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Does the Bible Teach Predestination or Free Will?

Does the Bible Teach Predestination or Free Will?


Scripture Verses Supporting Predestination

The concept of predestination is extensively supported in the Bible. Below is a comprehensive list of verses that elucidate this doctrine:

  1. Ephesians 1:4-5: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
  2. Romans 8:29-30: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
  3. Acts 13:48: “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
  4. John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
  5. 2 Thessalonians 2:13: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”
  6. Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
  7. 1 Peter 1:1-2: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”
  8. Romans 9:15-16: “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
  9. Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
  10. Acts 16:14: “One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
  11. Romans 11:5-6: “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
  12. John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
  13. John 6:65: “He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.'”
  14. Ephesians 1:11: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
  15. Proverbs 16:4: “The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
  16. Romans 9:22-23: “What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory.”

Understanding Predestination in Context

The doctrine of predestination must be understood within the broader context of biblical teaching. While the above verses clearly support the concept, they are part of a larger theological narrative that encompasses God’s plan for creation, redemption, and the final consummation of all things. Understanding predestination requires considering the nature of God, His sovereignty, and His relationship with humanity.

The Bible consistently portrays God as sovereign and omniscient, having complete authority and knowledge over all creation. This sovereignty is key to understanding predestination. It implies that God’s plans and purposes are not reactive or subject to change based on human actions. Instead, they are part of an eternal, unchangeable divine plan, as suggested in Isaiah 46:10, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”

Furthermore, predestination highlights the grace and mercy of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 explains that salvation is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. This underscores the idea that salvation is not something humans can earn or achieve on their own; it is granted according to God’s sovereign choice and grace.

The Role of Human Responsibility

While predestination emphasizes God’s sovereignty, it does not negate human responsibility. The Bible teaches that humans are moral agents who are responsible for their choices. This is not a paradox because while the human will is not free from God’s sovereignty, it is still a meaningful will that makes meaningful decisions with consequences.

For example, in Philippians 2:12-13, believers are instructed to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” This passage suggests a cooperative dynamic where human effort and divine enablement work together.

This dual aspect of divine sovereignty and human responsibility may be difficult to fully grasp, but it is not a contradiction. Christians are called to embrace both truths, trusting in God’s sovereignty while also recognizing the significance of their choices and actions.

Predestination and the Christian Life

The doctrine of predestination has practical implications for the Christian life. It offers believers a profound assurance of God’s unchanging love and purpose. Romans 8:38-39 assures that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, reinforcing the security of the believer in God’s eternal plan.

Predestination also leads to a sense of humility and gratitude. Understanding that salvation is not based on human merit but on God’s grace should lead to a humble acknowledgment of our dependence on God. It also fosters a deep gratitude for the unmerited favor and love that God extends to His people.

Lastly, the doctrine of predestination should motivate believers to evangelism and service. Knowing that God has a sovereign plan for salvation should not lead to complacency but rather to a passionate commitment to share the gospel, as God uses the means of preaching and witnessing to call His elect to Himself. As 2 Timothy 2:10 says, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”


These scriptures collectively affirm the biblical doctrine of predestination, highlighting God’s sovereignty and the predetermined nature of His plan for salvation and human destinies.

Read More

For further study on predestination in the Bible, the following resources are recommended:

  1. “Chosen by God” by R.C. Sproul – Provides an in-depth exploration of the doctrine of predestination, backed by scriptural analysis.
  2. “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” by Loraine Boettner – Offers a comprehensive study of predestination, drawing extensively from biblical texts.

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