The Chain That Cannot Be Broken

 “Give up my chain, never.” – J. Cole

Many Christians read this verse with great comfort and joy, but some believe that this sequence of actions can stop, that some people could be called but not justified, that some who are justified will not be glorified in the end, These verses are commonly referred to as “The Golden Chain of Redemption” and it would seem some Christians and Pelagians  think this chain can be broken. 


First, I want to note, that Romans 8:28-30 is continuous, and is clearly focused on the same audience all the way through, there are no shifts, and no indication that any of these actions mentioned are somehow separated from one another. 

Foreknew – This is where the big debate is over, what exactly does “foreknew” mean? 

Foreknowing here is an active verb, and is personal, God is foreknowing persons in Romans 8, a specific people. A parallel is Jeremiah 1:5, God knowing the prophet before he formed him in the womb, Romans 8 is not just for Paul’s audience as some who cannot escape the inevitable continuity of the chain suggest, When Adam ‘knew’ his wife in Genesis 4:1, the passage is clearly not telling us that Adam merely acknowledge the existence of Eve, for she conceived by this knowing, which implies intimate knowledge. Likewise, in Romans 8, God’s foreknowing is intimate, it’s personal, it is not merely the foreknowing of actions. 

Paul keeps up with the theme in Romans 11, when speaking about God not rejecting his people whom he foreknew, and he then cites an OT prophet speaking about the murder of God’s prophets, God responded that he kept 7,000 that wouldn’t bow the knee to ba’al and Paul ties it in to a remnant that would be saved by God’s grace, again personal. Peter, in 1 Peter 1:20, speaking of Christ, mentions that he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, Do you think this is merely saying that the Father knew of Christ’s existence or what he would do? Another example: 

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.                     (Amos 3:1-2 ESV) 

The Arminian would not foolishly say that God doesn’t know any other families here, so what does God mean? He’s speaking personally again., why else is he singling them out here? 

When God and foreknow are together in scripture, it is always personal. 

The Arminian will say that God is simply foreknowing that they would react positively to a resistible  prevenient grace, this however is an assumption on the text and not from the text itself. I challenge the Arminian to substantiate their belief in a conditional election based on a positive action of acceptance of God’s grace. 

I’ll leave you with two very good quotes on this subject by men much more learned than me

 Faith cannot be the cause of foreknowledge, because foreknowledge is before predestination, and faith is the effect of predestination. ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,’ Acts 13:48.* Neither can it be meant of the foreknowledge of good works, because these are the effects of predestination. ‘We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works; which God hath before ordained (or before prepared) that we should walk in them;’ Eph. 2:10. Neither can it be meant of foreknowledge of our concurrence with the external call, because our effectual calling depends not upon that concurrence, but upon God’s purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Tim. 1:9. By this foreknowledge, then, is meant, as has been observed, the love of God towards those whom he predestinates to be saved through Jesus Christ. All the called of God are foreknown by Him, – that is, they are the objects of His eternal love, and their calling comes from this free love. ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn thee,’ Jer. 31:3. [1]

“as to know is often to approve and love, it may express the idea of peculiar affection in this case; or it may mean to selector determine upon….The usage of the word is favourable to either modification of this general idea of preferring. ‘The people which he foreknew,’ i.e., loved or selected, Rom. 11:2; ‘Who verily was foreordained (Gr. foreknown), i.e., fixed upon, chosen before the foundation of the world.’ I Peter 1:20; II Tim. 2:19; John 10:14,15; see also Acts 2:23; I Peter 1:2. The idea, therefore, obviously is, that those whom God peculiarly loved, and by thus loving, distinguished or selected from the rest of mankind; or to express both ideas in one word, those whom he elected he predestined, etc.” [2]

[1] Robert Haldane, Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, p. 397.

[2] Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, pp. 283, 284. Italics are his.

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