Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Predestination or Free Will—What does “foreknew” mean in Romans 8:29? Part II

Continuing where we left off last time, we are trying to answer the question “What did Paul mean in Romans 8:29 with the word ‘foreknew’?”  In answering this question, I believe we should examine the Granville Sharp rule, which is a rule of Greek grammar recognized by all legitimate Greek scholars.  It comes from a book on Greek grammar written by Granville Sharp in 1798 regarding six principals  of the use of the article in the Greek New Testament.  Briefly, Granville Sharp's rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names, and the two nouns are connected by the word "and," and the first noun has the article ("the") while the second does not, both nouns refer to the same thing, and they refer to the thing the first word is referring to. 

So, taking that bit of scholarly insight, let’s look at Acts 2:23, which says “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. “  Now, we see 5 words here in English that I think we need to look at specifically—“the definite plan and foreknowledge”.  In Greek, the word “the” is a definite article (“te”-3588) comes before the noun (“plan”-Greek boule [1012]) which is joined by the conjunction “and” (“kai”-2532) with the noun “foreknowledge” (“prognosis”-4268).  Therefore, according to Granville Sharp’s rule, the two nouns (“plan” and “foreknowledge”) refer to the same thing and what they refer to is God’s plan.  In other words, God’s plan and and His foreknowing in Romans 8:29 are the same thing.  As noted by Greek scholar Kenneth Wurst in his textbook “Bypaths in the Greek New Testament 
In Acts 2:23, the statement concerning Jesus going to the Cross "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God", is another example of the first noun being articular and the second being anarthrous. "Counsel" is the Greek word "boule", meaning "decree", and "foreknowledge" is "prognosis", or "to know before". These two impersonal nouns are connected by the conjunction "kai", or "and". They are also in the same case, and "boule" has the article, and "prognosis" doesn't. This construction means that the "decree", or "determinate will" of God is not separate from the "foreknowledge" of God, but that the "foreknowledge" of God ARISES from His decree. The major significance of this passage is that it reminds us of the fact that nothing can be "foreknown", until it is first made certain by the "decree" of God! There is nothing to "foreknow" until the immutable decree of God makes it certain. 

Everywhere we see the "foreknowledge" of God mentioned in the New Testament, we must remember that God does not make any decisions according to His "foreknowledge", but that His "foreknowledge" is the RESULT of His decree.
Now, does this prove non-Calvinists are false teachers?  No.  Does this prove they have the gospel wrong?  Of course not.  My entire point was to demonstrate that, despite the assertions of some people, the doctrine known as Calvinism does have biblical support when one examines the grammatical evidence of scripture.


Dr. James Willingham said...

I like your usage of Kenneth Wuest's By Paths in the NT, Joe. You nailed the foreknowledge and predestination issue with something that it has been years since I thought about it. Thanks for the reminder.

Joe Blackmon said...

Wow, that's high praise coming from you, Doc. Thank you for the encouragement.