Predestination and Salvation
From Ch. 6 of In Search of the Loving God by Mark Mason
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Taken out of context this seems to support predestination. However, the verse immediately before it helps place it in context and make its meaning clear. What God foreknew is that at any given point in time some people would love him and others would not, and what He predestined is that He would work for the good of those who loved him:
You can hardly take a verse more out of context than to ignore the verse before it! Yet this is apparently what advocates of predestination like John Calvin have done, in addition to ignoring Jesus' teachings on the matter. Quite clearly, these verses of Paul's do not indicate that certain individuals are predestined from the beginning of the world to be saved while others are not, but that God decided from the beginning that all those who loved him would be treated in a special way. Paul confirms that everyone has the opportunity to be saved later in the same letter when he says:
Why then, if Paul doesn't believe in predestination, did he even
mention the topic? The answer is that it was an important issue
in the early church because the Essenes did believe in a very
narrow and restrictive form of predestination, and the early Christian
church was a development from the Essene church (see Chapter 3).
Despite Jesus' teachings to the contrary, a belief in predestination
was obviously still common in the church, and Paul debunked the
notion by explaining just what is predestined and what isn't.
This is a good example of how a knowledge of the times Paul lived
in helps us understand what he said in his letters. The problem
of correctly interpreting Paul's teachings is one which will come
up again in later chapters, but these two examples should demonstrate
that even where Paul seems to be totally at odds with Jesus' teachings,
he may, on closer examination, actually be in harmony with them.
From: In Search of the Loving God by Mark Mason - Copyright © 1997.