Some more thoughts on Predestination


In a previous blog I wrote about “Predestination and Free Will”.  I believe that Christians who don’t accept the Bible’s teaching on predestination are forfeiting the great assurance and comfort that this doctrine affords. On the one hand, I think they may misunderstand God’s sovereignty, and on the other hand, human free will.  If God is sovereign, surely salvation is 100% all of God.  If we are utterly sinful, surely we will not use our free will to turn to God.

In our current series on Revelation there is a fascinating verse that speaks to this topic.  speaks about non-Christians, those who worship the beast, as those “whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain”.

I hope you’ll excuse some technical discussion, but the verse has some complications in translation regarding the Greek.  A perusal of different English translations will illustrate this.  I’ll try and give a literal Greek translation: “it has not been written the name of him in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world”.  One can see from the ESV translation above that it has connected the final words “from the foundation of the world” with almost the start of the sentence, with the word “written”.  This clearly teaches predestination.

Some would argue however that this translation is incorrect and that the phrase “from the foundation of the world” describes “the Lamb who was slain”, which comes immediately before.  That is, the Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world.  God’s plan for Jesus to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins was ordained before creation.  This is indeed true ().  And it would be unusual for the phrase “from the foundation of the world” to be separated so far in the Greek from “it has not been written”.  So those who argue that against the ESV translation could be correct.

However, speaks of “the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world”.  There is no issue here with the order of the words, as in .  This verse clearly teaches predestination.  So it is likely that the ESV translation of is quite correct.  Even if it isn’t, the point it makes still stands anyway in .

That is, here is a verse, most likely two verses, that clearly teach predestination, as do many other verses in the New Testament.  Those who refuse to repent, who refuse the gospel, do not have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world.  Christians however do have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life before creation.  God predestined you and me to accept the good news of Jesus and be saved before creation!  What a great comfort this teaching is.

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

4 thoughts on “Some more thoughts on Predestination”

  1. Surely this just says that the book of life was created at the foundation of the world.

    It’s not so clear that the names were written at that time.

    Perhaps the names were/will be witten later?

    This seems to suggest predestination is not so clear.

  2. Hi there. Thanks for your comment. Actually the ESV says: “everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world”. That makes it clear that we are talking about before creation, and we are talking about the names being written then. Quite clear don’t you think? I’m not trying to be narky – it’s just there plainly in black and white.

  3. But you said in the first part “Some would argue however that this translation is incorrect and that the phrase “from the foundation of the world” describes “the Lamb who was slain”, which comes immediately before.” and “So those who argue that against the ESV translation could be correct.”

    1. Yes, that is true. So the ESV translation here may not be right. I think it is correct myself. But my point was that even if it isn’t, you get the same point in .

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