An Exegetical Study of Romans 8:30                                                                                  by Jack Kettler

For context:


“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“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)


In the following interlinear layout of the verse, there is the Strong’s number followed by the transliteration of the Greek word, then the Greek word itself, and finally the English words.


3739               161    4309                 3778        2532 2564         2532 3739 2564          3778      2532 1344             3739

hous                de      proōrisen         toutous    kai    ekalesen   kai    hous ekalesen     toutous  kai    edikaiōsen    hous

οὓς                  δὲ      προώρισεν    ,   τούτους   καὶ    ἐκάλεσεν ; καὶ   οὓς   ἐκάλεσεν  ,   τούτους  καὶ    ἐδικαίωσεν  ; οὓς

Those whom   then He predestined  these      also    He called  also  whom He called     these      also   He justified   whom


161     1344              3778       2532 1392

de        edikaiōsen    toutous   kai     edoxasen

δὲ        ἐδικαίωσεν  , τούτους  καὶ    ἐδόξασεν  .

then     He justified   these      also  He glorified


In Romans, 3:30 the Aorist Indicative Active verb tense used four times.


The Aorist Indicative Active tense is used for an action that has already been completed in the past with an expectancy of future certainty. Said another way, this tense uses the past tense for the present or future time.


It will be profitable to look at the four instances of the aorist indicative active tense in Romans 8:30 along with Reformed confessional definitions of predestination, calling, justification, and glorification along with a Scripture citation, and dictionary entries.


Strong's Lexicon

He predestined

προώρισεν (proōrisen) 4309

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 4309: To foreordain, predetermine, mark out beforehand. From pro and horizo; to limit in advance, i.e. predetermine.




1. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.


2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.


3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.


4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.


5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.


6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.


7. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.


“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)


Easton's Bible Dictionary on Predestination:


“This word is properly used only with reference to God's plan or purpose of salvation. The Greek word rendered "predestinate" is found only in these six passages, Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29 Romans 8:30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5 Ephesians 1:11; and in all of them it has the same meaning. They teach that the eternal, sovereign, immutable, and unconditional decree or "determinate purpose" of God governs all events.


This doctrine of predestination or election is beset with many difficulties. It belongs to the "secret things" of God. But if we take the revealed word of God as our guide, we must accept this doctrine with all its mysteriousness, and settle all our questionings in the humble, devout acknowledgment, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”


For the teaching of Scripture on this subject let the following passages be examined in addition to those referred to above; Genesis 21:12; Exodus 9:16; 33:19; Deuteronomy 10:15; 32:8; Joshua 11:20; 1Samuel 12:22; 2Chronicles 6:6; Psalms 33:12; 65:4; 78:68; 135:4; Isaiah 41:1-10; Jeremiah 1:5; Mark 13:20; Luke 22:22; John 6:37; 15:16; John 17:2 John 17:6 John 17:9; Acts 2:28; 3:18; 4:28; 13:48; 17:26; Romans 9:11 Romans 9:18 Romans 9:21; 11:5; Ephesians 3:11; 1Thessalonians 1:4; 2Thessalonians 2:13; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1Peter 1:2. (See DECREES OF GOD; ELECTION.)


Hodge has well remarked that, ‘rightly understood, this doctrine (1) exalts the majesty and absolute sovereignty of God, while it illustrates the riches of his free grace and his just displeasure with sin.


It enforces upon us the essential truth that salvation is entirely of grace. That no one can either complain if passed over, or boast himself if saved.

It brings the inquirer to absolute self-despair and the cordial embrace of the free offer of Christ.

In the case of the believer who has the witness in himself, this doctrine at once deepens his humility and elevates his confidence to the full assurance of hope.’” (1)


Strong’s Lexicon

He called

ἐκάλεσεν (ekalesen) 2564

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 2564: (a) I call, summon, invite, (b) I call, name. Akin to the base of keleuo; to 'call'.


Westminster Chapter X of Effectual Calling:


i. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.


“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)


Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology on Calling:


“Election. “Call” is one of the biblical words associated with the theme of election. In both Hebrew and Greek, "call" can be used in the sense of "naming" (Gen 2:19; Luke 1:13), and in biblical thought to give a name to something or someone was to bestow an identity. Names often encapsulated a message about the person concerned (Ruth 1:20-21; John 1:42; cf. Matt 16:18). When God is the one who bestows names, the action is almost equivalent to creation: “Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isa 40:26).


This theme is developed particularly in Isaiah 40-55, which forms an important background to the New Testament use of the term. The creative “calling” of the stars is matched by the “calling” of Abraham, which meant both the summons to leave Ur and the call to be the father of Israel: “When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many” (51:2). Similarly Israel the nation has been called-“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you” (41:9; cf. 48:12)-and this means that they are “called by my name ... created for my glory” (43:7; cf. Hos 1:10). God has bestowed his own name upon Israel as part of the creative act that made Israel his own elect people. Now also the Servant of the Lord has been “called” to be the Savior of the world (42:6; 49:1); and so has Cyrus, to be the instrument of judgment of Babylon (48:15).


Thus in Isaiah “call” brings together the ideas of naming, election, ownership, and appointment, as the word is used with different nuances in different contexts. It connotes the creative word of God, by which he Acts effectively within the world.” Stephen Miller (2)


Strong’s Lexicon

He [also] justified,

ἐδικαίωσεν (edikaiōsen) 1344

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 1344: From dikaioo, to render just or innocent.


Concerning justification, the Westminster Confession of Faith reads:


Those of whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.


“A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16)


Easton's Bible Dictionary on Justification:




A forensic term, opposed to condemnation. As regards its nature, it is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon (q.v.) of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law (Romans 5:1-10).


It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ (Romans 10:3-9). Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a righteousness which perfectly and forever satisfies the law, namely, Christ's righteousness (2Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:6-8).


The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith in or on the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is called a “condition,” not because it possesses any merit, but only because it is the instrument, the only instrument by which the soul appropriates or apprehends Christ and his righteousness (Romans 1:17; Romans 3:25 Romans 3:26; Romans 4:20 Romans 4:22; Philippians 3:8-11; Galatians 2:16).


The act of faith, which thus secures our justification, secures also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to licentiousness (Romans 6:2-7). Good works, while not the ground, are the certain consequence of justification (6:14; 7:6). (See GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO.)” (3)


Strong’s Lexicon

He also glorified.

ἐδόξασεν (edoxasen) 1392

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 1392: To glorify, honor, to bestow glory on. From doxa, to render glorious.


The Westminster Shorter Catechism question 38 states:


Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God, to all eternity.


“And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39, 40)


“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)


Glorify from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:




glo'-ri-fi: The English word is the equivalent of a number of Hebrew and Greek words whose essential significance is discussed more fully under the word GLORY (which see). The word “glorious” in the phrases “make or render glorious” is used most frequently as a translation of verbs in the original, rather than of genuine adjectives. In dealing with the verb, it will be sufficient to indicate the following most important uses.


(1) Men may glorify God, that is, give to Him the worship and reverence which are His due (Isa 24:15; 25:3; Ps 22:23; Da 5:23; Sirach 43:30; Mt 5:16, and generally in the Synoptic Gospels and in some other passages of the New Testament).


(2) God, Yahweh (Yahweh), glorifies His people, His house, and in the New Testament, His Son, manifesting His approval of them and His interest in them, by His interposition on their behalf (Isa 55:5; Jer 30:19; The Wisdom of Solomon 18:8; Sirach 45:3; Joh 7:39, and often in the Fourth Gospel).


(3) By a usage which is practically confined to the Old Testament, Yahweh glorifies Himself, that is, secures the recognition of His honor and majesty, by His direction of the course of history, or by His interposition in history, either the history of His own people or of the world at large (Le 10:3; Isa 26:15; Eze 28:22; Hag 1:8). Walter R. Betteridge” Walter R. Betteridge (4)


A sample of cross-references to illustrate additional usages of the Aorist Indicative Active tense:


Matthew 3:17:

“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

Strong’s Lexicon

I am well pleased !

εὐδόκησα (eudokēsa)

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 1st Person Singular

Strong's Greek 2106: To be well-pleased, think it good, be resolved. From eu and dokeo, to think well of, i.e. Approve, specially, to approbate.


Matthew 12:28:

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Strong’s Lexicon

has come

ἔφθασεν (ephthasen)

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 5348: Apparently a primary verb; to be beforehand, i.e. Anticipate or precede; by extension, to have arrived at.


Romans 9:23:

“And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.”

Strong's Lexicon

He prepared in advance

προητοίμασεν (proētoimasen)

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 4282: To prepare or appoint beforehand, predestine. From pro and hetoimazo; to fit up in advance.


1Corinthians 2:7:

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,”

Strong's Lexicon

Destined [ordained]

προώρισεν (proōrisen)

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 4309: To foreordain, predetermine, mark out beforehand. From pro and horizo, to limit in advance, i.e. predetermine.


Ephesians 2:6:

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

[God] raised [us] up with [Christ]

συνήγειρεν (synēgeiren)

Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

Strong's Greek 4891: To raise along with. From sun and egeiro, to rouse in company with, i.e. to revivify in resemblance to.


Paul’s argument in Romans 8:30 is distinctive. This argument has been referred to as the golden-chain-of- salvation and has a long tradition. What is meant by this?


William Hendriksen explains this concerning Paul’s argument in the Romans passage calling it The Salvation Chain:


“The Salvation Chain


When Paul states that to those who love God and are called according to his purpose all things work together for good, he is not thinking only of those things that can be seen round about us now, or those events that are taking place now; no, he includes even time and eternity. The chain of salvation he is discussing reaches back to that which, considered from a human standpoint, could be called the dim past, “the quiet recess of eternity,” and forward into the boundless future.

One very important fact must be mentioned: every link in this chain of salvation represents a divine action. To be sure, human responsibility and action is not thereby ruled out, but here (Rom. 8:29, 30) it is never specifically mentioned.

There are five links in this chain. Note that the predicate of the first clause becomes the subject of the next one, a construction called sorites.” * (5)


*Note: The Sorites is an argument made of arguments that involve premises and a conclusion. The premises are arranged so that the consequent of one premise becomes the antecedent of the next. The repeating of information and connection of the premises in the argument is why the Sorites is known as a chain-argument.


Consider Oshea Davis in his excellent analysis of Romans 8:28-30 – Logical Chain Argument makes pertinent comments:


“The logical deduction Paul uses here is called a Sorites…I see examples of other people mentioning this sorites in Romans 8:30, however, they are prone to leave out verse 29, and thus only make this a 4-premise syllogism. This is a mistake, because the first premise comes from verse 29; and thus, the syllogism is in fact 5 premises.


At any rate, the first premise starts with, Those whom God foreloved are those He predestined.” The rest of the verse gives us extra insight as to what this predestination results in for both Jesus and for the ones predestined; however, this is not relevant for the immediate syllogism being made by Paul, because the next verse simply picks up at the category of, “whom He predestined … .” The predicate of premise is the subject of the starting premise in verse 30.  Paul does not give the conclusion of this syllogism.  However, in my experience of reading Paul he normally does gives the conclusion. I suspect that he does not here simply because he so exactly spells out the rest of this enthymeme sorites that the conclusion it is not needed, for it is obvious.”


Mr. Davis continues and then lays out the sorites argument in the logical form:


“Foreloved would be in decree 2. Predestination would be decree 3. Called would be 8. Justification would be 9. And Glorification would be point 10.


(A) Those whom God foreloved are (B) those whom God predestined.


(B) Those whom God predestined are (C) those whom God called.


(C) Those whom God called are (D) those whom God justified.


(D) Those whom God justified are (E) those whom God glorified.


Therefore, (A) those whom God foreloved are (E) those whom God glorified.” (6)


Commentary on Romans 8:28–30 by the renowned professor of Westminster Theological Seminary, John Murray B. 1898 – D. 1975:


“28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

29 For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren:

30 and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.


This is the third ground of encouragement for the support of the children of God in the sufferings they are called upon to endure in this life. It consists in the consolation and assurance to be derived from the fact that all things work together for their good.


28 The version is probably correct in introducing these verses by the conjunction “and” rather than by “but”. The thought is not apparently adversative but transitional. When the apostle says “we know”, he is again intimating that the truth asserted is not one to be gainsaid. “To them that love God” is placed in the position of emphasis and characterizes those to whom the assurance belongs. They are described in terms of their subjective attitude. In such terms no criterion could be more discriminating, for love to God is both the most elementary and the highest mark of being in the favour of God. “All things” may not be restricted, though undoubtedly the things contemplated are particularly those that fall within the compass of believers’ experience, especially suffering and adversity. Some of the ablest expositors maintain that “work together” does not mean that all things work in concert and cooperation with one another but that all things work in concert with the believer or with God.50 But it is unnecessary and perhaps arbitrary to depart from the more natural sense, namely, that in the benign and all-embracing plan of God the discrete elements all work together for good to them that love God. It is not to be supposed that they have any virtue or efficacy in themselves to work in concert for this end. Though not expressed, the ruling thought is that in the sovereign love and wisdom of God they are all made to converge upon and contribute to that goal. Many of the things comprised are evil in themselves and it is the marvel of God’s wisdom and grace that they, when taken in concert with the whole, are made to work for good. Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot. “To them that are called according to purpose” is a further definition of those to whom this assurance belongs. But the difference is significant. The former characterized them in terms of their subjective attitude, the latter in terms of God’s action exclusively. In the latter, therefore, there is an intimation of the reason why all things work for good—the action of God involved in their call is the guarantee that such will be the result.51 The call is the effectual call (cf. 1:7; vs. 30) which ushers into the fellowship of Christ (1Cor. 1:9) and is indissolubly linked with predestination, on the one hand, and glorification, on the other. “According to purpose” refers without question to God’s determinate and eternal purpose (cf. 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; 2Tim. 1:9). The last cited text is Paul’s own expansion of the thought summed up in the word “purpose”: “who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal”. Determinate efficacy characterizes the call because it is given in accordance with eternal purpose.

29 This verse unfolds in greater detail the elements included in the “purpose” of verse 28, and verses 29, 30 are a “continued confirmation”52 of the truth that all things work for good to those who are the called of God. There is no question but the apostle here introduces us to the eternal counsel of God as it pertains to the people of God and delineates for us its various aspects.

“Whom he foreknew”—few questions have provoked more difference of interpretation than that concerned with the meaning of God’s foreknowledge as referred to here. It is, of course, true that the word is used in the sense of “to know beforehand” (cf. Acts 26:5; 2Pet. 3:17). As applied to God it could, therefore, refer to his eternal prevision, his foresight of all that would come to pass. It has been maintained by many expositors that this sense will have to be adopted here. Since, however, those whom God is said to have foreknown are distinguished from others and identified with those whom God also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, and since the expression “whom he foreknew” does not, on this view of its meaning, intimate any distinction by which the people of God could be differentiated, various ways of supplying this distinguishing element have been proposed. The most common is to suppose that what is in view is God’s foresight of faith.53 God foreknew who would believe; he foreknew them as his by faith. On this interpretation predestination is conceived of as conditioned upon this prevision of faith. Frequently, though not necessarily in all instances, this view of foreknowledge is considered to obviate the doctrine of unconditional election, and so dogmatic interest is often apparent in those who espouse it.

It needs to be emphasized that the rejection of this interpretation is not dictated by a predestinarian interest. Even if it were granted that “foreknew” means the foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true, that God foresees faith; he foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith he himself creates (cf. John 3:3–8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Pet. 1:2). Hence his eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by his decree to generate this faith in those whom he foresees as believing, and we are thrown back upon the differentiation which proceeds from God’s own eternal and sovereign election to faith and its consequents. The interest, therefore, is simply one of interpretation as it should be applied to this passage. On exegetical grounds we shall have to reject, the view that “foreknew” refers to the foresight of faith.

It should be observed that the text says, “whom he foreknew”; whom is the object of the verb and there is no qualifying addition. This, of itself, shows that, unless there is some other compelling reason, the expression “whom he foreknew” contains within itself the differentiation which is presupposed. If the apostle had in mind some “qualifying adjunct”54 it would have been simple to supply it. Since he adds none we are forced to inquire if the actual terms he uses can express the differentiation implied. The usage of Scripture provides an affirmative

answer. Although the term “foreknow” is used seldom in the New Testament, it is altogether indefensible to ignore the meaning so frequently given to the word “know” in the usage of Scripture; “foreknow” merely adds the thought of “beforehand” to the word “know”. Many times in Scripture “know” has a pregnant meaning which goes beyond that of mere cognition.55 It is used in a sense practically synonymous with “love”, to set regard upon, to know with peculiar interest, delight, affection, and action (cf. Gen. 18:19; Exod. 2:25; Psalm 1:6; 144:3; Jer. 1:5; Amos 3:2; Hosea 13:5; Matt. 7:23; 1 Cor. 8:3; Gal. 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 3:1). There is no reason why this import of the word “know” should not be applied to “foreknow” in this passage, as also in 11:2 where it also occurs in the same kind of construction and where the thought of election is patently present (cf. 11:5, 6.)56 When this import is appreciated, then there is no reason for adding any qualifying notion and “whom he foreknew” is seen to contain within itself the differentiating element required. It means “whom he set regard upon” or “whom he knew from eternity with distinguishing affection and delight” and is virtually equivalent to “whom he foreloved”. This interpretation, furthermore, is in agreement with the efficient and determining action which is so conspicuous in every other link of the chain—it is God who predestinates, it is God who calls, it is God who justifies, and it is he who glorifies. Foresight of faith would be out of accord with the determinative action which is predicated of God in these other instances and would constitute a weakening of the total emphasis at the point where we should least expect it. Foresight has too little of the active to do justice to the divine monergism upon which so much of the emphasis falls. It is not the foresight of difference but the foreknowledge that makes difference to exist, not a foresight that recognizes existence but the foreknowledge that determines existence. It is sovereign distinguishing love.

“He also foreordained.” One of the main objections urged against the foregoing view of “whom he foreknew” is that it would obliterate the distinction between foreknowledge and predestination.57 There is ostensible progression of thought expressed in “he also foreordained”. But there is no need to suppose that this progression is disturbed if “foreknew” is interpreted in the way propounded. “Foreknew” focuses attention upon the distinguishing love of God whereby the sons of God were elected. But it does not inform us of the destination to which those thus chosen are appointed. It is precisely that information that “he also foreordained” supplies, and it is by no means superfluous. When we consider the high destiny defined, “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, there is exhibited not only the dignity of this ordination but also the greatness of the love from which the appointment flows. God’s love is not passive emotion; it is active volition and it moves determinatively to nothing less than the highest goal conceivable for his adopted children, conformity to the image of the only-begotten Son. To allege that the pregnant force of “foreknew” does not leave room for the distinct enunciation of this high destiny is palpably without warrant or reason.58

“Conformed to the image of his Son” defines the destination to which the elect of God are appointed. The apostle has in view the conformity to Christ that will be realized when they will be glorified with Christ (vs. 17; cf. vss. 18, 19, 21, 23, 30), the final and complete conformity of resurrection glory (cf. 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). It is noteworthy that this should be described as conformity to the image of the Son; it enhances the marvel of the destination. The title “Son” has reference to Christ as the only-begotten (cf.vss. 3, 32) and therefore the unique and eternal Sonship is contemplated. The conformity cannot, of course, have in view conformity to him in that relation or capacity; the conformity embraces the transformation of the body of our humiliation to the likeness of the body of Christ’s glory (Phil. 3:21) and must therefore be conceived of as conformity to the image of the incarnate Son as glorified by his exaltation. Nevertheless, the glorified Christ does not cease to be the eternal Son and it is the eternal Son who is the glorified incarnate Son. Conformity to his image as incarnate and glorified, therefore, is conformity to the image of him who is the eternal and only-begotten Son.

“That he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” This specifies the final aim of the conformity just spoken of. We might well ask: What can be more final than the complete conformity of the sons of God to the image of Christ? It is this question that brings to the forefront the significance of this concluding clause. There is a final end that is more ultimate than the glorification of the people of God; it is that which is concerned with the preeminence of Christ. As Meyer correctly notes: “Paul contemplates Christ as the One, to whom the divine decree referred as to its final aim”.59 The term “firstborn” reflects on the priority and the supremacy of Christ (cf. Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 1:6;Rev. 1:5).60 It is all the more striking that, when the unique and eternal Sonship is contemplated in the title “Son” and the priority and supremacy of Christ in the designation “firstborn”, the people of God should be classified with Christ as “brethren” (cf. Heb. 2:11, 12). His unique sonship and the fact that he is the firstborn guard Christ’s distinctiveness and preeminence, but it is among many brethren that his preeminence appears. This is another example of the intimacy of the relation existing between Christ and the people of God. The union means also community and this community is here expressed as that of “brethren”. The fraternal relationship is subsumed under the ultimate end of the predestinating decree, and this means that the preeminence of Christ carries with it the eminence that belongs to the children of God. In other words, the unique dignity of the Son in his essential relation to the Father and in his messianic investiture enhances the marvel of the dignity bestowed upon the people of God. The Son is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:11).

30 The two preceding verses deal with the eternal and pre-temporal counsel of God; the “purpose” of verse 28 is explicated in verse 29in terms of foreknowledge and predestination, the latter defining the ultimate goal of the counsel of salvation. Verse 30 introduces us to the realm of the temporal and indicates the actions by which the eternal counsel is brought to actual fruition in the children of God. Three actions are mentioned, calling, justification, and glorification. There is an unbreakable bond between these three actions themselves, on the one hand, and the two elements of the eternal counsel, on the other. All five elements are co-extensive. The sustained use of “also” and the repetition of the terms “foreordained”, “called”, “justified” in the three relative clauses in verse 30 signalize the denotative equation. Thus it is made abundantly evident that there cannot be one element without the others and that the three elements which are temporal flow by way of consequence from the eternal counsel, particularly from predestination because it stands in the closest logical relation to calling as the first in the sequence of temporal events.61

It is to be observed that calling, justification, and glorification are set forth as acts of God—“he called”, “he justified”, “he glorified”. The same divine monergism appears as in “he foreknew” and “he foreordained”. It is contrary to this emphasis to define any of these elements of the application of redemption in any other terms than those of divine action. It is true that all three affect us men, they draw our persons within their scope, and are of the deepest practical moment to us in the actual experience of salvation. But God alone is active in those events which are here mentioned and no activity on the part of men supplies any ingredient of their definition or contributes to their efficacy.62 For reasons which are rather obvious but which need not be developed we should infer that the sequence which the apostle follows represents the order in the application of redemption. The apostle enumerates only three elements. These, however, as the pivotal events in our actual salvation, serve the apostle’s purpose in delineating the divine plan of salvation from its fount in the love of God to its consummation in the glorification of the sons of God. Glorification, unlike calling and justification, belongs to the future. It would not be feasible in this context (cf. 5:2; vss. 17, 18, 21, 24, 25, 29) to regard it as other than the completion of the process of salvation and, though “glorified” is in the past tense, this is proleptic, intimating the certainty of its accomplishment.63

In extending encouragement and support to the people of God in their sufferings and adversities, groanings and infirmities, the apostle has reached this triumphant conclusion. He has shown how the present pilgrimage of the people of God falls into its place in that determinate and undefeatable plan of God that is bounded by two foci, the sovereign love of God in his eternal counsel and glorification with Christ in the age to come. It is when they apprehend by faith this panorama that stretches from the love of God before times eternal to the grand finale of the redemptive process that the sufferings of this present time are viewed in their true perspective and are seen, sub specie aeternitatis, to be but the circumstances of pilgrimage to, and preconditions of, a glory to be revealed so great in its weight that the tribulations are not worthy of comparison.” * (7)

*Professor Murray’s footnotes are found at


He did predestinate:

 There are those who argue otherwise, nevertheless, without doing violence to the Romans 8:30 text of this passage, by denying that it represents the salvation of individuals. To predestine means to determine a destination beforehand.

He also justified:

 God justifies the sinner, by declaring him righteous the instant the sinner trusts in Christ. Justification happens even though the individual is still a sinner (simul et peccator, just and at the same time, sinner). This declaration happens because of the finished work of Christ.

He also called:

 This calling is inward, and it is effective. It is certain.

He also glorified:

When considering the already not yet motif, our glorification has already happened. As seen, it is so certain that God speaks of it in the past tense.

Scriptural conclusions:

“Salvation belongeth unto the Lord.” (Psalm 3:8)

“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)

“And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39, 40)

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:15, 16)

“A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16)


1.       Matthew George Easton, Easton's Bible Dictionary, (online source, no page numbering).

2.       Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 80.

3.       Matthew George Easton, Easton's Bible Dictionary, (online source, no page numbering)

4.       Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for 'GLORIFY,'” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 1235.

5.       William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984), p. 281-282.

6.       Oshea Davis, Romans 8:28-30 – Logical Chain Argument, (Systematic Philosophy & Theology. Logic. Faith. Scripture. Jesus Christ.),

7.       John Murray, The New International Commentary On The New Testament, The Epistle To The Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1982) pp. 314-322. 

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at: