1 Peter 1:1
1 Peter Lesson #009
March 26, 2015
“Father, we’re so very grateful for another day, another opportunity to serve You and to glorify You. Another opportunity to grow spiritually, to focus on Your plan and purpose for our lives that we might reflect Your glory through our lives, and our obedience and our study and application of Your Word. Now, Father, as we continue our study in a passage and a theological topic that is very difficult for a lot of people to understand and work through, we pray that You would help us to have some clarity and understanding that we might be able to understand You more clearly, and to understand Your Word more clearly and be able to explain it to those who are confused. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We’re in 1 Peter 1:1, but we’re also looking at the doctrine of election and how that word is used. That’s going to take us to the point where we ended last week in Matthew 22, looking at a very important parable that gives us a great insight into the usage of this term. I want to review it. Things like this we have to hear a lot of times, just so you know them. I have to study things like this over and over again. Every time I hit a topic like this I go back. I reread articles I’ve read in the past. I reread things I’ve taught in the past. I modify things. I change things. Every now and then, I read the same thing for the fifteenth time, and it suddenly hits me, “Hey, that’s a great point. Why haven’t I seen that in the last fifteen times I’ve read this article?” We’re all that way. It takes repetition. We have to hear it over and over again until it all begins to click for us.
This evening (slide 2) I hope, we’re going to move from the study of election, not as choice, but that the word elect, those who are elect, really means the choice ones; and that is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father stated in 1 Peter 1:2. (Slide 3). The salutation in 1 Peter states, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the resident aliens of the diaspora in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Elect…” Now that word elect in the English is put down here in verse 2 in order to give it proximity to the three prepositional clauses that modify it.
“Elect” is the noun according to “in sanctification”, which should be translated “by sanctification” and “for obedience.” These are prepositional clauses, as we’ll see in just a minute, which modify the adjective elect. In the Greek that word “elect” is in verse one before you get to the resident aliens, so Greek can do that. Greek can move the words around because it’s an inflected language. The order doesn’t relate in the same way the order does in English.
(Slide 4) I pointed this out last time that we have these three prepositional phrases that modify and explain aspects of the word elect. This is a very important concept for us to understand. People are often confused about this, as I’ve pointed out in the past. Looking at things historically, we often have these disagreements between two extremes that really develop outside of the Bible. These were not issues that developed within Old Testament Judaism. They’re issues related to determinism and freedom, determinism and free will, as it’s often stated.
You find great debates going back among the Greeks. You have debates that continue within different groups of the Roman Catholic Church. Those were reflected again even in the Protestant Reformation. Once you get certain theological constructs really embedded in people’s minds, it’s difficult to change them. It affects us even today. It’s hard to think outside a box we put our own thinking in. A lot of theologians get into certain boxes, and we sort of get predisposed into seeing things and understanding things a certain way, so we are backing this up to look at some of the basics here.
I’m going to remind you of the things we looked at last time. (Slide 5) There are three basic words in this word group. The first word we’ll look at a little more later on. It’s EKLEGOMAI, and that’s the verb. That verb is used in some cases for someone picking something for themselves, choosing something out of a number of options, or choosing a person or thing from a sizeable number. When we have the noun applied, for example to Jesus Christ, you can’t apply those verb definitions because Jesus wasn’t chosen out of a number. It’s very important to understand these nuances.
That second word, EKLEKTOS, one we looked at in more detail last time, is used 22 times in the New Testament and is usually translated elect or chosen; but as I pointed out, this is more accurately translated with the idea of choice in terms of something qualitative. That seems to be the core value of this term: that it’s expressing something that is quality, that it is something of excellence. It is something that is superior. It’s not emphasizing something that is the object of a choice or of a decision. We talk about, as I will look at in just a minute, of something being made of something choice or excellent. EKLOGE, which is also a noun, indicates picking out something like an election or a selection, as we’ll see. We’ll look at some of those uses as we go through that.
(Slide 6) When we look at English word meanings, a lot of times [I learned this from a pastor I grew up under that it’s really important, and a lot of Bible students don’t understand this], but when you look in a Bible dictionary, a lexicon which is basically a dictionary, and you look up the Greek word and it tells you the basic two, three, four, or five words in English, each of those English words that are used identify a range of meaning. You can look any of those English words up in an English dictionary, and you may find five or six or even seven different words describing what that word means.
Then you can go further and look in a thesaurus and find another group of words. I learned from a seminary professor that one of the most significant aspects of doing a word study in Greek or Hebrew is doing work in the English language to make sure you are picking a definition for a Greek or Hebrew word that really fits that context. So often what you have is that people just go look at a lexicon, and they pick a word that sounds good. The more freshman or sophomoric exegetes says, “Oh, I like this meaning because it fits what I want the passage to say.” They pick a word that fits their theological presupposition.
Another mistake that happens is that they don’t understand that there are limitations to all of these lexica. For example, the standard lexicon we used for Hebrew when I was in seminary was the one edited by Brown, Driver, and Briggs. We always referred to it by the initials of the authors, BDB. I just about destroyed one lexicon going through in one semester the exegesis of Psalms when I was in seminary, which is typical of most people. One of my professors, S. Lewis Johnson, had had his BDB rebound six times over the course of his career. It was something you used a lot.
BDB came out in 1900s (there are different editions) but the first edition came out around 1914. The second edition came around 1918 or 1919. Now put that in context. That’s during World War I and at the end of World War I. Do you think we’ve learned a lot about some of these ancient languages through archeology since the end of World War I? Of course we have. At the end of World War I, liberals who didn’t believe the Bible were saying that the Bible was wrong because it talked about a group of people called the Hittites, and we can’t find any evidence of the Hittites in any ancient literature. No one mentions them. No one says anything about them. See the Bible is just dead wrong. It’s just making people up. But in 1927 they discovered Bogazkoy, which was the capital of the Hittite Empire; and all of a sudden, the Bible was right! Well, it was right all along. The people were just wrong.
We’ve learned a lot. We’ve discovered a number of languages, ancient languages. Acadian was one of them that was discovered. I’m not exactly sure when it was, but through that period you had the Ebla Tablets, and Ebla in the early to mid-1970s. You had the discovery of numerous collections of documents in many places in the 20th century. All of that gave us a lot more examples of language and the use of language. The understanding of what a lot of these words meant changed or clarified, or became more precise over the period of time in the 20th century.
Now there’s a new Hebrew lexicon out called the Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon of the New Testament, the HALOT for short. It’s much, much better. No one goes back and uses BDB anymore. When I was working through Hebrew exegesis even in the late 70s, one of the stories that we were told was about when the New American Standard came out. I’m not going to ask you to hold up your New American Standard. They do that at Baptist churches. They say, “Everyone hold up your New American Standard.” If you have a New American Standard, when they translated the Old Testament, they just automatically translated the Hebrew word with what BDB said it was, which is poor scholarship, especially considering that the translation was made in the late 60s when they could have availed themselves of a lot of scholarship since BDB came out.
The reason I say that is that it’s not that the language changes, but it’s due to all of these additional discoveries of documents and other things that have added to our treasure trove of these documents. Just think, if our understanding of Hebrew changed that much from 1918 to 1980 or 1990, how much more did our understanding of words in Greek or Hebrew change from 1611 when the Authorized Version came out? Remember, about 70 % of the English words used in the King James Version translation in the Authorized Version were the same words that were used in a generation earlier when the Bible was first translated into English. Those words remained the same. The meanings were determined because they’d been studying with that set of meanings since the Vulgate was translated by Jerome in the 4th and 5th century.
We get locked into these ways of thinking about certain words. It’s really helpful to think about these English word meanings. If you look “elect” up in an English dictionary, it has the idea of someone who’s appointed, someone who is designated, and someone who is determined. That’s a range of ideas. Someone who is appointed is very different from the meanings of the word determined. In the Oxford English Dictionary the concept of something that is choice as an adjectival description is something of very good quality. It’s the best. It’s special. It’s valuable. That’s the qualitative idea. The verb “select” has the idea of something that is carefully chosen or being the most suitable. It’s not emphasizing the rejection of something. Again, it had that nuance of quality.
(Slide 7) I pointed this out when we looked at the Old Testament word Bachir, the verb, which means something that is chosen or is choice or select. Then we have the great example I picked up in Israel a few years ago. (Slide 8) The Magnum Bars. This is an ice cream bar where part of the ingredients are choice almonds. The word there for choice is mobecharim, which is from bachir. You can hear it. That “mo” at the beginning changes a verb to a noun or a participle. It clearly has that idea of excellence. Modern Hebrew picks that up and carries that through from ancient Hebrew.
(Slide 9) We looked at the idea, thirdly, of the importance of corporate identity in relation to Israel and the Church. Israel is viewed as a corporate entity, not so much as individuals. As Americans your worldview emphasizes rugged individualism. When we look at a group, we look at it in terms of individuals. In the ancient world, when they looked at a group, they looked at it in terms of a group, and minimized the sense of individuals. It’s a corporate identity. That’s important because every time you see the word Israel used in relation to being chosen by God in Romans 9–11, it’s looking at God’s choice of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for a national purpose. It’s not soteriological. It’s not for salvation. It’s important to understand that.
One of the views of election that I lean heavily toward, is corporate election. Christians are elect, or choice, because they’re in Christ. We’ll see that when we get to Ephesians 1:4. They’re choice, qualitative, because they’re in Christ. It’s a corporate identity, not an individual selection process. (Slide 10) Then we went back to the Greek words, EKLEGOMAI, EKLEKTOS, and EKLOGE.
We’re looking at that word EKLEKTOS, so I want you to go with me to Matthew 22. Let’s just stop and think through this a little bit. This is a parable. I hit it real fast and in a real hurry last time because I was running out of time. It’s the parable of the wedding feast. The purpose of this parable is that Jesus is telling the Israelites that they’ve rejected the kingdom. The kingdom has come. It’s been offered. They’ve rejected the kingdom, and now the message is going to be postponed; and the message is going to go to people other than the Jews, God’s choice people.
It starts off saying that “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son.” We’re going to have a party. We’re going to have the marriage feast following the wedding; and so he wants to invite his people. He sends out his servants to call. That’s also an important word in all the discussion about election and foreknowledge and predestination. Its idea is brought into theology as the irresistible call of God. Those who are elect, and only those who are elect, have a special calling from God. It’s referred to as irresistible grace, or the effectual call. They cannot reject it. They cannot say no to that effectual call. It will affect its purpose, which is to save them.
Here we have a call, but it doesn’t go to just the people who show up, and who are properly clothed. This call goes to everyone, so this call is a universal invitation. Calvinists believe in a universal overt invitation, but the effectual call is only an internal, restricted call from a work by the Holy Spirit. He only calls those who are elect and those who will be saved. That’s in Calvinist thought. So he sends out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding.
So there’s this wedding invitation that’s gone out, and now there’s a reminder. We see the emphasis on volition here. “They were not willing to come.” This is really important to catch what’s going on here. What determines whether or not they are not only at the wedding feast, but properly clothed, has to do with whether or not they’re willing to come. Pay attention to that. They don’t come because they’re not willing to come. Because the initial group that’s invited represents Israel, who is not willing to repent. So God is going to change His plan and open things up to a broader audience.
That’s verse 4, “He sent out other servants saying tell those who are invited that I’ve prepared my dinner. My oxen and fatted calf are ready. Come to the wedding.” This verse is just a continued invitation to Israel. “They made light of it and went their ways.” In verse 6 others get violent and seized his servants and treated them spitefully and killed them. That’s a reference to Jews in the Old Testament rejecting the prophets and killing the prophets.
Verse 7, “But when the king heard about it, he was furious and he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers and burned up their city.” That is a picture of the 5th cycle of discipline and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The warning will come that this is going to be repeated in the near future. “When the king heard about it, he was furious and sends out his army. He destroyed those murderers and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants that the wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.”
Why were they not worthy? They were not worthy because they were unwilling to accept the invitation, in context. They’re not unworthy because they’re not elect. Nowhere does it say to this point, or do we see an emphasis on someone else’s decision. That’s the important thing to see here. The reason they’re not worthy is because they’re unwilling to respond to the invitation. Now they’re under discipline, and the invitation is going to go to another group. In verse 9 it shifts to another group, “Therefore, go into the highways and as many as find, invite to the wedding. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all who they found, both bad and good.”
It’s a mix of people. This indicates their relative moral values. Some of them are good people. Some of them are bad people. None of them are going to be righteous people. They’re just like most people you meet on the streets. Some of them are better people. Some are worse than others. They’re good and bad. You’ve got a group there, both good and bad, and the wedding hall is filled with these guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.” Everyone else has on a wedding garment.
The way the story is told is that those who responded to the invitation were given this wedding garment. It’s the clothing of righteousness. The picture here is that no one is righteous on their own. They have to be given righteousness by God. It’s the doctrine of the imputation of righteousness. It goes back to Abraham. Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed and it was counted to him as righteousness.” This is what this depicts. The right kind of clothes, the right kind of righteousness.
One guy doesn’t have it, so he is kicked out. The question is how he came in there without a wedding garment? The wedding garment represents their quality. Underneath the wedding garment, some are good and some are bad. The key issue isn’t whether they are good or bad. The key issue is whether or not they have the right garment on. The right garment is provided by the king. Those who have accepted the invitation are given the garment of righteousness.
The king then announces his punishment on the one who doesn’t have the right clothing and says, “Take him away. Cast him into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That is a picture of eternal punishment. Then we come to this last verse. “Many are called but few are chosen.” This is the way it’s translated. The way English is written “few are chosen” represents someone else, other than the ones who accept the invitation and show up at the feast, someone else has chosen them. Someone else makes the determinative decision as to where they’re going to end up, but that contradicts the whole story.
As we look back at the parable, what is it that determines whether or not they’re there at the wedding feast? It has nothing to do with anyone’s choice in the story, other than their own choice. The ones who aren’t there were unwilling to respond to the invitation. It’s their choice. It’s not the king’s choice. We look at this, and we realize that by translating it as “chosen”, we’re contradicting the elements of the story (slide 11).
If we look at the way EKLEKTOS is used here, it has that idea of quality. That’s what we’re talking about here. Some people didn’t have the qualitative garments that others did. Not works. If it’s translated, “Many are called, but few are choice” the emphasis is on the quality of those who are there wearing the appropriate garments. It’s not an emphasis on the king choosing some and not choosing others. It’s not a picture of the fact that there’s been some arbitrary decision. It’s emphasizing still their individual responsibility to respond to the message.
I closed last time by looking at Isaiah 61:10 (slide 12) which gives us the same imagery in relation to the kingdom. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation.” That’s the idea. You see the same thing in imagery in Zechariah 3 where you see Satan accusing Joshua the High Priest. The Servant of the Lord there, the Angel of the Lord, clothes Joshua the High Priest with new garments. That’s a picture of the imputation of righteousness. That’s what we have here. “He, God, has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and a bride adorns herself with jewelry.”
This is the emphasis. It’s not that the ones who end up at the wedding feast are there because of someone else’s choice. They’re there because of their response to the invitation. This is contrary to a determinist view of election that says God chooses, and what you see is simply the result of God’s choice. (Slide 13) Matthew 21:43 is a picture of the same principle. “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation [the word ETHNOS could be translated Gentiles, or people] bearing the fruits of it.” This is talking about God taking the kingdom offer away from the Jews, and the gospel now goes to the Gentiles.
That brings us up to where I stopped last time and I hope it helps make things a little more clear. We’ve been looking at the adjective EKLEKTOS, and now we want to look at the verb EKLEGOMAI. It is usually translated “to choose” or “to select”, which works in some contexts, but not in all contexts. We will see that it still emphasizes this sense of quality. What we tend to do because of our predisposition coming out of a Calvinist background, which most of our heritage is Calvinist [almost all 19th century dispensationalists were Calvinist because they had a higher view of Scripture than anyone else did; that was one of the primary reasons], is look at the verb, and it has a range of meanings like “to pick out for yourself”, “choose a person or thing from a sizeable number;” and we read into it a salvation nuance: “Ah, He made a choice as to who will be saved and who will not.”
Let’s look at the evidence. By the way, this is how you do a word study because this is a word that is used, depending on one particular textual problem, twenty or twenty-one times in the Bible. It’s easy to skim through those and categorize them. It’s used in the first sense to refer to the elect at the end time. Now the word elect can just be a synonym for believers. In Daniel it talks about the elect at certain times, and it’s referring to the saved under Israel in the Old Testament. Or if it’s referring to a future event in the Tribulation, then it’s referring to Tribulation believers. If it’s used to refer to Church Age believers, then it has that sense. The word itself is not limited to one dispensation or another. It can refer to believers of whatever dispensation is in the context.
In Mark 13:20 (slide 14) the Lord is talking about the end times. He says, “Unless the Lord had shortened those days [the final events prior to Armageddon] no flesh would be saved [delivered, not justified, which is another example of where the word saved, SOZO, does not mean to be justified, but refers to deliverance from the horrors of the Tribulation period], but for the elect’s sake whom He chose.” Now it doesn’t say anything about the basis for that choosing. We have to look at other passages for that. It simply relates to God making a choice for some purpose that’s unstated.
(Slide 15) Another way it’s used is to refer to Christ’s choice of the twelve disciples, including Judas Iscariot, who was not a believer. Jesus chose The Twelve, but that word choose doesn’t relate to eternal destiny or justification. The use of the word there in Mark 13:20 doesn’t refer to eternal destiny or justification. We have statements in Luke 6:13, “He called His disciples to Himself.” Then He chose twelve men, including an unbeliever. John 6:7, “Did I not choose you, the twelve and one of you is a devil?” John 13:18, “I do not speak of all of you. I know whom I have chosen but that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.” This word chosen is used several times, and it includes Judas Iscariot; so it’s clearly not a word that has as its core meaning the idea of choosing or selecting for salvation.
The textual problem, which I pointed out last week, is in Luke 9:35. (Slide 16) The other synoptics say “This is my beloved Son.” If you have some English translations that adopt this textual variant, they read, “This is My Chosen Son. Hear Him.” The reason I bring this up is that it shows that in the mind of the scribe who substituted chosen for beloved is that he understands that the verb EKLEGOMAI has a qualitative nuance. Beloved is a qualitative idea. So the scribe understands in his mind that the verb has a qualitative sense to it. It’s not just talking about arbitrary selection.
Another way in which the word is used is it refers to people who have been invited to a banquet, and they’re just making an individual choice. An example I didn’t put up was Luke 10:42 where Jesus said, “One thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part that will not be taken away from her.” She’s making a choice in terms of her time management by learning the Word under the Lord rather than spending the time taking care of the house and domestic chores. Another example is in Luke 14:7, where Jesus tells a parable to those who were invited, and He noted how they chose the best places (slide 17). They’re coming in and want to find the most comfortable seat first. It’s first come, first served, so they want to take and choose the best. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything spiritual.
Another example is in Acts 6:5 (slide 18) when the apostles are choosing and selecting Stephen and Phillip and the others to help them in the ministry to the Greek widows in the church in Jerusalem. Again, it’s just a choice. The apostles are doing the choosing, and it’s not a choice related to anything spiritual. In Acts 15:22 (slide 19) after the Jerusalem conference, the leaders in the church in Jerusalem selected some other men to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. Again, it has no spiritual significance. The apostles are selecting certain messengers to send with Paul and Barnabas.
In Acts 1:24 (slide 20), Peter is speaking, and praying that the Lord would reveal to Him whom He has chosen between these two candidates to replace Judas Iscariot. Again, it’s not related to salvation at all. How many have been related to salvation so far? None. Just wanted to make sure you’re keeping count. In Acts 13:17 (slide 21), it refers to God’s selection of the patriarchs of Israel and through them, the nation Israel for His purposes. “The God of His people, Israel, chose our fathers and exalted the people when they dwelt in the land of Egypt.” Is that soteriological? No, nothing in the passage has anything to do with salvation. Acts 15:7 (slide 22) is God’s selection of Peter to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He’s choosing an apostle who is already saved and a disciple, now an apostle, for a particular mission. He’s selecting him for that mission. It has absolutely nothing to do with his salvation or spiritual status. Then in Acts 15:25 (slide 23) it refers to the Jerusalem council similar to verse 22 I quoted earlier, “It seemed good to us being assembled with one accord to send chosen [choice] men.” They picked the best to go with Paul and Barnabas to give that report back to the church at Antioch.
Now we’ve gone through seven categories, and none of them yet refer to eternal destiny, or what we refer to usually as salvation or justification. The eighth category is a general category of God choosing the foolish or the base to accomplish His purposes. (Slide 24) 1 Corinthians 1:27, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty. God has chosen the base things of the world, the things which are despised [verse 28] God has chosen things which are not, to bring to nothing the things which are.” Not soteriological. It has to do with God’s mission for the saved, not choosing those who would be saved.
Then we come to the last category, the one and only usage that really has theological significance and relates to this idea of election. (Slide 25) Ephesians 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Now He is choosing a group of people. God is doing the choosing, the selecting. He’s choosing a group of people who are defined by these three words, “us” “in” and “him”. He’s choosing that group for a purpose. That purpose is to be set apart, to be holy, to be blameless before God. We understand that.
Everyone reads a couple of words into this verse in order to get it to make sense to them. The Calvinist reads it this way, “He chose us to be in Him.” See, I’ve supplied that infinitive “to be”. He chose us to be in Him. That’s the Calvinist concept of unconditional election. If so, this is the only usage of this word in the New Testament that has a soteriological context that’s talking about that idea of election.
Or we can read it this way, “Before the foundation of the world [that is, in eternity past] He chose us who are or would be in Him.” He’s choosing a corporate group. He’s making a decision of those who will be in Christ, those who will be the choice ones, those who are robed in righteousness. There’s a destiny for them. It would be understood this way. Before the foundation of the world, He chose us who are in Him. That’s one idea, not choosing us to be in Him, but choosing those of us who are in Christ, choosing those in Christ to be blameless before Him in love. How you read that is different.
The grammar in the Greek doesn’t particularly clarify that. What clarifies the meaning there is going back and looking at how that word is used. In the first possibility it’s soteriological. In the second, God is saying that those who are in Christ are to be blameless before Me in love. It doesn’t have to do with individual selection of who will be saved and who will not be saved. Okay?
Now we go back to our initial passage here and we see that this term “elect” should probably be translated “choice” (slide 26). He’s talking to the choice ones. There are three ways in which this term choice is modified. The idea we’re looking at here is if choice is a qualitative term related to their possession of imputed righteousness, then what we’re really talking about is positional truth: those who are in Christ because they have imputed righteousness. It’s not indicating a divine choosing of who will be saved and who will not; but it’s talking about the choice ones, the quality ones, the excellent ones.
Why are they excellent? Not because of what they’ve done, but because they’re robed in the righteousness of Christ. He’s going to say three things about this qualitative group. The first thing is that they’re choice according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. As soon as we see the word foreknowledge, once again we’re just mired in this historic debate between Calvinism and Arminianism, between the determinist and the free will advocates, between the Augustinians and the Pelagians, those who are the followers of Suarez versus those who are followers of Bañez, and the march goes on.
This is really important because when you read this in Calvinist commentaries by Calvinist authors, they read certain meanings into the term that I do not believe are there. That’s what their theological system demands. (Slide 27) One of these authors is a man who is a professor of New Testament at Trinity Divinity School. He’s a well-known author of a number of commentaries and is highly respected for his scholarship. That’s why I chose him and two other writers here in order to emphasize what they’re saying.
Douglas Moo says there are six occurrences of the word group, which is the noun. He says only two of them mean “to know something beforehand”, only two of the six uses; so he will say that four really mean something else. Only two mean beforehand. He goes on to say that it’s very clear from Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17 that those two passages clearly mean that.
One of the rules that they always emphasize in doing exegesis is that when you have an unclear passage or an unclear, ambiguous use and you have a clear use, especially if you have several clear uses, you always define a word or explain a word in terms of the clear uses and not use the unclear or ambiguous use as your basis for your theology. You always go from the clear to the unclear. So you have two clear passages that indicate that means foresight or knowing beforehand. You have four, according to him, that mean something else.
How does he define these? He says the three others besides the occurrence in this text (Romans 8:28) all have God as their subject. Pay attention to that phrase. What he is saying is that when the Word doesn’t have God as the subject, it means “apples,” and when God is the subject of the verb, it means “oranges”? That’s a logical fallacy. A word means what it means whether a man is performing the action or God is performing the action. Don’t change the meaning of the word just because you have a different person performing the action. If Bill hits the ball, and Sue hits the ball, guess what? Hitting the ball means the same thing for both of them. To change that is a problem.
What he’s saying here is that the other four examples all have God as their subject. He’s really drawing this conclusion. He’s reading it into the text. He says that they do not mean “know before” in the sense of intellectual knowledge or cognition (and I’ll add for clarity, ahead of time) but the words means to enter into relationship with someone beforehand. To have a relationship.
What they’ll typically do is go back to Old Testament uses of the word and say that when Adam knew Eve, he had a relationship with her. That’s more than just looking across the garden and saying, “I recognize her. God made her yesterday and I still have a little pain over on my side. Her name is Isha. That’s what I called her.” They say that the word “know” implies this relationship. I would say they’re reading that in. He also says that “foreknow” means to choose or to determine beforehand. Some translations even translate PROGINOSKO not as “foreknowledge”, but as “foreordination”, which is a totally different term, or even predestination, which takes you completely away from the meaning of the Greek word. He concludes that the word means to know intimately or have regard for. When man is the subject of that verb, it doesn’t have those meanings.
Wait a minute. When Adam knew Eve, who is the subject of the verb? It’s not God. It’s Adam. So he’s got a logical problem here, a logical fallacy in the structure of his argument. When you look at these verses, two which mean to know beforehand (Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17), but if you look carefully at the other four verses, in Romans 11:2 it refers to God’s foreknowledge of corporate Israel, so he’s misidentified that use. In 1 Peter 1:20 and Acts 2:23, the object of foreknowledge isn’t humans, it’s Jesus Christ. Again, it doesn’t fit the pattern. Then in 1 Peter 1:2, this is the one we’re looking at and ought to be one of the controlling verses, and it relates to Christians. None of these other four have anything to do with the point he’s making. They’re elect according to foreknowledge. It doesn’t fit at all. They’re already Christians.
(Slide 28) Then we have Tom Schreiner. This guy is brilliant. A lot of these guys are. Their I.Q.s are probably way off the charts, but they have an illogical system they’re reading into the text. He makes basically the same point. He says that “some have argued that the verb PROEGNO here should be defined only in terms of God’s foreknowledge, that is prescience. That is, God predestined to salvation those whom He saws in advance would choose to be part of His redeemed community.”
The way he states that is really important. This is where we put on our “learn to think critically hats”. This is really important because what he is saying and what the Calvinists will say to me is that “you’re saying God is looking down the corridors of time and He’s choosing you because it’s something you do. That’s works.” But belief for them in their system, meritorious. “God gives you saving faith. It’s not the object that has the merit”, they say. It’s the kind of faith that you have that has the merit. If you have the right kind of faith it’s going to produce the right kind of works and that’s going to be evidenced that you had the right kind of faith. That’s Lordship salvation. You’re saved by a faith that’s given to you. God knows you’re elect, so He gives you faith. Then to others He says, “You’re not elect and the faith you think you have is bogus. You just think you have it. You’re self-deceived. But your works because you sin too much show you don’t have the right kind of faith. That’s basically his position, a distortion based on his presupposition.
Notice he still recognizes, like Doug Moo, that Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17 are clearly a prescience view. God knows what will happen ahead of time. He says, according to this understanding, predestination is not ultimately based on God’s decision to save some. Instead, God has predestined to save those whom He foresaw would choose Him. Where he’s going to go with that is that it’s works. But everybody, [it doesn’t matter who you listen to], has to have something that’s non-meritorious. We believe faith is non-meritorious because anyone can believe, and it’s the object of faith that has the merit. If you’re into Lordship or Calvinism, what’s non-meritorious are the works you produce after you’re saved that demonstrate that you’re saved.
Everybody has something that’s non-meritorious. You have to ask, where’s the merit? Is it on God’s side or on the human side? If faith is non-meritorious, it’s because the merit is at the Cross, it’s what we are believing in. It’s in the promise of God and the work of Christ on the cross. (Slide 29) The classical book that a lot of people read when they first start investigating Calvinism is this little book, The Five Points of Calvinism where they state, “When the Bible speaks of God knowing particular individuals, it often means that He has special regard for them, that they are the objects of His affection and concern.” Then what we discover is that the examples they use from the Old Testament are of a human being knowing another human being, so they’re switching very subtly the terms of their logic.
When we look at the lexicons, the lexicons all indicate the priority of knowing ahead of time. (Slide 30) The Liddell, Scott, Jones covers both classical Greek and koine Greek, and some scholars prefer to use that over any other. The first meaning is “to know, perceive, and understand something beforehand.” Prognosticate, to foreknow, to learn things in advance. The second meaning is to judge beforehand, to evaluate something ahead of time. If you read just a basic lexicon that doesn’t have a theological axe to grind, and it’s not emphasizing having this relationship ahead of time idea whatsoever, they don’t recognize any meaning of PROGINOSKO that employs or that implies choice, election, loving relationship or predestination. It’s not in any of the meanings listed in that lexicon.
The Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich Dictionary which is just on the New Testament usage (slide 31), says as their first meaning, “to know something beforehand or in advance”. The second meaning is “to choose something beforehand or in advance”, but they give a limited range of verses to support that. The only passages that this lexicon cites for the debated meaning are the very passages where we have the debate. You can’t read your final answer into the passage because that’s what’s at issue. You have to decide the meaning of the words first before you go to your conclusion.
(Slide 32) In the Moulton & Milligan lexicon, foreknow means “to know previously”, and that’s their basic idea. Then we get into a more modern dictionary. (Slide 33) It’s a word study Bible edited by Spiros Zodhiates; and his primary meaning is 1) Used of mere prescience, to know ahead of time. Then notice in 2) he gives this lengthy explanation related to God’s eternal counsel and His purpose in history. Notice how many Bible verses he cites there. What? Oops! See that’s a methodological problem. You run into this in a number of different lexicons where they don’t cite passages in order to demonstrate their meaning.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology says that the noun PROGNOSIS denotes foreknowledge which makes it possible to predict the future (slide 34). That’s the core meaning. It doesn’t say, again, anything related to relationship. Then we have a series of five uses all related to the verb (slide 35). “They knew me beforehand,” Paul says. This is one of those clear examples of foreknowledge in the sense of ahead of time. He’s talking about the Pharisees. They knew him beforehand. Romans 8:29 makes better sense if you say, “For whom He foreknew (that is, to know something beforehand). Romans 11:2, “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew (that is, who He knew beforehand in His omniscience). 1 Peter 1:20, “He, indeed, was foreordained.” Notice how they translated PROGINOSKO foreordained. It frontloads the issue in terms of hyper-predestination.
2 Peter 3:17, “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand.” See? The first use and the last use are very clear that it means to know something ahead of time. (Slide 36) Then we have the noun for foreknowledge used in Acts 2:23, “Christ was delivered up by the purpose (BOULE, the will of God) and the foreknowledge of God (that is, His knowledge of future events).”
1 Peter 1:2 makes it clear that the words “choice ones” are according to a particular standard, according to the standard of God’s knowledge ahead of time. The real issue here is whether PROGIGNOSKO means to know something beforehand in the sense of prescience, or does it mean to elect, to determine, or to lovingly choose beforehand?
A couple of important points. There is only one contested meaning outside the Bible. The meaning in several New Testament passages means that it always means to know beforehand. Therefore the burden of proof is on those who claim that it means to determine or to elect. It’s not supported by any lexical data. Then the second point when we look at this is that the meaning of the word doesn’t change just because God is the subject and man isn’t the subject. That’s very important to look at.
So in Acts 26:5 (slide 37) when Paul says, “They knew me before hand, from the first,” he’s witnessing to Agrippa 1st in context, and he’s saying that all of the Jews knew him beforehand. They knew his story. They knew about him, and they knew him long before he showed up in Jerusalem. This indicates a prior knowledge, not choice or election. You wouldn’t say they chose me from the first. The Pharisees were not choosing him from the first. That kind of idea just doesn’t fit.
The other thing we see here is that it includes the idea often in Greek verbs where you supply the words “about me.” They knew about Paul. They knew things about him. So foreknowledge means to know something about someone. Not to know them directly and not to know them intimately. We often see this in different uses of the Greek where English supplies the word about in order to make it very, very clear. This is seen in Hebrews 6:9 (slide 38), “Beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you and things that accompany salvation when we are speaking in this way.” The verb that we have here translated “convinced of” does not actually include the word “of” in the Greek. It says “We’re convinced.” In English you have to include that word “of” or “about” in order for it to make sense.
The point I’m making is that we supply that word in English so that when God foreknows something, He foreknows something about someone. That’s common usage. (Slide 39) Another example is in 1 Peter 1:20 which reads from the New King James Version, “He, indeed, was preordained (PROGIGNOSKO, to know before the foundation of the world),” and 1 Peter 1:20, “He was chosen before the creation of the world.” Neither one accurately reflects the verb PROGIGNOSKO. The New American Standard and the NET both translate it correctly with “foreknow.” You see, in the NKJV and the NIV, they’re both interpreting the passage, not translating the passage. Their theology has been frontloaded into their translation.
In 1 Peter 1:18–19 (slide 40), we have a reference to our redemption, “Knowing you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained (known beforehand before the foundation of the world).” What we see here is that the word translated “he” is a perfect passive participle for this whole phrase as a reference back to the singular masculine genitive of Christ. Calvinists try to argue that it was Christ Himself who was foreknown. However, if you look at Acts 26:5, it shows that when the object is a person, the meaning doesn’t change. It still means to know something beforehand, not to have a relationship with someone. The Calvinists are trying to say that since God knows beforehand and it’s Christ, that means that it’s a relationship. It’s very important to watch these little sleights of hand that take place here.
I’m going to wrap up tonight with this last phrase, 2 Peter 3:17 (slide 41), “You, therefore, beloved, since you know this ahead of time (or beforehand) beware, lest you fall from your own steadfastness.” This is the main idea. It has to do with knowledge ahead of time. So elect has to do with choice. The standard, which we’ll come back and look at next time, is the foreknowledge of God. That is an important phrase to understand, so we’ll start there next time to help us understand this sometimes terribly confusing doctrine related to election and foreknowledge.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things this evening and be reminded that You are in control, but that it doesn’t mean You override our volition in terms of our eternal destiny. We are responsible for that decision, and that means we have real decisions to make as to whether or not we’re going to trust You and trust in Christ, or whether we’re going to rely on our own efforts and our own merits in order to get to heaven. Father, we’re thankful that we have clarity in the Scripture. We pray that You might help us to understand these things, as difficult as they are. To disrobe our thinking of erroneous concepts so You can expose that which is true. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”