Foreknowledge, Predestination, and Election

In earlier lessons, we defined these words, and individually considered these words from New Testament passages that use these words.  However, for simplicity sake, we did not consider those passages in which more than one of these words appear.

In this lesson, we will consider those passages in which more than one of these words appear.  Since we will not restate all that has been previously said, reviewing the previous three lessons may be helpful.

Romans 8:29-30

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to conform to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (v. 29).

The word “for” takes one back to the previous verse.  Those “who He foreknew” are “those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (v. 28).  God’s purpose is to call man to salvation by the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14).  Those who love God obey Him (John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 1 John 5:2-3).

The word “foreknew” simply means “before knew”.  The term “know” frequently means “to approve of” or “fellowship” (1 John 1:6 cf. 2:4; 1 John 1:7 cf. 2:3; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 8:3).  Roy Deaver commented, “‘Foreknow’ signifies that in His purpose (in His mind) God looked down through the ages and considered those characters (the kind of persons) He would approve” (Deaver, Romans, God’s Plan For Man’s Righteousness, p. 297).

Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (v. 30).

Roy Deaver commented, “God planned to extend the invitation (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15)… To those who would accept the invitation, God purposed to grant justification – complete forgiveness of sins… to those… God purposed (in His mind, in Eternity) to grant ultimately the glorification – the glory that shall be revealed” (ibid, p. 299).

He predestined such to conform to the image of His Son.  “The image of His Son” is a reference to the Son’s glorified existence (cf. Romans 8:17:30; 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:20-21).  Roy Deaver commented, “God foreordained (appointed) that certain ones would ultimately share the glory of His Son.  Which ones?  Those whom He would approve.  All this took place in the mind of God – in His purpose (ibid, p. 299).

Note: J.W. McGarvey understood the word “foreknew” differently, commenting – “Before man was created God foresaw his fall, and designed the gospel for his redemption; this fact is well attested by scripture (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:8; 3:9; Colossians 1:25-26).  In those times eternal, man, the gospel, justification, etc., existed only in the purpose of God; and it is of these times and conditions that the apostle speaks, showing how God foreknew that a certain class yet to be born would accept of a salvation yet to be provided through the terms of the gospel yet to be made actual.  As to this class he foreordained, or foredecreed that they should after the resurrection bear the image or likeness of his Son” (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, pp. 366-367).

Ephesians 1:4-5, 11

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (v. 4).

God’s selection is “in Him”.  Such is where He has chosen to locate “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3), “redemption” (Ephesians 1:7), “an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11), “grace” (2 Timothy 2:1), “salvation” (2 Timothy 2:10), and “eternal life” (1 John 5:11).  Man gets into Christ by baptism (Galatians 3:26-29).

This plan is no afterthought.  It is no late coming plan.  It goes back before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4 cf. Luke 11:50-51; John 17:5, 24).  It is according to His “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11).

The aim is that we should be holy and without blame before Him (Ephesians 1:4 cf. 5:25-27).  Moreover, He wants us to conduct ourselves in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1:15; 3:17; 4:1-2; 4:15-16; 5:2; 5:25; 5:28; 6:23-24).  Note: Remember, it is up to us to make our call and election sure (2 Peter 1:5-7, 10-11).

“having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will” (v. 5).

Even though, man through sin had become “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), God preplanned a way for us to be His sons, through Jesus Christ.  Note: The term translated “adoption” (huiothesia) literally refers to “a standing as son”.  Vine’s commented, “God does not ‘adopt’ believers as children; they are begotten…”  It refers to sonship with all of its privileges (cf. Ephesians 1:11).  T. Pierce Brown has written, “The point I am making is that huiothesia NEVER refers, as far as we can tell, to COMING INTO THE FAMILY… IT ALWAYS refers to the standing or position of a son who has the rights and privileges (of such B.H.)” – (Brown, article Born or Adopted?”).  John exclaimed, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

“In He also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him, who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (v. 11-12). 

God marked out before that the inheritance  would be in Christ.  In truth, that is where “ever spiritual blessing” is located (Ephesians 1:3).  This is where sonship, and its benefits are (Galatians 3:26-29).

1 Peter 1:2

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (v. 2).

God chose them.  Keep in mind that man, according to Peter, has much to do with his election (2 Peter 1:5-7, 10-11).  Marshall Keeble used to say: (1) God voted for you.  He wants to save you.  (2) Satan voted against you.  (3) It is up to you to cast the deciding vote in your election.   While this isn’t exactly how the term is used, it does express a Biblical truth.  Note: They had purified their souls by obeying the truth (1 Peter 1:22).

It seems to me there is a reason that the term “elect” was used in this verse.  They were being called the Israel of God (1 Peter 2:9 cf. Deuteronomy 14:2).  There was a promised land awaiting (2 Peter 1:10-11).

This election was according to the foreknowledge of God.  A form of the same word is translated “foreordained” by many translations in 1 Peter 1:20.  Connect these two passages.  The point is God’s selection was according to His preplanning (1 Peter 1:10-11; 1:18-20).  (1) The Father planned it (1 Peter 1:2 cf. 1:3-5).  (2) The Spirit revealed the plan for our sanctification (1 Peter 1:2 cf. 1:10-12).  (3) Jesus gave His blood for our salvation (1 Peter 1:2 cf. 1:6-9; 1:18-21).

We close with these words – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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