What is divine foreknowledge?

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When we talk about God foreknowing, or the divine foreknowledge, we are discussing two elements primarily. One would be what the word itself means. So, what we're saying is God has foreknown, that is, he has known beforehand, and we are saying that God knows everything. Now, biblically, we not only saying that he foreknows everything, I would argue we're also saying that he is in control of everything, past present and future as the sovereign Lord over every aspect. Not a sparrow falls to the ground but that he knows it, as Jesus put it. And so he is completely in control. So he certainly foreknows. He not only foreknows, he's in control of everything. That is part of what we're saying when we talk about his foreknowledge. And there are different ways that Christians have articulated this, and some Christians describe this in more definitive ways than others, but that's one aspect that we're talking about. The other aspect we're talking about is the concept of knowledge as intimacy. So, when Paul talks about how God has known us, the knowledge that he seems to be referring to comes from the Old Testament understanding of knowledge, which is really intimacy, even husband and wife kind of intimacy. So we mustn't keep those two things at a distance from each other. And a lot of the controversy over exactly what does God foreknow, and how does he predict it, leaves aside the other element which is that God's foreknowledge of us is the knowledge of a lover. And it's that kind of knowledge — "from since from before the creation of the world he has known us," and so we're not just a twinkle in his eye if we're his child, we're his loved, known entity from eternity past to eternity future.

Answer by Dr. Josh Moody

Dr. Josh Moody is pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL