according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled by His blood 1 Peter 1:2
Foreknowledge – Do we dare peek into such a controversial topic? Why not? It might be fun – and illuminating. Peter begins this thought with “according to”. The Greek is used metaphorically to mean “as one thing stands in relation to another”. So, what are the two things that stand in this relation? One is the elect foreigners and the other is God’s knowledge (in the next word). There is a crucial relationship between these two. Let’s see if we can determine what that relationship is.
Peter’s next word is the difficult one (maybe). Foreknowledge comes from two Greek words, pro (before) and ginosko (to know). In classical Greek ginosko is used for intelligent comprehension with the stress on the act of knowing. There are three different words in Greek for knowledge. One emphasizes knowledge through the senses (aisthanesthai), another emphasizes knowledge as opinion (dokein), but ginosko is the idea of knowledge that is experientially verified as true knowledge. The Gnostics enhanced this idea by making knowledge the basis of control of the world. This became secret knowledge, known only through special religious rituals. It was connected with the belief that Man has a divine spark within him and he only needs to understand his divinity and allow it to grow in order to become like God. Here, in combination with pro, the word can mean “prior acknowledgement” or “known beforehand”.
Do you think that Gnostic ideas are popular today? What modern trends are really Gnostic ideas? Our society is filled with the belief that knowledge is power and secret knowledge is even more powerful. This is the realm of magic, from Wall Street to Tarot readings. It’s pervasive, but it isn’t biblical.
This Greek word is influenced by the Hebrew idea of “know” (yada). The Hebrew word covers a much larger range of meanings, from perception to sexual intimacy. But, unlike the Greek usage, the Hebrew word stresses the knowing subject, not the information known. In Hebrew, knowledge is a function of the will, not of the intellect. It is related to decision and commitment, especially when it is about God. Therefore, ignorance is not excusable because ignorance is a refusal to act according to God’s direction – see Rom. 1:20. This background is implied in Peter’s use of the Greek term. Remember that Peter is a Jew writing in Greek so his thought patterns are Hebrew, not Greek.
Do you understand the difference between knowledge as a function of intellect and knowledge as a function of the will? Do you see how the stress on knowledge in our culture is Greek, not Hebrew? Do you now understand why the Scriptures say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?
This word (prognosin) is used here and in Acts 2:23, Rom. 11:2, Rom. 8:29, 1 Peter 1:20. Look at these references. Does this help you understand the meaning in this verse? Is this word used in the sense of “acknowledgment” or in the sense of “prediction”? What do you think? Does God know the subject matter beforehand, or is Peter saying that God acts in accordance with the role of His chosen children? Is foreknowledge about the box sitting on the road just over the horizon (the future), or is it about the God who is walking along with you, acting on your behalf in the next step?
Or maybe it’s all just to hard too think about.
Topical Index: foreknowledge, prognosin, ginosko, 1 Peter 1:2