Column: The Doctrine of Salvation: Election—Part 2

Published 12:20 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Hank Walker | Pastor at Peach City Fellowship

Last time, we considered the doctrine of ELECTION—examining Scripture passages and definitions related to God’s choices of whom He saves. The two biblical components of election are FOREKNOWLEDGE and PREDESTINATION. We will deal with foreknowledge this time and predestination next.

The subject of foreknowledge brings two key passages to mind: Romans 8:28-30 and Acts 2:22-24. In the Romans passage, the apostle Paul says of God, “For those whom He FOREKNEW He also PREDESTINED” (Rom. 8:29). In Acts, Luke records Peter’s words at Pentecost: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the DEFINITE PLAN and FOREKNOWLEDGE of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).

As we will see, the term “foreknowledge” is a bit difficult to get our arms around in English. At first blush, the reader is tempted to understand the term as if it just means “to know [something] beforehand.” Using this assumed definition, however, one might surmise that God merely looked down the corridor time and saw which people would respond positively to the Gospel—and then chose them on that basis.

PROGINOSKO is the Greek word translated as “foreknowledge.” It DOES carry within its “dictionary meaning” the idea of future knowledge, but that is not its primary force. Proginosko finds its ultimate meaning in the context of RELATIONAL knowledge. Look at Romans 8:29 more carefully; the verse says, “those WHOM He foreknew.” The point is that God’s omniscience is so comprehensive that He lovingly KNOWS His elect—from eternity. Oh, what a thought!

In Acts 2:23, a different form of the same Greek verb is used: PROGNOSEI. In this “instrumental dative case”—the verb is ACCOMPLISHING something. Although the translators still used the English term “foreknowledge,” here, it is entirely different. Paired with the phrase “definite plan,” it describes how through the hands of evil men—GOD—put Jesus to death.

Finally, the idea that God’s choices can be determined by man’s future actions is theologically impossible. Why? (1) OMNISCIENCE demands that for God to know a future, there must be a future that is already set; (2) IMMUTABILITY means that neither God nor His plans can change; (3) IMPASSIBILITY means that God’s plans cannot be affected by contingencies within creation. Hopefully, this will make more sense once we’ve taken a closer look at PREDESTINATION.

Grace and peace, y’all.

Soli Deo Gloria