This subject of predestination is quite controversial as it centers around
a true understanding of the sovereignty of God. There are those who say
that God's sovereignty is such that He decrees and makes things happen to
the exclusion of any free will in man.
There are those who say that man has free will and can actually undermine,
reverse and act totally independently from God's sovereignty.
And then there is the biblical perspective which recognizes that God
in His sovereignty has given man free will, allows the expression of that
free will and in no way is hindered or sidetracked from His perfect plan
in so doing.
The word from the Greek: proōridzō
1. The verb, hōridzō = determine, appoint, designate,
mark out, set a limit.
(we get our English word, horizon from this)
2. pro = preposition and means before hand.
3. Thus, to predetermine, pre-appoint, pre-designate and finally, to predestine.
4. This verb occurs only 6 times in the New Testament.
The first time it occurs is in the prayer at Acts 4:27-28,
For truly in this city, there were gathered together against your holy
servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with
the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel . . .
To do: the action of these people to reject Jesus as the Messiah and
have Him crucified.
Whatever: God's specific plan
Your hand: always refers to the expression of God's power accomplishing
His good pleasure.
and your purpose: boulā, means resolution, decision, counsel,
pre determined: here is the verb. This determination took place in the
past and all the prophecies of the Old Testament indicate God's intent
and God's foreknowledge.
So how should we view this? God's will decided on a course of action
and God's power carried it out. And it was all accomplished in God's perfect
timing. Gal. 4:4,
"When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His son."
And it appears as though God predetermined that these people do these
things as if they had no free-will choice. BUT that is not the case.
This must be compared with Acts 2.23:
This one delivered up: refers to the same event of the cross which is
the subject of Acts 4:28.
by the appointed plan: here we have the verb, hōridzō
plus boulā again. So this is the plan that God made in the
past to bring about the crucifixion of the Messiah.
AND foreknowledge: here is another factor, that is so often overlooked
or flat out rejected. God knew ahead of time, the details of mans choices
and actions and accommodated those choices and actions into carrying out
His perfect plan.
The word is prognōsis.
pro = before hand
gnōsis = knowledge
Pretty self explanatory isn't it? Especially in that it is used in conjunction
with a "pre destined" idea so that, the determination and the
foreknowledge MUST be viewed as 2 separate factors.
So our first use of "predestined " immediately brings our attention
to the omniscience of God in knowing ahead of time the actions various people
would take at this juncture in history.
And let us make a further comparison to 1 Peter 1.20 which speaks of
"Who was foreknown before the foundation of the world "
Here we have the verb form, proginōskō (pro =
before hand; ginōskō = to know).
And we see the fact that all the details about Jesus were foreknown ahead
of time - in fact, in eternity past, but manifested in these last times
Thus we find at Galatians 4:4 , "When the fullness of the time came"
very clearly, a combination of God's foreknowledge and God's determined
plan to bring the Messiah into the world at the perfect time so that He
could be delivered up to be crucified and redeem the human race.
The 2nd and 3rd occurrence of proōridzō is found
at Romans 8:29-30.
In v. 28, we have that fantastic promise concerning any and every situation
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good."
This does not say that all things ARE good, but that God will work them
together in our life to produce that which is beneficial to us. Benefit
here has in view temporal benefit, that is, benefit during our life here
Furthermore, this benefit must be measured according to God's standards
of benefit, not ours.
But for this promise to be a reality in our life, there are two conditions.
The 1st condition is mentioned 2nd. We must be, "called according to
Called = klātos. It is an adjective that refers to the salvation
status the believer has in God's plan. It views someone as having been
invited by God into His salvation blessing and as having accepted that
invitation. Thus the one who is called is a believer.
The unbeliever is never described as "called." Not because
the invitation has not been extended (for indeed it has) but because the
unbeliever has not accepted that invitation.
The 2nd condition has to to with the way of life of the believer:
"those who love God"
The believer's expression of love for God needs to be built up within
him as he grows in grace and knowledge. Philippians 1:9.
It is very possible for the believer not to love God the way he should.
And genuine love for the Lord will be evidenced by a genuine love for His
word. John 14:15, 23-24.
But our concern is really with the salvation issue that Paul brings up.
For he now explains that the ultimate basis for this temporal benefit in
the life of the believer is a salvation "status" which he describes
in a step-by-step format in order to show it as a completed package that
God accomplished in the very point of time that the person trusted in Christ
v. 29 - for whom he foreknew: here is "proginōskō"
again, to indicate that before God took specific steps to include "you"
in His plan, he foreknew something. Now there is no reason to try to define
predestination from this passage, for it doesn't really explain it. We just
have a very interesting order of events. And the fact that all these are
verbs which occur in the aorist tense, indicates that they must all be viewed
as completed steps in the plan of God for man's salvation.
1. He knew something ahead of time.
2. He assigned a destiny based on that knowledge.
3. He invited and accepted into a "called" status because of
4. Because of that "called" status, He declared righteous (justified).
5. And because of that justification, He glorified. (which is the end
result of God's salvation plan for the human race, glorified in resurrection
body and living with God for all eternity.
It is contended by some that the word foreknow has the same connotation
But such an assumption not only violates the natural and secular meaning
of proginōskō, but also violates the very clear
context of both Acts 2:23 and Romans 8:29. That violation being: there is
absolutely no logical reason for using both "foreknow" and "predetermine"
at Romans8:29 nor for using "foreknowledge" and "predetermined
plan" at Acts 2:23 if they are to be viewed as synonymous. Thus as
is clearly the implication, they are to be viewed as two different ideas.
Since this distinction between these two words is of the utmost importance,
I shall quote here from WORD MEANINGS IN THE NT, by Ralph Earle, page 182.
"The latest and best one-volume Greek-English lexicon of the NT
is that by Arndt and Gingrich (1957) For this passage they suggest the
translation 'choose beforehand' (p.710). Wuest agrees with this. He argues
that in Acts 2:23 'counsel' and 'foreknowledge' (prognōsis) mean the
same thing. Also n 1 Pet. 1:20, KJV translates proginōskō as
Wuest adds: 'The word should also be so translated in Rom. 8.29' (p.144).
However, in 1 Pet. 1:20 the ERV and the ASV have foreknow, although
the RSV has 'destined.' Calvin, as might be expected, makes proginōskō
here in Rom. 8:29 refer to our adoption (p.227)
But this theological connotation is unsupported by the majority of the
best authorities. Lidell and Scott in their monumental Greek-English Lexicon
give no such meaning for the term. Abbott-Smith has simply 'know beforehand,
Thayer agrees and interprets 1 Pet. 1:20 as: 'foreknown by God, although
not yet made manifest to men' (page 538).
Cremer seems to fall somewhere between. He writes:
however, essentially includes a self-determining on God's part to this
fellowship (Rom. 8:29, whom God had beforehand entered into fellowship
Alfred, pioneer of the modern grammatico-historical method of interpretation,
notes Calvin's rendering here ('elected, adopted as His sons'). Then he
adds: 'But I prefer taking the word in the ordinary sense of foreknew.'
Meyer points out that the Early Church fathers (e.g.,
Augustine, Jerome) interpreted the term as signifying foreknowledge rather
than fore ordination. He declares that the meaning is not 'to be decided
by dogmatic suppositions, but simply by the usage of the language, in accordance
with which proginosko never in the NT (not even in Rom. 11:2 and 1 Per.
1:20) means anything else than to know beforehand - - - that in classic
usage it ever means anything else, cannot be at all proved. (p.335)
It is being increasingly recognized that one of the most important backgrounds
for the use of words in the NT is the LXX (Greek OT) this was the bible
of the earliest Christians.
It is in this vein that sonday and Headlam write: 'The meaning of this
phrase must be determined by the biblical use of the word 'know,' which
is very marked and clear - - in all these places the word means 'to take
note of,' 'to fix the regard upon,' as a preliminary to selection for some
especial purpose' (p.217).
Denny takes a similar view. He says: 'Yet we may be sure that proginosko
has the pregnant sense that ginosko often has in scripture - - hence we
may render, 'those of whom God took knowledge from eternity' (Eph. 1.4)
The ANT reads: 'For those whom He foreknew--of whom He was aware (in
the divine plan).'
Charles Williams makes it a little stronger in his translation: 'on
whom He set His heart beforehand.'
In a footnote he asserts that this usage is found in the LXX.
Vincent speaks vigorously on the subject. He declares of proginōskō:
'it does not mean foreordain. It signifies prescience, not preelection,'
In a footnote he adds: 'this is the simple, common-sense meaning. The attempt
to attach to it the sense of pre-election, to make it include the divine
decree, has grown out of dogmatic considerations in the interest of a rigid
pre-destinarianism. the scope of this work does not admit a discussion of
the infinitesimal hair-splitting which has been applied to this passage,
and which is as profitless as it is unsatisfactory.
The relation of this term to its context is correctly stated by Vine
when he writes: 'The foreknowledge of God is the basis of His foreordaining
One of the best treatments of this passage is in Godet's commentary
on Romans, where he devotes over a page of rather fine print to this one
word alone. He writes:
'Some have given to the word foreknow the meaning of elect, choose,
destine beforehand - - -Not only is this meaning arbitrary, as being without
example in the NT - - - but what is still more decidedly opposed to this
meaning is what follows: He also did predestinate.'
After discussion several views held regarding this word, Godet goes
on to say (p.325): 'In what respect did God thus foreknow them? - - -there
is but one answer: foreknown as sure to fulfill the condition of salvation,
viz. faith; so: foreknown as His by faith.'"
In light of this evidence it is most reasonable and consistent with the
rest of the Bible to view foreknew and predestined as separate ideas and
that foreknowledge comes first.
The 4th occurrence of proōridzō is found at 1
"But we are speaking the wisdom of God in a mystery,
the hidden (wisdom) which God predetermined before the ages to our glory."
This is speaking of the new revelation from God which relates to the
ministry and sacrifice of the Messiah. This revelation and the existence
of the church as the new evangelistic servant of God (replacing Israel)
was predetermined by God even before the ages began.
This predetermination of God is called the plan of the ages at Eph. 3:10-11,
which shows the church as the agent for making known the manifold wisdom
of God to the fallen angels in the heavenlies.
It should be clear, that the use of this word is to show that God has
indeed made a determination as to how He would carry out His plan at a certain
juncture in human history.
Gal. 4.4 applies again, "when the fullness of the time came - -"
The 5th and last occurrence of proōridzō is found
at Ephesians 1:5 and 11.
The key to understanding this passage, our salvation and the doctrine of
predestination is "union with Christ."
Union with Christ refers to the fact the one who believes in Christ as
savior is placed in a positional relationship with Christ so that God the
Father sees that believer as being WHERE Christ is and possessing WHAT Christ
This was accomplished by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment
that one believed in Christ. 1 Cor. 12:13,
"For by one Spirit, we have all been baptized into one body"
"For as many as were baptized into Christ,
you have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free,
neither male nor female for you are all one IN CHRIST JESUS."
It reverses the positional status of being in the kingdom of darkness.
Ephesians 5:8 tells us that we were FORMERLY darkness, but now are light
IN THE LORD.
All mankind has an appointment with judgment. Hebrews 9:27
That appointment is actually the destiny which was originally assigned to
Satan and his angels as Jesus taught at Matthew 25:41.
For those who are IN CHRIST, that appointment is canceled. Romans 8:1,
"there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are IN CHRIST
(the verse stops there in the Greek)
Everything that we have as part of our salvation is based on the fact
that we are in union with Christ. Eph. 3:1
"Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies IN CHRIST."
Our position IN CHRIST, views us as currently possessing the status that
He possesses as He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Col. 3:1,
"Since then you have been raised together IN CHRIST,
keep seeking the things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of the God."
Our position IN CHRIST also has a "retroactive" reality associated
God views us as having been crucified and died with Christ. Gal. 2:20; Rom.
6:8; Col. 3:3
Buried with Christ: Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12
And thus, He also views us as having been raised and seated. Eph. 2:5-6,
"even when we were dead in trespasses,
He made us alive together IN CHRIST
(by grace you have been saved)
and he raised us together and seated us together
in the heavenlies IN CHRIST JESUS."
Because of this "positional" reality IN CHRIST, we share His
inheritance and we share His destiny.
Jesus is the heir of the universe. Heb. 1:2
The believer is a joint-heir with Christ. Rom.8:17; Gal.4:7
Thus we see a complete and permanent change that has taken place because
the believer has been put into union with Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17,
"Therefore if anyone is IN CHRIST,
there is a new creation; (spiritual life through the new birth)
the old things have passed away, (old position in darkness)
behold, new things have come into existence."
These new things refer to the spiritual blessings of Eph.1:3.
The point of contact between that passage and 2 Cor. 5:17 is - IN CHRIST.
Thus, every thing we have by way of God's salvation plan for us is ours
as God sees us IN CHRIST. Everything we have; everything we are is because
we are IN CHRIST.
And when the bible views the believer's position in the plan of God,
it sees it as "predetermined." The plan was designed beforehand,
and the means for entrance into that plan (faith) was designed before hand,
but the believer's actual entrance into the plan (his decision of faith)
was not predetermined.
The fact of the believer's predestination relates ONLY to the sharing
of What Christ has as God's appointed Messiah and heir.
In other words, the destiny assigned to Christ as the Messiah of God is
the destiny He shares with those who trust Him.
Christ is the Elect one of The Father: Is. 42:1; 1 Pet. 2:5
Through the believer's positional union IN CHRIST, he shares Christ's election
- the predetermined plan God made for Him.
Eph. 1:4, "just as He chose us (or elected us) IN HIM -"
Christ is the one who has been predestined to accomplish the Father's
plan (as already studied) and to possess the promised inheritance as the
Faithful and obedient SON. Phil. 2:6-11
The predestination of the believer is mentioned only 3 times in the entire
bible and each time it refers to a destiny we are to share with Christ because
we are IN CHRIST.
Christ is the one who is predestined, we are predestined because we are
IN HIM. Not because God predetermined what we would do. God predetermined
the plan for the Messiah. When we are positionally united IN CHRIST, that
plan becomes ours.
Thus, according to Romans 8:29, foreknowledge comes first.
Since God knew ahead of time who would choose to believe in Christ, He could
assign that believer to the destiny already in place for Christ.
And the sharing of Christ's destiny IS the election of those predestined.
They are chosen or elect since they had already been assigned a share in
the destiny of Christ.
At Romans 8:29, the believer's destiny is described as sharing the same
glory that Christ has through resurrection, ascension and session.
And after the assignment of destiny IN CHRIST, comes the calling.
Now (finally) at Eph. 1:4-5,
"just as He chose us IN HIM, before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before Him;
having predestined us in love for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ;"
We were predestined for adoption which is the basis for sharing His predestined
Christ is the Son with full family privileges and honor.
Our adoption puts us into the family of God and recognizes us as "adult"
sons with full family privileges and honor.
Thus, we are able to share Christ's inheritance to which He was predestined
and to which we are predestined IN HIM.
"IN WHOM (ref. to IN CHRIST) we have obtained an inheritance,
having been predestined according to the plan of Him
who who works all things according to the intent of His will,
We have the inheritance because we are IN HIM.
The inheritance is in place because a destiny according to God's plan was
assigned to Christ and shared with the believer.
In God's plan for the human race, before the foundation of the world,
in His sovereignty and foreknowledge, He designed two destinies for mankind.
The one destiny would be to share the Election and inheritance of The
God-Man, Jesus the Messiah whom God would send into the world.
The other destiny would be to share the judgment assigned to Satan when
he rebelled against God. Mt. 25:41.
The two destinies are pre-designed.
The basis for participation in each is pre-designed.
The actual decision which will be made by each member of the human race
is not pre-designed, but foreknown.
And in that this plan God has designed for man is the best possible thing
for him to experience, God desires that all people participate in it. 2
Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4
Accordingly, God is faithful to make known the necessary information
so people can choose which of the 2 destinies to inherit. He does this through
the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit. John 6:45; John 7:17; John 12.32;
So in His foreknowledge, God sees which ones will make the decision to
trust in Christ and on that basis, He enters that person into His plan even
before that person is born.
Again, the plan is predetermined, and the basis for entrance is predetermined,
but the actual entering into the plan is based on each person's decision
to accept or reject Christ. But since that decision is foreknown by God,
He can view the believer as chosen in His plan (IN CHRIST) from before the
foundation of the world. Ephesians1:3
And the kingdom promise can be viewed as "prepared for you from
the foundation of the world." Matthew 25:34
And the experience of the life of "rest" here on earth can
be viewed as "finished from the foundation of the world." Hebrews
And even the status of one's name in or out of the book of life is viewed
as "not written from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8;
Related topics that can be found in the DOCTRINAL
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