Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 5
May 28, 2017
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
1901 ASV Translation:
29 For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren:
30 and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
- I. The Concept of Predestination.
- A. The use of the verb in the New Testament.
- 1. The verb is a combination of a preposition ("before") and a verb that means "to establish the boundaries". The uses in the New Testament all follow this concept of laying out established boundaries without any necessity to determine everything within those boundaries. A rancher can build a bull-proof fence in order to "predestine" where his cattle will feed without feeling any need whatsoever to predetermine which cow will eat which blades of grass, or when. Thus, it seems that "faith" focuses upon the established boundaries and "prayer" deals with the in-the-boundaries details that are not laid out.
- a. This verb has its roots in a noun that is used in ten texts in the New Testament and uniformly means "the boundaries of a territory".
- b. As a verb, the idea is "setting the boundaries".
- c. With the prefix "before", the idea is intensified and communicates the fact that the boundaries were set "before the present time". In this, the verb is similar to the previous verb ("to know before the present time"/"foreknow"). The point seems to be that Paul is deliberately intensifying his claim that God is ahead of the game so that "all things are working together for the good of those who are the called according to purpose".
- 2. Acts 4:27-28 puts these words into the mouths of the Church: "...both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done".
- a. This follows Acts 2:23 where Peter declared that Christ was "...delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God...". The same basic verb as is used in Acts 4, without the preposition ("before"), is here tied to the "determined will" and foreknowledge of God.
- b. The "Church" is coming to grips with the fact that what has happened is not apart from God's Grand Plan. There is no declaration here that "every single thing that occurs in history" is "predetermined", but there is clearly a recognition that the death of the Christ was predestined.
- c. Interestingly, this did not "kill" the church's motivation to pray. The Church did not say, "If everything is predestined, why pray? It doesn't do any good".
- 3. Paul's uses of this verb.
- a. Our current text uses the verb twice with the idea of advancing the reality that God works all things together for good for His people. Interestingly, he starts with "foreknowledge" [see notes for Romans 8:28 (2)<091>] and then adds to it "predestination". This at least implies that "foreknowledge" does not "predestinate".
- 1) The theologians argue that "omniscience" includes all possible objects of knowledge, both real and potential.
- 2) The fact that God knows both real and potential objects of knowledge means that there is an actual place for "wisdom" in the character of God.
- a) Wisdom is typically understood to be the ability to choose from among possible choices which will bring about the desired good.
- b) Thus, the door is open to the idea that "omniscience" only "knows", but does not "pre-determine". It is the wisdom of God in making choices that "pre-determines". And, since the Scriptures do not teach fatalism, it may well be that many of the things that actually occur were not "chosen" by God, but simply allowed to take place because it is often the case that strategic insertions of action at critical junctures are all that it takes to bend a series of events in the direction of the desired goal.
- b. In 1 Corinthians 2:7 Paul ties "predestination" to a mystery which God kept hidden in the past that was "predestined before the world unto our glory". The reason that it was kept hidden is that if "the princes of this world ... had known they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory", thus subverting God's "predeterminate counsel".
- c. Ephesians 1:5 declares that "we" were "predestined to the adoption of sons". Ephesians 1:11 reiterates this same truth by saying "we" were "predestined" to obtain an inheritance. In this context Paul declares that "predestination" (1:5) is the clearest reality that highlights that particular aspect of God's character called "grace" (1:6). The rationale is easy: if God predestines a good, as Paul says in another place, before the actual existence of a person, that good obviously does not rest upon "works" done, but "grace" extended.
- B. The Specific Consideration For Predestination.
- 1. The issue of conformity.
- a. The adjective "together formed" is only used twice in the New Testament.
- b. The other text is Philippians 3:21 and it specifically focuses upon "our bodies". Thus, the issue of "together formed" seems to be focused upon what Paul calls in Romans 8:23 "the adoption; i.e. the redemption of the body". Paul's focus seems to be upon how God is going to change this "tent" so that it becomes a "glorious" body adapted to Eternal Life [Note 1 Corinthians 15:49]
- c. The implication is very strong that, after the redemption of the soul/spirit aspects of our being comes the redemption of the body at resurrection/transformation. This is what God has "predetermined" will take place. However, 2 Corinthians 3:18 indicates the "image" is not the body, but the character. This text/context has less of an inevitable development concept than "predestination" in that it has certain "human requirements" attached.
- 2. The purpose of conformity.
- a. Paul's words are "that He might be firstborn among many brethren". Paul's use of the word translated "firstborn" in Colossians 1:15 and John's use in Revelation 1:5 are both tied to the concept of being "firstborn of/from the dead". This suggests, again, that Paul is thinking of what Jesus "became" by resurrection; One with a "glorious body".
- b. This is the only one of the five actions of God that has any explanatory words attached. "Foreknow" has no explanatory words; "Call" has no explanatory words; "Justify" has no explanatory words; and "glorify" has no explanatory words. Thus, we have a more critical issue involved in "predestinate" than with any of the other actions God has taken in order for us to be confident that He works all things together for good for the called according to purpose.
- c. Clearly, the "predestined" thing is designed to exalt Jesus to the position of "firstborn" among many brethren.