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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: Which Words in the Bible Express the Omniscience of God?

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Which Words in the Bible Express the Omniscience of God? (Foreknowledge, Foreseeing, Foretelling, Foreordained)

Does God Know Everything? – Question 2

There are a number of words in Scripture that express God’s omniscience; that He knows everything. From each of them we gain insight into the knowledge of God. The biblical words that express this truth are as follows.

1. Foreknowledge – He Knows What Will Happen

One key word is foreknowledge. This simply means that God knows everything that will happen before it occurs. Paul wrote,

...because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30 NET)

The New Living Translation puts it this way.

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29 NLT)

The death of Jesus was in the eternal plan of God. In other words, it did not take Him by surprise. He knew in advance that this would happen.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter said the following to the crowd which had gathered that Jesus’ death was both foreknown by God as well as predetermined.

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know—this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.” (Acts 2:22-23 NET)

God certainly knew ahead of time what would take place with respect to Jesus’ death. He was not surprised with the outcome.

In another place, Peter wrote about Christ, the Lamb of God who was to be slain was something which foreknown before the world was created. He put it this way.

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the times for you. (1 Peter 1:18-20 HCSB)

God knows what will occur before it actually happens.

2. Foreseeing – He Sees Everything Ahead of Time

Foreseeing is another term that speaks of God knowing everything that will occur. In this case, He sees everything before it takes place. Paul wrote,

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8 NKJV)

The Contemporary English Version puts it this way.

Long ago the Scriptures said that God would accept the Gentiles because of their faith. That's why God told Abraham the good news that all nations would be blessed because of him. (Galatians 3:8 CEV)

The Lord foresaw that the Gentiles would be justified by faith.

Peter said that David, through the Holy Spirit, foresaw what would occur to the Messiah.

“Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’” (Acts 2:31 NRSV)

The Lord sees things before they come about. This is another way of saying that God knows what will happen in the future.

3. Foreordained – God Determines Certain Things Ahead of Time

The word foreordained speaks of events that God has determined, or planned, certain things ahead of time. Peter spoke about God choosing, or determining ahead of time, that certain people would belong to Him.

God the Father decided to choose you as his people, and his Spirit has made you holy. You have obeyed Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood. (1 Peter 1:2 CEV)

According to Peter, God chose certain people ahead of time for His particular purposes.

In the same manner, the Apostle Paul wrote about how God determines things according to His holy purpose. He wrote,

...who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began... (2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV)

The clear teaching from Scripture is that certain things have been foreordained by God. He determined ahead of time what will happen.

4. Foretelling – God Tells Us What Will Happen Ahead of Time

Because God knows what will occur, and has foreordained what will happen, He is able to foretell events. Thus, foretelling speaks of God knowing future events, and then telling humanity what will occur. In Acts we read about this.

“In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.” (Acts 3:18 NRSV)

God, through the prophets, foretold that the Messiah would suffer. This is one of many illustrations we find in Scripture of God foretelling what will occur.

These four words emphasize that the God of Scripture knows everything that will occur, He sees everything that will occur, He has foreordained, or planned, certain things that will occur, and finally He has told humanity about certain of these things that will occur.

These terms, however, in one sense, do not accurately reflect God’s knowledge. For example, God does not foresee into the future because He dwells above space and time; there is no past or future for Him. The term, therefore, is for our benefit.

Summary – Question 2
Which Words in the Bible Express the Omniscience of God? (Foreknowledge, Foreseeing, Foretelling, Foreordained)

There are four biblical words which make it clear that the God of the Bible knows everything that that is possible for Him to know. They are foreknowledge, foreseeing, foretelling and foreordained. Generally speaking, we can define these words as follows.

Foreknowledge means God knows what will happen before any event occurs. He knows everything which will happen.

Foreseeing has the idea of God seeing events before they actually take place. This is another way of stating that the Lord knows what will occur before the event transpires. He “sees” what will happen.

The word foreordained means that God has ordained or planned events to occur in the future. Because He has foreordained them, these events will happen. In other words, there is no chance that something else might happen.

Since God knows the future and He also ordains certain events to take place, it is possible for Him to tell us ahead of time what is going to occur. Foretelling means that God perfectly predicts what will happen, before it does happen. This foretelling is for our benefit.

These words confirm the biblical truth that God knows everything—past, present, and future. These words give us a basic or general idea of the knowledge of the God of Scripture. They are a good starting point in our discussion of the knowledge of God.

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