1 Peter 1:2 “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God”
The "free willers" have everything backwards. Don't put the cart in front of the horse.
There are basically two very different explanations of what this verse means and what the foreknowledge of God entails. There are numerous verses that speak of God electing or choosing a specific group of people for Himself, and that the basis of this election unto salvation is solely and totally "according to the good pleasure of his will" (Ephesians 1:5), “who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Ephesians 1:11) and "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Matthew 11:26)
Yet the Arminian “I chose of my own free will to believe the gospel” folks attempt to explain the verses that speak of God’s electing and choosing us before the foundation of the world and predestinating us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ as being dependent upon a foreseen faith that some would exercise of their own “free will” in believing the gospel of salvation.
They tell us something like “God looked down the corridors of time and He saw ahead of time that some would chose of their own free will to believe in His Son, and therefore God decided to choose them because He saw that they were going to choose Him.”
This "will of the flesh" brand of "Christianity" is saying in effect - "God chose me because He knew that I would choose Him. Therefore it is logically MY will that precedes and determines His will."
I find this type of reasoning to be utterly ridiculous, self-centered and absurd on several levels", yet there are many who try to explain the verse this way. This is definitely a case of putting the horse before the cart AND IT IS ADDING something to the word of God that simply IS NOT THERE IN THE TEXT.
The "free willer" reads the text as though it said "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father [WHO SAW THAT THERE WOULD BE SOME WHO WOULD MAKE A FREE WILL CHOICE TO BELIEVE], through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
The only other alternative is to recognize and submit to the truth that it is God who does the choosing from the foundation of the world and His sovereign election has nothing at all to do with man’s “decision”, but ALL to do with the eternal purpose of Almighty God who "of the same lump" of clay makes the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction and vessels of mercy which he hath afore prepared unto glory - Romans 9:15-23 - that "the purpose of God according to election might stand" - Romans 9:11
The typical "I chose of my own free will to believe the gospel" view robs God of the glory due to Him alone in our salvation and makes Him dependent on the "free will" of man for anyone to be saved. It turns the election of God on its head and in their minds it is not God who does the choosing but man.
In the "free will" belief, it is not God Who is really doing the choosing; He is merely "confirming" or agreeing with the critical and all decisive choice that man has made.
Spurgeon said ““But,” say others, “God has elected them on the foresight of their faith.” Now, God gives faith, therefore He could not have elected them on account of faith which He foresaw.” Reference: Sermons, 1.317.
A.W. Pink “False theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect.” Reference: The Attributes of God, Baker Book House, p. 23.
What About the Monster God?
Another thing to consider is that this Scripture denying, brain dead "explanation" of how God saw that in the future you would make the right choice to freely believe, and therefore he chose you on that basis, is that it does not in the least bit get rid of "the monster god" problem the "free willers" so often bring up.
They say that if God chose some to save before the foundation of the world, and did not chose the others, then he is being "unfair" and is a Monster or a Devil.
BUT with their own "God looked down the corridors of history and saw that YOU were smart enough or spiritual enough to choose him" and therefore he chose you, now have the same "MONSTER GOD" problem.
Now you have a God who knows before hand beyond any shadow of doubt that multitudes of people will "not choose to believe in Christ" and will end up being judged and sent to hell for ever, YET HE BRINGS THEM INTO THE WORLD AND GIVES THEM LIFE ANYWAY!
Wait a minute....Isn't that what the "free willers" have been complaining about all this time? Yes, it is. Exactly the same.
To deal with the "Monster God" issue, see my article on Double Predestination - Answering the "free willers" complaints against Monergism (Calvinism)
The ONLY thing this carnal and unbiblical "God saw I was going to choose Him" argument accomplishes is to end up attempting to take the credit for their own belief and steal it from the living God who gives the gift of faith to his elect.
Saving faith itself is a gift from God, and the reason you and I believe the gospel is because God gave us this faith. That is why it is called "the faith of God's elect" - Titus 1:1.
Of others it is said: “But ye believe not, BECAUSE ye are not of My sheep” (John 10:26)
and “Therefore THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE because He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted...” (See John 12:37-40)
For more on faith as a gift of God see:
Let’s look at the meaning of these two basic words - Election and Foreknowledge.
The words “elect, elected, election” and “chosen” (the same words in Greek) are found a total of 52 times in the New Testament, and whenever the subject or context is the salvation of the soul, the One who does the choosing is ALWAYS God. Never does the Bible teach that man chooses to believe in Christ as his Saviour. One has to read things into the white spaces to come up with that kind of doctrine.
The most common word for “to chose” and the adjective “elect” come from the Greek word eklegomai, literally meaning “to call out”.
“but for THE ELECT’S sake, whom He HATH CHOSEN, He hath shortened the days.” (Mark 13:20)
“Ye have NOT CHOSEN me, but I HAVE CHOSEN you” (John 15:16)
“According as HE HATH CHOSEN us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
A different word meaning “to take up, or to pick out” (hairomai) is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 where we read: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning CHOSEN you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
GOD does the choosing; not man.
The Foreknowledge of God
The word to foreknow simply means “to know beforehand”. It is used in Romans 8:29-30 “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. 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.”
Notice that God foreknows PEOPLE. And the people that God foreknew he also JUSTIFIED and GLORIFIED. So every person God foreknew is made righteous before God and even glorified.
We are seated together with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). It is as settled and as sure as you are alive and breathing as you read these words today.
The word "foreknow" does NOT refer to the THINGS people may or may not do. It refers to THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES.
“God hath not cast away HIS PEOPLE which He FOREKNEW.” Romans 11:2.
In Jeremiah 1:5 we read of God's call of Jeremiah where he clearly says: "BEFORE I formed thee in the belly I KNEW THEE: and BEFORE thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ORDAINED thee a prophet to the nations."
Now THAT is what the "foreknowledge of God" is. Jeremiah didn't even want to go. Yet God had FOREKNOWN him and called him and there was nothing he could do about it.
The key to properly understanding what it means when God says our election is according to His foreknowledge is seeing how the word “to know” is often used. It means to have an intimate and personal relationship with someone; not just to know things about them, i.e. that they would believe.
Notice how the word is used in the following verses. Speaking of Joseph and his virgin wife Mary the Scriptures tell us that Joseph “KNEW HER NOT till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:25)
In this verse, many modern versions like the NIV, NASB, RSV, ESV, NET, following the “textus corruptus” omit the word “firstborn” and several of them change the phrase “knew her not” to something else that loses the connection and cross references of what the word “to know” really means. “Knew her not” = Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Geneva Bible 1599, KJB 1611, Revised Version 1885, ASV 1901, NKJV 1982, RSV 1952, ESV 2001.
NASB - “kept her a virgin” (footnote, literally “knew”)
NIV - he had no union with her
ISV, NET - did not have marital relations with her
Again in Luke 1:34 the virgin Mary expresses wonder and amazement when the angel tells her she will have a son. She says: “How can this be, seeing I KNOW not a man?”
“I KNOW not a man” found in Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops’, Geneva, KJB 1611, RV, ASV, NKJV
NASB, ESV, NIV, NRSV - “since I am a virgin” (ft. Greek I know not a man)
RSV - I have no husband.
ISV - I have not had relations with a man.
NET - I have not had sexual relations with a man.
This is exactly the same sense of the Hebrew word used in Genesis 4:1 where the true Bible says: “And Adam KNEW Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.”
“Adam KNEW Eve his wife” = Wycliffe, Bishops’, Geneva, KJB, RV, ASV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV.
NASB - the man had relations with his wife
NIV - Adam lay with his wife - 1984 edition.
NIV - Adam made love to his wife - 2011 edition.
NET - the man had marital relations with his wife (footnote - Literally ‘knew’)
And in Genesis 19:8 Lot says to the men of the city of Sodom: “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not KNOWN man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as it is good in your eyes...”
“have not KNOWN man” = Wycliffe, Coverdale, Bishops, Geneva, KJB, RV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NKJV.
NASB - not had relations with man
NIV - never slept with a man
NET - never had sexual relations with a man
1 Kings 1:4 - "And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered unto him; but the king KNEW HER NOT." So reads the Hebrew text as well as the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917, Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the KJB, RV 1885, ASV 1901, Darby, Young's, Green's literal, the NKJV 1982, RSV 1954, ESV 2001. However many modern versions blur the distinctions of this word "to know" -
NASB 1995 - did not cohabit with her
NIV 1984 - had no intimate relations with her
NIV 2010 - had no sexual relations with her
NRSV 1989 - did not know her sexually
Message - did not have sex with her
Holman Standard - he was not intimate with her
And in Amos 3:2 where God says to the children of Israel: “You only HAVE I KNOWN of all the families of the earth...”
“You only HAVE I KNOWN” = Wycliffe, Bishops’, Geneva, KJB, RV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NKJV
NASB 1972, 1973 editions - You only HAVE ME
NASB 1977, 1995 editions, NIV, NET - you only HAVE I CHOSEN. (NET footnote - Hebrew = You only have I known)
These fake bibles are wrong and the NASB took two shots at it and didn't get it right. But finally in the NASB 2020 edition they changed it again and this time they got it. Their latest edition now reads just like the KJB always had it - "You only have I KNOWN"
God's foreknowledge of specific individuals before they are even born is clearly seen in Jeremiah 1:5. Here we read of God speaking to the prophet and telling him: "BEFORE I formed thee in the belly I KNEW THEE: and BEFORE thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
In the New Testament we see the use of this word to denote a personal and intimate knowledge of a person rather than just to know facts about them.
In a coming day the Lord Jesus Christ will say to many false professors of the true faith: “I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23) Can this verse by any stretch of the imagination mean that Christ never knew anything about them? Of course not. It means that He never had a personal and intimate relationship with them, and they were none of His.
But of His own people the Lord says: “I am the good shepherd, and KNOW My sheep, and am KNOWN of mine. As the Father KNOWETH Me, even so KNOW I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep...My sheep hear My voice, and I KNOW them, and they follow Me.” John 10:14, 15, 27
"But if any man love God, the same IS KNOWN of him." 1 Corinthians 8:3
God made an eternal covenant with Christ and His seed - the “children which God hath given Me” (Hebrews 2:13) - and He “knew” us as His own elect people from the foundation of the world.
To attempt to explain away the clear meaning of so many verses that deal with the election of God by trying to make “foreknowledge” mean that God looked down the corridors of time and saw that we would first choose of our own free will to believe in Him, and therefore, on that basis, He decided to choose us (even though He Himself is the Author and Finisher of our faith) is the height of fleshly presumption and blind pride in man’s own abilities.
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:27-31)
"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure having this seal, The Lord KNOWETH them that are his." 2 Timothy 2:19
Recommended reading - See A.W. Pink's article on the Foreknowledge of God from chapter Four of his excellent book The Attributes of God. You can see it online here -
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