Session 5 Foreknowledge/Election Notes

Foreknowledge and Election 

I. The Words


 Meaning: The Greek noun (prognwsij) is built on the noun (gnwsij) meaning “knowledge” {root gno meaning know} plus the preposition (pro) before. Therefore the simple meaning is prior knowledge or in the verb (proginwskw)  to know beforehand.


 Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death

GNT Acts 2:23 tou/ton th/| w`risme,nh| boulh/| kai. prognw,sei tou/ qeou/ e;kdoton dia. ceiro.j avno,mwn prosph,xantej avnei,late(

Key first use passage. Sharps Rule: when two nouns of the same case are connected by kai and the first noun has an article and the second noun does not, then the second noun is a further description of the first. One subject is in view. In other words, foreknowledge is nearly synonymous with foreordination and/or predestination. {“plan” and “foreknowledge” are both dative}

ILLUST: the red and blue shirt vs the red and the blue shirt.

The crucifixion was planned by God but men did it and they got the blame – Acts 3:17-19.

 Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

 Romans 11:2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

 1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Comment: “chosen” modifies “aliens

  Acts 26:5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion

Paul makes this statement in his defense before Agrippa

   1 Peter 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you

This refers to Christ. Presumably God was the one who foreknew him (cf v 21)

 2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,

Because believers know beforehand that Christ will return, they should be prepared


If God foreknows everything, then the future must be certain. No event can be foreknown unless by some means it is certain to happen (predetermined). So, foreknowledge doesn’t solve the issue of the future being certain.

Example: If I tell you that the building will burn down tonight at 2330 hours and it doesn’t then I did not foreknow it. If it does then my foreknowledge of it was a result of my action (I arranged it) or of simple chance. Future events must be certain to happen either because God predetermined them to happen or because of the working of blind fate. Christians opt for the former.

Therefore, if God foreknew everything, it is because God predetermined everything. Foreknowledge implies certainty! God knows men’s future choices because he predetermined them.

So it is impossible for God to know everything (omniscience) but not predetermine everything. He knows all things past present and future because he predetermined all things. So, it is wrong to state that God foreknows all details, but plans only the big picture and leaves the rest up to men. Remember, to foreknow is to foreordain. He does not wait in heaven with baited breath to see what will transpire on earth and then decide what he is going to do.

Of the seven occurrences of the term “foreknowledge” (verb 5x; noun 2x), six are about foreknowing persons and one is about foreknowing facts (2 Pet 3:17). In the six regarding foreknowing persons, God is the one who foreknows and His people are the objects except in 1 Pet 1:20 and Acts 2:23 where Christ is the object. On these occasions, it appears that “foreknowing” is the establishing of a relationship. Perhaps we could say that to foreknow is to fore-love or to choose. This is one piece with the OT “know” in passages such as ESV Amos 3:2 "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (“know” is ידע and is translated in NAU as “chosen”).

The fact that is based on ginwskw (experiential knowledge) rather than oida (intellectual knowledge) may be significant. God has established an intimate relationship with His people even before they were born.

Summary: God established, in advance, a special relationship with His people. Romans 8:29.


 Meaning: The Greek verb (eklegw) is built on the verb (legw) meaning “to choose” {root leg meaning gather or pick} plus the preposition (ek) out of. The noun form ek is while is an adjective. Therefore the simple meaning is a choice from among others (noun) or to pick out (verb). The noun form is eklogh while eklektoj is an adjective, normally “chosen or elect”.

Explicit salvation uses: Election statements…

Election is a sovereign act of God alone without input from men.

John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Romans 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

Comment: “in order that the according to election purpose of God might stand”

Election can be either temporal or eternal.

John 13:18 "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.'

 Jesus temporally chose all twelve disciples but he eternally did not choose Judas. Note the many passages below that use election in a temporal sense.

Those whom God chose demonstrate that He did not choose individuals because of their innate attractiveness.

 1 Corinthians 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,

 James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

In fact, God’s elective purposes were designed to demonstrate His ability to befuddle the bests the world has to offer.

Election is personal, Christocentric, and eternal.

 Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

“us”; “in him”; “before foundation of world”

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

“Chosen” translates a different word than the other passages cited. Salvation is certainly in view, however the word is aipew not eklegw - it means to take or carry away or separate.( Gingrich 155).

Election always results in tangible life evidences and Kingdom service.

 1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Thessalonians 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Note the verbiage of vs 3 and the connective “for” of vs 5.

 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

Here is what we must do – we must “eagerly” (diligently”) “firm up” (make + certain) our election!

Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Election can propel believers to other-mindedness.

2 Timothy 2:10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,

 1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen

Election is the seed bed of soul security.

Romans 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;

 The elect receive special treatment and protection from God.

Matthew 24:22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Matthew 24:24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

But they are protected so as to not be mislead.

Matthew 24:31 "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

{the above = Mark 13:20, 22, 27}

Luke 18:7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

 Revelation 17:14 "These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful."

Non- salvation uses (debatable: some may refer to salvation): Mk 13:20; Lk 6:13, 9:35, 10:42, 14:7; Jn 6:70, 15:9; Acts 1:2, 2:4, 6:5, 13:17, 15: 7, 22, 25; Acts 9:15; Rom 11:5, 7, 28; Mt 20:16, 22, 14; Lk 14:24; 23:35; Rom 16:13; 1Tim 5:21; 1Pe 2:4,6; 2Jn 1, 13


Election is a unique category of the larger concept of predestination. Technically, predestination refers to all things while election pertains to salvation. So, salvation is one of the items included in predestination. Yet the terms are used almost synonymously (Eph 1:5,11).

The basis of election is always the sovereign will of God, never foreseen faith. God did not see your faith or anything about you and then choose you (Rom 9; Eph 1:4-5,11). (NAU Deuteronomy 7:6 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,)

Election precedes faith. It is not that election to salvation is dependant on an act of the human will called faith, but that the act of the human will called faith is a result of election. (NAU Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed; NAU John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.)

This does not mean that God rejoices in the death of non-elect sinners (NAU Ezekiel 33:11 "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'). However, note the shocking statements in the Lord’s prayer (John 17: 2,6,9,11,12,24).

Given what we know about human depravity and divine holiness, the question we should be asking is, “why did God choose even one?” rather than asking, “why didn’t God choose more?”

Summary: In eternity past, God chose certain persons to salvation based on His sovereign will alone. Ephesians 1:4.

So What? Application to Personal Life, Church Life, Community Life

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2017. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.

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