THE MEMBERS of Christs body were foreknown
by God (cp Rom.8:29). Gods holy nation, the people of Israel, are also among
those whom He foreknew (Rom.11:2). Thus the purpose of God may be
remaining as a choice, not out of acts, but of Him Who is calling (cf
We are called
according to the purpose that, whom He foreknew, He designates beforehand, also, to
be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom.8:29). The thought here is not that He
knew something about us, but that He knew us. This speaks not of
His ignorance of others, but of His special knowledge of us.
prescience or foreknowledge of our faith or works cannot be in view, for membership in the
body of Christ is a matter of grace, not reward. Since salvation is not a matter of
qualification, it is surely mistaken to assert that foreknowledge is merely knowing ahead
of time who will qualify to be saved. Besides, free will faith and acts could
never be foreknown. Since there is always a chance they might never occur,
their future existence could not be an object of knowledge. On the other hand, where faith
and acts are foreknown, their occurrence is inevitable, and thus it becomes impossible but
that they should occur.
In such cases as this, in
which Gods foreknowledge of us is in view, foreknowledge is a figure of
speech. It is not onlywonderful as it isthat we are known by Him
today, but that we were foreknown by Him long ago as well. Now if anyone is
loving God, this one is known by Him (1 Cor.8:3). And, as those whom He
foreknew, our calling itself is founded upon Gods predesignated purpose to
conform us to the image of His Son. The same is true concerning those in Christ among the
Circumcision. In writing to the believing expatriates of the dispersion, Peter reveals
that they were chosen . . . according to the foreknowledge of
God (1 Peter 1:1, 2).
Literally, we know facts,
for example, knowing this before (2 Peter 3:17). Figuratively, we
know, or have a certain relationship with persons. In making his defense
before Agrippa, Paul declared, My life, indeed, then, from youth, which came to be
from the beginning among my nation, besides in Jerusalem, all the Jews were acquainted
with, knowing me before, from the very first (Acts 26:4,5). Know
is continually used in ordinary speech in just this way, as well as in many passages
throughout the Scriptures (e.g., Jer.1:5; Hosea 13:5; Amos 3:2; Matt.7:22,23; John
10:14,15; Gal.4:9; 2 Tim.2:19).
In Romans 8:29, Gods
foreknowledge of us has in view gracious gifts and a glorious
relationship with Him. In His own counsels, God had already established these things on
our behalf long ago, long before we were born. Thus we were
foreknown by God, having already been chosen by Him, according to His purpose,
and the vast love with which He loves us (cf Eph.2:4).
This is not a matter of
partiality at all, but of purposeful choiceaccording as He
chooses us (cf Eph.1:4). Its motive is the accomplishment of a
glorious goal; it is not born out of prejudice. Yet purposefulness, even as partiality,
involves the choosing of some and not others (in any purpose that is less than universal
in scope). This is so concerning Gods choice of us, even as in an orchestra
directors choice of the members of his orchestra. He chooses those whom he judges to
be best suited to his purpose. The act of choosing need not involve the slightest taint of
partiality. Furthermore, God does not choose us simply that we might be blessed, but in
order to make a display of His grace in us (Eph. 2:7), and that we should become a
blessing to others, serving in His work, to have an administration of the complement
of the eras to head up all in the Christ (Eph.1:10) and to reconcile all
to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the
earth or those in the heavens (Col.1:20). Our calling involves the
multifarious wisdom of God being made known to the sovereignties and
authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia (Eph.3:10).
Among the Corinthians (and
we are hardly any different), it was the stupidity of the world God chooses, that He
may be disgracing the wise, even as the weak, ignoble and contemptible, and
that which is not, He chooses, that He may be disgracing the
strongand, that He should be discarding that which is, so that no
flesh at all should be boasting in Gods sight (1 Cor. 1:27-29). Not many
wise, powerful or noble, according to the flesh, are even called: Thus
you are observing your calling, brethren (1 Cor.1:26).
calling of the nation of Israel into the kingdom of the heavens, in which many are
the called and few are the chosen (Matt.22:14), is an entirely different calling
than the calling which Paul presents here for the members of the body of Christ, according
to his evangel.
In our holy calling,
Gods choice precedes His call, and that by a vast expanse of time (2 Tim.1:9;
Eph.1:4). Gods call is of His chosen ones, and they will respond. In
Pauls evangel, election is first. Subsequently, all these chosen ones are
called; then they are all justified and finally all glorified. All who are called were
first all chosen.
But in the calling
concerning the kingdom of the heavens, the opposite is the case. Many who were called are
finally not chosen. There election is last. Only a few of the vast
number who are called are finally chosen.
Worthiness is essential
for entrance into the kingdom of the heavens (cf Matt.22:8; Luke 20:35). Yet for
ourselves, worthiness is not essential to the allotment of life eonian (cf Rom.5:20,21;
Titus 3:7), but only to having a part, or allotment, in Gods kingdom (His
government or reign; cf Gal.5:21; 2 Tim.2:12). All the members of
Christs body will enjoy glorious life in the oncoming eons, and they will possess it
as a gracious gift (cp Eph.2:7; Col.3:3,4; 1 Cor.15:51-53).
NOW WE ARE AWARE
awareness that God is working all together according to His counsel and purpose
(Rom.8:28-30; Eph. 1:4-12), and that this includes His knowledge and choice of us before
we were born, seldom dawns on the believer early in his faith. But when it does, and we
are able to put aside our false and prideful notions of free will and contrary choice, we
are bound to increase in satisfaction and usefulness.
The CV of Romans 8:28
reads, Now we are aware that God is working all together for the good of those who
are loving God. . . . Though this rendering is certainly in accord with the truth,
the thought presented in the Greek text is an even wider and more glorious one. It is not
only that God is working all together for the good of those individuals who are
loving Him, but that God is working all together for good. Period. His operations
for good are not confined to matters of our own welfare, but concern the best interests of
all. They encompass all that exists and all that occurs. God is the Worker of all, for He
is working all.
Ephesians 1:11 declares
that God (Theos, PLACER) is operating (IN-ACTing)
all. Romans 8:28 reveals that He is doing so for good. This is His purpose.
Paul says that those individuals who are truly loving the Placer not only believe
this, but are aware that this is so. Immature believers may love the heavenly
Father while being very far from loving God, the Placerthe
only true God or Subjector (John 17:3). God cannot be loved as God
when He is not even recognized (much less glorified and thanked) as God.
The phrase, literally,
TO-THE ones-LOVING THE God, is not in the
genitive case (OF), but the dative (TO). It is an
appositive, making reference to how matters appear (cp James 4:17) in the eyes of
those believers who have this awareness (compare the we here with the
you of Romans 6:17, concerning those who obey from the heart the type of
teaching to which the Roman saints were given over). The main unfolding
herethat God is working all together for goodthough marked by great
intellectual depth, is an easy to understand thought. It may be difficult, or rather,
impossible, for most to believe, but what a wonderful awareness this is!
these verses as a whole are rather complex and difficult to translate into English. This
is especially so since an ellipsis is required with regard to the thought presented in the
latter part of verse 28 and in verse 29.
We might phrase the
passage as follows: Now we are aware that, to those who are loving God, God is
working all together for good. To these [believers], who are called according to the
purpose that, whom He foreknew, He designates beforehand, also, to be conformed to the
image of His Son, for Him to be Firstborn among many brethren [there is this
The definite article,
which appears here twice in the dative case (represented by the phrases to those who
are and To these, who), in both cases is used as a demonstrative
pronoun. Though in the first statement the correct sense can be conveyed by the English
far demonstrative, those, it is important to note that Pauls reference
is to his near-at-hand subject, those believers who, in fact, are loving God. But
in its second occurrence, the near demonstrative, these, must be used in order
to retain the sense. For the apostle is speaking of those who are loving the Placer and of
their resultant awareness. It is these believers who are being spoken of.
Paul does not say,
however, that the remaining members of the ecclesia are not chosen in grace and
predesignated of God. Indeed it is the very revelation of Ephesians chapter 1 that they
too are so chosen and designated (cp vs. 1 and 4). But it is those who are
loving God who are in view in Romans 8:28,29.
In the nature of the case,
then, the entire ecclesia is included in verse 30: Now whom He designates
beforehand, these He calls also, and whom He calls, these He justifies also; now whom He
justifies, these He glorifies also.
Authorized Version, proorizo is translated predestinate, as well as
ordain and determine before. The Concordant Version translates it
uniformly as designate beforehand. This is its sense; it simply speaks of what
is designated or specified. Its significance is clearly illustrated in Acts 11:29 (without
the auxiliary, pro, BEFORE): Now according as any of the
disciples thrived, each of them designate something to send to the brethren
dwelling in Judea, for dispensing. Man often fails to accomplish his plans, the
things that he designates to accomplish. But Gods plans, the things He designates to
occur in His own wise counsels, always come to pass, for it is He Who fulfills them all
In the Scriptures the
expression designate beforehand is only used in reference to a few subjects,
all of them of great consequence. Yet it should never be inferred from this that these are
therefore the only things God designates beforehand. Besides, that is not the
issue. Instead, the question is, Does God operate all (Eph.1:11)? and, absolutely
speaking, Is there any other God (or Placer) except One, the Father, out of Whom all
is (1 Cor.8:4-6)?
Gods CHOSEN ONES
then, shall we declare to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Surely, He
Who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all, how shall He not, together with
Him, be graciously granting us all? Who will be indicting Gods chosen ones?
God, the justifier? Who is the Condemner? Christ Jesus, the One dying, yet rather being
roused, Who is also at Gods right hand, Who is pleading also for our sakes?
In choosing us, God has
acted neither as a rewarder nor arbitrarily. Instead, in His grace, He chose us. It
is what He preferred to do. Others may be better or worse than ourselves, but we
are those whom God has chosen. As the dictate of His wisdom, and in accord with His
purpose, He chose each one of us. He has not revealed why He selected us instead of others
to be members of Christs body. But we know that He has done so and that this
was the best decision that could have been made, for it was His decision.
Now we ought to be
thanking God always concerning you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, seeing that God
prefers you from the beginning for salvation, in holiness of the spirit and faith in
the truth, into which He also calls us through our evangel, for the procuring of the glory
of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess.2: 13,14). We will never fulfill this duty until
we believe that God has indeed thus preferred us. Gods purpose cannot fail, and His
purpose in preferring us from the beginning and calling us into salvation is to procure
the glory of Christ our Saviour.
When we enter into a
settled conviction concerning these things, we will be shocked that we ever wanted to
limit Gods foreknowledge or mix His grace up with our responsibility. Finally,
therefore, the fact that we were foreknown and chosen of God, apart from anything in
ourselves, will become to us one of the most precious revelations of all the Scriptures.