Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1,210 MP3 Audio File Video File

Elect According to Foreknowledge

1 Peter 1:2

1 Peter 1:2

Delivered 03/17/24

We recently began a study in 1 Peter. Last week we were still in verse 1, and we focused on the subject of election.

Peter, an apostle of Yeshua the Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1 Peter 1:1 ESV

The word "elect" signifies picked out, chosen. The idea emphasizes two things: (1) a choosing, and (2) a separation – i.e., because one has been chosen, he is set apart from others who are not so chosen.

The term "elect" or "chosen" is synonymous with "Christian" and with "saved." And the rich reality of that term is to remind us that we are the chosen of God. He made the choice, not we.

Differing views on the doctrine of election have created a huge divide in the Christian world. Some have left this church because they didn't like that I taught on election. But, bottom line, this is what the Bible teaches—like it or not. The doctrine of election is a subject that is a frequent theme in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

In Genesis 12, God chose Abram out of a city of idolaters and promised to work through him to bring His salvation to the nations.

You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. Nehemiah 9:7 ESV

The word "chose" here is bachar. It is used over 160 time in the Tanakh. It simply means to choose. What did Yahweh choose Abram for? He chose him to be blessed by being in Yahweh's family. He didn't choose Abram's entire city or even his entire family. God chose Abram, but He didn't choose anyone else in Asia, Africa, or Europe. Then He refused to choose Abram's son Ishmael but chose Isaac instead. Then He rejected Isaac's son Esau but chose Jacob.

A question we might ask is: Why do we need to be chosen? Yeshua answers that question in John 6.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 ESV

No one comes to Christ unless Yahweh draws him. Paul puts it this way:

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. Romans 3:10-11 ESV

"No one seeks for God"—Paul here is quoting from Psalm 14:2. The word for "seek" means to "seek with determination." While there are many who claim to seek God, there is no one who by nature seeks God with wholehearted determination. Interestingly, many churches refer to non-believers as "seekers," but that's a misnomer. Seeking God is antithetical to the human disposition. We seek pleasure or religion or happiness or good times, but we do not seek God, His holiness, His pleasure, His righteousness, and His face.

Considering all people everywhere, even those in churches or temples all around the world, there is none that seeks for God—no, not one! Isn't that amazing? The natural heart of man is not really looking for God! And this is why we must be chosen. God must choose us because we would never have chosen Him. The only time the sinner ever seeks for God is when God first seeks the sinner as we saw in John 6.

Many people—even many Christians—doubt this is true. We secretly think that millions of people are seeking God the best way they can. Paul says, "No." Man left to himself never seeks God.

What seems to really upset folks is that God doesn't choose everybody. He chooses some but not others.

And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:10-13 ESV

In Jewish society, the oldest son was always chosen to receive the blessing and the inheritance; but in God's economy, choosing is always based on God's work of grace—unmerited favor. God chose Jacob not based on anything he had done. The twins, Jacob and Esau, hadn't even been born yet.

It says, "In order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls" (v. 11). God selected the younger brother to receive the blessing. In the same way, election is a mystery to us. It is based on God's sovereign right as king and not on the basis of anything we have done.

Often people in Western countries, who have never been under an absolute monarch, chafe at the thought of this. "This is not right! This is not democracy!" they proclaim. But under a monarchy, the King has absolute power; he does what he wants because it is his right. Here we see God chooses based on his right. Scripture everywhere declares that God is king, and he does what he chooses.

Because God is God, he does what he wants to. Look at how Paul responded to those who seemed to struggle with the concept of election.

So, then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? Romans 9:18-21 ESV

I can't resist his will, so how can I be blamed for my unbelief? He hardened Pharaoh, and Pharaoh did just what God wanted him to do. He could not resist God's will; no man can. So, why does He find fault with and punish sinners?

Listen carefully! There would be no room for this objection, or that of verse 14, if Paul had been teaching that God chooses based on the conduct of men. It is very evident, therefore, that he was teaching no such doctrine.

How easy it would have been to answer the charge of injustice by saying, "God chooses one and rejects another according to their works or faith." The only reason that this question arises is because Paul is teaching so clearly that God chooses one and rejects another based solely on his own will, and that the destiny of men is determined by his sovereign pleasure alone.

Have you ever asked these questions: "If God is sovereign and has decreed from all eternity whatsoever takes place, how can I be held responsible for what I do? Who can resist His will?" If you have ever asked those questions, it's only because you understand what the Bible is teaching about the absolute sovereignty of God. I've heard this question raised many times.

Peter goes on to explain their election in greater detail by three prepositional phrases in verse 2.

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Yeshua the Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:2 ESV

What do you see in this verse? The Trinity is actively seen here: The Father, The Spirit and Yeshua the Christ. The word "Trinity" is not a biblical term, but the Triune God is often mentioned in unified contexts. Peter uses a Trinitarian formula to explain how Christians are called to faith. The Father – choses. The Spirit – sanctifies, The Son – laid down His life.

Mark demonstrates the triune God in Mark 1.

In those days Yeshua came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1:9-11 ESV

Let's talk about the Trinity. It seems that when some people come to see the truth of the preterist view of eschatology, they want to throw out all Christian doctrine and start from scratch. I'm not sure why they do this because our eschatological view doesn't change the fundamentals of the faith. But one of the doctrines that seems to be attacked by some preterists is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Though the word "Trinity" is never found in the pages of Scripture, it is a doctrine that is taught throughout the Scripture, both in the Tanakh and in the New Testament. "Trinity" is a word used to express the unity of God subsisting in three distinct persons. It is a word describing the unity of the Godhead as three co-eternal, co-equal Persons, each having the same substance while being distinct persons. It is a word that describes a purely revealed doctrine that is indiscoverable by reason but clearly taught in Scripture.

As Christians, we affirm that there is one eternal being known as Yahweh. Yet this one eternal being exists in three individual persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Logically, in our human minds, we cannot entirely understand how one Being can exist in three persons. Yet, as Christians, we affirm both truths to be true. The 1689 London Baptist Confession of faith, Chapter 2, paragraph 3 states:

In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him. 1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Exodus 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:14,18; John 15:26; Galatians 4:6).

The Trinity is one of the distinctive doctrines of Christianity. It is a doctrine that has been under attack since the third century. In the first decade of the third century, the Alexandrian priest, Arius, began teaching the heresy that if the Son was a real Son, then his Father must have existed before Him; therefore, the Divine Father must have existed before the Divine Son and the Son is a creature created by God. He declared that the Son was the greatest and eldest of all God's creatures and was Himself a God but still created and therefore, was like all creatures of an essence or substance which previously had not existed.

Arius clashed with Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, who believed in the co-eternality of the Word of God and refuted Arius' teaching that the Word was created by God. In Arius's words, "there was [a time] when He (the Son) was not." The Arians inferred from this that Christ, though existing before the world, is a creature of the Father.

Because Alexander understood this as a dangerous threat to the church, he publicly condemned Arius' teaching and removed him from all church posts. This led to the calling of the First Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea. At the council, Arius' teaching was formally condemned. The debate lasted from May 20, AD 325 until June 19, AD 325 and produced an initial form of the Nicene Creed which condemned Arianism and established the Doctrine of the Trinity.

Contrary to popular belief, the Trinity was not a New Testament invention but was an idea taught throughout the Tanakh. In Isaiah 63 we see Yahweh, the Angel of Yahweh (who is the Son), and the Holy Spirit. So, in that text we have all three members of the Godhead.

The trinity was not an invention of Christians; it was well-known in middle Judaism. The Israelites believed that "The second power" is Yahweh's essence manifested in a different form. This is the basis of Binitarianism in Jewish thought. And later the Spirit of God is spoken of in the same way in Isaiah 63.

To deny the Trinity is to deny the deity of Christ. In my understanding, anyone who denies the deity of Yeshua cannot be a believer. That may sound strong, but the Bible clearly teaches that Yeshua is Yahweh. To deny the deity of Christ, to deny that He is in fact Yahweh in the flesh, is to die in your sins. Is that too strong? This is what Yeshua said.

I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."  John 8:24 ESV

This truth that Yeshua is Yahweh is taught from the very first verse of the Gospel of John.

Let's look at these three prepositional phrases in verse 2.

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Yeshua the Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:2 ESV

"According to the foreknowledge of God the Father"what is "according to the foreknowledge of God"? "According" is the Greek preposition kata which takes us back to "those who are elect exiles…according to the foreknowledge of God" This ties election to foreknowledge. They are elect according to God's foreknowledge.

Some understand "foreknowledge" as God looking into the future and choosing those whom He foresaw would believe. Are they saying that God gained knowledge by observation? If so, then there was a time when He didn't have all knowledge, and thus He's not an omniscient God after all. This would mean that election is not election at all but is, rather, a cause-and-effect arrangement basing God's choice on man's choice.

The word "foreknowledge" is the Greek noun "prognosis," which is used only here and in Acts 2:23. The verb proginōskō is used in 1 Peter 1:20 and also in Romans 8:29. Let's look at how "proginōskō" is used in 1 Peter 1:20. Speaking of Christ Peter says,

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. 1 Peter 1:20 ESV

Does it mean foresight there? Does it mean God was up in heaven looking down the road and said, "Oh, I see what Christ is going to do? Oh, I get it"? Is it God looking down the path of history to see what Christ will do? Not hardly. Therefore, whatever prognosis means in verse 2, it also means in verse 20. Peter's certainly not going to try to confuse us. And if Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world, then I also was chosen before the foundation of the world.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love Ephesians 1:4 ESV

Does election have a connection to foreknowledge? Yes, it does. We'll look at this more in a few minutes. This tells us that I was foreknown in the same way Christ was foreknown.

Look at Acts chapter 2.

this Yeshua, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Acts 2:23 ESV

Speaking of Christ, Peter says, "Yeshua, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." Foreknowledge here is prognosis. Peter likes this word. Peter says, Christ was delivered up to die by the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. Here we see that foreknowledge is linked to the definite plan of God.

When applied to God's knowledge of persons (whether of Yeshua or his people), "foreknowledge" is more than mere knowing something before it takes place, it involves choice or determination as well.

To "know" in Scripture often speaks of covenant love and setting regard upon someone with delight and affection. We might well translate "foreknow" as "forelove" in the sense that God determined in eternity past to set his sovereign and distinguishing affection on those who deserved only eternal death.

I think that Paul's use of the verb proginōskō in Romans 8 will help us understand what Peter means by foreknowledge.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 ESV

These verses are often called the "Golden Chain of Salvation" or the "Ordo Salutis." Ordo Salutis is Latin for "the order of salvation." It involves the logical sequence of steps or stages involved in the salvation of a believer. More importantly, it has to do with who made the first move in our salvation. This text is about salvation which starts with foreknowledge.

Notice that it is not WHAT He foreknew, but WHOM He foreknew. The word "foreknew" is proginosko. The background of the term must be located in the Hebrew Scriptures, which reveal that "to know" in reference to God refers not to simple knowledge but to covenantal love.

Foreknowledge is not about God's knowing facts but about God's knowing his people in an intimate saving relationship. To "know" throughout the Tanakh is used of the most intimate relationships, including sex.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD."  Genesis 4:1 ESV

Adam "knew" his wife and had a son. In the same way, God "knew" certain believers even before they were born and chose them for salvation. Look at Jeremiah 1.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."  Jeremiah 1:5 ESV

God knew Jeremiah in a saving intimate relationship and called him to be a prophet to the nations before he was even born.

Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities. Amos 3:1-2 ESV

"You only have I known of all the families of the earth." Does that mean that God had no knowledge of Canaanites or Egyptians or Assyrians? NO! It meant that He had a special love relationship with Israel. Israel was His chosen nation. God was declaring that they were the only ones with whom he had an intimate, predetermined relationship.

for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.  Psalms 1:6 ESV

Didn't Yahweh know the way of the wicked also? Yes, He did, but here "knows" has the idea of "loves." This is a Hebrew parallelism: God loves the righteous, but the wicked will perish.

On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' Matthew 7:22-23 ESV

When Yeshua said to these professors, "I never knew you," he was not talking about having knowledge of them, because God knows everybody. He was professing that he did not know them in a loving and saving relationship.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 ESV

In this unbroken chain of salvation, all whom God "loved beforehand" (foreknew) He justified and glorified. All whom he foreknew, he predestined to be like his son. All he predestined, he called; all he called, he justified; all he justified, he glorified. These verses teach us that all who are called are justified. Thus, not everyone is called. This "call" refers to election, to God's choice in salvation. None are lost along the way. Love and election go together.

Peter, an apostle of Yeshua the Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Yeshua the Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV

 "Those who are elect exiles…according to the foreknowledge of God" This ties election to foreknowledge. They are elect according to God's foreknowledge. Love and choosing go together; God chooses because He loves.

And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, Deuteronomy 4:37 ESV

He repeated it in chapter 7.

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV

To drive the point home, he repeated yet again in chapter 10.

Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Deuteronomy 10:15 ESV

Yahweh chooses whom he loves. He doesn't love everyone, so therefore, he doesn't choose everybody. And because He doesn't love everybody, He didn't die for everyone.

Galatians 2:20 is a very familiar verse that is often memorized and quoted by Christians. What I want to draw your attention to this morning is a truth found at the end of this verse. It is a truth that is not so familiar to most believers.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 ESV

Notice the phrase, "The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Paul says that Christ loved him and died for him. This is a critical element in the gospel of Christ. Paul tied Yeshua's love for him to His death for him. Christ died for those He loved. So, the questions we must answer are: "Who does Christ love?" and "For whom did he die?" The majority of believers today would say that God loves everybody and that Christ died for all men. This is a commonly held belief, but is it biblical?

I understand the Bible to teach that God does not love everybody. Now I know that when I say that, people get upset, but it is clearly what the Word of God teaches.

As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:13 ESV

God didn't love Esau; that is very clear. Now how will you argue? Will you say that he loves everyone but Esau? Was Esau the only person whom God did not love? The belief of our day that God loves everybody is a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers, or the Puritans will be searched in vain for any such concept. The fact is that the love of God is a truth for the saints only. Not once in the four gospels do we read of the Lord Yeshua Christ telling sinners that God loved them. In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is NEVER referred to at all. Does that seem odd to you? But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints, we have a full presentation of that truth.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:6 ESV

God's love is restricted to the members of His own family. If He loves all men, then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless. God only chastens whom He loves. This clearly is a reference to believers, the elect.

What about John 3:16? Does it teach that God loves everybody?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

Doesn't this prove that God loves everybody? No. Remember that he hated Esau. You must admit that the Bible says so. Let's put it in the form of a syllogism.

Major premise: God hated Esau.

Minor premise: Esau is part of the world.

Conclusion: God doesn't love everyone in the world.

The word "world" here is not used to mean the entire human race. The word "world" often has a relative rather than an absolute meaning. Consider Acts 19.

And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship." Acts 19:27 ESV

Did everyone in Asia and the world worship Artemis? No! There were many believers at that time, and they were worshiping only the Lord Yeshua the Christ.

In John 3, Yeshua is speaking to Nicodemus, a Jew. The Jews believed that God loved only them. What Yeshua is saying in John 3:16 is that God's love is now international in its scope—He loves Gentiles as well as Jews.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Yeshua Christ, according to the purpose of his will, Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV

The Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love.

So, if what we have said so far is true, if God doesn't love everybody but only His elect, then we would understand that Christ did not die for everyone but only for those He loved. Paul said in Galatians 2:20 that Christ died for him because He loved him. This is also a truth taught throughout Scripture. The Tanakh presents the Father as promising the son a certain reward for his sufferings on behalf of sinners.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:10-11 ESV

"He shall see His offspring," is a reference to the elect of God. God has given the elect to Christ, so therefore, we are children of promise. Notice that it says, "He will see and be satisfied," and not frustrated.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21 ESV

There are two things in this verse that we must understand. First, Yeshua did not come to save all men. He came to save "His people." The Reformers called this "Limited Atonement." That does not mean that Christ's death was limited in power but that it was limited in scope or purpose. In other words, He did not die for all of humanity. He died for "His people." Next is the phrase "Will save His people."  Notice that the angel did not say, "He will offer salvation to His people." Offering salvation implies that it could be rejected. This verse plainly states, "He will save His people," emphasizing a complete work for His people only, accomplished by Christ, and Christ alone.

Yeshua taught that He was not going to die for all of humanity.

even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28 ESV
for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28 ESV

Yeshua said He came to give His life as a ransom and pour out His blood for "many"— not "all."

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 ESV

Yeshua said that He laid down His life for the sheep. Who are the sheep? Is every human being a sheep, or do the sheep only refer to God's elect?

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:32-34 ESV

Those who are of the sheep inherited the Kingdom, but the goats were cast into "everlasting fire." As we saw in John 10:15, Yeshua laid down His life for the "sheep," and not for the "goats." Christ died only for His sheep:

And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." John 6:65 ESV

There are three things I want to point out here. The first is the phrase "no one." This is a "universal negative." That is to say that the phrase "no one" includes both classes of people, Jews and Gentiles. The second concerns the words "can come to Me"—this has to do with the ability of man. Yeshua was saying, "No one, neither Jew nor Gentile, has the ability to come to Me." Last, we see the word "unless." This word is a "necessary condition." Yeshua said that the necessary condition for someone to come to Him was God's giving them the ability to do so. What does God give them? Ability. Simply put, God gives man the ability to come to Christ. Man, on his own, does not have that ability.

Our minds have been conditioned to think (1) of the cross as a redemption which does less than redeem, (2) of Christ as a savior who does less than save, (3) of God's love as a weak affection which cannot keep a sinner from wrath without the sinner's help, and (4) of faith as the human help which God needs for His purpose. This is not the gospel. The gospel is "God saves sinners."

Continue the Series

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322