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Bible Dictionary: Define Predestinate, Definition of Predestinate


the word, proorizo, which is translated as "predestinate" means: to determine or appoint ahead of time. It does not mean to predestine. There is a second word, eklektos, which is translated is either chosen or elect, and this is key to understanding some of the various doctrines that have been developed around the subject of predestination. Both these words are defined in more detail in this page and all Bible verses in which these words appear can be found on this page.

It should be noted that Scripture tells us that this appointment ahead of time is for those whom God foreknew--"Whom He did foreknow He did appoint or determine ahead of time." Those who have been appointed have been appointed based on God's foreknowing the decisions that they would make. This does nothing to thwart free will as the Atheists and some Christian theologies might indicate.

The Scripture is plain about its command to avoid speculation; however, the natural human mind (even in Christians) rationalizes speculation without conscious effort. In the case of the word, predestine, in Scripture, there are many speculations. Some of these speculative theologies are even fatalistic in nature. Satan has used these speculations to create many bitter divisions in the church. Sometimes, when the natural mind of man gets a wrong idea, that idea becomes a filter that makes it almost impossible to see what the Bible actually teaches. The idea turns into a theology and becomes a very powerful lie. Then, other parts of the Bible are unconsciously twisted to support the lie. Such is the case with the poor translation of the Greek word, proorizo, into the English word, predestinate. Predestine or predestinate has a prefix that means ahead of time. It has a suffix that means destine or destiny. Destiny implies an inevitable or irresistible course of events. If someone is appointed, even appointed for life, that does not mean that the person cannot resist the appointment. If a course of action is determined and that course of action involves another individual, the other individual has the power to resist the determination. If the planner absolutely knows how the other person will react, then the appointment or the determination cannot fail. This is the nature of predestination. Those who have speculated starting from a poor translation and then multiplying the error with poor logic and false claims have done terrible damage to the Church.

4309 proorizo {pro-or-id'-zo}
from 4253 and 3724; TDNT - 5:456,728; v
AV - predestinate 4, determine before 1, ordain 1; 6
1) to predetermine, decide beforehand
2) in the NT of God decreeing from eternity
3) to foreordain, appoint beforehand

Proorizo is taken from a combination of the following two Greek words:

4253 pro {pro}
a primary preposition; TDNT - 6:683,935; prep
AV - before 44, above 2, above... ago 1, or ever 1; 48
1) before

The root word of this Greek word is the key to its meaning. The root word is "orizo" or "horizo" (#3724).

3724 horizo {hor-id'-zo}
from 3725; TDNT - 5:452,728; v
AV - determine 2, ordain 2, as it was determined + 2596 + 3588 1,
declare 1, limit 1, determine 1; 8
1) to define
1a) to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing)
1b to determine, appoint
1b1) that which has been determined, acc. to appointment, decree
1b2) to ordain, determine, appoint

For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. Acts 4:28
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. Romans 8:29
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. Romans 8:30
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory: 1 Corinthians 2:7
Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Ephesians 1:5
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: Ephesians 1:11

None of this implies that the One who is predetermining is the only one who is determining. There is nothing in this word that indicates that there is no corresponding acceptance on the part of man. The Greek word does not require or imply exclusive causation. The English translation to "predestinate" has an implication of "destiny," but the Greek shows this to be an incorrect interpretation

What Scripture is used to support an extreme view of predestination?

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Ephesians 1:4
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Romans 9:6
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Romans 9:7
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined (appointed ahead of time) to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined (appointed ahead of time), these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:21-30
For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Rom 9:15-16
Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? Romans 9:21
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her,"The older shall serve the younger."[a] 13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.Rom 9:11-13

None of these Scriptures in any way indicate that we have no choice in the matter, but many verses in Scripture do indicate that we do have a choice.


Since the clear teaching of Scripture has been twisted into some false doctrine, the following analysis is provided.

Error #1: Believing is the work to which Paul was referring when he said that salvation is not by works. (conflicts with Scripture)
Truth: In John 6:27, Jesus said to labor/work for the meat that endures to everlasting life and in verst 29, Jesus says that the work is to believe, and in Romans 4 Paul says that Abraham was not justified by works but rather Abraham believed God and God credited it to his as righteousness and to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Then, in Galatians 3, Paul asks: "Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" To complete this alternative, we should know that faith, which is supernatural trust and belief, comes by hearing and hearing comes by an utterance of God. (literal)

Error #2: Only God or only man but not both can influence who will be saved. (conflicts with Scripture)
Truth: Salvation is a combination of God's soveriegnty and human responsibility. Our part is to accept, which we could also call receiving, yielding, NOT contending, or submitting. We cannot accept except that the Father draw us. In fact, the sin against the Holy Spirit is the sin of failure to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Since God never forces Himself on anyone, failure to cooperate makes it that the Holy Spirit cannot help us.

Error #3: Because God made His choice first, therefore man has no choice. (conflicts with Scripture)
Truth: The fact that God made His choice first does not have any affect on man's choice, though it is God who gives the power both to will and to do God's good pleasure. God made His choice first, and we make our choice just as God foreknew that we would. God does NOT force Himself on anyone against that person's will.

Error #4: if man has a choice in God's offer of salvation, then God cannot predestine man according to His good pleasure. (conflicts with Scripture)
Truth: Some choose to accept and some reject God's offer of salvation, yet God foreknew, and based on His foreknowledge Y predestined those who would be saved according to His good pleasure.

Error #5: If God predestined, He did so based on nothing in the future but only on a whim. (conflicts with Scripture)
Truth: God predestined based on His knowledge of the future and His knowledge of how each person would react to His leading and His Holy Spirit--and He did this to glorify Himself by displaying His omniscience (All-Knowing).

Error #6: The cause of man's acceptance or rejection of God's free gifts is God's predestination based on foreknowledge. (does not fit the God described in Scripture)
Truth: The cause of God's predestination is God's foreknowledge of man's acceptance or rejection of God's free gifts.

Error #7: If man has a responsiblity to submit to the Holy Spirit, that will result in pride. (without evidence)
Truth: Only humility will allow man to submit to the Holy Spirit, for the saved person knows that they have only received a free gift.

Which part of God's will can be resisted? Using Romans 9 says that God does have occasion sometimes to harden a person's heart and that person cannot resist. Romans 1 tells us that God did this to some because they chose not to hold God in their knowledge. John 6:44 does not say that once the Father draws a person, that person cannot resist. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that man cannot resist the grace of God. Acts 7:51 tells us that men do resist the Holy Spirit calling them to repentance.
Error #8:
1. Man can resist God's will regarding sin.
2. Man cannot resist God's Spirit calling us to repentance. (conflicts with Scripture)
3. Man cannot resist the execution of God's judgment.
1. Man can resist God's will regarding sin.
2. Man can resist God's Spirit calling us to repentance.
3. Man cannot resist the execution of God's judgment.
4. Man cannot resist God's will when God decides to STOP calling them to repentance.

"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:30-31 (ESV)

Suppose that extreme predestination were true, and, at the same time, this Scripture is true. Extreme Predestination doctrine says that God has already determined and ordained that some will be unable to repent, since He decided that He would not enable them. Some even say that God will not extend His grace to them. Acts 17:30-31 says that God commands all to repent. Why would God command all when He knows that He has created them in such a way that they could not repent?

1 Tim 2:3-6
Ezekiel 33:11
2 Peter 3:9
Acts 17:30
1 John 2:1-2
John 3:16

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people." Titus 2:11

"Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:29-31

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears. You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you." Acts 7:51

Luke 8:13 says it is possible for people to believe for awhile, but in time of temptation fall away

"His disciples came to Him" (Matt.5:1). And He taught them, and gave them (THE DISCIPLES) this warning: 27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." Matt.5:27-30 Jesus said this to His own deciples.

The Scripture is clear that we can fall away: "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God." Hebrews 3:10 This is written to Christians, not to the unsaved.

Another word, elect, is key to this subject:

1588 εκλεκτος eklektos ek-lek-tos'
from 1586; TDNT-4:181,505; {See TDNT 431} adj
AV-elect 16, chosen 7; 23
1) picked out, chosen
1a) chosen by God,
1a1) to obtain salvation through Christ
1a1a) Christians are called "chosen or elect" of God
1a2) the Messiah is called "elect," as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable
1a3) choice, select, i.e. the best of its kind or class, excellence preeminent: applied to certain individual Christians

Mt 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen .
Mt 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen .
Mt 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
Mt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect .
Mt 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Mr 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake , whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
Mr 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect .
Mr 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
Lu 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect , which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?
Lu 23:35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
Ro 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justifieth.
Ro 16:13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
1Ti 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect , and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, be multiplied.
1Pe 2:4 To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
1Pe 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect , precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
2Jo 1:1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
2Jo 1:13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.
Re 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen , and faithful.

Last updated: Sep, 2013

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