Foreknowledge or Selection?
1 Peter 1:20
1 Peter Lesson #051
June 2, 2016
“Father, it’s a great privilege we have to be members of the body of Christ. In Christ we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. In Christ we have all things. In Christ we have eternal security. In Christ we have the provision of everything necessary for life and godliness.
Father, we thank you for all these many blessings and Father, we have your Word. As our Lord prayed we’re sanctified and set apart and matured by means of Your Word. It is not through experience. It is not through music. It is not through other things that people focus on. It is by the study of Your Word, internalizing it, metabolizing, and assimilating it into our thinking and being transformed from the inside out.
The only way that can happen is if we dedicate ourselves through study and application of your Word.
Now Father, as we study this evening we face a topic of doctrine that is often misunderstood and often part of debate. Help us to think our way through these things. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Since we’re in Texas someone just sent me a photo. He wasn’t sure if it was in Texas or not but it's a great illustration of carrying the law to its logical conclusion. This is a picture of what it means to have an open carry law. That’ll take care of the bad guys.
All right, we’re in 1 Peter 1. We’re moving forward. The last two or three lessons we focused on redemption and understanding what that means. Now we’re back into the flow of 1 Peter, chapter one.
What I want to do is pick up on the flow of the thinking so that we have our mind set back into the text itself. Tonight we’re primarily going to do a study of the doctrine of foreknowledge, one we studied before we even started 1 Peter. This was only last summer that we covered it but it’s one that bears repeating.
It’s interesting how many e-mails I get from different people, whether they are pastors or seminary students or are students who were but mostly those who are Bible college or seminary students, who write in. They say, “I have not heard anybody that’s so clear on understanding free grace and understanding these issues related to Calvinism and Arminianism.” This is a great debate.
I remember when I first went to up to visit Dallas Theological Seminary sitting down with Randy Price who was just starting his first year and he was telling me how much I needed to study this issue because it was a hot debate topic on campus. And it was and has continued to be that way most of the time I was at seminary, for four or five years.
One of the seminary professors, a professor of Greek and also a professor of theology named S. Lewis Johnson, who has since gone to be the Lord and had been on faculty there for many years, had become convinced of what, shall we say what they called the doctrines of grace, and had become a five-point Calvinist—supralapsarian five-point Calvinist, in fact.
He had the integrity, unlike a number of faculty members that have been on the faculty since, to admit that he was taking a position, that while it was not technically against the doctrinal statement of the school, it was against the historic position and tradition of the school.
He retired, resigned from his position. I say that because I know personally of at least a half a dozen faculty members who have been at Dallas Seminary, some of whom didn’t even believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, some of whom who had some very, very strange ideas. Most of them didn’t last very long on the faculty, maybe a year or two.
But there are those today I know that would say that they don’t quite believe the doctrinal statement to mean what Dr. Chafer would have thought it to mean. This means they don’t believe in authorial intent but they had their own interpretation. Somehow because of that they skate around it and it also shows an interesting bias they have against the truth and against integrity.
This is a real problem we have in our whole culture today, people who rationalize the truth.
This issue was just a battleground when I was a student. Whenever you would sit down with another student, this always came up. I mean it ALWAYS came up. Everyone was talking about it, debating both sides of the issue, up and down and around.
That’s one of the values of having a seminary education where you go to seminary, not where you sit in your office at home, online, where you’re not interacting with people who have different views.
The value is that it sharpens your thinking. It causes you to think about things that other people say and arguments presented. Whether it changes your mind, it sharpens your thinking and refines your thinking. That’s part of a seminary education.
I would say 50% of a seminary education takes place outside the classroom. I’ve just been amazed the last twenty years. The first question I get is, “How can I get my seminary training online?”
If you were going to law school you wouldn’t ask that. Who wants a lawyer who went to law school online? Who wants a doctor, a surgeon, who went to medical school online? But, oh, it’s okay if you’re a doctor of the soul, if you are a pastor. That’s the term they used to use for pastors. You want to do it online.
There are some things you certainly can get online. That can help with costs of moving and things like that, but if you miss out you’re shortchanged on your education if you don’t have that personal interaction with the professor and with other students outside the classroom.
Okay, back to 1 Peter 1. It shifts away from the introductory first twelve verses that raise a number of the issues that are going to be developed inside the epistle itself. That’s why we have the “therefore”. We begin to see commands, imperatives that come along because the focal point of Peter’s epistle is to exhort, challenge people on how they are to live and how they are to be transformed.
For example when we read 1 Peter 1:13–17, often we miss the point. It looks like there’s a command to gird up the loins of your mind, but that’s actually a participle. The command is to rest your hope fully upon the grace of God.
You do that by realizing and understanding the grace of God in your life by girding up. That’s a participle of means, by girding up the loins of your mind. That means removing the distractions in your life, making the study and application of God’s Word a priority in your life. Getting rid of the things that are good, and fun, and enjoyable activities that many of your friends participate in but they do not accrue eternal value.
We have to gird up the loins which is just a term for focusing your thinking, getting rid of distractions, and making the Word of God the highest priority of your life.
If you do that, that’s the way in which you can learn grace and rest your hope, a key word in 1 Peter, focusing on the ultimate realization of that at the Judgment Seat of Christ. “That is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” For the believer in the Church Age, that’s the Rapture followed by the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Then in 1 Peter 1:14 he says, “As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.” That’s the same terminology that we have in Romans 12:2, “Don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Notice, it’s mind … mind … mind. It’s thinking. It’s not emotion. It’s not subjectivity. It’s not how you feel about God. It is what the Word of God says.
Then in 1 Peter 1:15–16 we have our second command, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” That is the second command. That word “conduct” we’re going to see is a critical term for Peter in 1 Peter. It is transformed conduct.
It’s not an externalism. It’s not legalism but that transformed conduct comes from what? Changing your mind. Changing your thinking. Romans 12:2. Transforming your thinking leads to a transformed life, transformed on the outside.
Believers are going to talk differently. They’re going to act differently. They’re going to be involved in different things than the world around them.
Back in the 50s and the 60s you might not have realized that because we lived in a culture that was still predominantly influenced by Christianity, by Protestant Christianity. We live in a world now that’s vastly different.
It’s hard, especially if you have children, to communicate this to them because it’s going to make them different. Adolescents especially don’t like to be different. They like to be governed by the values of their peers.
All of us, whether you’re thirty years old, fifty years old, or seventy years old, we all had to deal with peer pressure to one degree or another. That’s where you begin to form character. That’s where you begin to develop those values and embed them in the life of adolescents.
It’s very important as parents to be involved in the training of children and how they think. You don’t wait until they’re twelve or thirteen. If you wait until they’re twelve or thirteen, it’s way too late. You start building those values in them when they’re one, when they’re eighteen months, when they’re twenty-four months.
Then, when they get to thirteen years, you’ve laid a foundation already.
Value for the believer means to be holy. That means to be set apart to the service of God. That means you’re going to live a life that’s different. It doesn’t mean legalism but it does mean that the believer thinks differently; therefore he lives differently.
In 1 Peter 1:17 we studied, “If you call on the Father [and you do], who without partiality judges according to each one’s work …” The “hope” that is mentioned back in verse 13 (slide 5) is a confident expectation of a future reality. That future reality appears at the revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 13.
It is developed in verse 17 that we are to conduct ourselves in fear because we are going to be judged according to our work. This is not for our eternal destiny: Lake of Fire or Heaven. It is for rewards. Evaluation at the Judgment Seat of Christ determines position, privilege, and responsibility during the Kingdom and on into eternity.
Then we saw in 1 Peter 1:18 the doctrine of redemption, which we studied the last three classes. It started with a causal participle, a perfect tense participle, because what Peter is saying is that they have already come to learn this. It’s what called an intensive perfect, meaning it’s focusing on the present reality of a completed past action.
You were taught about the redemption of Christ in the past and you know it. He uses the word OIDA emphasizing the present knowledge and not GINOSKO indicating the process. He’s saying you have come to know this and it’s now embedded in your soul and you’ve understood the nature of your redemption.
By focusing on what Christ did on the Cross, understanding the breadth of it, thinking about it, we realize that just getting saved is no superficial or simple thing. The more we understand it, the more we realize as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, we have been bought with a price, so therefore we are to live as members in the family of God. We are His and we should live that way.
1 Peter 1:18 reads, “Because you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your empty manner of life” [King James Version] or “aimless conduct” [New King James Version] received by the tradition from your fathers.” That’s the religion of the Pharisees. Whenever you see that, remember that Peter is writing to a Jewish community who have become believers in Jesus as Messiah in the middle northern part of what is now Turkey. He’s writing to them so for them the tradition of the fathers was the oral law, the halakha that was the tradition of the interpretation of the Law that really developed in the post-exilic period.
Again, he’s talking about conduct. That’s the same word. We see “be holy in your conduct” which is ANASTROPHE, the same word that’s used in 1 Peter 1:17. It uses the verb ANASTREPHO, “Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.” The noun [ANASTROPHE] is used in 1 Peter 1:18.
He’s really focusing on that word for conduct, for lifestyle, of how we live. That’s the bottom line, how we live. He repeats this several times in 1 Peter. 1 Peter 2:12, we are to conduct our lives honorably. He’s writing Jewish background believers so he says for them to conduct themselves honorably among the Gentiles.
We’re living in the cosmic system. Among the pagans around us we are to live our lives as exceptional examples of virtue, integrity, and honor.
Wives are exhorted in terms of their conduct in 1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 3:2.
1 Peter 3:16 says we’re to have “a good conscience so that when they defame you as evildoers,” that is, when unbelievers distort who we are and they ridicule us and call us evil doers and that’s coming. This happened in the ancient world. It’s going to happen now when Christians are in the minority and our lives challenge people, then they will say that we’re really evildoers.
In the ancient world Jews and Christians in the Roman world were considered atheists. Because of that, they were persecuted. They were considered atheists because they didn’t believe in all the gods and goddesses of the Roman Empire. The idea that they believed in one and only one God was foreign to the Roman mindset. They weren’t atheists at all but this is the kind of thing we’re going to run into.
I read today that there’s a piece of legislation that’s going to go before the California legislature to penalize anyone who does not believe in anthropogenic or manmade global warning. These kinds of things may not make it very far. They may get voted down and they usually do, but this push continues. It’s year after year after year. Sooner or later it’s going to get passed.
Most Bible-believing Christians don’t give a whole lot of credence to the concept of anthropogenic global warming, especially if they’ve studied the topic very much so they will be defamed as evildoers who hate the planet. You want to destroy the planet. You want to abuse the planet. You hate all of mankind because you don’t want to do what is necessary.
Don’t you know that the oceans are rising? In fact, not too many years ago in 2009 there was a report that the ocean levels around New York City had risen some 10 or 12 millimeters in just a few years. Now that’s not a whole lot but they projected into the future that this is going to continue year after year and in another hundred years we’re all going to be wading around. In the last six years they discovered that it’s not only reversed itself but it’s down about 3 millimeters from what it was in 2009. These cycles take place!
Same thing in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t as high as it was in New York but there’s a reversal. We’re looking at a microscopic amount of data when we look at recorded meteorological data. When we go back and try to extrapolate forward from this minutia of information we run into a lot of problems, especially when presuppositions enter into the logarithms and the codes and the models that have been structured to try to prove their presuppositions. A lot of it is driven by politics and philosophy and not by just raw science.
What we’ve seen in these previous verses is that we are to live in hope. Hope is to characterize the believer’s life. It’s a future expectation. It’s related to that future revelation or disclosure of the grace of God in Christ when He appears at the Rapture.
We’re to live today in terms of being holy. The first mandate is related to the problem-solving device I describe as a personal sense of our eternal destiny. We’re living today in light of tomorrow. We’re to be holy. That means we’re to be separated unto God. This relates to confession because that’s the only way we can recover from sin.
It relates to grace orientation. We have to learn and develop our understanding of grace and rely upon God’s grace. That means we don’t tell God we’re sorry for our sins. Confession doesn’t mean to say that you’re sorry for your sin. It means to admit or acknowledge your sin.
That’s the concept, when you go to court and you have been given a ticket for doing fifty miles-per-hour in a twenty mile-per-hour school zone, the judge isn’t going to care how sorry you are. You can tell him you’re sorry day in and day out and they don’t care. The issue is did you do it or not? If you did it, then you pay the fine or you go to jail or you give up your license or whatever the penalty is.
That’s grace orientation. We go to God. We confess our sins and He forgives us and we orient to grace. Our sin may not seem as egregious as other people’s sins. I read an interesting analysis day before yesterday. A devastating critique. I’ve read bits and pieces of this over the years. It was a critique of the Trinity Broadcast Network.
That’s probably the one channel on your television most of you never watch. That’s the channel that was founded by Paul and Jan Crouch. Paul Crouch died about three years ago. His wife died of a massive stroke two days ago. I met them some twenty-eight years ago.
Hal Lindsey was in town and they were doing a big TBN thing out at Lakewood. That was long before Joel Osteen took over. Tommy Ice and I came down and we actually put together a meeting between Pastor Thieme and Hal Lindsey. We all went out to lunch and had a tremendous time. That night we went out to Lakewood.
What a change of environment. God has a sense of humor. We went out there. Afterwards we left and Hal Lindsey was riding with Tommy and I was by myself. We were supposed to meet at a Bennigan’s, I believe, at the Galleria. I knew how to get there. Apparently whoever was driving Paul and Jan Crouch knew how to get there.
Gavin McCloud, the Captain from The Love Boat was there with his wife. I showed up at Bennigan’s at the same time they did. Tommy doesn’t know Houston so he got lost. I will never forget that Tommy and Hal left me stranded with Paul and Jan before they finally showed up.
Gavin MacLeod was an absolute gentleman. He sat next to me and engaged me in conversation. We had a tremendous time. But to Paul and Jan Crouch I was invisible, totally invisible. They didn’t know me. I wasn’t a big name. I didn’t matter.
You might be able to google something about TBN and find out about the heresy and apostasy that has been promoted by that station is beyond measure. Hal Lindsey said of Jan Crouch at that time [he told her to her face], “Jan, there never was a heresy that you didn’t fall in love with.”
We have to recognize that some people’s sins appear to us to be much more egregious than ours. But when you stack any of our sins against the righteousness of God we all fall miserably short. From God’s perspective the difference between your sins and Adolph Hitler’s sins may amount to a grain of sand. From your perspective you think there are hundreds of miles of difference between the two.
But sin, whether it’s eating a piece of forbidden fruit, or the genocide of six million people, is the same in terms of its relativity to the righteousness of God. So often we get caught up with that. We think, “That person is so evil.”
In our self-righteousness we forget that our sin is just as obnoxious to God no matter what the difference is. Now practically, in terms of day-to-day life, the sins of an Adolph Hitler are much worse than our sins. We need to recognize that, but we’re not talking about practical outworking in time. We’re talking about how it relates to the righteousness of God.
That’s grace orientation. It means we don’t judge other people on the basis of our human standards. As the saying goes, “But for the grace of God there go you and I.” Our sins are just as egregious even though they’re more acceptable in our own eyes.
Doctrinal orientation means we orient our thinking to the Word of God. We have to internalize it. Study it. Study it. Study it. Read it every day. That becomes a focal point.
The third thing we learned is that we’re to live our life based on the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom. That’s doctrinal orientation and it’s personal love for God as we grow and mature.
The bottom line is we do this because we know what it cost to purchase our freedom at the Cross.
If you’re using a New American Standard Version Bible and you come to the end of 1 Peter 1:19, there’s a period. That’s one of the idiosyncrasies about the King James Version Bible—they tried to make every verse a standalone sentence if they could. Sometimes they couldn’t do that so they expanded it to maybe three or four verses.
Actually in the Greek text, it continues. The thought of 1 Peter 1:20 is a development of what is in verses 17, 18, and 19. It develops our understanding of the Person and work of Jesus Christ, focusing on the Person of Christ.
In the New King James Version it begins as an autonomous sentence, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe …” Notice it just runs on into another relative clause in verse 21.
Actually the first word in the Greek in verse 20 is this word PROGINOSKO but it’s a perfect participle. It could be middle or passive either one. It probably has a passive sense but it’s perfect. It’s completed action meaning, “Having been foreordained.” It’s something that was completed in eternity past.
This act of being foreordained is not the best translation. That’s the New King James translation. If you look at some other translations, they will more accurately translate it as “having been foreknown before the foundation of the world.”
We’re not going to get much further than that in our understanding of the text tonight than but I wanted to point out that his initial participle there just continues our understanding of the Person of Christ, whereas verses 17, 18, and 19 focused on His work.
Here we understand His Person, which relates to His purpose, as we’ll see in His “entering into the world.” He didn’t die by accident. It was part of God’s plan. The word “foreordained” implies a plan that isn’t in the original but the word “foreknow” is in the original. That’s doesn’t relate to a plan either.
We have to look at this because this is one of those words at the very heart of the argument between those who believe in a volitional theology and those who believe in a non-volitional theology that is Calvinism. Actually Arminianism is a different view. I think the biblical view distinguishes between the Arminian view and Calvinism.
The Arminianism view historically came out of the theology of a man named James [Jacobus] Arminius who was originally a strong, five-point supralapsarianism Calvinist. He taught in seminary in Holland and as he taught the Scripture he came to other convictions and he was basically brought up on a heresy trial. That trial took place in the town of Dort in 1617. The indictment was that he taught five things. Those became known as the Remonstrance, the position of Arminius. The Calvinists condemned him on all five points as being heretical. They offered their alternatives. So he started with a position far to the left and he countered it by going far to the right, neither of which was biblical. Arminius had died by that time and was found as teaching a heretical position.
The biblical position is somewhere in-between. The problem is that historically you have a major error. We still have it today. Many people commit this error. The error is that instead of starting from the text and developing the theology and doctrine from the text, they’re committed to a theological system ahead of time and then they read that into the text.
Or it’s much more common that they come to some conclusions from the text and then they start with those conclusions and they start extrapolating from those conclusions what they think are equally valid conclusions. They may not be because their syllogisms are faulty at some point or another and the result is that they get off into something that logically hangs together but it doesn’t hang together biblically.
Some of their premises are no longer biblical. We have to look at this and we have to understand the words. The words are very important.
This word PROGINOSKO is a verb found five times in the New Testament. This is the first point to understanding the usage here. This is not one of those words like “holy” or a word like “love” which are used dozens or hundreds of times in the Scripture. It’s a very simple word to perform a word study on.
It is a verb that is found five times in the Scripture and the noun is found two times in the Scripture. The verb is found once here in 1 Peter. The noun is found in 1 Peter 1:2, so we studied this doctrine at the beginning of our study.
Here’s a list of those verses. Acts 26:5, Romans 8:29 [we studied this when we studied Romans], Romans 11:2, 1 Peter 1:20 [our text], and 2 Peter 3:17.
Acts 26:5 is translated with the meaning of knowing something ahead of time. We’ll look at this later in more detail. “They knew me from the first,” Paul says as he’s giving his defense before Agrippa. “They knew me beforehand.” That’s the idea of the word. GINOSKO means to know. The PRO means to know beforehand.
What happens is that Calvinists come along and say it means to select or to choose.
Romans 8:29 and Romans 11:2 are the key passages. 2 Peter 3:17 is translated “know beforehand”. This is the fundamental meaning of the word.
The noun form is used in Acts 2:23 which really picks up more of the sense and the doctrine we have here in 1 Peter 1:20, “Being delivered by the determined purpose [will] and foreknowledge of God [prior knowledge of God], you have taken by lawless hands, and have crucified and put to death;” It’s the idea that God knew beforehand.
We have to be careful with that but that’s what the text says. That’s the meaning of the word.
It has that same meaning in that “elect” is a result of a prior action that is the prior knowledge of God the Father. We’ll review that again briefly. When we look at these verses, what this tells us is that there is a misunderstanding and a sense in which a theological position is read into the meaning of this word.
This is a quote that I have. I have several quotes here. It’s important for us to understand a little bit about the context, the theological context of this battle with Calvinism.
It’s been amazing over the last I would say twenty-five or thirty years that Calvinism and five-point Calvinism has really grown in popularity. In fact, there’s a new form of Calvinism that I’m not going to get sidetracked on, but it’s very popular with younger people. I think one of the reasons for that is that as our culture descends more and more into chaos and uncertainty, that people are searching for a system that dots every “i” and crosses every “t”. Calvinism, because it’s been around for 400 years and because it’s been developed into a very tight-knit system, seems to answer that for them. It gives them a theological position. They have a historical precedent of 400 years so they are attracted to that.
It doesn’t give them a system that is biblical. It has a lot of proof text along with it, but it isn’t biblical when you start to analyze the data.
I want to look at a few quotes that we have here. This first quote comes from Lewis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology. Berkhof is a Reformed theologian. When I started Dallas Seminary in 1976 this was our primary textbook. We also read from Chafer, but we read from Berkhof as well. Berkhof is very good in some areas, but not quite so good in other areas.
In the section where he is dealing with word meanings related to PROGINOSKO he goes back to the meaning of Hebrew term. The Hebrew word for knowledge is the word yada’. The transliteration is found in the first line of the quote. This is a very common line of argument.
If you’re ever talking to a Calvinist he’s going to take you to the early chapters of Genesis and when it talks about Adam “knowing” Eve, he’s going to say, “See that kind of knowledge is an intimate knowledge related to selection. It means choosing whom you’re going to love.” There’s an element of truth in that, but like a lot of words they may be used in a minority of circumstances with that sort of nuance, but you can’t automatically extrapolate that to every usage.
This is the argument you’ll find from a five-point Calvinist. “The Hebrew word yada’ and the Greek words GINOSKEIN, PROGINOSKEIN, and PROGNOSIS [the noun form we had in 1 Peter 1:2] may simply mean ‘to know’ or ‘to take cognizance’ of someone or something [just to be aware of something], but may also be used in the more pregnant sense of ‘taking knowledge of one with loving care,’ or making one the object of loving care of elective love.”
What he has done here is say that this is what the word means. But he’s drawn a certain conclusion absent the evidence. He’s asserted the meaning without demonstrating the meaning. This is the problem we have a lot of time. You have politicians do this all the time. They just assert things as fact. Listen to Donald Trump. Listen to Hillary Clinton. They assert all kinds of things as fact without one bit of evidence. In fact, all the evidence is against them. They’re lying. They’re deceiving. They’re just distorting the truth.
Those are just two examples. There are many, many more as I’m sure you’re aware.
So he’s just making this assertion. What we have to do as a student of the Bible is to evaluate every usage and see if this conclusion stands. I’m not going to do that tonight. I’m just going to give you my conclusions and some conclusions of some others.
He goes on to say, “In this sense it serves the idea of election.” In other words he’s made this leap that the word “know” really means to select something to be the object of your choice. He’s saying that “knowing” means “selection”. There are some 450 uses of yada’ in the Old Testament and maybe a hundred of them imply the concept of knowledge. So it is a minor meaning. He’s extrapolating the minor meaning to every use.
He says, “In this sense it serves the idea of election.” He quotes from Genesis 18:19, Amos 3:2, and Hosea 13:5, all of which are dubious. In fact, as you shift from the earlier editions of Hebrew lexica that were available in the early 1900s through the publication of the Brown–Driver–Briggs (BDB) Hebrew Lexicon in 1917, BDB left these examples out.
It was an English translation based on the older German lexica of Gesenius. I tell the pastors that they have to get all these lexica and read them through chronologically and figure out how things develop. These word meanings are not just templates that you can put in every context.
He concludes, “The meaning of the words PROGINOSKEIN and PROGNOSIS in the New Testament is not determined by their usage in the classics.” That’s a true statement but usually what you have is that the classics usually refer to 6th century BC. By the late 20th century we had access to lexica like Moulton and Milligan which classifies all the meaning of the papyri which covers the New Testament period and afterwards. “Classics” is really talking about 600 years before Christ. This is a mistake some people have made by going back to usage 600 years earlier to define the meanings of the New Testament.
None of us would want to go to Shakespeare to define current usage and current meaning based on how Shakespeare or the Tyndale Bible used an English word. That is roughly comparable to what happens when you go to Attic Greek or Boeotian Greek or some of the early Greek dialects of the 6th or 7th centuries to document Koine Greek meanings. The language shifted a lot.
So he says this sentence sounds meaningful, but it’s not. He says, “They do not denote simple intellectual foresight or prescience ...” Actually the lexica disagree with that. He continues, “… the mere taking knowledge of something beforehand, but rather a selective knowledge which regards one with favor and makes one an object of love, and thus approaches the idea of foreordination.” That’s his view.
Now here’s a guy, Tom Schreiner, a professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Seminary in Kentucky. He’s quite brilliant. I’ve heard him speak a couple of times. He basically says that the meaning is, “in which He [God] sets His affection on those whom He has chosen.” See he uses some of these same proof texts, but when you look at these proof texts that is not what it’s talking about.
Berkhof goes on and says, “Even Arminians feel constrained to give the words a more determinative meaning [which is debatable], namely, to know one with absolute assurance in a certain state or condition.” I just want to point these things out. This is what people run across.
Let’s look at what some of the lexica say. This is the second point, the lexical data. The Liddell–Scott–Jones, originally Liddell & Scott or Liddell–Scott is a Greek–English lexicon that covers all the usage of Greek words from classical Greek from the time of the pre-Socratics all the way up through the New Testament and some of the other Koine data.
First of all it says it means “to know, to perceive, to learn, or to understand beforehand.” Beforehand modifies those other words. Know beforehand. Perceive beforehand. To learn or understand are all modified by beforehand. It also means to prognosticate, to foreknow, and to learn things in advance.
Nothing there implies the meaning of selection or election. In the Liddell–Scott–Jones it includes all of the usages of the Greek words in the Koine period in the New Testament. It gives New Testament examples. They’re not ignoring the New Testament data. It says to judge beforehand, to evaluate something ahead of time.
In Bauer–Arndt–Gingrich (BAGD) it says to know beforehand or in advance, or to have foreknowledge of something. See that other meaning. It says to choose beforehand. BAGD has a tendency of reading a certain theological position into the text and that’s exactly what they’ve done there.
One of the things I’ve taught students that I was taught when I was in seminary is that someone who has a really worthwhile masters of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary as we were taught should be able to do their own raw lexicon work and critique what’s in the lexicon. We were taught that we could write exegetical papers that are superior to what you find in the commentaries by the time we were finished.
That’s why the Th.M. from Dallas Seminary up through the 70s and into the early part of the 80s was considered by many accrediting committees [I’ve been told by people who are in the know and are involved in this] was more valuable than a Ph.D. from other seminaries. Isn’t that interesting? We were taught to do really good core work from the beginning.
The Moulton and Milligan lexicon related to the use in the papyri says it means to foreknow, to know previously. And it notes that Hort, who was a late 19th century Greek scholar, thinks that 1 Peter 1:20 means to designate beforehand.
Zodhiates has a little English/Greek word study Bible. He says it means to perceive or recognize beforehand, to know previously, to take into account or specially consider beforehand, to grant prior acknowledgement or recognition to some, to foreknow. See it’s used as mere prescience.
All of these Calvinists say it never means prescience. Here’s a Greek scholar who says it means prescience. So that gives you a little extra data.
The reason for that is that when I come along and say that doesn’t mean to choose something ahead of time, to select something, or to select the object of your love, is to read your theological position into the data.
The conclusion to the lexical data is that the lexicons can provide no examples outside of the Bible where PROGINOSKO means anything other than prescience, which is to know something ahead of time or beforehand.
BAGD makes the same mistake in regard to GLOSSA. GLOSSA is the word for tongues. GLOSSA is listed as having three meanings in BAGD. Meaning number one is the physical organ that is inside your mouth, the tongue. The second meaning is a foreign language or any language. The third meaning is ecstatic utterance. The only data that they give for ecstatic utterance is Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 13 and 14. Those are the passages in question.
They can’t marshal any evidence where the word was ever used with this ecstatic utterance, even in the mystery religions. I remember doing a tremendous amount of research on this back in the early 80s and going through every use of GLOSSA at the time in non-biblical data and it never referred to ecstatic utterance at all. I wanted it to, but you couldn’t substantiate it.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology [NIDNTT] says that the corresponding noun PROGNOSIS is attested as a medical technical term. We use it that way today. We go to the doctor and you want to get a prognosis. What’s going to happen? NIDNTT says it denotes the foreknowledge which makes it possible to predict the future.
This is important to understand. There’s a contrast in this sense, before knowing something in the present and knowing something in the past. This is seen in 2 Peter 3:17, “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.”
How many times did I say this word was used? The verb is used five times. One is the passage in question. Outside of that, you have four other passages. In two of those four passages, the word clearly means to know beforehand. So you have two passages where you could possibly conceive of it meaning something else. But it’s doubtful.
What you have to do always when you look at evidence is go from the known to the unknown. You can’t start with a vague passage, saying, “It could mean gray. It could mean white. It could mean black.” There are lots of times when you could make a word mean something and the sentence would still make sense but you have to have evidence. There has to be data.
You can’t just jump to a conclusion because that’s what you want or that’s what your theological presupposition is. So you have all these uses outside the Bible, including Koine Greek at the time of the Bible, where it’s never used that way. It’s never used in any clear passage to determine something. It’s never used that way.
You only have two verses where people want it to mean that way but you don’t have any evidence outside of those two verses where it might mean that. You have to support it with data. You know, go watch three years’ worth of CSIs and you’ll understand the importance of evidence and data. You just can’t make it mean what you want it to mean because that’s what you want, that’s what you like.
Okay, let’s look at a couple of these passages. We’ll start with one tonight. Acts 2:23, which is talking about Christ, “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose.” That’s BOULE which simply means the will of God, His sovereign plan to provide salvation for the human race. Determined purpose adds a certain degree of almost determinism to the meaning of the word BOULE. Mostly it’s just translated “will”.
“Having been delivered by the will of God and the foreknowledge of God.” These are not the same thing. These are two different things: the determined purpose of God and the foreknowledge of God, which is His knowledge beforehand. “You have taken by lawless hands and have crucified and put to death.”
Some things we ought to note from this.
1. God had a plan and this word means “will, purpose, and intent” and it’s based on cognition. It’s based on thought. It’s based on deliberation and reflection. It’s not something that just happened. So the will of God is part of His knowledge. It’s related to His omniscience.
2. The plan is based on God’s omniscience. His omniscience precedes His decision. Knowledge always precedes decision. God, because He know every detail that will take place and every detail that could take place, He uses that information to devise a perfect plan.
In Calvinism God only knows what will happen because God first determines what will happen. He doesn’t know all that could happen. Jesus makes statements about if this had happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, then they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes, indicating that He knows what would or could have happened under other circumstances.
Omniscience implies that God knows all of the knowable, what could happen and what might have happened. On the basis of knowing all information, God then devised a perfect plan. This is speaking as an anthropopathism.
3. The observation that God’s purpose combined with His knowledge of all future contingencies, He devised a perfect plan of salvation that focused on sending the 2nd Person of the Trinity on to the earth. So He sets this.
The other thing we should note is that we have the word “foreknowledge” here and it’s not in the context related to individual justification or selection of someone to be saved or not saved; it is knowing beforehand what needed to be done in order to accomplish His plan of salvation. This is not a word that implies election or selection for eternal destiny.
What Peter is telling the Israelites is that even though God had a plan that Jesus would be crucified and killed on the cross, that doesn’t negate their individual choice and their individual responsibility. It was delivered by the will of God and His previous knowledge of events. He says, “You have taken.” It doesn’t absolve them of their personal responsibility. In other words, God’s foreknowledge and His will does not override the volition of human beings. They still have to make a decision. They still have to make a choice.
His crucifixion was not a matter of omnipotent determinism but it was affected and organized and brought about in accordance with God’s foreknowledge. We can’t at all read into this the meaning of “intimate loving relationships.” Think about that.
Again: “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and the intimate loving relationship of God”. That doesn’t make sense! If you follow their methodology and their reasoning, that is where you are bound to go.
When we look at 1 Peter 1:2 we see that they were “elect [being choice because they possess righteousness] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” This is sometimes distorted but “elect” comes subsequent to foreknowledge. We see that the “according to” is something that precedes the action.
For example, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 it’s talking about the Antichrist, “Whose coming is according to the working of Satan.” What comes first, the working of Satan or the Antichrist? The working of Satan. That is in the prepositional clause. What is in the prepositional clause comes first, the foreknowledge of God. Subsequent to that the choice, a character quality of these individuals. They are choice according to something that pre-existed their choices, the foreknowledge of God.
Okay, we’ll stop there. We’ll come back and look at Romans 8:28–29 which are other critical verses. Just a reminder of that and we’ll come to other passages next week.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word, to be reminded that Your Word is true. Your Word is absolute and that if we take the time to really study and take the time to think through consistently what You have said, it hangs together and makes sense.
Father, we’re thankful that You have provided these clear statements that we can come to understand the truth of Your plan, and that this plan focused on a Savior that could redeem us, so it’s not based upon who we are or what we do but on who Jesus Christ is and what He did on the Cross. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”