing on this discussion, and he revisits election (as quoted above) in CD IV/3.2. However, we do not finally have an explanation on how an individual may be included in Jesus' election yet be finally rejected. Barth clarifies his position in CD IV/3.2, but does not provide a definitive answer of how all people are elected in Jesus without necessitating Universalism. This question might have been answered in the hypothetical and unwritten fifth volume of the Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Redemption. What is learned from Barth is the election is the sum of the gospel and is about Jesus, and the person and work of Jesus applies to all the world (not only the elected), and that there is hope for all people (not only the elect).
As for Judas Iscariot and other elected individuals that are condemned in the Bible (such as Esau and Ishmael), we may boldly not answer whether they will ultimately join us in eternal life at the last day. There are many things I may have said about the election of the community, of Israel, of the Church and the entire world, that are not said in this post. But, Barth has addressed these things in his Doctrine of Election. To learn more, I highly recommend reading this book, this book, this books, this book and this book to satiate those questions!
I've explored only one part of Barth's Doctrine of Election: The Election of the Individual; and, there's so much more that may be said about this one part, such as the election of Israel and the history of redemption. There are so many loci to consider (such as the Election of the Community in CD II/2 §34) in the Doctrine of Election, that "if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25).
[^Header Image Source]: By Phillip Medhurst - Photo by Harry Kossuth, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7550846. [The background image is art depicting the person rejected from the wedding feast for not wearing the appropriate garments in a parable of Jesus.]
[^1] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God. Vol. II/2. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 3. Print. Study Edition 10.
[^2] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God. Vol. II/2. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 111. Print. Study Edition 11.
[^3] Eberhard Jungel, Karl Barth a Theological Legacy, Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1986. 44f.
[^4] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Reconciliation. Vol. IV/3.2. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 111-12. Print. Study Edition 28. [ET 484-6] [^5] Ibid.
Related: doctrine of election, dystopian gospel, election, Hypothetical Universalism, John Calvin, Karl Barth, predestination, Universalism