As part of his redemptive action, God ‘calls’ Israel (Isa. 49: 1) and individuals (Isa. 41: 25), and because the calling is sometimes to new or unexpected work an unexpected (Luke 1: 59–63) or new (John 1: 42) name is bestowed. The calling of God to people goes on in the apostolic Church (Gal. 1: 15); though all are called to share as equals in the Christian life, some have a calling or vocation to particular functions within it, as was the case with Matthias (Acts 1: 24) and Paul (Gal. 1: 15).

Martin Luther, and many since the Reformation, have maintained a high doctrine of vocation or calling to one's secular occupation, but this sense of a calling is unknown in the NT.