Predestinate to be Conformed

Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

‘Foreknow’ [Greek: proginosko] to know beforehand. Knew before (2Pet. 3:17); foreknew (8:29; 11:2); foreordain (1Pet. 1:20; Rom. 11:1); and know (Acts 26:5). 

God’s foreknowledge [Greek: prognosis] a perceiving beforehand. It refers to God seeing ahead that He would have to send a Saviour to redeem man from the fall. No single individual is chosen, elected, foreknown, or predestined to be saved or lost without his personal choice and responsibility in the matter (John 3:16; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17). It would be cruel impartiality – unjust regard for one and an unjust disregard for another – and not divine justice for one to be chosen by God to be saved and another to be damned. God offers grace to all alike. His invitations, promises, provision, and warnings of punishment are general. All people are invited to choose life and are warned of eternal punishment if they do not do so. It is inconsistent with man’s probation for God to elect some to be saved and some to be lost.

‘Predestinate’ [Greek: proorizo] foreordain. Determine before (Acts 4:28); ordain (1Cor. 2:7); and predestinate (8:29-30; Eph. 1:5, 11). It is God’s plan that He has foreknown and predestined, not the individual conformity of free wills to the plan. He has called all people and all are free to accept or reject the call. All who do accept, He has foreknown and predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son that His Son might be the firstborn among many brethren (8:29). Those who reject the plan, He has foreknown and predestined to be consigned to eternal hell as an everlasting monument of His wrath on rebels (Isa. 66:22-24; Rev. 14:9-11; Matt. 25:41, 46). This is the sum of foreknowledge and predestination.

‘Conformed’ [Greek: summorphos] where the resurrected body will be made like His glorious body. This is what God has foreknown and predestined for all who conform to the gospel.

‘Firstborn’ [Greek: prototokos] firstborn (Col. 1:15, 18; Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7; Rom. 8:29; Heb. 11:28; 12:23) and first-begotten (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5). It is used of Jesus the firstborn of Mary (Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7) and of the firstborn of Egyptians (Heb. 11:28). It means the first one born in the family. It must also be understood in this literal sense in connection with Jesus being the firstborn in God’s family. However, Sonship in this case refers to humanity and not to deity. These facts must be understood in connection with the following: The only begotten of the Father (John 1:14); the only begotten Son (John 1:18); His only begotten Son (John 3:16; 1Jn. 4:9); the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18); this day have I begotten Thee (Ps. 2:7; Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5); I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son (Heb. 1:5).

It is used of Jesus: As the firstborn of every creature (Col. 1:15); firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18); firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29); the Head of the congregation of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23); His first-begotten (Heb. 1:5-6); first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5).

With these facts it is clear in what sense Jesus is “the firstborn of every creature” or of all creation (Col. 1:15), and “the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). All creation came into existence by creative acts, not by a begetting as in the case of Jesus. Even the “many brethren” are not begotten in the sense Jesus was by the Holy Spirit. They were begotten by people, not by God, and were thus brought into the human family, not the family of God. The only way one gets into God’s family is by adoption (8:14-16; Gal. 4:5-6; Eph. 1:5). Jesus is the only begotten Son … the first of all creatures to be begotten of God, the only one of all beings begotten of God, the first and only one of the family of adopted and “created” brethren begotten of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), the first-begotten of or from the dead, and the firstfruit of the resurrection of all men (1Cor. 15:23-33; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). The church is the called-out people of the one who is the firstborn (Heb. 12:23). Adam and angels were by creation, not by begetting (Luke 3:38; Gen. 6:1-4; Job 1:6; 38:4-7)

‘Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ God has foreordained, determined, and predestined that all people be called to salvation, but that only the ones who accept become genuine called ones to be justified and glorified. None are glorified, but those who, according to His purpose, meet the terms of the gospel. Who they will be is left up to the individual (Mark 16:16; John 3:16; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17). All things depend upon meeting the conditions of the gospel (8:1-13, 28).

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