Many people deny predestination because of the phrase in Romans 8:29-30, “foreknew”. Here is the verse “For those whom He foreknew, He also presdestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
Those who deny predestination based on this have one thing right, and one thing wrong. The one thing they have correct is that predestination is founded upon God’s foreknowing those whom He will choose. What they have wrong is their definition of what it means to “foreknow”. To “foreknow” can be defined in two ways: a philosophical way and a Biblical way. The philosophical definition of foreknowledge or “foreknowing” is simple. God, before the world was made, looked down into the hallway of time and saw those people who would choose Him. Based upon this foreknowledge of these people’s choice of Himself, God chose, or presdestined them. This idea is not in the Bible.
The Biblical definition of God’s foreknowledge is different. It does not mean God’s prior knowledge of what we have chosen. Rather, it means a specific and intentional action of God loving certain people and setting His affection on them alone. Confused? Look at Amos 3:2 “You (Israel) only have I known among all the families of the earth…” Does God only know of Israel on the planet? Is he ignorant of all other people? Of course not. God knows all people, there is nothing hidden from Him (Heb. 4:13). So what does it mean when it says God only knew Israel out of all the families of the earth? God only set His favor and affection upon Israel out of the all the families of the earth. This is what the word ‘know’ means throughout the entire Bible. When a man has sex with his wife, the Bible calls it, ‘knowing’. “Adam knew Eve…” (Gen 4:1).
So what does “foreknowledge” mean? It does not refer to God’s actual knowledge of anything beforehand, rather it refers to God’s setting His affection upon His people beforehand. God intimately chose His people, just as a husband intimately knows his wife. It is true that this foreknowing is the foundation of predestination, and the Biblical definition of it makes this so much clearer. So if we were translate the Biblical meaning of foreknowledge into Romans 8:29 it would read like this, “For those whom God intimately set His affection upon beforehand, He also predestined…” This meaning is in sync with the rest of the Bible. Labor to rid your mind of philosophical definitions for Biblical words. Let the Bible define words for itself.