Does Acts 13:48 Support Calvinism?

Acts 13:48 is one of the most referenced proof texts used by Calvinists to support their belief in unconditional election. And, admittedly, this verse when read with the claims of the Calvinistic worldview in focus does seem to support those claims. However, it should be noted, that this is true of any proof text being used to support any given perspective. That is why we call it “proof texting.” Most respectable theologians and scholars know these types of texts can be cited to support both sides of the argument, therefore great care must be taken to fully vet the context and seek to discover the true intention of the biblical author for every proof text that is offered.

Before unpacking Acts 13, let’s be reminded of a couple rules for proper hermeneutics (method of interpretation).

  • Didactic texts set doctrine and narratives help inform doctrine. Narratives are meant to tell a story, not teach foundational theological beliefs. Acts 13 is a narrative and though it can help us better understand our doctrinal beliefs it should not be foundational to develop our theology.
  • Text without context is a pretext for proof-text. We have to look at what is happening at the time the author is writing in order to better understand the possible intent of the author. With this in mind let’s look at the historical context of Acts 13.

Imagine if the New Testament was written in North America during the civil rights movement. The “historical context” would involve the tensions between blacks and whites and therefore would affect the author’s choice of words within that social dynamic. Likewise, in the first century there is a dynamic between Jews and Gentiles that needs to be understood in order to rightly represent the author’s true intentions.

Consider the fact that the “elect people” (Israelites) were generally not believing the gospel, while the “non-elect people” (Gentiles) were believing the gospel in mass numbers. The big debate of that day was whether God had actually included (grafted in) barbarian sinners from nations other than Israel. The biblical authors, and most especially Paul, go to great lengths to argue the case that the Gentiles were also appointed by God for eternal life.

The question of the first century was not, “Has God elected to irresistibly save some and leave the rest in a hopeless condition?” But rather, the question being debated was in fact, “Has God really appointed those barbarian non-elect half-breeds and uncircumcised dogs for eternal life?”

If we come to the text with the wrong question we will most certainly find the wrong answer. Indeed, we may find an answer the text was never even attempting to address. So, what is being addressed in the historical context of the thirteenth chapter in Acts?

Let’s consider some specific phrases that more clearly reveal what is actually happening at this time. Notice in this speech, Paul is speaking to both Israelites and Gentiles. He begins by explaining the national election of Israel and the purposes God fulfilled through the Jewish peoples.

Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors (national election of Israel); he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.

From verse 14 we know the apostles are speaking in a Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath and verse 16 specifies the audience includes Gentiles who are already believers in the God of Israel and desire to worship Him. Many God-fearing Gentiles genuinely believed in God and had not yet grown calloused in the religiosity of the Pharisaical teachings. No one could rightly describe these God-fearing Gentiles as totally disabled, hardened, God haters in need of some sort of supernatural grace to effectuate faith. They already had faith in God, they simply did not know about the Messiah yet.

Granted, these “Gentiles who worship God” had not yet come to specifically believe in Jesus Christ so as to be indwelled by His Spirit, but that is because they had not yet heard this specific good news.  How could they believe in One whom they have not heard, as Paul inquires in Romans 10:14?

These worshipping Gentiles are prepared or ready to receive the mystery of the gospel first being brought to light by inspiration through the holy apostles (Eph. 3:1-10).  One might even say they are “disposed or prepared” (tasso) to hear the truth being brought to them on this day.

Further, could it be that God had already “set His favor upon” these Gentiles and “appointed them to eternal life” (Acts 13:48) because they have a humble and contrite heart that has believed in what revelation they have been given (Is. 66:2)? As the Psalmist clearly explains,

Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.”‭‭ -Psalms‬ ‭25:12

Maybe God is directing those who have been listening and learning from the Father to also follow His Son (Jn 6:45)? Doesn’t it make sense that God would want genuine worshippers to know of and follow Christ? With this context in mind go on to read what the text says,

“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to US that this message of salvation has been sent.” (Acts 13:16-26 emphasis added)

Paul summarizes God’s purpose of electing Israel when he states, “God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus…it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.” God has chosen to bring His Messiah and His Message through Israel. There is nothing said about God choosing to irresistibly save individuals of Israel, but only that He would fulfill His promise to Abraham by blessing all people through his seed. God is making sure that all those who are already genuinely worshipping Him know of His Son too. These are the ones who would be prepared or appointed to receive this good news.

The text continues in verse 38 to show this historical context:

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

Notice the apostle is bringing attention to the fact that anyone and everyone, regardless of their nationality, can be justified before God through faith. He also teaches that righteousness is unattainable through the law of Moses, but does that prove it is equally unattainable through faith?

Calvinists wrongly presume that believing in the One who fulfilled the law for us is as equally unattainable as fulfilling the demands of the law ourselves.

In other words, Calvinists have concluded that if you cannot attain righteousness under the law of Moses, then you must also be unable to put your trust in Christ, the one who fulfilled that law. This is a non-sequitur and is nowhere supported in the pages of scripture. Paul continues in verse 40 saying,

Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you,” “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’”

Israel’s unbelief is predicted, as their hearts had grown calloused after continual rebellion. If one continues to rebel by suppressing the truth, then eventually their thinking will grow defiled and God may give them over to their fleshly desires (Rom. 1:21-28). They may even be sealed over into that condition or blinded from truth for a time by God for a good redemptive purpose (Jn 12:39-41; Rom 11). Theologians sometimes refer this as the “judicial hardening of Israel,” which is NOT a representing a condition of the heart from birth, as the Calvinistic system presumes. In Acts 28:23-28, Paul lays out this clear distinction

They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”


The apostle explicitly spells out the ability of those who have NOT yet grown calloused. “Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn…they will listen.”

Anyone who has been involved with mission work can testify to the fact that taking the gospel to areas where it has not been preached before is typically meet with much more reception than the gospel-saturated regions. Why is this? People who reject God’s revelation grow calloused to it over time. They are not born in this condition, mind you, but may grow into this hardened and blinded state through continual rebellion.

This is most likely why Jesus uses a child as an example of what we must become like if we are to enter His kingdom (Matt. 18:3). If all are all are born without the ability to respond positively to the gospel, then why would Jesus use a random child as any example of what we must be like? Isn’t the child just as depraved and hardened from birth as the 80-year-old Israelite according to the Calvinistic system? The difference is that the child is humble and moldable because he has not yet “grown calloused.” The child is sinful, but not yet hardened. The text continues in Acts 13:42-48:

“As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”

Sound familiar? This is exactly what he speaks of in Acts 28:27-28 in reflection of Israel’s becoming calloused to the revelation of God. The elect people were hardened because they were saturated with revelation, so the revelation is sent to the non-elect ones, the barbarian sinners. God “cuts off” Israel and “grafts in” all nations of the world (ref to Rom. 11). This is what “the election” is referencing throughout scripture: God’s election to bring His specific revelation (through elect messengers), first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (all other nations).

Notice in verse 46 that Luke regards the Jews rejection of the gospel as THEIR OWN consideration of being unworthy for eternal life (not God’s rejection of them), which is the antithesis to verse 48 where the Gentiles belief in the gospel is proof of THEIR being prepared or “appointed” to eternal life (i.e. grafted in). So, in the same way Israel considered themselves unworthy for eternal life by their rebellion to God’s revelation thus leading to their being cut off, now the Gentiles, who were NOT hardened in like manner, but who were in large part open to hearing and believing the gospel truth, are being grafted in by faith. This is precisely what Paul explains in his summary of Romans  chapter 9:

“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.” (Romans 9:30-32)


Now, knowing this context, where Israel is hardened and thus unable to see the truth, and the gospel is being taken to all the nations of the world (referred to generally as “Gentiles”), we read:

“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:47-48)

So, why were these God-fearing Gentiles appointed for eternal life? Below are two possible answers to this question. Use your own discernment, under guidance of the Holy Spirit, while considering what we just learned about the context of the first century, and you decide which of these answers best fits the narrative:

Why were the God-fearing Gentiles appointed for eternal life?

(1) For mysterious reasons never explained to us God chose certain individual Gentiles and effectually worked within them the desire to believe the gospel, while leaving the unbelieving Jews in a hopelessly innate corrupt condition that they had no ability to correct or change from the time they were born.


(2) The Gentiles were “prepared for” or “appointed to” eternal life because they humbly recognized their sin and believed in God, unlike the Jews who had willingly rebelled and grown calloused to the truth of God.

There are a number of approaches to understanding the intention of this passage within this historical context.  Dr. Brian Abasciano, a notable Greek and New Testament scholar, writes,

The best understanding of ‘tasso’ [appointed] in Acts 13:48 is that it refers to Gentiles who were ‘in position for eternal life’ — ‘ready for eternal life’ — or even ‘intent on obtaining eternal life’ (particularly in contrast to the Jews of the same episode who opposed Paul and rejected the gospel, and so who judged themselves unworthy of eternal life [Acts 13:46]), and that the most accurate translation of the phrase in question would be something like: ‘as many as were disposed to eternal life believed’ or ‘as many as were aligned for eternal life believed’ or ‘as many as were positioned for eternal life believed.‘” (More of Dr. Abasciano’s grammatical perspective can be viewed HERE.)

Some Gentiles, like Lydia or Cornelius recorded in scripture, were referred to as “worshippers of God” or “God fearing” gentiles even before they heard the gospel of Christ and believed. It is likely that Luke intends to contrast these God-fearing Gentiles (prepared to come to faith in large numbers) to the self-righteous Jews who have grown self hardened in their stubborn religiosity, thus fitting themselves for destruction. (Acts 28:27; Romans 9:22)

Most scholars agree that God likely showed mercy to those who had even a mustard seed sized faith based on their limit revelation prior to the coming of Christ and knowledge of His redemptive work (i.e. Rahab). In other words, people who died prior to Christ’s coming, but who, like Cornelius, genuinely feared the Lord, would have been “credited as righteous” (i.e. appointed to eternal life) even though they never had opportunity to hear and believe the specific gospel of Christ. After all, God did promise Abraham to “bless those who bless you” (Gen. 12:3). Those not even of the seed of Abraham may receive the blessing of His mercy by grace through faith in the promise.

Dr. F.L. Forlines reflects on the teaching of notable scholar, F.F. Bruce, regarding the potential meaning of Acts 13,

F. F. Bruce says that the ‘simple monotheism of Jewish synagogue worship’ and Jewish ethics attracted many Gentiles who were not ready to become full proselyte Jews. Some of these Gentiles went to synagogue and became very familiar with Jewish prayers and readings from the Septuagint. Others even observed Sabbath and abstained from certain foods. Thus Bruce argues, ‘That the first Gentile to hear and accept the gospel should be a God-fearer is the more significant because, as we shall see later in Acts, it was such God-fearers who formed the nucleus of the Christian community in one city after another in the course of Paul’s missionary activity.’ These Gentiles who were influenced by Jewish thought, but chose not to become proselytes, are referred to as devout men or God-fearers. If some of the Jews were saved by faith before the coming of Jesus, it follows that some of the Gentile proselytes and God-fearers were also saved by faith. I think that any serious study of Acts must keep this observation in mind. I am not suggesting that all of these God-fearers were saved prior to hearing that Jesus the Messiah had come. There would have been some who would not have taken matters that seriously. However, I do believe that some were saved by believing the redemptive revelation of God given in the Old Testament before they heard the gospel message. That possibility no longer exists. But it did exist during this transition period. The Gentiles who had been influenced by the Jews as they had migrated to different parts of the Roman Empire would not have found the concept of individual salvation as distinguished from corporate salvation as objectionable as the Jews did. I think this could account for much of the early success in reaching Gentiles with the gospel. Now, let us see how this viewpoint helps us understand Acts 13:48. Verse 43 mentions “proselytes.” They were among those who were persuaded by Paul and Barnabas “to continue in the grace of God.” On the next sabbath day “almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God” (verse 44). The Jews were envious of the success that Paul and Barnabas were having and spoke against them (verse 46). Paul and Barnabas, then, turned to the Gentiles. When this move was made to the Gentiles, it is said, “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (verse 48, KJV).

The Greek word for “ordained” is tassō. It means “to ordain,” “to appoint,” “to allot,” or “to assign.” The form of the word that appears in verse 48 is tetagmenoi. It is a perfect passive participle form of tassō. It is preceded by ēsan which is the imperfect form of the Greek word eimi (to be). The expression ēsan tetagmenoi is what is called in the Greek a periphrastic pluperfect construction. The literal meaning would be “as many as were having been appointed to eternal life believed.” Or in a less literal way, it would be “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” The “had been appointed to eternal life” or the “appointment to eternal life” had occurred before they heard and believed the gospel that was presented by Paul and Barnabas. However, the wording does not require that this appointment to eternal life must be a reference to eternity past. I think what the verse is telling us is that all of those who had been saved prior to their hearing the New Testament gospel subsequently believed when they heard the gospel being presented by Paul and Barnabas. At the moment of their salvation in the past, they were appointed to eternal life. When they heard about the redemptive work of Jesus the Messiah, they believed and became New Testament believers.” [Forlines, F. L. (2011). Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salvation. (J. M. Pinson, Ed.) (pp. 164–165). Nashville, TN: Randall House. Emphasis added.]

The national conflict imposed by the Jews is made even more obvious in the final words of this chapter.

“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:49-52 emphasis added)

The overwhelming point of contention among the people of the first century is the mystery that is just then being revealed for the very first time in history. That mystery is explained by Paul in Ephesians 3:1-6. It is the mystery that has become very common to us now and we refer to as the “good news” or the “gospel.”

It is this gospel truth “…that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus…”(Eph. 3:6). But imagine living in a world where the most notable spiritual and political leaders strongly believed and enforced through beatings and imprisonment their view that only the Jews are appointed to eternal life. Just imagine the conflict and type of words that would be used by the “apostle to the Gentiles” as he attempted to rebut this contentious war against the mystery of God’s eternal plan for the redemption of all nations. In that historical context a statement like we see in Acts 13:48 most likely carries the intent to address the Israelites’ objections to God’s in-grafting of many nations rather than the Calvinistic conflict we see today created by Western individualism.

106 thoughts on “Does Acts 13:48 Support Calvinism?

  1. In the same way that this one verse taken out of context could be used to set patterns or doctrines….. the following verses could be also…

    49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

    “Biblical Instructive 1” If anyone persecutes you, shake he dust off your feet and move on (to Iconium if possible).

    “Biblical Instructive 2” Disciples are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit at the same time, and only after dusting their feet off.

    “Biblical Instructive 3” Be aware of Jewish leaders, God-fearing women, and leading men.

    “Biblical Instructive 4” [from previous verse] Always present the Gospel first to Jews, and if they resist move on to Gentiles.

    Doctrine anyone?

  2. Great point here Leighton:

    “No one could rightly describe these God-fearing Gentiles as totally disabled, hardened, God haters in need of some sort of supernatural grace to effectuate faith. They already had faith in God, they simply did not know about the Messiah yet.”

    That is what I cannot get any Calvinists to explain to me. They say all men are God-haters and will never seek God or do any good until they are regenerated by God.

    The Scripture shows us lots of examples of “God-fearing Gentiles” in the Word.

    Calvinist: Yes… because they were regenerated to be able to seek God and “fear” Him.

    Me: But sometimes the seeking takes years (such as with a person today in a discover Bible Study). So…. is that person regenerated for years before he then decides to follow Christ?

    Calvinist: Regeneration precedes faith… and usually instantaneously-close in time.

    Me: Why were these people called “God-fearing Gentiles” (think: Cornelius who was “a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people.”)? Scripture says he was righteous and God-fearing…. perhaps for a long time (to get that reputation). That just does not fit with the Calvinist “regenerated then they instantly come to faith” idea. Unless they say that a person can be regenerated for years and years and then come to faith. Never heard one say that.

    My question to Calvinists:

    Your teenager brings a non-believing friend (say, 15 years old) to Youth Group. That person continues to come to Bible studies, asking great questions for years. At the age of 27, and after years of faithful attendance at Bible studies, camps, retreats, and church services, that person professes Christ.

    What was that person doing for 12 years (while reading the Bible, looking for answers, asking questions)? Was he “seeking”?

    If your answer is “Yes he was seeking” —then it follows that he had to have been (according to Calvinism) regenerated (since otherwise he is a God-hating, non-seeker). So, regenerated for 12 years before professing Christ.

    If your answer is “No he was not seeking” (since unregenerate people cannot seek— and he was only regenerated right before his profession of Christ)….. then what was he doing for 12 years?

  3. This post brought tears to my eyes, and great rejoicing to my heart, as it painted the picture of my own life. I see myself as a young child, like the Gentile nations who had some understanding of who this Creator God is due to him having revealed himself to and through the nation of Israel. The stories of Israel were known far and wide, of their mass exodus from Egypt, their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and probably most of the other stories now written in the scriptures.

    I vaguely glimpse myself as a small child, having heard stories about God, his goodness, his love and his mercy, but not really understanding the point of Jesus, if you will. I recall some of the little old ladies who would sing and testify of how much Jesus meant to them, and I felt somewhat guilty for not sharing their passion. I believed in God, that he was and that he loved all men, but I did not understand what the cross was all about.

    I was, if you will, a God-fearing person, seeking and finding comfort and help from God as I called out to him, for as long as I can remember. I knew all of the Christianese, sang the songs, led the youth group and, for as long as I could remember, had self-identified as a Christian. But I recall so well the day, as a college student, when an understanding of who Jesus was, and what he had done for me, became personally real.

    Ironically, it was in, for the first time in my life, pondering the Calvinistic concept of OSAS, that I found myself asking questions about what salvation meant, who it was for and how one could ‘know’ if they were ‘saved’, that I was finally led to ponder just what this salvation I had long claimed actually meant. Like the Gentiles in first century Israel, I had come to a knowledge of God in a setting rife with bad theology, in a holiness church in which the loss of your salvation was always one sin away (which is why I am no more ‘Arminian’ than I am Calvinist).

    Visiting a friend one weekend I read a poster in the stairwell of a church (same denomination) quoting from Romans 8:31: ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will He not also give us all things with him?’ I had always liked Romans, and particularly chapter 8, but seeing this verse standing alone like this resonated deeply with me. When I got back to my dorm I turned to Romans 8 to read the rest of this passage, which I had read so many times. And it was as if I was reading it for the first time.

    Suddenly, I could hear in my mind all of those old saints’ songs, and now I knew what they meant, why they just had to sing ‘Oh, how I love Jesus’! Jesus’ suffering and death was a testimony of God’s great love for us! And if God would give up his own precious Son in such a manner, what would he withhold from me? I was not sure whether or not I was embracing OSAS or not, (and I knew nothing of the rest of Calvinism’s theology) but at that moment I knew, and experienced deeply the love of God for me. I didn’t know (and still don’t) what exactly my theology was going to look like, but I knew that this God whom I had long ‘known’ desired for me to know him better, personally, as a loving Father who would do anything to protect me.

    That very emotional, deeply spiritual experience was unlike any of the emotionalism of my holiness trips to the alter. I knew that I was forever changed, that I had an assurance of God’s love for me that no one could ever take away. Due to my brand of ‘Arminism’, I thought I must have become a ‘Calvinist’. 🙂

    Fast forward thirty years, and I finally stumbled upon hard-core Calvinism. I danced with it for over a decade, and thought, as best I understood it, that I was embracing it. I will forgo the long story, but various circumstances led to my beginning (once again, as I had done so a decade earlier) to research Calvinist theology and try to fully understand what I was embracing. I had lived without it, and I had lived with it, and I knew I was God’s beloved child for whom he sent his Son to redeem, whatever doctrines I embraced.

    Yet, it became increasingly apparent that my Calvinist pastor had not presented the Calvinist doctrines of salvation fully; in fact, he had always deliberately avoided a head on study of Calvinism, which, it now seemed, was rather odd for a Calvinist church to avoid. But as I began to wrestle with the unavoidable dilemmas of Calvinism’s theology, I could see why a Calvinist pastor would prefer to keep such things in the closet.

    In short, I felt as if I had been deceived by someone I had trusted and loved. Imagine having been married to someone for a decade to only then discover your spouse was a Satanist. This is the sort of betrayal I felt; I had been led along under false pretenses by a pastor and a denomination which stopped short of honestly describing the theology they were selling. Worse, I had raised my family under this false image of Christianity, and my children had taken wing with this as their only understanding of who God is.

    I was devastated, crushed, and with nothing left but that precious faith that God was good and that he had demonstrated his love for me through Jesus. In all honesty, I am still in the process of discovering who God is and what he genuinely wants from me and from all men. And when I read scripture, I now do so having tried many disparate lenses. To some degree, this gives me greater insight into how easily a lens can distort what one is reading. I can ever escape having some sort of framework, but realizing that I view scripture through a hermeneutic of some sort makes me less certain, less liable to grasp at one meaning and insist it is the only ‘true’ interpretation. In my opinion, that is a pretty good place to start, if you truly want to understand what God is trying to tell you about himself.

    1. TS00,
      Thanks for that good post. I feel your pain bro. Similar path.

      Reading now the just-released book by Austin Fischer (the guy who wrote “Young Restless and No Longer Reformed”). It is called “Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt.”

      Stay the course man.

  4. Leighton,

    I agree fully with your analysis of Acts 13:48.

    When I came across this verse years ago, I asked myself…. “If people like Cornelius and Lydia had passed away before the death of Christ upon the cross, where would they have gone?” I said “Abraham’s bosom” or “paradise”.

    After careful study of Acts 13:48 I came to realize this verse has no application for us today, but rather for those during a time of transition. Cornelius and Lydia are just a couple of biblical examples of people who “worshipped God”, but now, after the cross, had to come to the knowledge of Jesus as the promised Messiah who would take away the sins of the world.

    Acts 18:9-10 (NKJV)….
    Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”

    God was not telling Paul “I have many people that I have unconditionally elected to salvation”, but rather that there were many God fearing people, just like Cornelius and Lydia, with a heart ready to accept Paul’s teaching of grace.

    1. Philip,
      If a person starts with Total Depravity as a given (non-negotiable) then he can “scaffold” together a verse from here and there (interpreted a certain way) and uphold Calvinism.

      But it is in reading the whole Bible that one has to ask…. what is the message?

      Is the message that God planned before time to create in such a way that all men’s actions/ thoughts/ ideas/ words are pre-planned by Him… and that He would purposely redeem a tiny fraction of those “created in His image,” then blame the rest for things they had no control over, and tell us to call that “Good News”?


      Is the message that God planned before time to create in such a way that He would provide freedom to man —who may sin in the garden — and provide “a way of escape” for those created in His image, blaming those who reject because, “His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Is the message—- the “Good News” —- the idea that His love and redemption can be “clearly seen”? That would be Good News!

      1. FOH,

        Well, apparently you can still believe that all men are totally depraved, but that God sent His Son to partially redeem mankind thus enabling them with a new endowed freedom (which they didn’t have before) to either accept or reject Christ.

        But then here’s the kicker. If regenerating grace (Calvinism) and prevenient grace (Arminianism) are a result of the death of Christ upon the cross (which, by the way, happened at a moment in time. Our Lord was not always in heaven with His hands pierced), how exactly did those before the cross believe?

        The topic of this thread asks…. “Does Acts 13:48 Support Calvinism?”

        The answer is… “All of scripture doesn’t support Calvinism”.

  5. I would like to make another observation.

    Leighton wrote… “The elect people were hardened because they were saturated with revelation, so the revelation is sent to the non-elect ones, the barbarian sinners.”

    Just throwing this out there, but could the root of Israel’s hardness not be because of revelation, but rather as being constantly exposed to the Law? I would say it wasn’t due to saturation of the word, but rather being consumed by, or inundated with, the Law. We know that the Law, which was ordained to bring life, brought death (Romans 9:7) and that the letter kills (2 Corinthians 3:6). But what if it was constant exposure to the Law that hardened Israel?

    This would also explain why some of today’s denominations are resistant to Paul’s gospel of grace. Those like the Roman Catholic Church and The Church of Christ, just to name a couple, are beat over the head with the Law and it is precisely these kinds of people that are the hardest to witness to.

  6. Daily reading brings me to Isaiah 15, Gal 1, Ps 58, Prov 23:12

    Gal 1:15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

    Paul is recounting his story: Persecutor, called, Arabia, Jerusalem….

    In the middle of the story he reminds the readers that he is especially anointed (a similar thing was said about Jeremiah (Jer 1) and David (Ps 139)).

    Yes… special….set apart. That is his point.

    Paul could have easily said “we believers are all called before we are born..” or “like you all, I was called before I was born…” but he does not. He is not establishing TULIP here…. he is actually showing it is NOT true.

    HE was called before birth…. as opposed to every believer.

    It is part of his “credentials” — he was called before birth —not the same as everyone.

    Besides being chosen does not always mean you obey.

    God chose King Saul (“Do you see the one the LORD has chosen?”) …. then later said “I would have made you king forever, but you disobeyed…..”

    God chose the Israelites and they are constantly disobeying.

    Christ chose Judas….

    I certainly hope that Calvinist are not still using this verse, yanked out of context, to prove that the “Good News” is that most people were purposely created by God for torment.

    1. Absolutely correct.

      So important to understand.

      Again, I think what’s more important is to try and understand what particular psychological hangups are present in the calvinist mind that prevent them from seeing what is so obvious to everyone else.

      Why they read into so few passages of scripture and essentially throw out the rest of God’s word. Arguing with them all the live long day seems to just end with more chances for them obsess. They seem to lust for this. I mean, this doctrine is their life. We have to ask why?

      The Apostles could have clearly demonstrated, in bullet points, the whole thing for them. But instead Calvin decided to write his own Gospel entirely focused on the wrong things. What is driving these people reminds me of liberals or atheists or young earthers. So instead of constant arguments (which of course in measure do work for some.. As this website shows – and is well done) I think urging them to examine why this is their *Focus. Why the need to constantly argue that God doesn’t love everyone and the other outrageous accusations? Do they get some lustfull satisfaction shocking people? Examine yourselves.

  7. More from my daily reading.

    Proverbs 23:12
    Commit yourself to instruction;
    listen carefully to words of knowledge.
    Who is this written to? It is a proverb right…so anyone right?

    Why listen carefully to knowledge?

    So you can make wise choices.

    Your choices matter. Decisions matter. Your life matters. Make wise choices…. or not.

    Even non-believers can make the random wise choice….. but not for Calvinists. They say non-believers are all God-hating, only-evil-doing dead men.

    Nah…. that’s not what the Bible says.

  8. Very well written. I came to basically the same conclusion during my research of this verse. I also thinks it’s important to note one more thing. Clearly, Calvinists use “ordained” in this verse to mean “prepicked and caused by God,” as if God prepicked who would become believers and caused them to believe. The same Greek word is used in Romans 13:1, about God “ordaining” the powers that be. My pastor uses this to say that God prepicks all leaders and actively causes all the leaders to get into their positions.

    But … here’s the important point … Hosea 8:4 says (the word of the Lord) “They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval.” God is saying here that the people picked leaders He wasn’t consulted on and didn’t approve of. How can that be possible if Romans 13:1 says that God “ordains” all the powers that be and if “ordains” means “prepicked and caused by God”?

    The only way Romans 13:1 and Hosea 8:4 can both be true is if “ordains” doesn’t necessarily mean “prepicked and caused by God.” And I think it’s best to read the Romans verse as God at least allows whoever gets into authority. Sure, sometimes He causes, but sometimes He simply allows, giving the people the leaders they demand even if they’re leaders He doesn’t want or approve of.

    And if “ordains” cannot necessarily mean “prepicked and caused by God” in Romans 13:1, then it can’t mean it in Acts 13:48 either, because both verses use the same Greek word. Therefore, Acts 13:48 shouldn’t be read as “all who were prepicked by God for eternal life believed (because God caused them to believe).”

    I believe this passage is more about the Gentiles being in a position for eternal life (positioning themselves for eternal life) because of their willingness to receive the Gospel. Or it’s simply about God “ordaining” that Gentiles would be allowed to have salvation through Jesus too, extending the offer to them also. This passage is comparing the resistant Jews who rejected Jesus to the receptive Gentiles who are willing to accept Him. It would be strange to make it sound like the Jews chose to reject Him and were responsible for their unbelief, but that the Gentiles were “forced” to accept Him, that they were not responsible for their choice to accept Him, because God “ordained (caused)” it.

  9. Act 13:48  And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. On the surface, this verse, isolated, seems like a Calvinistic gottcha verse. However, we must take in the whole counsel of God….Act 20:27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. The question is, what is the basis for ordaining them to eternal life. It is simple, based on Scripture, elect according to the foreknowledge of God, 1 Peter 1:2. No need to go into convoluted non scriptural robot theology. God knows the end from the beginning, Isa 46:10, and bases ordaining eternal life on those he sees will believe. Jesus completed the work at the cross…it is finished, Joh_19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The price for sin has been paid in full, and now we must believe or be damned…..Act 16:30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 
    Act 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,….Psa_19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

    1. Richard, does God really make a choice to ordain someone to everlasting life “after” He sees what they will believe? Did He not see He would make that choice before He made it? Did He not always see all His involvement in their life before and after they believed, if traditional omniscience is true (which I don’t believe it is)? Here’s my take on Acts 13:48 – sorry for the length 😉

      7 Reasons from Context & Grammar Showing Acts 13:48 Gives an Example of Personal Response to the Gospel… not Divine Election of Individuals before Creation

      1. The context contrasts the Jews who judged themselves “unworthy of everlasting life” (vs 46) with the Gentiles who “arranged themselves (got in line) for everlasting life” (vs 48).

      2. The context of verse 48 has five verbal actions (heard, were glad, glorified, arranged, believed), and one would normally expect all those verbal actions to be accomplished by the same subject – the Gentiles who were there that day.

      3. The grammar (semantic range of meaning) of Greek participle – τεταγμένοι – must be determined by context since the Greek word τασσω, is a generic word, almost exactly like our English word “arrange”. The choice of “ordain” is clearly interpretive, implying that God must be the actor of this “arranging”.

      4. The context does not mention God as an actor in this story at all, but only the Jews, Paul and Barnabas, and the Gentiles, except perhaps in the last words of verse 52 – “filled…with the Holy Spirit”. Therefore the implied subject of this participle should naturally be found among one of these actors, not God, unless a similar verse in Luke or Acts can be shown where Luke introduces God’s activity in a list of actions by another subject.

      5. The grammar (inflected form) of Greek participle – τεταγμένοι – denotes that a choice has to be made between middle or passive voice, since both are spelled the same way. The passive voice denotes action received by the subject (“were arranged”) and the middle voice denotes reflexive action by the subject (“arranged themselves”).

      This verb – τασσω – is only used 9 times in the NT and twice are in the active voice, with the one of those instances of the active voice clearly showing the action being done by the subject on themselves (1Cor 16:15). The other instance in active voice, in Acts 15:2, shows that the elders arranged for Paul to represent them in Jerusalem. Of the seven other instances, one is clearly middle in form, Matt 28:16, where Christ arranges for Himself to meet with the apostles in Galilee. The last six are middle or passive in form, so the context must determine which fits best.

      Of the last six, the middle reflexive idea fits best for Matt 8:9, Luke 7:8, and Acts 28:23 for they are much like Matt 28:16. The passive idea, where the subject receives the action, arranged by someone else, fits best for Acts 22:10 and Rom 13:1, and in those two contexts God can be assumed to be the one doing the arranging, though there is no hint in those contexts that He had to do it before creation. Since the middle/reflexive idea fits well with five of the nine contexts, it can be expected to also fit as normal for the context in Acts 13:48, making the reflexive idea found in six of nine NT instances of this verb.

      6. The grammar (lexical evidence) of this same verb as a middle participle was used in Classical Greek of soldiers and ships getting in line, according to an example found in Liddell Scott. (I, 1. fall in, form in order of battle… formed in a circle… having drawn up their ships in four lines). It is not hard to visualize, that when Paul and Barnabas said they were now turning to the Gentiles, that those Gentiles rushed to “arrange themselves” in line to profess their commitment of faith and be baptized. Luke is saying that as many as got in line for everlasting life through the Gospel, did indeed become believers!

      In Acts 18:6 the word for “opposed” is – ἀντιτασσομένων – which is the antonym for the participle – τεταγμένοι – here in 13:48. This antonym in 18:6 is middle or passive in form, but there is no doubt the middle voice is the preferred choice. These Jews were arranging themselves in opposition to Paul and Silas.

      7. The grammar (less contextual but possible) concedes that God or the apostles, Paul and Barnabas, might be the main subjects of this one of five verbal ideas in 13:48. That is, there could be the passive idea of God or the apostles having first arranged for the Gentiles to hear the Gospel for the purpose of their receiving everlasting life. However, the passive verbal concept of those offering this arrangement assumes a voluntary response of those being so arranged. And Luke confirms the acceptance of that arrangement by them by confirming their act as a personal commitment of trust in the active voice (“believed”), and not in the passive voice (“were converted”).

      If Calvinists have as many contextual/grammatical reasons for the idea of divine ordination before creation being taught in this verse, let them show the evidence. They will look in vain for “God” as the declared subject of a verb or the phrase “before creation” in this context.

      1. Brian said: Richard, does God really make a choice to ordain someone to everlasting life “after” He sees what they will believe? Did He not see He would make that choice before He made it?
        Thanks Brian for the detailed analysis, and I see your point. I was speaking in human terms, and I should have quoted Isaiah 46:10   Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: So yes, I agree, God is not waiting to see what we’ll do, He already knows. But we don’t. As humans, we come to that fork in the road, and we make our choice, right or wrong. God did not program us to make the choice, just as in the Garden of Eden, man was given the ability to choose, we are responsible. And so back in time, or before time, only God knows, God ordained people to eternal life on the basis of them choosing Jesus. Acts 13:48 is not a gottcha verse….that’s all I’m trying to say.

      2. Richard, here’s my take on Is 46:10 – I think many have made too much out of Is 46:10. Yes, God knows all the ends that He has declared to be ends already… But that verse says nothing about the inbetween events that He and man can freely interact to establish… He knows all those inbetween events as possibilities… And God has not yet made choices for all those inbetween possibilities, which ones He should cause or which ones He should permit.

        Isaiah 46, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times [things] that are not [yet] done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

        Look carefully at Is 46:10 again and realize that it does not prove what I think you think it does… that is, you think God is clearly saying that all things were eternally immutably determined even before creation (or at least known already as set to work out only one way after creation). But this verse is only teaching that God “declares” the end “from” the beginning/from ancient times. It does not say 👉“before”👈 the beginning.

        In fact He has indeed “declared the end”, that is, He had already declared Christ’s future coming to reign, from the beginning/in ancient times. He did that by Enoch. “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied… saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints'” (Jude 1:14).

        Or “end from the beginning” may mean something much more general. It may just mean that if God declares “an” end from “a” beginning, (there is no definite article with these words in Hebrew here), you can be certain that such an end will come about. But He has certainly not “declared” to us every end in the Scriptures. And what is in between any beginning and any end of something would certainly include many undetermined, undeclared possibilities.

        God can rule the universe any way He wants. And He is not locked into one set future forever, for He chose not to be. The phrase “all knowing” has to be interpreted and defined by Scripture and not by pagan philosophy.

        Just like all powerful (omnipotence) includes that He is unable, has no power, to lie, and all present (omnipresence) excludes that He is still present in the past, and eternal excludes that He is already in the future (since it is not a place), and immutable excludes that one person of the Godhead cannot “become” (changed to) flesh (the God-man) forever, so all knowing (omniscience) excludes knowing something that is false as being also true.

        The premise of one set future forever is false. God does not know that premise as true.

      3. Might I add – not that you need my help, by any means – that God knowing the end from the beginning does not mean he has deterministically settled all that will take place in between. God knows, without the slightest doubt, that in the end, He will win. Evil and sin will be eternally vanquished, and there will be established a new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness, peace and eternal blessings will exist perpetually.

        As I have admitted to you before, I am not sure if I can unquestioningly affirm OT, but I certainly cannot reject it. In one way or another, the narratives of scripture reveal to us that men have real choices to make, and that God can, and does, change his mind, based on the prayers and actions of men. Who can otherwise explain the near slaying of Moses, or the 15 year reprieve of Hezekiah, and his repeated warnings and anger toward those who refuse to do as He commands or asks?

        That is not frightening, to me, as it is to the Determinist. I do not need to believe that God has unchangeably ‘set’ every event in order to be truly ‘in control’ of his universe, or that his will cannot be rejected by lesser beings. How, in any way imaginable, in whatever way He ordered the universe, could the all-powerful, omnipotent God, who grants the breath of life to all sentient creatures, possibly not be, in the long run, in control of his creation? Who has the power to intervene and permanently ruin that which God set out to do? What lesser creature, however much he rejects God and his will, can escape that which God knows to be inescapably true – sin leads to death, and righteousness leads to life?

        God was not, however, limited to deterministically controlling every thought, word and deed that comes to pass in order to ensure his will is accomplished. He can, and did, create the universe to function howsoever he wished, granting or limiting the ability of men, beasts and even himself, to determine the flow of history. However much freedom exists, whatever latitude he has given man, beast and himself, he will, without question, remain firmly in control of his universe. And, in his infinite wisdom, He knows that sin, deception and death cannot overcome goodness, truth and life, no matter what any rebellious creature might do.

        In my humble opinion, that will ultimately bring much more glory to God than a mechanical, deterministically controlled universe, in which all things – including evil – were imagined, created and controlled by him. I suppose there is some glory in being able to create such a robotic universe, a mainframe that functions exactly as the operating software dictates. But there is much greater glory in the One who, rather than needing to meticulously orchestrate all moves, is able to say, ‘Go ahead, do your best’ and yet remain unperturbed and undefeated.

  10. much learning doth make thee mad.(Act 26:24) I don’t know enough to be accused of this one. But if you think about it, Festus was really complimenting Paul, and I compliment you guys too for the in depth analysis you have compiled. I stick more to bouncing Scripture off of Scripture, although a little Greek and Hebrew never hurt anyone, unless you just know enough to get yourself in trouble. This is also what I try to keep in mind when discussing this issue of Calvinism/Determinism…..
    Isa 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 
    Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    Psa 147:5  Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
    Rom 11:33  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 
    Rom 11:34  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
    Deu 29:29  The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
    God gives us sufficient, but not exhaustive knowledge….2Ti_3:15  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    1. All those verses are true Richard, but none of them teach that we cannot say anything as true, significant or dogmatic about God, His nature and His ways. Do you agree? Have you any true, significant or dogmatic thoughts about God?

      1. Yes, and I have dogmatic thoughts about God, but I am open to challenge by anyone that sees it may be deviating or adding or subtracting from Scripture. Act 17:11 is another of my verses to keep me in line…… JOB 26:13 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.
        14 Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand? We know very little and everything we do know only brings up more questions.

      2. So Richard as an example, do you dogmatically disagree with Calvin and Gill who deny that God grieves but you affirm dogmatically that God does grieve!

        Genesis 6:6 NKJV — And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

        God grieves, the Scripture says… but Calvin and Gill say – no. They show that they are both more loyal to their systematic theology then to Scripture.

        Calvin – “The repentance which is here ascribed to God does not properly belong to him…. The same reasoning, and remark, applies to what follows, that God was affected with grief. Certainly God is not sorrowful or sad; but remains forever like himself in his celestial and happy repose….”

        Gill – “…and it grieved him at his heart; this is to be understood by the same figure as before, for there can, no more be any uneasiness in his mind than a change in it; for God is a simple Being, uncompounded, and not subject to any passions and affections.”

        There is some debate in reformed circles with some holding to the literal meaning – “without passions”… others just to no change in emotions by circumstances.

        But as far as changeable passions. The repeated OT phrase that God Himself often says about being “provoked to wrath”, by various things, comes to mind.

        And then there is this next verse after Gen 6:6 that clearly has God responding with emotion and with a decision because of an event. It would be hard to say that He eternally was “sorry” that He made man. Right?

        Genesis 6:7 NKJV — So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, 👉for I am sorry👈 that I have made them.”

      3. Brian,
        I have read many articles by Calvinists saying that the dozens or hundreds of passages saying God grieves, regrets, feels sorrow, feel anger, is pleased, is displeased, etc etc CANNOT mean what they say (simply because it does not agree with a systematic they have scaffolded toether based on interpretation of a half verse here and there).

        They would rather change what the Scripture says in many places in clear language, than change their systematic.

        So sad!

  11. So Richard as an example, do you dogmatically disagree with Calvin and Gill who deny that God grieves but you affirm dogmatically that God does grieve!

    Yes Brian, God does grieve, you posted the Scriptures that say so. Gill and Calvin fail the Berean test….Act 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 

    1. Richard, then do you agree that Gen 6:6-7 proves that because God began to grieve that He had made man because of man’s sin, that He changed His plan for man and decided to wipe out almost all mankind? In other words, the flood was not an original part of God’s plan for mankind.

  12. Brian, I can only go by Scripture. God already has contingencies built into His plans. For example, the blessings and curses for Israel based on the path they choose..Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28. So the flood was part of God’s plan based on man’s not turning from sin. God gives the warning, man chooses to heed or not to…Pro 1:29  For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 
    Pro 1:30  They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 
    Pro 1:31  Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 
    Pro 1:32  For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 
    Pro 1:33  But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. Does God know what man will do ahead of time? Yes He does, based on Psalm 147:5….His understanding is infinite. God knows the moment of spin on every electron in the universe…He upholds all things by His word of power, Heb 1:3. Nothing escapes His gaze….Heb 4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 

    1. So Richard, God saw that His creation of man might lead to a flood judgment and might not lead to a flood, and He was grieved when He saw it reached the point where the flood became inevitable. But it wasn’t seen as inevitable before creation, Right?

      1. Yes Brian, The way you propose is how I would read Scripture too.

        A lot of people (including our dear TS00) would like to say that God “knew” it was gonna happen a certain way, but did not plan it that way. I just have a hard time spliting that atom to where His knowing it does not “make it happen”.

        If, before time God knew that He was going to be influenced by the sins of men to the point of causing the flood, then ….when the sins of man happened, He could hardly say He “was grieved” by what they did. What, He was grieved only then but not grieved when He knew before time that they would do it —-or worse yet, in the Calvinist mode —He ordained that they would sin….then got all grieved about it?

        He could hardly say (or clearly imply) that He was “changing plans” because of their sins when He knew that was gonna be the plan from the beginning.

      2. I heard that! 😉 I am actually firmly up in the air on this subject. I find, to my dismay, that I am as yet unable to totally disconnect all of the programming I have grown up under and see it all objectively, so must constantly double-check and reevaluate what I think and why.

        I most certainly reject the Calvinist explanation that God has ‘determined’ all things from the beginning, both making him the author of Evil (however much they try to wriggle out of it) and unjust for condemning those who never had legitimate choices. I do struggle to understand how OT deals with such things as prophesy, as in all that was foretold of the Messiah as well as all that has been foretold of the Last Days. Even if we struggle to interpret such prophesies, we see in Daniel and Revelation the whole picture of history laid out before it occurs. Thus, it seems to me that God has knowledge of the future in a way that leaves little out. If he knows what nations will arise and when and how they will fall, does he not know when Brian and Overhere will be born and when they will die, along with everything in between?

        Scripture seems to forbid both God determining all things and leaving no room for genuine choices and their meaningful effects, as well as God being in the dark as to what will actually happen. Thus, we have God at times putting forth choices to men, and stating that he knows what they will do. How do we comprehend or explain such a thing? I, for one, do not believe God is toying with us. I believe Cain had a genuine choice, even though God foreknew what it would be when he warned him to choose wisely. Thus, I am left believing that God indeed deals with men on the basis of what we know, not what He does; a difference which could be described as ‘in time’, although I suspect I view it somewhat differently than Grudem and friends. The choices we face are real, our ability to make a genuine choice is not in any way fettered by God’s foreknowledge of what it will be.

        It seems to me that foreknowledge is one of the most amazing and incomprehensible characteristics of God. It is a weighty power, that only God could be trusted with. This foreknowledge allows him to work all things together for good and to use even the sinner to carry out his plans. I do not see God as using his foreknowledge to ‘make’ men do one thing or another, but to put their intentions and choices to work for his plan to expose and destroy all that is unrighteous. And, for which I will be eternally grateful, God uses his intimate knowledge of us, of our hearts and intentions along with individual actions which will involve weaknesses and failure, to bring us ever more in line with the One we most desire to be like.

        I do find what I perceive as the legitimate interpretation of Rom 8:28 comforting. It tells me not that God has predetermined all things, so I must think that a rape or a child’s murder by bombing were directly caused by him, but that He can and will bring healing and good from even the most evil acts of wicked men, which he has determined to allow to play out in this current era of reality. I believe that determinists misunderstand God’s ownership of all things, including his enlisting of the wicked deeds determined by each individual’s own heart for a meticulous causation of such things. Men cause evil, but God ultimately controls how it will be allowed to play out, bringing good from what was intended only for evil. This, I believe, is seriously misrepresented by Calvinism, defaming the character and trustworthiness of God.

        When scripture suggests that God predetermined Jesus’ death in a certain way at a certain time, it is more that he ‘worked all things together’ so that good would come out of even that most dastardly of plots, the foreseen wicked desire of evil men to destroy the pure and holy One. God allowed Satan and his minions to succeed in taking Jesus’ physical life in order to demonstrate that no man can eliminate the eternal life of a soul, providing the basis for our hope. But I do not for one second affirm that God himself ’caused’ the evil desire of men to take innocent life in order to accomplish some predetermined plan. He did not have to, for destruction and death are always the end result of rejecting the good and perfect will of God, which alone leads to righteousness and life.

      3. Love ya’ TS00….

        You said: “Even if we struggle to interpret such prophesies, we see in Daniel and Revelation the whole picture of history laid out before it occurs.”

        Really all of history?  Or just the broad strokes…. that He will make happen easily?  What shirt / cloak every person will wear?  Who will cheat on his taxes or fruit scales, or beat his kids?  All that is covered in Daniel and Revelation?     Why?

        You said: “If he knows what nations will arise and when and how they will fall, does he not know when Brian and Overhere will be born and when they will die, along with everything in between?”  

        I’m not doubting one bit that He could have known all that if He wanted to create that way.  But what I am saying is that His “knowing” which nations would rise is like Him saying that He is gonna make that happen.  He is prophesying what HE WILL DO. 

        Prophesying what HE WILL DO is no problem as he has every resource at His hand to make that happen.  In this theological position, that is not a sticking point at all.  The only sticking point (that many of us are working through) is prophecy about what a free-will person will do.
        Again, He strikes down the leaders of some now-strong nation (or causes a famine, or earthquake) and in the now-weak nation, He gives bounty and weather and crops, and fertility.  In a few years that weaker nation rises up (bringing down the strong one).  Prophecy fulfilled. 
        But that does not mean that He determines the eye color, hair color, and choice of sock color of every person in the process.

        So….. CAN He determine when someone will be born.  Yes!  Does that mean He does that all the time?  No.  

      4. Note I do not conflate knowing with determining. My suggestion is that God foreknows, not predetermined all things. Just because philosophers say to foreknow is to determine does not make it so.

      5. Indeed! And that is part of what makes you the brilliant commentator that you are.

        I lived for a long time in that “He knows but does not determine” world but I was just confronted by far too many passages that state clearly or imply that God is seeing /making some decisions in real time.

        When I look at the Reformed anwers on this they are humorous gymnastics and show a commitment to a systematic over God’s word.

        But, for me, even the “knows but does not determine” idea does not stand well when God says “now I know that you….”

      6. You are too kind. But please help me, as I do not understand your last statement: “But, for me, even the “knows but does not determine” idea does not stand well when God says “now I know that you….”

        I take this to mean you are referring to the times when God is urging men to do what is right, but says, to paraphrase, ‘But I know that you will do what is wrong’. Certainly that, to my mind contradicts the claims of Calvinists, but it seems to affirm what I have suggested. Perhaps I misunderstand what you are implying? Because this suggests to me that God offers men a genuine choice, while acknowledging that he already knows what their free choice will be, even before they have made it. I am puzzled. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts with me, which I always value.

      7. TS00,
        No, I am referring to the passages where God says “now I know.”

        When we read that, we understand that to me that He did not know for sure prior to that.

        What are the passages you are referring to?

      8. I was thinking, for one, of the passage in Deut 31:16-20, which follows God’s lengthy list of potential blessings and curses, depending on the obedience or disobedience of the people. God foretells how the people of Israel will break the covenant he had just set forth, and bring his curses upon them.

        Did God go to all the trouble of spelling out the blessings and curses with a wink/wink, because he had already determined that they would disobey? Is he being disingenuous, even misleading, offering blessings which he knew they would never get? Or, was he offering them a genuine choice, urging them to choose obedience and blessing, even though he knew, and told Moses, that they would disobey?

        This suggests to me that besides the Calvinist option and the OT option there is a third option, in which both the choice is real and God’s foreknowledge of the choice is real, but not determinative.

      9. TS00,

        I am gonna have to try to handle several ideas (posts) in one post since I have a more-than-full-time job.

        1. Deut 31:16-20:  You make a good point with this passage.  It certainly makes the determinist position ridiculous!  I too believe that there is a third possibility (He Knows but Doesn’t Make Happen (KDMH)).  However, I do not think that is the point of this passage, nor does it make that position a requirement.  Moses has been the only thing holding these people from disaster and God starts that passage with “you’re gonna leave now Moses”  Then goes on to say the obvious  …. “and these guys are gonna get rotten.”  An easy statement for God cuz these guys are even getting rotten while Moses goes up on a mountain.

        2. [Very Important]  Please hear this.  I must have misspoken.  I did NOT… N-O-T mean to say that God never says “If you do that, then I will do this other.”  Of course He does…. a hundred times, a thousand times, a zillion times.  I use that concept against determinists all the time!   How ever in the world did it come across that I dont think God does that!?  

        2A. My point was that sometimes God does NOT make it conditional (He just says “I am gonna do this”) and yet later changes His mind.  (that comes against determinism and KDMH).

        2B. The zillion times He says….. “if you do, then I will” ….. should also ring in your ears as “the future is not set then!”  Sure, you can say all you want (and I will support you!) that the future is not set but God knows all the possible decisions of people (that He then will base His action on).  But that would be Molinism and certainly not KDMH (position held by you and Richard —-and me formerly). 

        3. Oooops.  Nope.  You summarized the Exodus passage:  “‘The prospect of war could lead to faint hearts turning back, so I sent them another way to avoid confronting them with that choice.’ It is simply showing how God prevented fear from turning Israel back without resorting to authoritarian, meticulous control of their actions.” 

        What?  Really? You are helping God say it better?  Was He not capable of saying “I KNOW that war will turn their hearts…..”?

        He needs Western man with his logic to help Him say it?  

        I liked your summary at first…. but then I realized that you did not even hear yourself.  You said (doing the best bail out possible) “the prospect of war [could] lead….”  So…. what… God did not know if it would or not?  If you had said “God knew that the prospect of war WOULD lead…”  But you did not say that….because the text does not say that.  So even in bailing God out with “better” phrasing” you still leave it “unknown”.

        The Calvinist ESV translation tries to bail Him out like you are doing:  “Lest the people change their minds…” Typical ESV: stilted English while trying to give God a hand.  No one says “lest” anymore (Thanks for that modern translation guys!).  It means “to avoid the risk of” “just in case” “for fear that”.    None of these help.  

        Every translation I can find gives the idea that “maybe” “what if the people —they might—get discouraged.” 

        I see absolutely no reason for a God who wants to teach us that He knows the exact future that will happen would speak like this (and it aint the only place!!). 

        If you were God and you wanted to make sure everyone knew that you knew the exact future would you regularly use phrases like “what if” “I would have”   “I expected this…but” ?     

        4.  I saw your long respectful letter to Brian.  Of course Brian and I both know the KDMH position.  We both would have held that (me both before being a Calvinist and after).  What is amazingly pleasant to me is your respect for us.  Richard sounds like he has the same disdain for the OpenT position as all Calvinists and many KDMH people.  

        Their back-n-forth shows that.  Richard wants to hang on to one word and one interpretation of what is a VERY POETIC passage as a foundation for his position.  Again…. even if he was right on the Hebrew and Greek (I think not) ….that still means nothing cuz God does not “knit” people in the womb or have eyes and hands ….so the whole passage is poetic hyperbole. (This just in:  bad to base your doctrine on obvious, poetic, hyperbolic metaphor). 

        5. As I just commented to br.d, people bring the “outside of time” idea to the table just the way Calvinists bring their interpretation of “sovereign” to the table.  I would rather go with what Scripture actually says, not what we “know” “it must” mean.  We are taught from childhood that “God is outside of time” and we bake that into our theology.  Shame on us.

        I think this all I have time for at the moment.  I hope this helps and I mean no malice in any of it.

      10. Wrapping up loose ends.

        I sense no malice, and have no issues with people earnestly disagreeing concerning difficult to understand things. As I said, and have been called a heretic for, I refuse to condemn those who affirm Open Theism, or even those who cannot affirm the doctrine of The Trinity. Not because I think they have a better or even ‘the right’ understanding, but because I genuinely believe few, if any of us, can really grasp these concepts. (And, in the case of non-trinitarians, to deny that Jesus is ‘God’ is not the same as denying he is the Son of God, or any of the direct descriptions contained within scripture. Not to go down a rabbit trail, but I am somewhat familiar with many of the reasonings behind various interpretations, and both sides can make a reasonable case.)

        Such so-called ‘heresies’ do not disturb me a bit, nor, frankly, do I think they much bother God. I may someday fully embrace OT or non-trinitarianism, and do not find either prospect overly concerning. Blashpemy, on the other hand, decrying the character, goodness, truthfulness, faithfulness, etc. of God must always be confronted and condemned.

        What seems to me a simple explanation to the question of why scripture puts God’s leading Israel around the potential for war as ‘might’ instead of ‘would’ is because there is no ‘would’ – it didn’t happen. ‘Might’ is the only correct description for something that did not happen. Wisdom refers to God’s perfect knowledge of what a person ‘might’ do in some circumstance, even if the circumstance never comes into being. The argument that the people ‘would have turned back’ is a null argument – they did not face the prospect of war, and thus ‘did not’ make any decision. The only accurate talk of such an event is in the realm of what ‘might’ have been. This displays God’s wisdom, not his foreknowledge. God, in his wisdom, foresees what men ‘might’ do in any given circumstance; in his foreknowledge, he sees what men ‘will’ do. Foreknowledge is the foreseeing of what will, without fail, be. It is incorrect to use it when discussing the realm of what ‘might have been’, but never will be, even though, in God’s wisdom, he knows this as surely.

        So, in response to your question, this is a statement demonstrating God’s wisdom, and explaining why he led them in a way that would appear ‘stupid’ or perverse to anyone knowledgeable of the terrain. I honestly do not see the conundrum, unless one conflates foreknowledge with wisdom. Certainly I affirm that God has both wisdom and foreknowledge, but I would not conflate one with the other.

      11. I would add that perhaps it is that God merely foresees the ‘bigger picture’. He knows, as it were, the greater ramifications of ideas and movements that will inevitably arise, irrespective of the many individual choices along the way. He knows what the god of this world is working towards, and that it will continue to advance as long as evil men are allowed to move forward – deception, destruction and death. But it is entirely possible, or so my tiny mind infers, that each and every aspect of such things has not been predetermined, and is even now open to the choices of individuals. But then I end up back in swirling confusion, pondering the specific prophesies that have been fulfilled and that are yet to be fulfilled. Just let it be known that I neither think I have perfect understanding, nor that I can even adequately explain what little I may grasp. 😉

      12. Brian, you are asking questions that don’t have answers as far as I know. Your speculations are logical, but are just that…speculation. God has not revealed what his motives or thoughts were on this issue before creation. Isa 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 
        Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Have you ever considered how high the heavens are….the Hubble Deep Field…13 billion light years above our heads. So I think it best to keep Paul’s admonition in mind….1 Cor 4:6 Brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written.

      13. Actually, Richard, Gen 6:6, 7 are clear as to God reacting with grief and deciding to flood the world because of His grief that He made man. FOH explained it well how it would be nonsense to think God knew and planned the flood before creation but didn’t grieve until later.

        If I showed you a number of verses confirming that God still made decisions and plans after creation, would you agree that such verses logically confirm that His plan was not all inclusive of every event working out only one way? For you can’t believe everything was decided before creation and then some things decided again after creation. That’s a clear contradiction. And God’s mind doesn’t know contradictions as true. “I have decided” vs “I will decide later” can’t both be true… Right? Read Jer 18:1-10 for example.

      14. Two more things on this matter:

        Notice that Brian and I will use whole passages (such as the Jeremiah one), not just a half a verse here and there. Not vague either, like, “the end from the beginning” (which is kind of like “He flies up on wings” poetic-vagueness). Real narrative in long passages.

        The second thing to note is the “explanation” that Calvinists offer for this. Dr Grudem in his widely used systematic theology book says things like, ” Of course God grieves….. in time” (“in time” is in italics in the book). Reading that, I am puzzled as to how that he thinks that will comfort us.

        His idea is that God ordains all sin, evil, treachery, lust, torture before time…. but “in real time” He says these things are terrible. “In real time” He grieves about these things (that He immutably set in place).


        Meantime…. we mere mortals are to resist the sin (that He immutably ordained). At the end of the day, I say, “Lord, forgive me for this and that and help me to not do those things.” Whereas a Calvinist (or anyone that believes that God planned, ordained all things) can say, “I’m not supposed to do X and Y but I guess God ordained it for some good reason……”

  13. Genesis 6:6,7 tells us that God regretted and was sorry He made man and it grieved Him. We can all relate to that because we are made in His image and have been created with a sense of right and wrong…..Rom 2:15. However, nothing is said about God before the creation in this verse. So saying what God thought or felt before creation is not available to us. Rom 11:34  “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” As to Jeremiah 18:1-10, the Scriptures tell us that God had contingencies of blessing and cursing beforehand…Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, so I don’t understand the reference to it. Trying to imagine what God thinks is like walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon without out a balance beam. You will surely fall. In this situation, you’ll either fall on one side into determinism, or the other side into open theism. Neither is supported by Scripture.

    1. Richard, you are ignoring the passage.

      When you say “that God had contingencies” you ARE saying He can change HIs mind and His plan and that is already an open theology idea!

      The passage say, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed ….”

      Tell us why God says “If”

      “and IF that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

      God says “a nation is to be uprooted” but ….He will “relent” and not do as He planned. He changes His plan……IF….

      How clear is that? God has no set plan in this case. Literally it can go either way. It is open….and depends on what they do.

      The fact that you youself used “contingencies” shows that you already have an open theology idea of God and dont even know it!

      1. With all due respect, I do not believe Richard is denying that God offers men free choices, he is simply asserting that God’s knowledge is such that it is not constrained to that which has already occurred or MUST necessarily occur. Foreknowledge is knowledge of that which will, indeed, occur, not knowledge of that which must, without fail, occur. He knows it because it is true, it is not compelled because he knows it. Thus, God can offer men the ability to make genuine, free, non-determined choices, day in and day out, while still knowing exactly what those choices will be, even before the individual comes into existence.

        Only rarely does God let it slip that he actually knows what our yet unmade choices will be. Were he to say to us, ‘Choose you this day if you will eat chicken or beef, but I know you will choose beef’, would that not interfere with our ability to freely choose? I would say our moment of choice would then appear to be taken from us. Thus, even though he knows what choices we will make, God does not normally interact with us as if our choices have already been made, but under the true premise of our not yet having made a choice. From our perspective, the choice is open, and we are free to make a good or a bad decision. God respects that perspective, in spite of having another, superior perspective, which ascertains what our choices will be, as he is not limited to present time. I see this not as God toying with us, but the necessary ‘holding back’ if you will, of his own superior, divine knowledge in order to allow us the genuine freedom he has granted to us.

        To my understanding, limited as it is, this does not entail God not having real contingencies. When he indicates we will be blessed if we do well, and cursed if we do wickedly, he is entirely sincere. Either one is possible, and it is up to us which we will choose. This does not mean he cannot and does not know which we will do; it simply means that the ramifications of our choices are real, and exactly as he presents them to us.

        If, indeed, our not yet made choice is to serve God, this is the choice he will foreknow, but not by any means compel. If our not yet made choice is to reject God, this is the choice he will foreknow, but not by any means compel. Either way, our every choice is real, the ramifications of each choice is dependent upon it being chosen, and God can know all of this without in any way being the determinate cause. At least, that is the best my current understanding can manage. 😉

      2. TS00 and Richard,

        You guys are mixing up two things.

        You are referring to the passages where God says, “If you do this I will do this.”

        That is not what Jeremiah says (and many other passages too).

        These passages say that God PLANNED to do a certain thing….. He announced that He will do it (bless a nation, destroy Nineveh, Hezekiah will die, establish Saul’s family as king). The message on these occasions was not “If you dont do well I will not do it.” It was not “do this and I will do this.” The message is that “I will bless you. Period.” or “I will detroy you. Period.” or “You will die. Period.”

        Then later Israel is in the land and acting worse than the orginal inhabitants and He changes His plan. Or later they repent and He “relents”. Later Saul disobeys God and He says “I would have made your family rulers….but now….” Hezekiah calls out to Him “reminding Him” how he has been faithful, and God changes. Those are clearly changes of His plan.

        If the Flood, or negotiations with Abraham for Sodom, or Nineveh, or clear regret over appointing Saul as king are to be taken seriously (which Calvinists do not do) then we must entertain the idea that the plan of God (not the broadstrokes, just the details) is not set in stone. If the plan is not set in stone then we must consider the idea that God has alternate ways that He can reach His final plan.

        If He has alternate ways to get there (and He knows all of them) then in that way “He knows the future” (Omniscient). But those alternate plans of His are not set yet (because people have not been born or acted in a way that will influence His decision), so He does not know one of them as the “only” way (which is what you two are saying).

        For myself, I concluded that if I held the position that indeed He knows only one exact path and decision for every action by anyone, then that plan is immutable and I was the same as a determinist.

      3. TS00 and Richard,

        Let me put it this way……

        We have no trouble finding many scenarios where God says something like, “By this time tomorrow you will be …..” But then there is some intervention by Moses, or Hezekiah, or a prophet….. and God does not do what He say He would do. He did not make the statement conditionally “if you do X I will not do what I said.” I am referring the many times where He clearly says….. I WILL do X.

        Now, in your way of thinking, He knows that people will intervene and that He will change His mind. In that case….. when He first said “I WILL do this,” is He not deceiving them? Tricking them into action?

        If your position was correct then every time He makes a declaration of what He WILL do, it should have been with a “but” or an “if” . Cuz let’s face it, the Scripture shows Him changing His *announced* plans and proclamations a lot. And every one of those would be “trickery” if He already knew He was not gonna do it.

      4. I must disagree. I see God doing exactly what you say he does not do throughout his lengthy setting forth of the Covenant in Deuteronomy. If you do this, then I will do this . . . If you do that, then I will do this other. As I mentioned in another comment, after going through all that, he then tells Moses that he knows that they will break the covenant, and bring forth the curses and suffering he warned of. Going even further, her foretells of their eventual repentance and his forgiveness. This does not strike me as ‘big picture’ knowledge, but bonafide knowledge of solid details of that which will take place in the future. So, does this mean that God is just toying with these people, cruelly taunting them with proffered blessings He knows will never be theirs? Or is he dealing with them ‘in real time’, setting aside, as it were, his omniscient foreknowledge to do so?

        Personally, I do not believe God is ever disingenuous or plays games with people. From Israel’s perspective, the choice before them is real. From God’s greater perspective Israel’s choice is just as real, but he already knows what it will be, even before it is made, without in any way invalidating their freedom to choose either way. Is God toying with them, or can he have foreknowledge of yet unmade choices without in any way determining them? I choose the latter. What I do not see here is the OT option, that he simply does not know what they will choose until they make their choices.

    2. Richard, you never dealt with the premise that God clearly saying in His Word that He makes decisions, like in Jer 18 and Gen 6, which cannot be made until after man freely decides, would contradict the idea that His decision was already made in His mind and already known in His mind as made before creation… Right?

      Take for another example Exodus 33:5 NKJV — For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, 👉that I may know👈 what to do to you.’ ”

  14. Yes FOH, God uses IF. The IF is for the people so they know they have a choice to do good or evil. Again, this is nothing new, whether in Eden, or the blessings and curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 etc etc. Concerning Open Theism…..Open Theism is the thesis that, because God loves us and desires that we freely choose to reciprocate His love, He has made His knowledge of, and plans for, the future conditional upon our actions. Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future. Sorry, I don’t fit that definition. Even the definition contradicts itself….Though all knowing, God doesn’t know…..Well, God does know….for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him…Mat 6:8. Notice, His understanding is infinite, Psa 147:5, not finite. There is never a time when God doesn’t know. He upholds all things by His word of power…Heb 1:3 There is simply no support for the notion that God doesn’t know. Psa 139:4….Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

  15. Brian, the problem with your logic is that you are putting an infinite God on a human level. Psa 50:21  These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. Once you open the door to human thinking, God is reduced to a helpless person…He doesn’t even know where his pinnacle of creation is….Gen 3:9  But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Paul says that we must take in the whole counsel of God, not just isolated statements that prop up our particular theology…Act 20:27  for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Knowing from Scripture that God is omniscient we conclude that God is condescending to his people and relates to them on their level. This way scripture isn’t violated…..Isa 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
    Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. So we can make an isolated Scripture say anything….there is no God…Psa 14:1 That’s taken out of context. We can take things out of context across the whole Bible, and what are we left with, flawed, man centered thinking.

    1. Richard

      You said ….

      “Knowing from Scripture that God is omniscient we conclude…”

      That is the main point here. You being ALL discussion with a pre-conceived notion of what “omniscient” means. In the same way Calvinsts begin ALL discussions with the idea of what “sovereign” means ….. and then they arrive at determinism.

      Why dont you just let them? They are only taking “sovereign” to “its natural conclusion.” But that is not the same definition you give to “soverign” right?

      In the same way you are taking all the texts where God shows Himself to be be waiting on man before He takes an action….. and well….doing what Calvinists do : “Anthropomorphism!” “He is condescending to our mind” “His ways are not our ways.”

      I say to you friend that you should go the whole way and just be a determinist based on “the definition” of sovereign.

    2. So, Richard, does that mean you are going to ignore the verse I gave and not comment on its meaning. Of course God knew where Adam was when He asked the question in Gen 3:9. That is not a good example. God is omnipresent. But I can show you a multitude of other verses were God makes decisions after creation. Are you saying you don’t believe God will make any future decisions from known possibilities, for there are no known possibilities to God, even though He says there are in His Word?

    1. And that is what would make you both an open theist and a determinist like me.

      You are a determinist in that you know God will achieve His ultimate plans.

      But you are (though you don know it) open in how He will do that. If you read the Bible and hear God say to Saul “I would have made your family rule over Israel but you….” and you take that passage seriously then you believe what God said that he WOULD have….. (His plan was) but He changed it due to Saul’s actions.

      His plan was that Israel go into Ai just like Jericho, but Achan stole the stuff….. so Israel got routed.

      His plan was to take Israel from Egypt to the Promised land.

      1 Samuel 13:17.
      When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

      Why would God say—- “they might”? Did He not know? This is not the only place that God says “might”. And “if”

      Isaiah 5:4….
      And What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?

      He did all that He planned to help them be obedient, but they were not….. and He asks why.

      Determinists say it is cuz He planned it that way all along (right!)

      You guys say….He knew it all along and is just acting like the outcome was unknown to Him (but is that deceitful?)

  16. God always knows… Therefore, I can’t be an open theist….Psa 147:5  Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. And I can’t be a determinist, because God allows man to makes choices…Jos 24:15  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

    1. Great. You are not a determinist in the Calvinist sense.

      But all of the verses you give to talk about God are so vague. “His understaning is infinite”??

      That is the same type of vague, broad-strokes verse that determinists use to prove their point!

  17. Vague? Maybe to you.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
    2. Application to God:

    Psalm 147:5 is thus the only passage in which the term is directly applied to God. It there correctly conveys the idea of absence of all limitation. There is nothing beyond the compass of God’s understanding; or, positively, His understanding embraces everything there is to know. Past, present and future; all things possible and actual; the inmost thoughts and purposes of man, as well as his outward actions, lie bare to God’s knowledge (Hebrews 4:13; see OMNISCIENCE).

    1. Great.

      You just proved my point! “His understanding embraces everything there is to know.”  If I have not made decisions in 2025 then it is not something “there is to know”.

      “Past, present and future; all things possible and actual…”

      Exactly…..   “all things possible”  would be what I said about all that might possibly happen.

      “Actual” is what He will do —what He knows He will do.

      Of course He knows “the inmost thoughts and purposes of man,” but I have not had my thoughts of 2025 yet.

      There is absolutely nothing in this definition that would refute Open Theism.  And besides ….. this encyclopedia is just a book anyway based on man’s opinions.

    2. Thank you Richard for the conversation to this point. Since you won’t discuss specific Scriptures I have pointed out or answer specific questions based on logic about truth, the conversation cannot move forward. I’ll leave you with some final verses to consider. I can’t remember if I have shared these with you yet. 😉 I’m getting older and more forgetful. But they help prove God’s mind conforms to His own Word and therefore the future can not already be known by Him as working out only one way in all things.

      Verses – future is not completely set in God’s foreknowledge.

      Genesis 2:19 NKJV — Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam 👉to see👈 what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

      Exodus 33:5 NKJV — For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, 👉that I may know👈 what to do to you.’ ”

      Jeremiah 18:11 NKJV — “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and 👉devising a plan👈 against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ”

      Matthew 24:20 NKJV — “And 👉pray that your flight may not be in winter👈 or on the Sabbath.”

      Matthew 26:39 NKJV — He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, 👉if it is possible👈, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

      God’s mind conforms univocally with what He has revealed in His Word. It’s not locked in right now to seeing everything as “will be” or “is”. God’s foreknowledge is dynamic and includes also the truth about what “might be” or “might not be”.

      1. Was God waiting to see what Adam would call the animals, to know what they would be called?

      2. Was God waiting to see if Israel would take off their ornaments to know what He would do next?

      3. Was God saying He was devising a plan which means making decisions in His mind not made before about the future.

      4. Did Jesus affirm the disciples’ prayer could effect the setting of the date of Jerusalem’s fall, indicating Jesus’ believed it might not yet be set?

      5. Did Jesus pray about possible changes that could be made in God’s will because He knew such changes were indeed possible?

      The answer is an obvious “yes” to all those questions which are based on the clear meaning of those texts. If anyone thinks those texts don’t clearly show those self evident implications it must be because they are biased against the idea of the future being able to work out more than one way.

      The underlying issue in foreknowledge is if one is willing to believe that there are truly changes taking place in God’s mind in His knowing a “before” that then becomes known as an “after” and a “might be” that then becomes known as either a “will be” or a “could have been”.

      Calvinism rejects that such change in God’s mind exists before or after creation. Arminianism rejects that the idea of “before” creation means “before” and illogically accepts that changes in God’s mind exist and don’t exist at the same time. Molinism believes logically that some kind of change existed in God’s mind before creation but which cannot happen now after creation.

      Only Dynamic Omniscience offers the idea that God’s mind corresponds with the truth and sequence revealed in His Word univocally. An event declared as “will be” was known only as “will be” in His mind. Once it happened, it became known as “fulfilled”. Those declared as “might be” are only known as “might be”. He will freely choose to cause or permit one “might be” to change in His mind to a “will be” and another “might be” into a “won’t be/could have been”.

      The idea the future is limited to and locked in to working out only one way is a lie… or that changes happening in God’s mind is imperfection is also a lie. God’s Word counters clearly those lies. And God’s mind cannot believe lies as truths.

  18. Of course He knows “the inmost thoughts and purposes of man,” but I have not had my thoughts of 2025 yet.
    139:4….Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

    1. Really?

      You are going to establish a hard-rule doctrine based on one sentence from David’s poetic language about God?  

      What would be some other doctrines/ understandings we could have from that passage?

      Can we establish the doctrine that heaven is “up” from this?
      —-8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

      Or that David could make his bed in the depths (hell?), from this?
      —-if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

      Or that dawn has wings?
      —-9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn

      Or that God has hands?
      —-10 even there your hand will guide me,

      Or that God “knits” people?
      —-13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

      Or that we are “woven together” “in the depths”?
      —-when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

      Or that God has eyes?
      —-16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

      Or (what determinists say) that all we do is ordained?
      —-all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

      Or that we are to hate those who hate God and count them as enemies?
      —-21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

      Or that God can “know” our “hearts” (referring to the physical muscle)?
      —-23 Search me, God, and know my heart.

      Richard, do you realize what you are doing?

      You come to the text with with a position (like a Calvinist does) and you yank half-phrases and short phrases out of context to prove your point. In this context, it seems clear that David (and the Lord) is not trying to establish a doctrine for all generations. If so….then God has hands and eyes!!

      Nah…. no doctrine being established here, other than that God is awesome and creates us!

      1. FOH – Here’s my take on Psalm 139:4 NKJV — For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

        Notice how the CSB, ESV, NASB, and NIV get their theology into this verse through the word “before”, which is not original. And it is also interesting that the normal Hebrew word for “word” is not used, but a word that means more like “message”.

        And of course, the word “know” has a great breadth of meaning. So here’s my take on what David means – “God, you understand everything I’m thinking and what I mean by everything I say.”

        Does that sound reasonable? The כִּ֤י that starts the sentence is either “that” or “because” which is confirmed by the LXX use of ὅτι for it. David is explaining verse 3 in verse 4, imo, which makes “because” the better choice in verse 4, and it definitely does not mean “before” there in that verse.

        The Dynamic Omniscience Amplified Version 😉

        Psalm 139:1-4 NKJV — For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
        O LORD, You have searched me [every moment of my life] and known me [that is, understood me fully]. You know [every present moment by constant observation] my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought [in every present moment] afar off [even from your dwelling place in heaven]. You comprehend [sift through the details of] my path [where I travel] and my lying down [when I rest], And are acquainted [with great value] with [for] all my ways. For there is not a word [a message] on my tongue [that I am about to speak that I have composed in my mind], But behold, O LORD, You know [understand] it [what I want to say] altogether [completely].

  19. New American Standard Bible
    “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. Looks like God has eyes…He sits on a throne, has feet….wears a golden sash around his chest…Rev 1:13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the chest with a golden girdle. 
    Rev 1:14  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
    Sorry about the diversion, but you put it in your post about hands and eyes, also now I’m being accused of being a Calvinist….make up your mind already.

    1. Indeed the resurrected Son of Man has eyes and hands!

      But please tell me if you think David’s poetic Ps 139 was intended to give us doctrine about God’s form, Him kniting and weaving us in the womb (and David roising up on wings of the dawn).

      I’m not here for gotcha moments. You show no semblance of understanding my point —or saying, hum, I see your point.

      No, you just went to other imagery/ poetic/ symbolic language to “prove” that God (the Son of Man no less) has hands and eyes. Really? Is that where we are in this discussion? I’ll need to be done if so.

  20. Notice how the CSB, ESV, NASB, and NIV get their theology into this verse through the word “before”, which is not original. And it is also interesting that the normal Hebrew word for “word” is not used, but a word that means more like “message”.
    Here is the interlinear translation of the Hebrew
    (There is no declaration on my tongue, see, Yahweh, you know all of it.) So it is clear the word before is implied. In other words, before the tongue utters a declaration, God knows it. So the translators got it right and maybe someone else it trying to insert their theology into it.

    1. I would just reiterate that I believe we are not limited to the two options of determinism or Open Theism. This is similar to the false dichotomy which insists I must be either a Calvinist or an Arminian, and I must aver – I am neither.

      My appeal to Brian and FOH would simply be to consider the fact that there is indeed a third option (and perhaps more), even if it is not the one you hold to. Determinism has God predetermining all things. Open Theism has God not knowing things until they happen. The third – I have no name for it – has God foreknowing all things, while interacting with men on the basis of the here and now, so as to not inhibit their freedom to make real choices.

      I do not believe this third option is a copout, but simply another, reasonable, possible perspective. Nor is it contradictory, like Compatibilism, because it does not state that God both knows and does not know the future. Instead, God knows the future, but deals and speaks to men on their level, which is that of having genuine options with genuine ramifications. There is absolutely no suggestion that there is any deception or trickery involved, merely a self-limiting of a supernatural ‘power’ that God has, but ‘sets aside’ for the benefit of mortal beings, in the same way the non-Calvinist asserts that God self-limits his ‘power’ to control all things.

      Indeed, God could not speak to men in accordance with his foreknowledge, without rendering their thoughts and actions pointless. Were He to say to Cain, ‘I know you are going to choose to kill your brother’, God would be interfering with Cain’s ability to make an unfettered choice. So he speaks to him on the basis of his unmade choice. But note that His wording is judicious, not disingenuous.

      In the same manner, saying “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” is not a statement of what Israel will or won’t do, or of God’s knowledge or lack of knowledge thereof. He is simply explaining why He sent them ‘the long way’, under the premise of dealing with decisions not yet made. War ‘might’ make any people turn back in fear, so it was prudent to avoid that particular situation. In other words, ‘The prospect of war could lead to faint hearts turning back, so I sent them another way to avoid confronting them with that choice.’ It is simply showing how God prevented fear from turning Israel back without resorting to authoritarian, meticulous control of their actions. I for one do not assert that God never intervenes in events, using means other than meticulous control to potentiate or avoid a particular event. And scripture’s language often represents this in a way that reflects the reality of men having a choice that is not determined by God.

      We must all be wary of reading too much into a particular way something was said or written, as we so often point out to others. Much can be lost in translation, and different people can read the same words and arrive at completely different understandings of them. Having relatives whose first language is Oriental, I can attest to the fact that different cultures have very different speech patterns which can easily lead to misunderstanding. The ‘Royal We’ might be very confusing to those who come into contact with it unawares, along with speech mannerisms that might reflect, for example, one culture’s value of humility or another’s value of achievement.

      All that to say, I believe there are often multiple, legitimate interpretations of words, and we must be cautious to not disallow those interpretations which differ from our own without doing injustice to the character of God or the message of the gospel.

      1. TS00, the main question, I think, that you have to ask yourself is – Does God know in His mind possibilities for the future that He has not yet chosen between? If yes, then He knows them as, “What I might do and what I might not do” … Correct? He would know none of them as “This is what I will choose”! Thus the future is partly open for Him right now.

        Now allow God to give the same openness to man and to know that same openness in man’s mind, that is, what they might or might not do, until He observes their mind becoming fixed in one decided direction. Only then He comes to know what they will or will not do, just like coming to know His own mind as fixed when He decides between possibilities that He knows are true before a decision is made.

      2. Brian, I believe I grasp, to a degree, your perspective; I’m just not sure I can endorse it fully under my current understanding of God and scripture. I hesitantly present my thoughts, as your wisdom, knowledge and experience vastly exceed mine. I have never set out to compose a particular definition of ‘foreknowledge’, but can only stumblingly try to express where I currently find myself in my lifelong pursuit of increasing understanding. And, ever the soft touch for the underdog, I felt the necessity to stand up for Richard, whom y’all seemed to be piling on. 😉

        As I hinted at in another post, my persepective is somewhat like Compatibilism, only without the logical contradiction. 😉 It takes something from Determinism and OT, creating something both lack. It combines the omniscience of Determinism and the hands-off allowing of free choices of OT, leading to a limitless foreknowledge of the as yet unmade and always uncontrolled free choices of men. I realize that much of human philosophy says that complete foreknowledge demands determinism, but I reject that assumption, as I do many man-made ideas.

        My definition of foreknowledge-without-determinism, I would allege, grants God the supernatural capability of working all things – good and evil – together to accomplish his eternal plan, without in any manner being the sole cause of said things. He is not secretly manipulating all things, nor left waiting with baited breath to see what will happen, but knows tomorrow as surely as yesterday without in any way infringing upon the moral responsibility of men. This allows him to weave together, in legitimate, non-coercive ways, all of the thoughts, intentions and plans of men in directions that ultimately fulfill his purposes, without meticulously originating and controlling every thought, word and deed of men.

        In this manner, the wickedness of men is not compelled, endorsed or approved by God, but merely ‘allowed’ and frequently channeled toward accomplishing good, where men intend only evil. Joseph’s brothers are not secretly manipulated by God to plot evil against Joseph, but their future evil intentions are foreseen by God, allowing him the ability to intervene, to orchestrate an alternative which, while it does not change the fact that they will indeed choose wickedness, allows Him to work their certain wickedness into something that can accomplish good – even their very own physical, and perhaps spiritual, salvation.

        In foreseeing the brothers’ intention to kill Joseph, God is able to prevent the murder, without in any way supernaturally interfering with the free choices of all involved. It would seem to me that, lacking this foreknowledge, God could not have prevented, as He did, the murder of Joseph, nor prearrange the countless things that had to be in place for his future to turn out as it did.

        This might include countless, seemingly random, events we can never know, such as ‘using’ the amorous feelings of an Egyptian man for his wife to produce a man child, and perhaps causing a storm or other situation which would lead to that particular Egyptian, now grown, taking a particular path on a particular day which led to his unintended purchase of a Hebrew slave in the desert. Countless other babes were likewise produced, (perhaps even one from a wicked rape?), leading to all of the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers who appear in Joseph’s tale. Such intricate weaving and working all things together for good to them who allow it, it seems to me, would not be possible could God not foresee all things, including the future free choices of men.

        It would seem to me that OT would be limited to asserting that God did not know that the brothers would make the choice to throw Joseph in a pit, then to sell rather than murder him; that Joseph and a baker would one day be thrown in prison and have a particular dream situation; or that Joseph’s brothers would choose one day to make a potentially fatal trip to save their children from starvation. God must simply have had, ever ready, endless plan B’s up his sleeve as he awaited the choices of men to make themselves known. Possible? Perhaps. But such a perspective requires an enormous amount of unnecessary planning for eventualities which never arise, whereas simple, authentic foreknowledge eliminates that necessity.

        My perspective, like all possibilities, does not eliminate the reality of evil; but it does not suffer from the huge problem Determinism has, in asserting that God not merely allows and uses for his own purposes the wicked choices of men, but originates and (however furtively) compels all evil because he needs it to accomplish his plans.

      3. TS00… but you really didn’t answer my question! I would be interested in your view of divine freedom to make decisions, not yet made, between real possibilities for the future that still exist. As for (Gen 50:20 NKJV) “But as for you, you meant evil against me; [but] God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as [it is] this day, to save many people alive.”

        God didn’t determine before creation the brothers’ pride and jealousy that created their intention in this story. No determination of any sin as necessary is justified by God or man, even if there is added any supposed good intention for doing it. Permission of sin with an intention to allow for or cause a good to come from it is justified and is what is taking place here in this story.

        I would even say God didn’t create in His mind any determination or intention to use their evil hearts to sell Joseph 👉until after👈 their evil hearts were inclined to kill him. Then God created His intention to use their choice for good in this story.

        God then decided to keep them from killing Joseph and to use a passing caravan to reveal and use their evil motivations in such a way that actually kept Joseph alive and on God’s divine course for Joseph to go to Egypt.

        If the brothers had been the spiritual men that they were supposed to be, and could have been freely, they could have sought God for understanding of Joseph’s previous dreams and have taken him safely to Egypt themselves. He could have been hired as a manager of Potipher’s estate and still been introduced to Pharaoh. 😊

        There’s no need to believe the future is already eternally immutably predestined from before creation to workout only one way. That is an idea from the deterministic Christianity that still infects much of Christianity.

        Here’s a good short video in defence of the truth of Gen 50:20 and in defence of God’s honor!

      4. Brian, I don’t know if I can explain my thoughts sufficiently, but I agree 100% with your understanding of God’s lack of determination or need for any particular event to occur. Where we diverge is upon ‘when’ his understanding of what will actually BE takes place. I would concur that God does not compel any particular outcome in any determinative sense, but genuinely allows men to make free choices, even to the point of disobeying him and doing great wickedness.

        Where we part ways is in OT’s apparent perspective of such things only from view of men, and the limitations of time under which mortal beings exist. I agree that this is the human perspective, but view it as only part of the picture. OT is what the picture looks like from the perspective of mortal men, living under the currently existing limits of 24 hour, limited days which will some day disappear with the sun, moon and stars.

        My contention, however, is that God is not limited to the constraints of time, as we are, thus all of the things you believe – and I as well – can indeed be true from a human perspective, while being something else altogether from a limitless, eternal Beings perspective. Not contradictory, mind you, but one is within the constraints of time, while the other is without it. What is ‘not yet’ to Joseph, or you and I is ‘already’ to God, if, as I propose, there is no ‘not yet’ with him. When God, or his messenger, says ‘Choose you this day’ there is no deception involved, even though he knows already what the choice will be. The choosing is real, and the ramifications thereof are real, and, to men, in the future. To God, they are equally real, but not ‘future’. Not sure if that makes sense to you?

        Yes, God could have accomplished his plan just as easily if Joseph’s brothers had been righteous. Most likely, much easier. 😉 I am not suggesting that God is in any way ever limited or challenged by the free choices of men, whatever they may be, which He alone makes possible. Indeed, I affirm that God is not limited or challenged by any being or power, because his success and his Glory derive from the Truth that love and righteousness lead to life, whereas hatred and selfishness lead to death. He does not have to manipulate all of the cards to win – he has the winning hand, no matter which ‘cards’ he is dealt by men he has allowed the freedom to deal.

        This Truth will always be demonstrated, no matter what the individual choices of men, because it is undeniably, unchangeably True! Love triumphs, righteousness leads to goodness and life! Amen, and hallelujah!

        The difference, in a nutshell, is that OT is describing the picture from the perspective of men, without recognizing that the perspective of God is completely different, requiring him to, as it were, talk down to us, or deal with us on the basis of the only reality we know. I can essentially agree with most of what I understand OT to affirm; I just differ on my conception of ‘when’ such events take place, because I do not believe there is, essentially, a ‘when’ with God.

        Under my view, God is not limited to the constraints of time, which will someday vanish, so all of the responses he does indeed make to the free, not yet made choices of men are not in the ‘future’ to him, as they are to them, but have all ‘been made’, whereas, truly, in the perspective of men, they have not. It is not only a concept difficult to grasp, it is even more difficult for a novice like me to do it justice.

      5. I will step out of the conversation, as, in my opinion, the differences between our perspectives are not significant, unlike the differences between determinism and non-determinism. I simply speak up, when I feel I must, in defense of anyone being belittled for beliefs that are, in my opinion, justifiably debatable.

        I also stand up for Open Theism when I hear others calling it heresy, which happens quite often. I do the same for non-Trinitarians or those who do not hold to a [Calvinist] definition of inerrancy. It does not mean that I wholly agree with the perspective at hand, but that I defend the right of the individual to hold it without harm to the character of God or the gospel, even if perhaps it is not wholly accurate.

        Indeed, would that not define much, if not all, of what I currently hold to be true?

      6. Brian
        the main question, I think, that you have to ask yourself is – Does God know in His mind possibilities for the future that He has not yet chosen between? If yes, then He knows them as, “What I might do and what I might not do” … Correct? He would know none of them as “This is what I will choose”! Thus the future is partly open for Him right now.

        I would agree with this.
        It assumes/presumes the function of Libertarian choice.

        So “creation determinism” (i.e., that which is determined to come to pass within creation) would have to follow after – or be the consequence of – a divine Libertarian choice.

        So it would seem to logically follow – that if divine Libertarian choice exists – then multiple options must be “OPEN” from which to choose.

        And therefore the future can be said to be “OPEN” up until a divine choice is be made.
        And that choice would represent the process of selecting one single option out of a range of multiple options.
        And once that one single option is chosen and determined – it would then represent (for that specific event) a “fixed” future.

        Is that part of your thinking Brian?

        There is a sense here in which – if you remove the function of divine Libertarian choice – the divine will would itself appear to be determined. And then the question would be – is the divine will determined by factors outside of its control.

        Is that also part of your thinking Brian?

      7. Thanks!
        So then if the Theological Determinist rejects the existence of divine Libertarian choice – then he is left with the probability – of a divine being whose will is determined by factors outside of his control. And most Theological Determinists I know – are not inclined to go there!

        But then if he allows for the existence of divine Libertarian choice – he is likely to conclude that there is a point prior to divine choice making – where the future is “OPEN”.

        But does omniscience require that he foreknow what choices he will make?

        And if he does foreknow what choices he will make – then the “OPENNESS” of the future that we’ve just enunciated – would seem to be only theoretical?

      8. Br.D. Now don’t you start using double-speak arguments that you so strongly object to! ;-p It is a contradiction to believe God has in His mind – “I have not made a decision yet about those future possibilities” and “I have made a decision already about those future possibilities”. Omniscience does not “require” that He foreknow what choices he will make as if already made. It only requires He know perfectly all the possibilities that still exist for Him to choose between. It is impossible for Him to know lies as truth. Is His omniscience deficient because He is unable to know lies as truth?

      9. Brian
        It is a contradiction to believe God has in His mind:
        1) I have NOT made a decision yet about those future possibilities”
        2) “I have made a decision already about those future possibilities”.

        AH! Yes!
        That would be double-speak.
        I agree.

      10. Is it possible that this openness, this dependence of God upon the free choices of men – which I would also assert to be true – is, on the Eternal God’s part, not limited to the temporal reality of ‘time’ to which mortal men are restricted? In other words, is God limited by the constraints of time, past, present and future, as we are? Whatever your answer, it is important to acknowledge the validity of the question, and the impact it will have upon our thinking.

        If, for the eternal God, there are no such constraints of time; if he is not bound by the constructs of ‘now’ or ‘then’ in the same way that created beings who have a beginning and an ending are, was there ever a ‘yesterday’ or a ‘tomorrow’ for God? Are there barriers that keep what is not yet and will someday be from the knowledge of God, as there are for men? These are among the many incomprehensible factors we must keep in mind when we struggle to grasp, with our limited, mortal understanding, how an eternal, limitless deity interacts with his temporal, limited creation.

      11. yes – I see your point.
        I think we will both agree that the divine mind can know what time it currently is right now.
        And what the time was 5 minutes ago.
        And what the time will be 5 minutes from now.
        But at the same time he is not bound by time.

        But then we get into the conundrum of making “amorphims” out of divine statements.
        Statements – for example like: “NOW” I know that you fear me.

        In this statement – it would seem that “NOW” is a reference to a current point in time.
        So one wonders – how just how much one should assume – out of this simple little statement?
        Does it mean that before “NOW” I did not know that you fear me?

      12. br.d said..
        So one wonders – how just how much one should assume – out of this simple little statement?
        Does it mean that before “NOW” I did not know that you fear me?

        Why did God not say “I KNEW that you feared me and would do that”?

        If you knew without any doubt (like people say “outside of time” God does) why would you EVER say “Now I know”?

        Why would you EVER say “might” “if” “would have” “now I know” “I expected” like God says throughout the Bible.

        We already know that determinists look at every passage with “We know it cant mean that since our systematic tells us….”

        I dont want to be guilty of the same thing…..bringing my “adapted-determinism”or “leftover-determinism” (my “God is outside of time” idea) to the table and filtering Scripture through that.

        They start with the idea that their definition of sovereignty overules everthing.

        Others start with the idea that “God is outside of time” overrule everthing.

        At least the word sovereign is in Scripture….but I see no clear statement of the other.

      13. Well said FOH!
        I totally agree.
        In the end – every intellectually honest reader of scripture has got to conclude that he doesn’t understand why some things are stated the way they are. But as you say – each theology tends to become a master. And we both know what Jesus says about a man having more than one master.

      14. Out of respect, I will respond to your (Brian’s) question before I go silent. 😉

        Under my view, the ‘Now’ is as I have described in other comments. It is a nod to the chronology of events, not to the chronology of God’s knowledge. Now [that you have made your choice] I know [it has been accomplished, so I can now refer to and act upon your choice as something that actually exists, as I could not before it was actually, in your time, made.]

        This does not, in my opinion, mean that God did not ‘know’ until then, but that justice requires him to allow this choice (and any choice) to be made in real time before He could treat it as real, even if he foreknew it before Abraham was ever born. One can call such statements ‘amorphisms’ or assert that the very real and enormous differences of perspective between man and God do not exist or come into play. One can also disagree. 😉

        All I can say in response to other comments is, in all due respect, ‘So you now believe’. I would guess that you did not always believe everything you believe exactly as you do today, and that, perhaps, you may adjust some of your views, to one degree or another, in the future. The same is true of me, and I welcome this continued growth in wisdom and knowledge.

        It is to that reality that I would appeal. We all ‘believe’ that such and such means ‘this’ and requires ‘that’ and so on, until . . . we no longer think so. I would simply appeal to all thoughtful men to hold their beliefs loosely, and humbly, acknowledging, to themselves and others, that their every belief is not inerrant or free from the likelihood of changing with increased knowledge and understanding. It would behoove us to constantly remind ourselves of this, and lead to much more grace and much less certainty in our own ‘rightness’. I am in need of this daily reminder as much as anyone, perhaps more than most. Thank you for your kind and respectful interaction on this subject. God bless.

      15. TS00
        Thank you for your kind and respectful interaction on this subject. God bless.

        Yes – I agree TS00!
        I always observe a considerate and gentlemanly spirit with you as well! :-]

      16. You are kind to say so. I’m sure it has not always been so, but I will continue to strive toward that goal. I most definitely get more worked up about assertions that defame the character of God, and undermine the hope offered in his so great salvation. I try to not let quibbles over non essentials rile me.

      17. TS00, I think you would agree that God is bound to His own truthfulness about Himself in His Word. The neo-platonist idea of timelessness or as I say – non-sequential existence – is contradictory to His own Word about Himself.
        Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality

        There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.

        Reality consists of sequential events… befores and afters going backwards infinitely and forwards infinitely. His eternality is described clearly – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?

        The premise that reality is both sequential and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, than the sequential one, and a competing reality would be contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.

        His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore, each time He makes a decision His knowing goes from “will happen” to “has happened”. It is not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist to decide upon, to cause one or permit another, and He knows all things that are already determined by Him that limit those possibilities.

        Some like the illustration of God as in a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a sight from a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch, either as a place to see or as a finished story in God’s mind.

        Reality is only sequential, and comes from God’s eternal nature. His eternality is described clearly – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2), “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). Relationship and communication in the Godhead existed before creation and were sequential (with befores and afters).

        The underlying important issue is – Does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of a non-sequential reality? This philosophical reasoning would be a perspective that also makes man’s normal perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture reveals the future as not yet existing, but in these scholars’ “reality” it is already existing as completed (forever). But God’s reality as revealed in Scripture is the only true one.

      18. I might add that my particular journey has persuaded me of the futility of prooftext wars. In escaping the mind-controlling confines of the world of Calvinism, I did not jump into some other mind-controlling confines, or theological system. Instead, I felt that the lesson I had so painfully been allowed to learn was that good, godly men and women – including me – can be deceived, and can earnestly, even brilliantly, defend even the greatest of errors.

        This served as a warning to me that I must never again allow myself to be persuaded, or bullied into believing, that ‘Scripture clearly says’ any one particular thing. This clarity is rarely real. More often, it is simply one man or group of men’s interpretation of what scripture says that is at stake in such debates.

        This is not to suggest that I believe my own interpretations are free from this problem. I am well aware that my interpretations, like all men’s, are limited by former indoctrination, subconscious needs and fears, unrecognized presuppositions, ignorance and personal loyalties, among other things.

        Thus, many a theologian or bible scholar could run rings around me and my limited, non-expert theories. But then, they can, and do, do the same to one another, so I don’t feel quite so alone. 😉

    2. Wow Richard, you don’t see how you just took a literal translation and changed it? The phrase “on my tongue” does not mean “before it’s on my tongue”…! That literal translation confirmed everything I said… But it also ignored the very first word in the Hebrew sentence. Where did you get that interlinear translation?

      The Biblehub interlinear translates that first word – “for”, which means “because”. It definitely does not mean “before” which those other translations made it wrongly mean. Are you sure you didn’t leave a word off? Look again.

  21. Brian,
    For 4
    Conj 4
    369 [e]
    [there is] not Before a word
    4405 [e]
    a word

    3956 [e]
    on my tongue is on my tongue
    Prep‑b | N‑csc | 1cs

    2005 [e]
    [But] behold behold

    3068 [e]
    N‑proper‑ms LORD, you know

    3045 [e]
    You know


    3605 [e]
    it altogether all of it
    N‑msc | 3fs

    This is from the NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament Copyright 1979-1987 The Zondervan Corporation
    and Bible Hub.

    It is clear to me the translators got it right and refutes the Open Theism notion that God isn’t omniscient.
    You’ve chosen the wrong text to prove your point.

    1. Look again, Richard… You only got part of the first word.. the translation “for”. You left off the Strong’s number, transliteration, and Hebrew word.
      Why would you not see this and do it correctly?
      3588 [e] kî
      כִּ֤י “for”…. NOT “before”!!!

  22. Brian,
    Here is the literal interlinear,
    Psa 139:4 For not word on tongue of me, Behold Yahweh you know all of it.
    Now the NIV
    Psa 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely O LORD.
    So let’s analyze it…there is no word on his tongue yet, that means BEFORE he speaks, the LORD knows it already. It’s not rocket science Bryan. Words are added, like “before”, to smooth out the English, not to inject a theology as you claim. We see words added to smooth out the English from the exact Hebrew in the very first sentence of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 IN beginning he created God the heavens, is smoothed out to…In the beginning God created the heavens…the definite article “the” is added, “he” is removed, the word order is changed, and this goes on and on through out the whole Bible. Your sudden epiphany at Psa 139:4 over the word “before” is glaring. It is your private theology, namely open theism, that denies that God is omniscient that’s making you the one that is injecting theology.

    1. First, Richard, I don’t deny God is omniscient. But He does not know lies as true! A future set to work out only one way is a lie according to the clear evidence of Scripture. Second, “on the tongue” does not mean “before it is on the tongue”, which you are constantly ignoring and not admitting that other Translations have changed the clear meaning of a Hebrew word.

      Third, if it is “on the tongue”, then it is already out of the head, right? The verse is not saying there is not a message on the tongue, but not a message on the tongue that is not understood by God. But even if it were still being formulated in the head, and not yet on the tongue, God would still understand it fully and know fully what David was trying to put into words. That is all David is saying. To try to make it mean that God eternally immutably knew what David would say before David was born or before he was even thinking about what to say, is clearly reading into Scripture what is not there.

      You have clearly argued for just sticking with what Scripture says. Now you are throwing that position out the window. Why? You can answer, but I have nothing more to add. I have patiently tried to get you to admit you have misrepresented what the Hebrew says, and you are loyally sticking to a false translation of it, as seen clearly in the interlinear and the LXX, Greek translation by Jewish scholars before the time of Christ. Others will see what we have both shared and decide who is dealing the best with this verse. You are welcome to have the last word about this verse. Enjoy the rest of your day.

  23. Recently it has come upon me to fight against the overwhelming amount of OSAS videos presented on the web. Though a lifelong adherent to the natural renderings of Scripture,(non-OSAS proselyte) I have found it even more enriching to undertake this project, finding more and more and more of God’s Word decrying the illusion of eternal security. As I minister though, because of the barrage of the constant ideology of the Calvinistic elect, I occasionally become blinded to what a Scripture should be naturally saying. Thank you my brother for making this passage so utterly clear, and for the excellent work you put into this piece.

  24. C. Gordon Olson in Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism points out that the “ordained” (KJV) in the middle voice is identical to the passive voice. This fits well in the context of Acts 13 between the Jews who resisted and the Gentiles who had disposed themselves to believe.

    1. Paul Zeron,

      You had said:
      “…disposed themselves…”

      My response:
      I totally agree.

      What I found interesting is that there are 14 different Greek words for that one “ordained” English word. But the one used in Acts 13:48 is Strong’s Concordance Greek Reference G5021, and is used only eight times in the NT.

      English words used for G5021 are:
      The KJV translates Strong’s G5021 in the following manner: appoint (3x), ordain (2x), set (1x), determine (1x), addict (1x).

      The following verse…I could not ignore:

      1Co 16:15
      I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted G5021 themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

      The word “addicted” is the same as “ordained” of Acts 13:48.

      Therefore, my conclusion of Acts 13:48 is that the Gentiles “addicted themselves” to eternal life, and in my mind, I’m thinking that they longed for eternal life, even before hearing the gospel. Then Paul ‘gave ’em the gospel, and they believed.

      14 different Greek words for one English word. We can ignore 13 of them.

      Ed Chapman

  25. AL NIESE : is it not a basic question—does God cause the future because God knows the future??–when Jesus told Peter he would deny him 3 times, did Peter still have a choice to not deny him?–simple-God is not the author of evil. its beyond human comprehension for God to know of our future choice and we still have a choice. but He does know our future choice because He says He does. we should not reduce God’s nature to our own comprehension!!!!!!

    1. Hello aljnsbcglobalnet and welcome,
      If you examine the process of your argument you should be able notice something
      It is an argument concerning divine foreknowledge – based on LOGIC.
      In order for an argument based on LOGIC to be sound that argument must take LOGIC to its full conclusion.
      You can’t have an argument predicated on LOGIC – which also denies LOGIC
      That would not be a SOUND argument.
      So now let us take your argument based on LOGIC to its full conclusion:
      If Determinism (aka Calvinism) is true – then there is no such thing as humans having a choice in the matter of anything.
      Because Determinism does not grant ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES (CONTRARY OPTIONS)
      Thus ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES (CONTRARY OPTIONS) are not available to the creature to choose between.
      In Calvinism (aka EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM) every decree establishes two things
      What WILL NOT be granted existence within the domain of creation
      In lieu of what WILL be granted existence within the domain of creation
      What does Determinism grant existence to – concerning Adam in the garden?
      1) It is decreed that Adam will infallibly eat the fruit
      2) Thus Adam eating the fruit is granted existence within the domain of creation
      3) Adam NOT eating the fruit is CONTRARY to the decree and thus CONTRARY to that which has been determined.
      4) Determinism rules out all ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES from that which has been determined.
      5) Therefore the POSSIBILITY of Adam NOT eating the fruit is ruled out by the decree
      The option to [NOT EAT] is not granted existence within the domain of creation.
      The option to [NOT EAT] does not exist and thus NOT available to Adam
      It is impossible to choose that which does not exist.
      Therefore it follows
      Adam did not have a choice between [EAT] and [NOT EAT] – because [NOT EAT] did not exist for Adam to select.
      Additionally – the impulse within Adam’s brain would also be Determined.
      The impulse to [EAT] would be granted existence within Adam’s brain
      The impulse to [NOT EAT] would be CONTRARY To that which is determined (decreed)
      Thus – the impulse to [NOT EAT] is not granted to Adam’s brain.
      In Calvinism – for every human event – and every human impulse – there is never granted more than ONE SINGLE PREDESTINED RENDERED-CERTAIN OPTION
      And man is granted NO CHOICE in the matter of what that option will be
      And man is granted no ability refrain.
      Every impulse that comes to pass within man’s brains – comes to pass Determined by antecedent conditions outside of the brain’s control.
      So if you are going to argue LOGICALLY for Determinism
      Then you need to accept what LOGIC gives you.
      To argue for LOGIC and against LOGIC at the same time is self-defeating.

    2. ALJN,
      Simple question for you. You said…. “but He does know our future choice because He says He does.”

      I’m not clear what biblical reference (preferably references) you are using to make this statement.

      1. Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2 the “elect” are the elect because GOD had foreknowledge of their CHOICE to trust and believe. King James version.—also Mathew 3:17….Jesus choose to please the Father….also Math.26:39 Jesus said “not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

      2. br.d
        Hello aljnsbcglobalnet
        You’ve provided 3 verses in scripture
        According to your interpretation of these verses – please detail what the “CHOICE” was in each of the 3 cases.

      3. Welcome Aljn! Here is my take on two of the passages you pointed to.
        Acts 2:23 — “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;”

        and Acts 4:28 — “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”

        A divine decree to allow the atoning sacrifice to be accomplished by “lawless hands” was not set, at the earliest, until after Adam sinned, since that sin was not decreed to happen unconditionally. God is not the author of sin.

        The prediction – “you will bruise His heel” reveals this decree was now set in place, and that the atoning sacrifice would include a satanic attack (Gen 3:15). But no details were eternally immutably predestined from before creation for all the possible things that could happen in that satanic attack that God might cause or allow in accomplishing this atonement.

        So when Peter says – τῇ ὡρισμένῃ βουλῇ καὶ προγνώσει – “by the ordained plan and foreknowledge”, there doesn’t need to be any assumption of a pre-creation plan that was already set to work out only one way. But as Scripture clearly confirms in many places, God has made many decisions, and has added conditional elements to His plans, after creation. (See Jer 18:1-11)

        And God never ordains a specific sin to be caused, but He does ordain to allow sinful creatures to freely choose between sinful actions they want to cause, fully knowing ahead of time all the possible sins they could do. And as in the situation with the cross… He only allows it for the opportunity of something good to be accomplished or to be made possible as a result.

        1Peter 1, 2

        1Pe 1:2 NKJV – elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

        Peter is probably writing to those brought into the “elect” by becoming “known” by God in a primary way “before” – πρό meaning priority, not time – (not prescience). Paul used this special meaning of “foreknowledge” when he used that term (Acts 26:5, Rom 8:29, 11:2). That special relationship knowledge was begun by the HS when He applied the benefits of the cross, sanctification and forgiveness through faith, (see vs 5).

        But even if the idea of “prescience” is retained, then it only means God saw how people were responding to His drawing, and when He sees/knows they are trusting His mercy, He then chooses/elects to join them to the Elect One – Jesus. He saw these things after their birth and after their faith and before He chose them… not that He saw these things before creation or before their faith, or before they even existed to freely exercise that faith.

      4. aljn@sbcglobal-net
        Their CHOICE to trust and believe
        Ok – lets unpackage what this would look like if Calvinism (aka Determinism) is TRUE
        1) Calvinism’s doctrine of decree stipulates – NO human event and NO human impulse – can come to pass – unless that event or impulse is knowingly and willingly decreed.
        John Calvin
        The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that NOTHING HAPPENS but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed. (Institutes 1. 16. 3)
        2) So in Calvinism (aka Determinism) we have a THEOS at the foundation of the world – who must make a decision about every human event and every human impulse – at every instance in time.
        3) In this case our THEOS has 2 options:
        OPTION-A: They will infallibly trust and believe
        OPTION-B: They will infallibly NOT trust and believe
        4) Our THEOS cannot decree (determine) BOTH options at the same time – because each option negates the other option.
        Our THEOS would be creating a self-canceling decree. He would thus be a house divided against itself.
        5) Our THEOS cannot leave both Options OPEN and thus UN-Determined – because that would falsify the doctrine of decrees.
        It would constitute a state of affairs that was NOT Determined.
        6) Our THEOS must SELECT that Option which will infallibly come to pass – and REJECT the ALTERNATIVE Option.
        7) That Option which is selected to infallibly come to pass is granted existence. And the decree makes its existence infallible.
        8) The Option which was REJECTED is CONTRARY to the decree – and is thus not granted existence within the domain of creation. And the decree makes its NON-existence infallible.
        9) Thus we have divine sovereignty grants to the creature ONE SINGLE PREDESTINED RENDERED-CERTAIN OPTION
        10) Option-A: They will infallibly trust and believe – was the Option that was granted to the creature.
        11) Option-B: They will infallibly NOT trust and believe – was NOT granted to the creature – because it was infallibly EXCLUDED by the decree.
        12) The creature was not granted a CHOICE between [TRUST AND BELIEVE] and [NOT TRUST AND BELIEVE] because [NOT TRUST AND BELIEVE] did not exist as an Option for the creature to choose.
        The CHOICE between Option-A and Option-B only existed at the foundation of the world – prior to the decree.
        Option-B was infallibly EXCLUDED at the foundation of the world – by the decree.
        Option-B was thus not available to the creature because its existence was infallibly EXCLUDED by decree.
        The creature did NOT have a CHOICE.
        The CHOICE was made at the foundation of the world – and the creature had NO SAY in the matter.
        Thus – if we are going to interpret verses to affirm Determinism – we must accept what Determinism gives us.
        NO CHOICE in the matter of anything.

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