Please Support the Bible Translation Work of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
EPHESIANS 1:4: How is it that Adam and Eve were blamed for their actions before the foundation of the world (predestination) when they had not been created yet? Doesn’t that violate God’s principle of justice?
This is not a case of predestination, as the doctrine of predestination is unbiblical. Scriptures like that speak of certain ones as being “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God,” ‘chosen before the founding of the world,’ ‘foreordained us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ’? (1 Pet. 1:1, 2; Eph. 1:3-5, 11) Because of Scriptures such as these, Christian leaders such as Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin taught that Adam and Eve were predestined to disobey God before being created. Therefore, all their future generations were chosen beforehand, making them destined for either salvation or eternal torment. We will take a moment to define the key terms in this order adoption, foreordain, and finally foreknowledge.
Adoption: (υἱοθεσία huiothesia) The Greek noun is a legal term that literally means “adoption as a son,” which means to take or accept a son or daughter who is not naturally such by relationship, including full inheritance rights. The apostle Paul mentions adoption several times about those with a new status as called and chosen by God. These ones were born as offspring of the imperfect Adam, were formerly in slavery to sin. Through purchase through Jesus’ life as a ransom, many have received the adoption as sons and daughters becoming heirs with the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. – Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5.
Foreordain: (προορίζω proorizō) The Greek noun has the sense of deciding beforehand, determining something ahead of time or before its occurrence. God’s ability to foreknow and foreordain is plainly stated in the Bible. For how God can decide beforehand, determine something ahead of time or before its occurrence, see footnotes on foreknowledge in Acts 2:23 and 1 Pet. 1:2. – Ac 4:28; Ro 8:29-30; 1Co 2:7; Eph 1:5, 11.
Foreknowledge: (πρόγνωσις prognōsis) The Greek noun simply means to plan in advance, have knowledge beforehand, what is known beforehand, that which is known ahead of time or before a particular temporal reference. (Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:2) If we accept the equation that foreknowledge equals foreordain, sin is the result, not the result of Adam’s choice, but of God’s choosing, which should make us feel uncomfortable. Foreknowledge does not equal foreordain. It is better to understand that God knows in advance what choice people will freely make. The free decisions of human beings determine what foreknowledge God has of them, as opposed to the reverse. The foreknowledge does not determine the free decision; it is the free decisions that determine the foreknowledge. In this, we can distinguish what we might call Chronological Priority and Logical Priority. Chronological priority would mean that Event “A” [God’s knowledge], as it relates to time, would come before Event “B” [the event God foreknows]. Thus, God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to the event that he foreknows. However, logically speaking, the event is prior to God’s foreknowledge. In other words, the event does not happen because God foreknows it, but God foreknows the event because it will happen. The event is logically prior to the foreknowledge, so he foreknows it because it will happen, even though the foreknowledge is chronologically prior to the event.
We can see foreknowledge in this as the foreshadowing of something. When you see the shadow of someone coming around the corner of the building, you see their shadow on the ground before you see the person. You know that person is about to come around the corner because of their shadow, but the shadow does not determine the person; the person determines the shadow.
God’s foreknowledge is like the foreshadowing of a future event. By seeing this foreshadowing, you know the events will happen, But the shadow does not determine the reality; the reality determines the shadow. Therefore, we should think of God’s foreknowledge as the foreshadowing of things to come. Therefore, just because God will know something will happen, this does not prejudice or remove the freedom of that happening.
In fact, if the events were to happen differently, God’s foreknowledge would be different as well. An illustration of this is as an infallible barometer of the weather. Whatever the barometer says, you know what the weather will be like because it is infallible. However, the barometer does not determine the temperature; the weather determines the barometer’s findings. Thus, God’s foreknowledge is like an infallible barometer of the future. It lets him know what the future will be, but it does not constrain the future in any way. The future will happen anyway the free moral agent wants it to happen. However, the barometer will track whatever direction the future will take.
Suppose this is the timeline . . . . . . . . . . Let us place an event “E” on the timeline, i.e., Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Let us suppose God is back here in time, and by his foreknowledge (the dotted line), he knows that “E” will happen (Judas will betray Jesus). How does God’s knowledge about “E” constrain “E” from happening? How can God’s knowing “E” will occur make “E” occur?
If you were to erase the line and say God does not have foreknowledge of the future, how has anything changed? How would “E” (Judas’ betrayal) be affected if you erased God’s foreknowledge of it? “E” (Judas’ betrayal) would occur just the same; it would not affect anything at all.
Therefore, the presence of God’s foreknowledge really does not prejudice anything about whether “E” will occur or not. What we need to understand is this, if Judas (“E”) were not to betray Jesus, then God would not have foreknown Judas’ betrayal (“E”) of Jesus because it would not have been on the timeline. In addition, as long as that statement is true, “E” being able to occur and not occur, God’s foreknowledge does not prejudice anything concerning “E’s” occurrence. – Attribution: Much of this information is borrowed from a Dr. William Lane Craig video.