According to Foreknowledge
1 Peter 1:1
1 Peter Lesson #010
April 2, 2015
“Father, we’re thankful for the opportunity we have to come together and focus upon Your Word and be reminded of your grace, to be reminded of Your character, Your attributes, and to be reminded that You control history. Even though things look chaotic and out of control from our perspective, we know that nevertheless, You are working out Your plan and purpose. We know that nothing man can do can override Your plan and purpose. On the other hand we’re not automatons; we are not robots. You do not decree every decision and every act, and You allow human beings the freedom to utilize their individual responsibilities and volition to make decisions. And for that, we often suffer many consequences. Father, as we face negative consequences, whether it’s personal or nationally, we know the only way to recover is to trust in You. The only way to have peace and stability in life is to walk consistently with You. We pray that we might always be reminded of that, and that we might keep our focus on You, because You are the only source of hope and stability. Now Father, as we study Your Word tonight in a very difficult doctrine, we pray that You will help us to understand as we seek through these things, and that the Holy Spirit will make them a little bit more clear to us each time we go through this material. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Before we get started on our study of 1 Peter tonight, we’re going to have a couple of areas of social commentary today. Remember on Tuesday night when we were in Samuel I, was focusing on the whole issue of hope in the midst of despair. The focus of that particular message was not on the fact that we despair. We all despair. We all have times when we’re overwhelmed by circumstances. It’s what we do with it that matters. Everyone faces that as part of life. It’s part of being a fallen creature, but we all fall prey to these negative emotions or these temptations to negative emotions because of the pressure of the circumstances around us.
We live in a generation now where I think this is going to become more and more of a challenge for every believer to keep their mental attitude focused on the rock that is our source of stability and not on the ever-changing shifting sands of political leadership. This is an important theme I’ll be hitting again and again over the next eighteen or twenty months as we are entering into another presidential campaign.
I think it’s important for us to be reminded that ultimately God is in control, and the ultimate solution isn’t political. That doesn’t mean that politics isn’t important and crucial. We saw that in our lesson on Esther not long ago, that God was in control of the situation of the Jews in Persia, but Esther got involved. She didn’t just say, “Well, I’m just going to pray about it because God’s going to solve the problem.” God works in and through the individual involvement of people. He worked in and through the spiritual involvement of Hannah. We saw that on Tuesday night. God’s working out of His plan and purpose is not apart from our individual responsibility. We can’t get so focused on these things that when things don’t go the way we might like or the way we might hope, we just cave into despair and anguish and frustration.
We’ve got a couple of things facing us that have been dominating the news this week. It used to be I remember when there was one or two things like this a year, not two or three things like this every week. I think that’s an indication of the internal collapse of western civilization as a whole, and the United States in particular. It doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. I think there have been times in this country when times were a lot worse.
In the 1850s things got a lot worse. In the early part of the 1800s things were certainly dicey in terms of the spiritual life. This is what led to the Second Great Awakening when the level of atheism or secularism as we might call it today, and immorality that was occurring on the university campus, increased. That’s where part of the Second Great Awakening began.
What’s important is what I taught the other night. We have to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. And God uses believers. Now, more than any time in history, we need to be responsible citizens. We have two situations we need to be aware of. The primary one I just wanted to mention tonight is this situation with this “religious freedom act” that has been so attacked in Indiana, and now when the Arkansas legislature signed it, it’s been attacked. Both of these weasels who are governors have crawfished because of the pressure that’s put on them.
I’ve read different analyses of the pressure, and it’s coming from a very small minority who have figured out how to win the PR campaign and to put out a lot of disinformation. They twist the reality of the situation. I just thought I would comment here. I’ve got a website up here on my laptop from the Alliance for Defending Freedom. According to their website, they take the position that this act was originally signed into national law by Bill Clinton, back in 1993, I believe. There’s a little verbiage that’s different, but it’s not verbiage that allows or permits discrimination.
The lesbian, gay, transvestite community is all up in arms about this. They’re trying to tell everybody this is anti-gay legislation. Number one, it’s not designed to be anti-gay legislation. It’s designed to protect people from discrimination, not to authorize discrimination. According to the website, they say that not only do they reject the notion that this act could be used to refuse LGBT from services but they make the point that there’s never been any instance where business has refused to serve a person based on their sexual orientation.
Now immediately they say there is a popular case on this. I’ve read two or three articles on this, and what you read from a lot of conservative and Christian websites is not like you’re even talking about the same case in the news. I’m going to read what they say so we can be aware of this side of the story. “Take the popular case involving Barronelle Stutzman, a florist. Barronelle lovingly served her friend, Rob Ingersoll, whom she knew, identified as a gay, and his partner for nearly ten years. She’s their florist and their friend. She arranged flowers the couple sent to one another for birthdays and other occasions.
In one very specific instance, when Rob asked her to design the flowers for his same-sex wedding, Barronelle gently told him that because of what her faith teaches her about marriage, she could not use her artistic talents to celebrate a same-sex wedding. She kindly referred him to other florists who she knew would do a good job for him. Does that mean that she was turning LGBT people away and not serving them? Absolutely not. That did not happen. Again, she served the same sex couple for years, and they were counted as friends.
As I was reflecting on this, there is a foundational belief that undergirds the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights. That is “freedom of conscience”. Now that doesn’t mean that everyone is just free to do whatever they want to because they can claim that’s violates their conscience. This has been argued and established as precedence in legal courtrooms for several decades. I’ll give you two examples of this. The people who claim something is their religious belief, my conscience according to my religious belief, are people who are identified and been a part of a religious denomination. It’s not just something that popped up. They’re not just a member of the “what’s happening now” church. A Quaker, for example, a Mennonite as well, have pacifist convictions. They believe the Bible is against violence or participating in war. The United States Supreme Court has recognized that the government does not have the right to impose itself on their conscience and violate their freedom of religious expression.
Another example relates to Jehovah Witnesses who believe it is against their religious convictions to say the Pledge of Allegiance. That also was adjudicated and the decision was that asking them to violate their conscience was a violation of the First Amendment. That’s really the issue. I haven’t heard anyone bring this out.
If you have a business, a privately-owned business, not like Walmart or Apple or some publicly owned corporation, but an individual who is selling a product and in the selling and the use of that product, they would be seen as endorsing the situation or circumstances in which their product is being used, it says they have a right according to their individual religious conviction to say that you cannot force them to violate their religious conviction.
That’s a violation of their First Amendment rights. It has nothing to do with discrimination toward anyone. It has to do with protecting their rights in the same way we protect the rights of various beliefs and various organization. This has been eroded and attacked over the last thirty or forty years by the secular left. From the atheist, agnostic, anti-secular left, Christian belief is the enemy because we’re viewed as those who will stop them from what they want to do. This is an attack specifically on Christianity, but it’s also an attack on Islam. How many of you have heard anyone bring Islam into this whole equation? Muslims are greatly hostile to the LGBT community, much more than Christians are. Christians just say you can do what you want to. That should be our attitude.
There are some Christians who have wrong attitudes, and they’re hateful and spiteful, but that’s not Biblical. What is Biblical is that we recognize that there are a lot of different sins that people commit, homosexuality being one of them. It has a public persona. We’re being asked to approve of something we can’t approve of. That’s ultimately their agenda: that Christians need to validate what they’re doing. Christians don’t need to validate what they’re doing any more than they validate other sins.
We have to take a stand. What happens when you get into a culture of post-modernism where there aren’t any absolutes and no one has a frame of reference to establish their belief system, then does everyone have the right to do whatever they want to and impose that upon everyone else? I remember when I was in high school in civics, the basic issue was that everyone had the right to do what they wanted to, but it stops when it forces someone else to violate their personal convictions. We can’t do that. That’s foundational for the Bill of Rights.
Once this changes, then this has a domino effect legally. The precedent that has been set legally is that freedom of conscience is foundational to the First Amendment. You may agree or disagree with that. I really don’t care. That’s the legal precedent. Once we start violating that, then the only alternative is for the government to step into the vacuum and be the ultimate determiner of what is morally acceptable or not, and what is spiritually acceptable or not. That’s the purpose of the First Amendment, to keep the government out of the church, and keep the government out of establishing morals.
There’s some fresh news out and I’m not sure exactly what the situation is going to be other than it’s bad. Through a lot of legerdemain, the powers that be in Lausanne, Switzerland managed to work out some sort of deal to keep the talks going between the western European powers (P5 + 1), and that represents our side in talking with Iran. Basically what’s happened in this little shift that took place today, it validated all of the compromises the Obama administration has been making up to this point. This now becomes the framework for working out a deal.
As I understand it, the sanctions aren’t going to end today or tomorrow, but if agreement is reached, that’s when the sanctions will immediately end, and a number of other things will happen. It puts a lot of pressure on the Senate right now to pass the Menendez-Corker bill which entails a lot of folks. Those of you here in Texas don’t have a big deal because all of our congressmen are all on board. Folks who live in a part of the country where they have Democrat senators, if they feel so inclined, should pick up the phone and ask their senators to co-sign on this bill.
This is how we stand in the gap. Politely, under the responsibility of our citizenship we exercise those rights and privileges to tell our representatives in Congress how they should represent us. Christians need to be heard. If we’re not heard, we’re going to be not like Esther, but like those who cave in, keep their mouths silent, and suffer the consequences.
Okay, with that said, let’s open our Bibles to Acts 26 as we get started here. I have a couple of rules. Any of you who watch NCIS know that Gibbs has his list of thirty or forty rules. Well, I’ve got a couple of my rules. I don’t know if I always keep them but rule number one is the degree to which someone is excited the first time they visit the church is directly proportional to the time they will be there. That’s been confirmed by a lot of people. I have people who come in here, and they just effervesce when class is over saying, “This is the best thing. I’ve been looking for a church like this all my life.” I look at my watch and say, “They’ll be through the door in thirty seconds and we’ll never see them again. That’s what happens. The people who just sit in the back and they’re happy and they never say anything that first Sunday, after two or three weeks they’re probably going to stick around a while. The ones who come up and say something about how great it is, they’re out of here.
The other rule, rule number two, is that when anyone asks me to review something and go over it again because they just need to hear it one more time, that when I review it and go over it again, they will not be here. Always happens.
Okay, we’re back to some review on election and foreknowledge because I’m sure that if one person had their head swimming in a fog last week, there were probably quite a few others. So we’re in 1 Peter 1. (Slide 3) We’ve gone through the initial salutation where Peter identifies himself as the Apostle to Jesus Christ. The word in the Greek, EKLEKTOI, comes prior to the identification of the recipients. So it’s “elect to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia according to the foreknowledge of God by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit for the obedience and the cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
(Slide 4) That’s broken down into three prepositional phrases here, each of which modifies the adjective “elect.” So it’s not just elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, but in the same way and the same level syntactically, it’s elect by sanctification.
(Slide 5) We’ve looked at this word elect quite a bit and I want to remind you it’s not just this idea of selection or making a choice like going down to the polls in November or March whenever we have an election and selecting one from many.
(Slide 6) One of the major meanings or nuances of the word is the idea of choice. It’s qualitative. That someone is elect means they’re choice. They have a degree of excellence or quality about them. (Slide 7) This is always also reflected in the Old Testament in the word bachir, meaning “chosen,” or “choice,” or the “most excellent one.” It’s talking not so much about choosing someone, but having been chosen but someone that has a very high quality.
(Slide 8) Of course, by now we all know the doctrine of the Magnum bar, understanding how I saw this in modern Hebrew, that choice almonds means select or excellent almonds. The highest quality are what is used in making the Magnum bar. (Slide 9) I also emphasized that in studying this, we have to understand the importance of corporate identity in relation to both Israel and the Church. They are choice. Israel is choice because God selected them for a high purpose. It is not individual election or choosing to salvation. Then the Church is select and excellent because of its relationship with Christ.
(Slide 10) We worked this out by looking specifically at the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:14 which concludes that “many are called but few are chosen”. (Slide 11) Chosen, as I pointed out, introduces the idea that the host of the banquet made a selection of who would be there. When you read the story, the only people who are making a choice are the ones who are unwilling to respond positively to the invitation and go to the banquet. As I put up on the screen, the choice ones are choice because of the quality of their robes. They’re dressed correctly. Those robes represent imputed righteousness, not their works. The only mention of anyone making a decision in the parable are those who are unwilling to respond to the invitation and attend the banquet.
Thus, the issue in the conclusion - that many are called but few are chosen - is that many are invited, but few are choice, emphasizing that those who are there have a higher quality because they’re wearing the right dress, the robes of righteousness, the imputed righteousness. (Slide 12) This is seen in an Old Testament passage talking about “God has covered me with a robe of righteousness.” All of this is just a way of introducing us and reminding us of this important concept.
So we go back to our slide (Slide 13) that we’re elect according to a standard, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. We have to understand this word “foreknowledge.” I pointed this out last time looking at a number of different definitions. I’m just going to look at the last one in a work called The Five Points of Calvinism. (Slide 14) It points out that when the Bible speaks of God knowing certain individuals, it often means He has special regard for them, that they are the object of His affection and concern. The question we need to ask is what is the basis for that special regard? Why does He regard them that way? Based on the parable we looked at in Matthew 22, He regards them that way because they possess righteousness, not because He’s chosen them ahead of time to give them righteousness.
(Slide 15) Here’s a contrast. When we look at Calvinist theologians they will say that the word group “foreknowledge” means to choose, to determine, to enter into a relationship beforehand, or to elect. PROGINOSKO means to choose. The root word there is GINOSKO. It has a prefix PRO which means before. One principle we need to try to understand that probably applies to most languages, and it does to Greek, is that the root word there is knowledge.
Whatever else we say about the meaning of PROGINOSKO, guess what has to be part of the meaning? Knowledge. Choose has nothing to do with knowledge. To determine ahead of time has nothing to do with knowledge. For every letter you add to the root word in Greek, small or large, it changes the meaning of the word. So you add the prefix PRO, it changes to some degree the meaning of the word, but the meaning still has to include the word knowledge. Just by adding the prefix PRO, which means beforehand, doesn’t change the core meaning of GINOSKO which is the word for knowledge. It means to know beforehand. All of the lexicons emphasize this idea that it means to know beforehand. In their discussion of these words, sometimes they bring in their ideas and try to read that into the meaning of the word; but they run into various problems.
(Slide 16) Another thing I pointed out last time is that one major problem in determining the meaning of any word is the assumption on the part of many Calvinist theologians, that when you take this verb and you change the subject, the one who performs the action of foreknowing from man to God, it changes the meaning of the word. Now that’s just a logical fallacy. A word means the same thing whether man is doing it or God is doing it. The idea that the change from man to God changes the whole meaning of the word doesn’t even make sense. That’s just poor linguistics. We looked at the fact that the main idea has to do with knowledge.
(Slide 17) I pointed that out looking at a couple of lexicons last time. In the Liddell, Scott, Jones lexicon, which covers classical as well as Koine Greek, they emphasize that the primary meaning is to know or to perceive or to understand something beforehand. They give a second definition which means to judge beforehand, which basically means to evaluate something ahead of time. Neither or these definitions have the idea of having a relationship with someone ahead of time. It doesn’t have the idea of loving something ahead of time. It doesn’t have the idea of choosing them or electing them or predetermining anything about them. It just isn’t there. The conclusion we reached from that is that nowhere looking at the Liddell, Scott, Jones lexicon is there a meaning for PROGINOSKO that implies choice or election, a loving relationship, or predestination. It’s not listed there at all.
I went back and looked at some other lexicons this last week because I had a little more time. I picked up a new one, via Logos. It’s an older lexicon from the late 19th century or early 20th century by Cramer. Cramer lists the primary meaning of PROGINOSKO as to perceive or recognize beforehand, to know previously, or to foreknow. That’s at the very beginning of three or four paragraphs of analysis of the word. What’s interesting is that he then changes the meaning of the word as he deals with different passages based on theological suppositions. He says about Acts 2:23, “In its simplest form, it is simplest to take PROGNOSIS as a resolution formed beforehand. See, he wants to introduce determinism to that. See, he says it’s simplest to take it that way. “Though this meaning is foreign to classical Greek.” Hello! How can you just arbitrarily assign a meaning to a word just because of your theology? He says that that kind of deterministic meaning is completely foreign to classical Greek. This is typically what happens in these kinds of things.
(Slide 18) Let’s look at Acts 26:5. Turn in your Bibles there, and let’s think our way through the context a little bit. This is one of two passages where everyone agrees what the meaning is. It’s very nice to start here because a basic rule of word study, and the basic rule even of exegesis, is that when you are in areas where the area is ambiguous, you always go from meanings that are clear to define meanings that are ambiguous. In other words, if a word predominantly means one thing in 95% of its uses and in 5% of its uses it could conceivably mean that or something else, then the way you determine its meaning is by usage. It probably means that in those 5% of its uses, it could mean something else; and it probably means what the 95% of its uses mean. You have to have extremely good contextual evidence to say that it means “y” when it means “x” 95% of the time.
These two passages we’re going to look at indicate very clear statements. In Acts 26:5, Paul says when he’s addressing Herod Agrippa, “They knew me [PROGINOSKO, knew ahead of time] from the first. They were willing to testify that according to the strict sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” Now let’s look at this context. Acts 26:1 says, “Now Agrippa said to Paul [when he was in Caesarea-Maritima under arrest and being held waiting being taken to Rome. Herod Agrippa II is the king and he says to Paul], ‘You are permitted to speak for yourself’.”
“Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself saying, ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things I’m accused of by the Jews.’” So he starts off thanking him for the opportunity to speak, and in the next couple of verses he addresses Agrippa and reminds him that Agrippa is knowledgeable about the Jews and the issues facing the Jews. [Verse 3]. “You are expert in all the customs and questions that have to do with the Jews.” So he butters him up a little bit and tells him he knows all that’s going on and that Herod Agrippa was knowledgeable about the issues and challenges and conflicts between the Sadducees and the Pharisees and the Essenes and all the other groups.
Then in verse 4, Paul goes on to inform Agrippa that he had been living in Jerusalem from the time he was a young man, probably not long after he was bar mitzvahed when he was about thirteen or fourteen. All the Jews knew this, he said. This would be a reference to the Jewish leadership. Then in Acts 26:5 he says, “They knew me from the first [NKJV].” That’s our word PROGINOSKO. They knew me ahead of time. Here we see that PROGINOSKO only refers to knowledge. Words are so important. It doesn’t refer to having a relationship. It doesn’t refer to having an intimate relationship or a loving relationship. It doesn’t refer to the Jews making a choice about Paul. It doesn’t refer to the Jews having a predetermined plan or anything, other than they are cognizant of certain facts about Paul. Okay? It’s knowledge about Paul. It’s not a personal relationship.
They knew certain things about him just as I know certain things about some of you, but I don’t necessarily know you very well. I know certain things about you. It doesn’t mean there is an intimate relationship involved. Paul says, “They knew me from the first. If they were willing to testify then according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” So what did the Jews know about him? They knew he’d been a Pharisee. They didn’t have to know he was from Tarsus. They didn’t have to know a lot of other stuff. Paul is saying that they knew that Saul of Tarsus, later Paul the Apostle, was a Pharisee.
The grammar here is also important. The grammar says that they “knew me.” Me is in the accusative case. That means it’s the object of the verb. It’s the object of the knowing. In this verse it introduces the content for knowing me. They knew me ahead of time. The object there makes it clear that by knowing “me,” what we could supply to make it more intelligible in English is that they knew about me. It doesn’t have that word “about” in the text, but that’s what it means.
This is something that is common in Greek. I went over this last time, and that might have just blown right by some people because again, this gets a little technical. I know when I start talking about grammar, I can see eyes glaze over. People start thinking about what they’re going to have for breakfast in the morning, or what time they’re going to sleep, or whatever it is. But this is important. (Slide 19) In this verse the writer of Hebrews says, “But brother we are confident of better things concerning you.” We’re not concerned about exegeting this passage here, just understanding the Greek. In the Greek that word “of” that is in italics here isn’t really in the text itself. The text basically has a verb that means we are confident and the object, the accusative case, is “better things.” We are confident better things. Does that make sense to people? The verb really means we are confident of better things.
Usually we associate that English preposition of like the “love of God” with the genitive case. This is just supplied in order to communicate the relationship between the verb and the object of the verb just as in Acts 26:5 where we read, “They knew about me from the start.” So we supply this kind of verbiage in order to clarify the verb.
(Slide 20) Another verse we could go to is Matthew 12:33 which we’ll be getting to in the next few weeks in our study of Matthew on Sunday morning. “Jesus said, ‘Either make a tree good and its fruit good or else make the tree bad and it’s fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” Here we don’t have the word PROGINOSKO. We just have the root word GINOSKO. The point I’m making here is that whenever you read, or a Calvinist is teaching, about foreknowledge, they make the point [an exegetical fallacy, as well] that to understand the meaning of GINOSKO, we have to go back to the Hebrew.
Now often times Hebrew shapes the nuance of Greek words that are used in the New Testament. It’s not always a one-to-one correspondence. The Old Testament word doesn’t equal the New Testament word. You have to demonstrate it. You can’t just assume that. You have to demonstrate it exegetically by looking at the context. That’s what pastors do who know the original languages. You could spend all day reading hundreds of examples of the use of the word knowledge in the Old Testament. Guess how many times “know” is used in the Old Testament? A lot! You sit down, and you classify all of them. There’s only about 90 of the 450 something that indicate some kind of relationship. That’s all it is. It’s not a loving relationship. It’s not a predetermined relationship. It’s just talking about a situation where there’s a relationship, like God says to Israel that “I knew you.” It’s talking about God’s previous relationship to Israel. That’s there in some contexts.
What you’ll hear Calvinists say is that this is always a primary nuance within the word. Adam knew Eve. See? That’s not just academic knowledge. He didn’t just know about Eve. It’s an intimate knowledge. But there’s only about five or six cases in the Old Testament where you could indicate intimate knowledge as possibly being part of the nuance of the word. It’s a secondary, tertiary idea. You get to Matthew 12:43, and we see that a tree is known intimately by its fruit. Is that what it’s saying? You know the tree by having a relationship with the tree? Maybe if you’re a member of Green Peace and you’re a tree hugger, but no! A tree is known by its fruit. You know about the tree by looking at the fruit.
My whole point in going through all of this is simply to make the point that knowledge is often about something. It is not knowledge that necessarily entails relationship, choice, or intimacy. There’s no sort of electing love. A tree is chosen by its fruit? This doesn’t even make sense. This is part of the problem. What we see in the context of Acts 26:5 is that there’s no indication of relationship, a deterministic plan, electing in love, or any of these things implied. It is simply having cognition of certain facts about Paul.
(Slide 21) Then we go to a passage in 1 Peter. 1 Peter 1:20 states, “He [Jesus Christ], indeed, was foreordained [PROGINOSKO] [NKJV].” The NASV translates it “foreknown”. The word is PROGINOSKO, to know something ahead of time, prescience, prior knowledge. “He was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” Notice the object of foreknowledge here is an eternal person, Jesus Christ. So the person who does the foreknowing is God the Father who is also eternal. There are certain aspects of this particular illustration that are a little different, but nevertheless, it serves for an illustration.
One Calvinist commentator says that “this word should be understood to refer to a loving, committed relationship.” Jesus Christ was indeed known in a loving, committed relationship before the foundation of the world. That has nothing to do with the context. This writer goes on to say it can’t possibly mean prescience. It is talking about God the Father’s plan and purpose for the Second Person of the Trinity when He entered into human history. Too often what we see is the idea of “electing love” into the meaning of the word, when basically what’s its saying is that God knew ahead of time. He knew about what would take place when Christ came.
Another thing we see here is that when we just look at the structure of this verse, we see that there’s a contrast between something that happened, a completed action in the past, was before the foundation of the world. (Slide 22) The word “was” is a perfect tense participle indicating completed action which is contrasted to the next phrase which is “was manifest in these last times”. What we see here is a contrast between something in the far past and something in the recent past which is in the present, these last times. A conclusion here is that this isn’t talking about election, but that God knew something ahead of time about what would happen now. That’s what fits the context.
(Slide 23) The next verse, 2 Peter 3:17 is very obvious. No one argues over the meaning here. “You therefore beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness being led away with the error of the wicked.” This is clearly not talking about having a relationship beforehand, being determined beforehand, elected beforehand. It’s talking simply about knowing ahead of time. I think everyone is riding along with me pretty easily right now. We haven’t hit any little speedbumps along the way for our thinking and everything is pretty smooth.
Fasten your seatbelts. Now we get to one that’s a little more complicated, a little more fun. (Slide 24) This is in Acts 2:23. Again this is Peter speaking. One of the previous examples we’ve used and another one, of course, is the one in our passage, 1 Peter 1:2, all come from the mouth or the pen of the Apostle Peter. Talking about Jesus Christ, he says, “Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands and put to death.” In this verse, what we have is a statement related to two actions: one by God, and one related to the Jewish leadership in their complicity, along with the Romans, to kill Jesus.
This isn’t an attack on the Jews saying they wanted to kill Jesus. The Jews could have wanted to kill Jesus all three years, but they had to have permission from the Roman authorities. It was when the Roman authorities gave permission that Jesus was crucified. So if you’re going to assign blame, the Romans had the lion’s share of the blame. There’s no basis in the Scripture for going around and punishing Jews for being “Christ-killers.” That was a horrible lie that developed in the early middle ages that is to be rejected by every Christian.
So what we have here in Acts 2:23, is that Peter is telling the Jewish leaders that the killing of Jesus on the God side was by the determined plan and foreknowledge of God. We have two words here. The word translated “determined” is the word HORIZO in a perfect tense, indicating a completed action in past time; and the word “purpose,” which is the word BOULE, meaning will or purpose. That’s where we get that first compound phrase, determined purpose or determined will of God.
Then we have a conjunction. Remember Conjunction Junction on Sesame Street? Okay, that joins two things of equal weight. This is important for understanding the grammar here. You have a couple of nouns, and then you have a conjunction. And then you have another noun. That second noun is PROGINOSKO, which is foreknowledge. HORIZO and BOULE are on one side; then you have this conjunction, and you have PROGINOSKO on the other side.
The issue then becomes: how do we understand determined purpose? First of all, if you follow the Calvinist argument that the meaning of determined purpose has to relate also to foreknowledge, then you would take foreknowledge to mean: having an intimate, loving relationship. Let’s see how that works. (Slide 25) “Him being delivered by the determined purpose and intimate, loving relationship of God” Does that work? That doesn’t even make sense.
Okay, let’s do another word substitution. “Delivered by the determined purpose…” We don’t have any problem with the concept that God had a determined plan for the Lord Jesus Christ to be crucified from eternity past. Not a problem. “By the determined purpose and election of God.” Does that fit the context? Not at all. This is what happens when you come along and you reach theological deductions and then go back and read those theological deductions into the text, rather than exegeting, which means to draw the meaning out of the text. You’re exgeting and reading your theology into the text. Here we have this phrase. How do we understand this?
Let’s point out another problem. Another problem that they have is that often Calvinists want foreknowledge to mean a determined plan. Then the passage would read, “Being delivered by the determined purpose and determined plan of God.” See a problem with that? That’s what they call a tautology. You’re just repeating yourself. Their ideas for how foreknowledge should be translated when God is involved just don’t make sense. It doesn’t fit the meaning of the text. It doesn’t follow the lexical data. It doesn’t follow usage, and it doesn’t fit real time meaning of the text. So how do we handle this?
One way to handle this, which I pointed out in Acts, lesson 23, when we went through this in our study of Acts, is I made the point that one way that could solve this that has some value is to understand this as what we call a hendiadys. (Slide 26) You’ve probably heard me use that once or twice, and you had no idea what it meant. You just moved right on down the road and figured I knew what I was talking about. Hendiadys refers to a structure similar to a Granville-Sharp rule.
It’s very similar. You have an article, a definite article and a noun, then a conjunction junction with KAI and then another noun. The Granville-Sharp rule only applies to proper nouns; and in those cases, under certain rules and context, the two nouns are equated as being synonymous. But in common nouns, they’re not synonymous. And in other circumstances, they’re not synonymous, so people say it’s a hendiadys. But in a hendiadys, the article really is irrelevant to the idea of a rhetorical device. If you go through a lot of grammars, they don’t even touch hendiadys because there are so many different definitions of what a hendiadys is that it’s not always that useful. But we’ll talk about it anyway.
In a hendiadys, it would make these two nouns related to each other. Let’s make a couple of observations. First of all, if you had a hendiadys here, one of these would function adjectivally to modify the other. They’re not of equal weight. I pointed out in Acts, lesson 23, that when it does this, one noun expresses a dependence on the other noun, but 75% of the time the first noun is dependent on the second noun. That would mean that determined purpose would be dependent upon foreknowledge.
You’ll often find Calvinists trying to use this hendiadys argument, but it falls apart in terms of the majority use, although it’s kind of weak to make a hendiadys argument. Bottom line on this is that in Acts 2:23, here it mentions two things. It mentions that God has a determined plan, but it also mentions that the plan is based on and related to His knowledge of future events.
What you typically have in Calvinism is God doesn’t know all the knowable. You’ve heard me say that many times. The things that will actually happen, the things that could possibly happen. In Calvinism God only knows what will actually happen, and His knowledge determined what will actually happen. Calvinism rejects the whole notion that God knows an infinite amount of possibilities. I have a little problem with that, because despite the claims of Calvinism, that really expresses a lower view of God’s omniscience than my view.
Let’s put it this way. I’m going to ask you a question. Think about this in the last couple of minutes. Put your thinking cap on, and don’t get scrambled brains. Is it a higher view of God to claim that God knows all things, but the “all things” are what He has determined? That God in eternity past determined on some unrevealed basis that some would be saved and He would send His Son to die only for them? That’s the high view of God in Calvinism - that God knows anything, but the only thing He really knows is what He’s determined, because that’s all that’s actually going to happen, is what He determined. He’s going to save only a set number of people, and He’s going to send His Son to die only for them?
Or is it actually a higher view of God to claim that God knows all the knowable, all of the potential and possible, as well as the actual, but that His Sovereignty is so extensive, that in spite of the chaotic decisions enacted by His creatures, that God can still, without overpowering or violating individual responsibility, bring order out of chaos, and accomplish His plan? Isn’t it a higher view of God to argue that God allows His creatures a degree of freedom that enables them to freely respond to general and special revelation, and on that basis, either deliver or condemn them? Isn’t that a higher view of God? I think it is.
I think this view that God controls everything is a much lower view of God and smacks of determinism. What we see here is that Calvinists say that God makes these choices, but we don’t know the basis. That’s why it’s called unconditional election. There’s no stated conditions. They completely exclude the fact that God would take into account foreseeing decisions of the free agents of human beings in making those decision. If He takes into account what He knows they will do, then that becomes in their mind, the effectual cause of salvation.
You will often hear Calvinists say that if you believe, that God looks down the corridors of time and chooses you because you believe. As I’ve pointed out many times, no self-respecting theologian would say that, because the Bible never says we’re saved because of our faith. We’re saved through faith. To say that God excludes His omniscience from His choosing and determination of His plan, is to make God arbitrary. (Slide 27) 1 Peter 1:2 says we’re elect according to the foreknowledge of God. The Greek preposition used here translated “according” is the Greek preposition KATA which normally indicates according to a norm or a standard.
This same word, similar phrase, is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (slide 28) talking about the Antichrist which says, “His coming is KATA, according to the working of Satan.” This preposition is important. Prepositions are always important. The preposition commonly qualifies the action when used as a verbal idea such as the noun “elect” which has a verbal idea. When it says the Antichrist coming is according to the working of Satan, it means he comes into his position, due to or because of Satan’s working. His coming into his position as leader of the world is either due to or because of Satan’s working.
In 1 Peter 1:2 this has the same idea. Elect has a verbal idea, and it demonstrates that this has the idea that God’s act of making a choice related to these are according to, or due to, the action of foreknowledge. I’m going to point out that it really doesn’t have much of a verbal idea. It’s really the noun idea of choice, but what I’m saying here is that if you want to argue that it’s a verbal idea, that God is choosing here, then you’ve got to go with the idea that it’s choosing due to or because of God’s foreknowledge.
I think the better decision is to look at elect as “choice.” We’re choice, according to certain things, the foreknowledge of God, His plan. And that plan focuses on imputed righteousness. Being choice is also by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. That’s positional truth. Because we’re sanctified by the Holy Spirit, that’s the means by which that “choiceness”, that imputed righteousness, is realized in our salvation; and because we’re choice, because we have imputed righteous, we are to do something.
There is a purpose statement there at the end of the verse. We are made choice, positionally righteous, for the purpose of experiential righteousness, obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, which is a reference to ongoing cleansing. With that, I’m going to conclude what we’re talking about tonight. Hopefully, that helps you understand foreknowledge a little bit. We’ll wrap it up a little bit next time, and then we will move forward. This is always an important verse, one of two verses.
(Slide 29) The other one we’ll look at briefly next time in Romans 8:29. “Whom God foreknew, knew ahead of time, He also predestined.” Predestination in Romans 8:29 comes after foreknowledge. As I’ve pointed out many times, I’ll say it again next week, predestination is to determine someone’s destiny ahead of time. The destiny here isn’t in the Lake of Fire or even heaven. What are you predestined to? What is the destiny God sets for every believer? You’re to be conformed to the image of His Son. That’s character. God says that He has a plan for every one of us, and that plan is to make us like Christ so that your character reflects His. It’s also called the fruit of the Spirit, so that your character reflects the virtue of Christ in your life. It’s based on His omniscience of what will happen ahead of time. On that, He chooses this destiny, not to heaven or hell, but to be like Christ. We’ll start there next time.
“Father, thank you for this opportunity to look at these things. We’re reminded of your grace. We pray for our country. We pray for our nation. We pray for those in the senate that they would have the courage to stand up for what will provide real security, at least temporarily, in terms of the treaty. That they will take a stand for the security of this country and be wise in handling the details of whatever comes out of this conference. We pray that you would give wisdom, and that you would change the mind of the president and his advisers, if possible. We pray that you will give us the strength, the courage, and peace to live out our lives in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation that will increasingly, it seems, be hostile to Biblical truth and Biblical Christianity. We can have hope and confidence, and we can be happy even in the midst of these negative circumstances because they’re not the source of our happiness. You are. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”