Sunday, December 11, 2022

This continues our Thought Experiment Part three: More Background for our Journey, Revelation 15, Vol 56 in Lessons from the Wilderness

 ©2022, David E. Robinson: At the Gates of Yerushalayim Ministries

 Go to Part 14             Start at Part 1

Go to Part 13

Lessons from the Wilderness, Volume 56

…This is a Thought Experiment, Part Three…

 …Revelation 15: A Search for Truth at the End of the Age  [i] [ii] [iii] [iv] [v]

Romans 8:28–39 (NET)

8:28 And we know that all things work together32 for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, 8:29 because those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son33 would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.34 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

8:31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 8:32 Indeed, he who35 did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?

8:33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?36 It is God who justifies.

8:34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ37 is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?38 8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”39 8:37 No, in all these things we have complete victory40 through him41 who loved us! 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers,42 nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [vi]

Ephesians 1:3–13 (NASB)

3 aBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in bthe heavenly places in Christ,

4 just as aHe chose us in Him before bthe foundation of the world, that we should be choly and blameless before 1Him. dIn love

5 1He apredestined us to badoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, caccording to the 2kind intention of His will,

6 ato the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in bthe Beloved. 7 aIn 1Him we have bredemption cthrough His blood, the dforgiveness of our trespasses, according to ethe riches of His grace, 8 which He 1lavished upon 2us. In all wisdom and insight

9 He 1 amade known to us the mystery of His will, baccording to His 2kind intention which He cpurposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration 1suitable to athe fulness of the times, that is, bthe summing up of all things in Christ, things 2in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him 11 1also we 2 a have obtained an inheritance, having been bpredestined caccording to His purpose who works all things dafter the counsel of His will,

12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in 1Christ should be ato the praise of His glory. 13 In 1Him, you also, after listening to athe message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—

having also 2believed, you were bsealed in 1Him with cthe Holy Spirit of promise,[vii]


          Is all creation predestinated to an end by the foreknowledge of God?

If so, then does foreknowledge make this predestination inevitable?

Today I hope to answer these questions. As I sit here writing this, I have no idea where this will go, or if I’ll need to break it out to another post. We shall see. Dear readers, I know I tend to give you more information than you need, so bear with me. What we are examining here today  is NOT how the church and theologians define predestination, election, and foreknowledge. We are trying to see how Paul and his contemporaries viewed these subjects in their day and culture. We will also look at the sources from which I draw my conclusions from. Once again, I must say, the conclusions I’ll give to you are based upon my own research – hence it is my opinion. I will try to back this up by source material, but your conclusions might be different. That is okay – please leave feedback if you so desire in the comments section at the end of the post.  

Authors Note: Just an aside: this will be my one-hundred and fifty-seventh (157) post in eleven years; this blog has been read or visited (I assume anyway) over 175,000  times. Are the visits just hit and run? Do I have readers? I do not know. There have only been six comments, two that I deleted because they were promoting casinos, 2 posted by myself explaining something, and two other comments. Why no one interacts, I do not know. I would love feedback, good or bad. That is the only way I could improve my writing and “chase” down subjects you, my beloveds, want to read. But it has not happened. Just so you know, I have readers/visitors throughout the United States, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, Poland, Sweden, China, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Singapore, Belarus, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Norway, the Philippines, and unspecified “other”. Does what I write reach anyone? I have no way of knowing. I am humbled and honored that any of  you take the time to visit my blog. 157 posts, and as of now (12/10/2022), 178,325 visits. God has led me to do this thing, to write, to ponder, and I pray that through it all, God has allowed me to make an impact. If these words help or reach but one soul O Lord - just one – then it has not been for nothing. Thank you all for reading. Thank You HaShem. Thank you, Yeshua. Shalom.

Okay. Let us begin with the first question from my last post:

Is all creation predestinated to an end by the foreknowledge of God?

Maybe a better wording would be this:

Will all the created order, through the foreknowledge of God, come to an end?

This answer is anything but easy.  Philosophers and theologians have been debating this for centuries. It has not just been Christian scholars and theologians though. Jewish sages have wrestled with this question also. Let us first though, take a look at why our question matters.

                There exists and has existed in the minds of those who study such things, the paradox of Divine Foreknowledge [Omniscience], Predestination [fate, inevitability,  or foreordination], and a human being’s Freewill [choice, voluntary decisions made outside of natural or divine influences]. Oceans of ink, and countless number of pages have been expended to explore or explain this paradox; no consensus has ever been obtained. I doubt if I can do it justice either, for I am just another voice among the throng of those elucidating a theory that is outside of all’s ability to understand. I will give it a shot though.

                What causes a person to do what they do? Has the “evil” person always been evil, or were there circumstances beyond their control that caused them to become evil? Is the “good” person one by nature, or is it in the upbringing of this one, with the formation of responsibility and moral actions to guide them? The paradox though seems to defy logic: “good” people can go on to be “evil”, and “evil” ones can turn their lives around and become “good”. Is God in charge of both sets of circumstances? Does the idea of Divine Sovereignty transcend the concept of a human beings’ free will, thus making all choices, good or bad, end in a predetermined [pre-ordained] outcome? If so, then, does this not mean that truthfully freewill is non-existent?

                In the west, the subject of divine foreknowledge has been debated from Augustine to Aquinas [and up to the modern age, I might add], guided partly by neo-Platonic philosophy. The main Orthodox view has always been that God has always been said to be omniscient (and hence in possession of perfect foreknowledge) and yet God also allowed humankind free will. Although this thought pattern exposes this view to apparent contradictions, many have said it is because God has “special properties”, such as His being “outside” of time among others.[viii] Theologically, the proponents of the doctrine of predestination look to Scripture to define their case: Eph 1:11; Romans 8:28, 11:36; Gen 30:2, 22; Ps 127:3; Isa 66; Isa 40:15–17; Dan 2:21; 4:35; and others. It appears to be almost explicit in Psalm 37:23-24:

Psalm 37:23–24 (ESV)

                23  The isteps of a man are jestablished by the Lord, when he delights in his way;

                24  kthough he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord lupholds his hand. [ix]

 What does this western attitude do to the Word? Does it answer the questions of “who, what, when, where, why, and how” as they pertain to the original hearers of God’s words? What did these ancients believe?

 E. P. Sanders, in his article Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought writes this:

 “…Josephus offers a third major point about the Pharisees that is worth noting: they believed in divine providence (that is, that God directly controlled history) and also in free will. “They attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate cooperates” (War 2.162f.). As he puts it elsewhere, Pharisees held that “it was God’s good pleasure that there should be a fusion and that the will of man with his virtue and vice should be admitted to the council-chamber of fate” (Antiq. 18.13).

Since the Middle Ages, many people have regarded predestination and free will as alternatives; to most of us, their combination appears to be logically impossible. In the ancient world, however, few people saw the matter in this way, and many happily combined them. We see this, for example, in the Dead Sea Scrolls—which are not Pharisaic…46

Paul also combined providence and free will, as we may see in Romans. In Rom. 9:16, for example, he writes that the election, or God’s mercy, “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.” Later in the chapter he mentions those whom “he has prepared beforehand for glory” (9:23). Phrases such as these point toward divine determination. Yet, in Romans 10, Paul states that people must call on the Lord to be saved, and he asks, “How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard?” and so forth. He concludes, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:13–17). This sounds as if salvation depends very much on human exertion (the efforts of preachers) and human will (believing). Conceivably this combination of divine determination and human freewill is another aspect of Paul’s Pharisaism, even though the combination was not exclusively Pharisaic…”[x]

Are their views of these concepts the same as ours? I have to say unequivocally, “no”. Why do I say this? Well, words change. Definitions change. Language changes, over time. So, if we take our understanding of these words and try to force them upon the 2nd Temple era Israelite, then we have changed the meaning of these passages completely.

 Let me expand upon this. Our modern western Christian mind is foreign to the original hearers of Scripture. The biblical doctrines that were introduced in Yeshua’s day [and earlier], were presented to the hearers in typically eastern dialectical pairs.[xi] “Robert James Utley, in his book, The Gospel according to Paul: Romans, states: “…These pairs seem contradictory, yet both are biblical. Western Christians have tended to choose one truth and ignore or depreciate the opposite truth.” [xii]

 Utley illustrates this as such:

     “1.      Is salvation an initial decision to trust Christ or a lifetime commitment to discipleship?

      2.      Is salvation an election by means of grace from a sovereign God or mankind’s believing and repentant response to a divine offer?

      3.      Is salvation, once received, impossible to lose, or is there a need for continual 

diligence?” [xiii]

                 What Utley is saying is that the Western mind focuses only upon the element of salvation, and not the attendant responsibilities that follow such a salvational gift. Yes, there is the initial decision to trust Messiah, but that is given to us by a sovereign Master. Watch:

 John 6:44 (ESV)

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me qdraws him.

And rI will raise him up on the last day. [xiv]

 John 14:6 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am lthe way, and mthe truth, and nthe life.

No one comes to the Father except through me. [xv]

There are many texts in the Bible that seem to conflict with one another: from Jesus: John 6:37; 10:28–29; from Paul: Rom. 8:35–39; Eph. 1:13; 2:5, 8–9; Phil. 1:6; 2:13; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:18. Jesus again: Matt. 10:22; 13:1–9, 24–30; 24:13; Mark 13:13; John 8:31; 15:4–10; Rev. 2:7, 17, 20; 3:5, 12, 21. Then Paul again: Rom. 11:22; 1 Cor. 15:2; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 1:6; 3:4; 5:4; 6:9; Phil. 2:12; 3:18–20; Col. 1:23. We could go on and on, through Hebrews, John, Peter… What you’ll see here is Western Christianity focusing on one aspect, even though the text is clear.

 We see that no human can be saved without the initiation from the Ruach; then God comes in, sets the agenda, but demands a response from humans, to act in faith and repentance. It does not stop there. Faith and repentance occurs first initially, but then has to continue. To be one with God covenantally , is first to be given that privilege, by then accepting the responsibilities that go with it. Believing loyalty. It is not enough to believe. We have to be loyal also. Utley ends his article thus:

 “…The Bible addresses two different problems in this area [salvation]: (1) taking assurance as a license to live fruitless, selfish lives and (2) encouraging those who struggle with ministry and personal sin. The problem is that the wrong groups are taking the wrong message and building theological systems on limited biblical passages. Some Christians desperately need the message of assurance, while others need the stern warnings! Which group are you in?” [xvi]

                One can see then that the concepts we understand today as “predestination and free will had a different take in the ANE. That brings us back now to our question. Is foreknowledge the bottom line for predestination? 

If God foresees something, will it ultimately happen – making the issue of “freewill” moot? 

In order that this does not turn into an exceptionally long post, we will pause here, where we began.

I’ll post the answer soon. 

Till then, may He bless you all my beloved.


[i] NOTICE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: Unless otherwise cited, all material found on this blogsite (original text, opinions, conclusions, and other material not related to cited sources remains the collected intellectual property of the author of this site, David E. Robinson, Elder Teacher, and are owned and controlled by myself and are protected by copyright and trademark laws and various other intellectual property rights and unfair competition laws of the United States, foreign jurisdictions, and international conventions. Any errors found within, rest solely upon me; please do not blame the Father for my mistakes. I am teachable and correctable, fallible. 😊

[ii] FAIR USE DISCLAIMER: This blog site may contain content that is not authorized for use by its owner. All such material will be cited back to its original source. According to Section 107 of the Copyright Act: “…the fair use of a copyrighted work […] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright…” I have made and will continue to make every effort to stay within all ethical and moral guidelines in the use of material presented here, and the use of these materials is solely intended for educational purposes only, and all efforts to obtain or sustain fair use of non-owned material will be made.

[iii] Author’s note: This site is for education only and is not affiliated with any institution, organization, or religious group. It is the sole production of its editor. Use of information from Jewish-themed websites (or any other source material) should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed.

[iv] Author’s note:  Throughout this study I will be using the NET Bible® and the NET Notes®: within the notes you will see symbols like this: (א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NET Bible® for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NET Bible®) used in translating the Scriptures. Please go to and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.

[v] Author’s Note: In these studies, I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, seeing that my perspective usually pertains to any matters of the Torah, the commandments of God, and the teachings of Yeshua. I give you the notes as the authors of the material write, so that you may benefit from the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is, in my opinion, the opposite of ion to what I teach, then so be it; I will address these issues if requested. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe might contradict the truth of God’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles for that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from a source that displays a decidedly Western/Greek mindset, as opposed to a Hebraic perspective. I must be intellectually honest – I am biased toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and His son, Yeshua the Messiah. I pray then we all can find common ground as we study the Scriptures. Also, to be honest – I may be wrong in my conclusions also. I can only present to you what I deem at this time and place in my walk with God to be true. So, like any good teacher of the Word should tell you: do not trust my word or conclusions. Take what I say back to your Bible, evaluate it all against what you find written. Test everything. I try my best to be faithful in what I present, yet I am only human – and like any other human, I can make a mistake. So do your due diligence – study to show yourself approved, be a Berean and look to see if these things are so. If you find they agree – Halleluiah! If they do not agree – Halleluiah and let me know!! Let us sharpen one another. I also let the cross-references stay in, as these are valuable in your search of God’s truth.

32  tc ὁ θεός (ho theos, “God”) is found after the verb συνεργεῖ (sunergei, “work”) in v. 28 by 𝔓46 A B 81 sa; the shorter reading is found in א C D F G Ψ 33 1739 1881 𝔐 latt sy bo. Although the inclusion is supported by a significant early papyrus, the alliance of significant Alexandrian and Western witnesses favors the shorter reading. As well, the longer reading is evidently motivated by a need for clarification. Since ὁ θεός is textually suspect, it is better to read the text without it. This leaves two good translational options: either “he works all things together for good” or “all things work together for good.” In the first instance the subject is embedded in the verb and “God” is clearly implied (as in v. 29). In the second instance, πάντα (panta) becomes the subject of an intransitive verb. In either case, “What is expressed is a truly biblical confidence in the sovereignty of God” (C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:427).
33  tn Grk “he”; the referent (God’s Son) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
34  tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:13.
35  tn Grk “[he] who.” The relative clause continues the question of v. 31 in a way that is awkward in English. The force of v. 32 is thus: “who indeed did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—How will he not also with him give us all things?”
36  sn An allusion to Isa 50:8 where the reference is singular; Paul applies this to all believers (“God’s elect” is plural here).
37  tc ‡ A number of significant and early witnesses, along with several others (𝔓46vid א A C F G L Ψ 6 33 81 104 365 1505 al lat bo), read Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous, “Jesus”) after χριστός (Christos, “Christ”) in v. 34. But the shorter reading is not unrepresented (B D 0289 1739 1881 𝔐 sa). Once Ἰησοῦς got into the text, what scribe would omit it? Although the external evidence is on the side of the longer reading, internally such an expansion seems suspect. The shorter reading is thus preferred. NA27 has the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its Grk “who also.”
38  tn Here “sword” is a metonymy that includes both threats of violence and acts of violence, even including death (although death is not necessarily the only thing in view here).
39  sn A quotation from Ps 44:22.
40  tn BDAG 1034 s.v. ὑπερνικάω states, “as a heightened form of νικᾶν prevail completely ὑπερνικῶμεν we are winning a most glorious victory Ro 8:37.”
41  tn Here the referent could be either God or Christ, but in v. 39 it is God’s love that is mentioned.
42  tn BDAG 138 s.v. ἀρχή 6 takes this term as a reference to angelic or transcendent powers (as opposed to merely human rulers). To clarify this, the adjective “heavenly” has been supplied in the translation. Some interpreters see this as a reference to fallen angels or demonic powers, and this view is reflected in some recent translations (NIV, NLT).
[vi]  Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2005.
a  2 Cor. 1:3
b  Eph. 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12
a  Eph. 2:10; 2 Thess. 2:13f.
b  Matt. 25:34
c  Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22
1  Or, Him, in love.
d  Eph. 4:2, 15, 16; 5:2
1  Lit., having predestined
a  Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29f.
b  Rom. 8:14ff.
c  Phil. 2:13; Col. 1:19
2  Lit., good pleasure
a  Eph. 1:12, 14
b  Matt. 3:17
a  Col. 1:14
1  Lit., whom
b  Rom. 3:24; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14
c  Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:25
d  Acts 2:38
e  Rom. 2:4; Eph. 1:8; 2:7; 3:8, 16
1  Lit., made abundant toward
2  Or, us, in all wisdom and insight
1  Lit., making known
a  Rom. 11:25; Eph. 3:3
b  1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 1:15
2  Lit., good pleasure
c  Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11
1  Lit., of
a  Mark 1:15
b  Eph. 3:15; Phil. 2:9f.; Col. 1:16, 20
2  Lit., upon
1  Lit., in whom also
2  Or, were made a heritage
a  Deut. 4:20; Eph. 1:14; Titus 2:14
b  Eph. 1:5
c  Rom. 8:28f.; Eph. 3:11
d  Rom. 9:11; Heb. 6:17
1  I.e., the Messiah
a  Eph. 1:6, 14
1  Lit., whom
a  Eph. 4:21; Col. 1:5
2  Or, believed in Him, you were sealed
b  Eph. 4:30
1  Lit., whom
c  Acts 2:33
[vii]  New American Standard Bible. Electronic edition. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1986.
[viii] Some of the other factors involve God’s providence; His overall intentions for mankind through His decrees; His sovereignty as Creator-King, in which He has rights of ownership over all that is, and by reason of his all-inclusive lordship, his will can never be frustrated. See Fred G. Zaspel, “Predestination,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).
i  Ps. 25:12; 1 Sam. 2:9
j  Ps. 40:2; 119:5
k  Prov. 24:16; Mic. 7:8; 2 Cor. 4:9
l  ver. 17
[ix]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
46 According to Josephus’s summaries of the three parties, the Sadducees believed entirely in free will and did not believe in divine providence (i.e., that God directly controlled history); the Essenes believed in providence but not in free will, and the Pharisees combined the two. This description, which Josephus has doubtless taken over from his gentile source, Nicolaus of Damascus, seems not to be entirely right. The authors of the Scrolls—who may have been Essenes but who were certainly not Pharisees—believed in both providence and free will. Regardless of who believed in providence and free will, and of how people may have combined them, it is clear that the Dead Sea sect did not split off from the rest of Judaism over this interesting theological topic.
[x] E. P. Sanders, Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015), 51–53.
[xi]  It has been demonstrated that Westerners’ thinking style is linear, whereas Easterners’ thinking style is intuitive or dialectical (e.g., Nisbett, et al., 2001; Peng & Nisbett, 1999).* This seems to hold true for Far Eastern nations as well as the ancient near eastern cultures. Western culture tends to focus upon an individualist distinction, versus the Easterner’s collectivist [i.e., an intuitive and holistic approach to the culture at large] way of thinking. Instead of the “rule “ based logic of the Western mind, the ancient near east mind was more prone to a “holistic cognition…oriented to the context or the field as a whole, [with] attention to relationships between a focal object and the field, and a preference for explaining and predicting events on the basis of such relationships…”* [*adapted from, and reliant upon Hiroshi Yama & Norhayati Zakaria (2019) “Explanations for cultural differences in thinking: Easterners’ dialectical thinking and Westerners’ linear thinking”, Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 31. 487-506. DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2019.1626862. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Cognitive Psychology on 04/06/2019, available online:].
While their paper compared the Far Eastern thinking versus the Western way, in many ways this truth holds the same for the Ancient Near East [which from here on we will designate as ANE]. We wish to give thanks for Hiroshi Yama & Norhayati Zakaria’s insightful views on this matter.
[xii] Robert James Utley, The Gospel according to Paul: Romans, vol. Volume 5 of Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1998), Ro 8:25.
q  ch. 12:32; Jer. 31:3; Hos. 11:4; [ver. 65; ch. 4:23]
r  ver. 39
[xiv]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
l  Heb. 9:8; 10:20; [Eph. 2:18]
m  ch. 1:14, 17; [1 John 5:20]
n  See ch. 11:25
[xv]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[xvi] Robert James Utley, The Gospel according to Paul: Romans, vol. Volume 5 of Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1998), Ro 8:25.

No comments:

Post a Comment