by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4 May 21, 2017 Humble, Texas
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. Paul's Reasoning Regarding God's Commitment to Good For His Called Ones.
B. Those He "Foreknew".
1. The word combines the preposition "before" with a verb "to know" that typically indicates a kind of "knowing" that is founded upon "personal interaction" (Matthew 7:22; Jesus' declaration that He will say to some, "I never knew you"). The strong implication is that "foreknowledge" is a word that indicates some kind of level of personal, interactive, knowledge. One of the greater texts that point to this kind of "knowing" is Revelation 17:8 because it establishes the fact that the names of those who are to be saved were "written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world". To "know" someone's name indicates at least some level of interactive knowledge. Thus, before the historical existence of certain people, their names were written into the Book of Life. This raises the conundrum of God's personal, interactive knowledge before the existence of the "interactors".
a. This conundrum argues that the omniscience of God is sufficiently profound as to make what is not yet in existence as already existing so that God can have a "knowledge" that is "interactive". According to Romans 4:17, this is a fundamental characteristic of God and is at the very heart of "faith", by "grace" so that the promise might be sure. The promise is rooted in "foreknowledge" as we understand it as human beings. It is a commitment regarding how things are going to turn out in the end. According to Isaiah 46:10, this "foreknowledge" is the essential argument for the reality of just "who" is The God.
b. That Paul used "foreknowledge" as his argument only means that he insists that we see God as "knowing" us thoroughly and absolutely.
2. The word simply means "to know before this present time" (Acts 26:5). It does not inherently mean "to know a fact/set of facts ahead of the time when they become historical reality". Paul used the word to refer to people who had traveled in his circles in the past so that they "knew before now" what his actions and behaviors were during the time they traveled in his circles. It has no sense in this text/context of a person knowing something before it was a fact of history. In fact, Paul's use establishes the absolute need for those who would "testify" to have "known" him in the past.
3. Paul's other two uses are in our present context (Romans 8:29 and 11:2).
a. Our present text is the one under our microscope at this point.
b. The following text (11:2) does not say that God "knew" someone before there was someone to know. But, the fact that the proof Paul uses in that context is a quote of what God said in response to Elijah's complaint of being "the only one" establishes is that God "knew" 7,000 people in Elijah's day that had "not bowed the knee to Baal" and that the 7,000 were the "remnant according to the election of grace" in that day. Thus, the "knowing" and "foreknowing" of God reaches backwards in time to a "time" when those "known" did not yet exist, but were "elected" and, thus, also "known".
4. Peter, likewise, uses the same verb.
a. In 1 Peter 1:20, Peter says that Christ was "known before the present" (the Authorized Version horribly missed the point by translating the verb as "foreordained"). He and the Father had a "knowing" relationship before the foundation of the world, but it was not the Father "knowing" the Son before He existed; it was the Father knowing the Son from before the foundation of the world because He existed. However, Peter sticks the issues of God's "foreknowing of the Christ" before the foundation of the world as "a lamb without blemish and without spot" and the manifestation "in these last times for you" into the text. Thus, the "foreknowing" is before the events or people exist in time.
b. In 2 Peter 3:17, Peter clearly used the verb to mean "to know theological facts before they showed up in historical reality".
5. The noun form of the word.
a. Luke, in Acts 2:23, quotes Peter as saying that the course of events followed a path that was "predetermined" and "foreknown", but if a thing is "predetermined", it cannot help but be "known" from that time forward into the unfolding of time.
b. Peter, in 1 Peter 1:2, says of his readers that they are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...". This follows Luke's use in Acts 2.
6. The "T"heological Issues Involved.
a. There is no "foreknowledge of God" in the sense that some "knowledge" is "before" other knowledge in the mind of God. Omniscience does not have a time progression as far as we know. Neither is it some kind of "deposit of knowledge" that God accesses whenever He needs to. Humans cannot be mentally focused simultaneously on multiple objects, nor do our brains have the capacity of containing even a smidgen of omniscience. The word is used for men who cannot think outside of "time" and need to understand that God "knew" what they are just now seeing unfold in history before it ever began to unfold.
b. Man cannot think outside of his own boundaries, and we do not know what it means for God to be "timeless".
c. But, in God's dealings with man, there is a reason that Paul began his "because..." explanation of how all things work together for good for those who are "the called according to purpose" with "foreknowledge" and then moved through "predestination" to "calling" to "justification" to "glorification".
1) There are five concepts presented by Paul and "calling" is the central one with two preceding and two following.
2) The "because" that begins 8:29 says that what follows is the rationale for the fact that all things work together for good for the "called according to purpose".
d. There is also a reason that Peter said of his readers that they were "elect...according to the standard of the foreknowledge of God". Though both Paul and Peter put "foreknowledge" first, Luke put it second in Acts 2:23 (quoting Peter so that it was actually Peter and not Luke) after "the determinate counsel ... of God" (which is actually "the boundaries of the determined intention of God").
1) The point: Both Paul and Peter considered the issue of God's "knowledge" ahead of the historical development in human history to be a significant issue. There is a similar idea in Romans 9:11 where Paul says that before Jacob and Esau were born, so that before they could "do" anything to address why God chose one over the other, God declared His selection of Jacob over Esau. He said that this was "so that the purpose of God according to the standard of election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls", and that points directly to "grace". In other words, God preempts man before man has any "say so" in certain matters so that all hangs upon "grace".
2) Certainly God's knowledge of people before they even exist establishes certain preemptions since it is that knowledge that runs ahead of predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. Some have attempted to argue that God's "knowledge" is simply His looking down the corridors of time to see which people will choose Him and His subsequent predestination of them after that fact. But that actually begs the question. The issue is not whether the "elect" will choose God; it is why, in direct contradiction to the principle truth that "none seek Him", they do such a thing.