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"Predestination vs. Free Will": scripture analysis

(Garth D. Wiebe, March 2015; additional edits Feb. 2017; Eph 2:8-9 addition Jul. 2020; added two more paragraphs at the end of the second section Nov. 2020; second paragraph after embedded video and expanded Rom 9:21 discussion added Jan. 2023; Gen 50:20 added Apr. 2023; Jer 18 "potter" reference added May 2024 to discussion of Pharaoh -- thanks, John)

If you want an easy way to look at "predestination vs. free will," I put together the following illustration, which required video to make the presentation work:

Click here to download or watch video on Vimeo instead of YouTube

If you are looking for a technical analysis of the various scriptures, this article should be a game-changer for anyone who desires to look into what the actual scriptures say about the issue of "predestination," which has vexed people for many centuries and has been the subject of much debate, particularly within the camps of what has come to be known as "Calvinism" vs. "Arminianism."

This is one of my more technical articles, so it may seem daunting to some.  But I am not aiming to present something difficult to understand; I am intending to be thorough.  If you truly want to resolve issues like these, then you have to put forth the effort to examine what the original scriptures, not the translations of them, say and don't say.  The question you need to ask yourself is whether you are willing to invest the time it takes to resolve the controversy, or just take sides based on your favorite popular teacher giving some emotional appeal from a pulpit on a sectarian bandwagon and agenda.  I wrote this article because I have made observations and have done analyses that I have not seen done elsewhere, yet I am not claiming any special inspiration or hidden knowledge, only that which the scriptures plainly state in the original language of the scriptures.  So, if you want to cut through the doctrinal mess of commentary out there to get answers that end up being simple, you will take the time to read this.  If you find something I wrote that is unclear, then send me an e-mail and I'll look into fixing it so as to make it more clear.  If you are too lazy to read and digest this article and just want to toss it and side with the Calvinists or the Arminianists, then I cannot help you.  In that case, just click off this web browser, go put on some Hillsong tunes, or perhaps some sovereign grace hymns like Come Thou Fount or Amazing Grace, if you will, and be happy.

One issue that I have found is that all other writings and expositions of scripture out there on this topic of discussion are based upon literal, often microscopic, renderings of the English translations, and not the original texts in their original languages, which should include consideration of both the lexical meanings and the original grammar.  At the deepest level, these expositors only dig into lexical word definitions, usually using a Strong's dictionary look-up, neglecting the grammar, as well as the obvious contexts, which never intend to teach what the expositors teach.

The outcome has been an exercise mostly in proof-texting of these English readings of scripture, a verse here and a verse there, mostly by those in the Calvinist camp (but not always), to establish doctrines that were never explicitly taught or expounded upon by the original writers of scripture in the first place.

This article forms mostly an exposé of the fallacies of this systematic proof-texting.

The reader should keep in mind that it is a well accepted policy of all believing Christians and orthodox Christian institutions that the scriptures are God-breathed in their original autographs, that is, in what the original inspired writers wrote.  The translations into other languages, as good as they are, can contain errors here and there; it is not anyone's dogma that the translation effort is either inspired or infallible (unless you are in the KJV-only cult camp).  Furthermore, there are cases where the translation cannot ever be made to perfectly represent the original, because there may not be an exact word for word correspondence in the target language (English, in this case), or there may not be a corresponding grammatical construct in the target language (English, in this case).

Consequently, you will find this presentation to be quite different than those that you are likely to be accustomed to.

The word "predestination" in the scriptures and other writings

προωριζω (Strong's G4309, "proOrizO") is one of a number of words that are ad hoc constructions by New Testament writers.  It is traditionally translated "predestine," and from that English word many associate the Calvinistic, or "sovereignty of God" view that God has decided everyone's destiny beforehand, precluding free will, or making free will an extension of God's predestined will.

The Koine Greek word is a compound of two words.  The first is προ (Strong's G4253, "pro") which is a Greek preposition that means the same as the common English prefix, "prior," or "in front of" or "ahead of."

The second is οριζω (Strong's G3724, "orizo") which is a verb that means to create or specify or designate a boundary, so as to separate or distinguish one thing from another.  We get the English noun "horizon" from this root, an exact transliteration from the Greek word οριζων ("[h]orizon").

The concept that is traditionally read into the word is that we have a completely "predetermined destiny."  But that is reading doctrine into one word.  The word only means to distinguish something ahead of, or in front of something else.

To make matters worse, the verbs in all six instances in the New Testament are all traditionally translated using the English past tense in the English translations.

The Koine Greek has no "past tense," such that you could translate something as "[verb] + -ed" in English.  The closest thing would be the "perfect tense," which denotes completion of an action, such that you could translate it "has + [verb] + -ed" in English, and the "pluperfect tense" (like the English "past perfect tense") which shows completion before a time in the past, such that you could translate it "had + [verb] + -ed" in English.  But neither of these tenses were used in the six instances of the verb in question.

The tense of the verb in all six instances of the New Testament is the Koine Greek "aorist" tense.

"Aorist" was the ancient Greeks' definition for the verb tense (see LSJ "ἀόριστος" definition II.3.), and not a modern scholar's definition.  The word "aorist" is from Greek α-οριστος = "a-oristos"  where "a" = "without," and "oristos" = "defined boundary."  Strong's G3724 (οριζω) is the verb form of that noun, α-οριζω = "a-[h]orizo," which is the same verb mentioned previously.  If we get the English noun "horizon" from this Greek word (without the "a-"), then this is just the opposite.  A "horizon" is a fixed boundary that can be viewed as reference point, separating one thing from another.  "A-orist" is a verb without a reference point.  It is indefinite ("in-define-ite") and timeless.

The Koine Greek indefinite, aorist verb tense specifies state, not action, fact rather than act, what timelessly just "is" rather than something happening on a timeline.  We don't have an explicit way of writing that verb tense in English, either with verb endings (-s, -ed, -ing, etc.) or with helper/auxiliary  verbs (has-, will-, etc.)  So, we can't translate it very easily, or at least not unambiguously.  But it conveys that something just is, or as a matter of "fact," without trying to communicate when.  Even if the verb is about an action, the aorist communicates the fact of the action, rather than the time that the action occurred.  See this post for more detailed discussion of this.

If I were to say "I play the piano," then, according to the rules of English grammar, that would be the simple present tense.  But if I state that "I play the piano" while I am sitting at the computer typing at a computer keyboard, or while we are somewhere just having a conversation about music, you would implicitly understand it as the aorist, that "I am a pianist," meaning as a matter of fact, not action on a time line.

In English, you need context to recognize the difference between English simple present tense, "I play the piano," and what would be an implied aorist, "I play the piano."  In Koine Greek, you don't need any context, because it is explicitly spelled a certain way to denote it (i.e. the verb is explicitly conjugated as such).

So, now we have a situation that is paradoxical, an enigma.  Both the verb traditionally translated "predestine" and the tense of the verb are based on the root word for "boundary," on one hand defining a boundary ahead of the boundary, but on the other hand, making it a timeless, indefinite, unbounded definition.  The verb, as used and conjugated in the New Testament scriptures each time, states that something is indefinitely, timelessly pre-defined.  In other words, it is pre-defined, but not on a timescale or timeline.

You may find it hard to conceptualize this, but it is what the Bible recites, and that is the Word of God.

The important thing to understand, though, is that it would be as fair to say "will predestine" (English future tense) as it would be to say "predestined" (English past tense), or as fair to say "has predestined" (English present perfect tense) as it would be to say "will have predestined" (English future perfect tense), or "is predestining" (English present progressive/continuous tense), or anything else.  None of those renderings are accurate, because they define "when," whereas the aorist just states the fact, and is undefined with respect to "when."  The best attempt would be to paraphrase it using the intransitive verb "to be" (i.e. "is/are"), followed by a verb participle or noun form of the verb, for example, "We are [the] predestined [ones]."  That paraphrase is true to the aorist tense, just as when I say, "I play [aorist] the piano," I mean, "I am a pianist."

Now we are in a position to examine the six places where the word occurs in the New Testament.  I will do so literally, letting it flow as it did in the Koine Greek, as awkward as that is in English.  I will substitute the English simple present tense for the Koine Greek aorist tense, and the English present continuous/progressive tense for the Koine Greek present tense:

Acts 4:27-28

[praying to God, they say] "For of truth, gathered against the holy child of you, Jesus, whom you anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the nations and peoples of Israel to do whatever the hand of you and/also the intention of you pre-defines to be become."
Here they are obviously referring to the the consummation of God's intention for Jesus at the cross.  All five verbs above are in the aorist tense, and are timeless propositions.

Rom 8:29-30

29 For those whom He pre-knows and/also pre-defines conformed of the image of the son of him into the to be same pre-brought-forth in/among many brothers 30 whom yet he pre-defines these and/also calls and whom he calls these and/also justifies whom yet he justifies these and/also glorifies
Note that now Romans 8:29-30 is "fact-fact-fact," rather than event, then event, then event, on a timeline, and "pre-defines" is an indefinite, timeless proposition; all the verbs above are in the aorist tense.  The same prefix προ is also in the verbs "pre-know" and "pre-bring-forth."

1 Cor 2:7-8

7 but we are speaking wisdom of God in secret, the having been concealed, which the God pre-defines prior of the eons into glory of us, 8 which not one of the principalities of the this eon has known, for if they know, not ever they crucify the Lord of the glory.
The verb "speak" is present tense, "conceal" and "know" are perfect tense, and "pre-define, "know," and "crucify" are aorist tense.

Eph 1:5

"in love pre-defines us into sonship through Jesus Christ into same with the delight of the will of same"
Eph 1:11

"in same in whom and/also are allotted, being pre-defined with pre-placement of the all operating with the intention of the will of same"
Although this is all very awkward to render so literally, the concept of Calvinistic "predestination" is emptied of its doctrinal force when you understand that it is in the aorist tense (not past tense), taking it out of the time line altogether and evoking it as fact, pure and simple.  Therefore, all scriptures can be harmonized with the familiar and accepted concept of our being "pre-defined" at the point of, and as we believe, by our free will choice.

There are only four other instances of this word in all of the classical Greek literature that came up on a computer search of the word using the Perseus online classical archives of Tufts University ( ).  Three out of four of these are from Christian writers.  There are no references before the writing of the New Testament, including none in the Koine Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament scriptures.

I'll do the best I can to translate these below, although this is very much a struggle for me, since I am not a classical Greek scholar, and am unfamiliar with the classical works.  When I am able to translate them better, I will; for the time being I will let them flow hyper-literally in the Koine Greek, while refraining to add my own interpretation.  This will have to do for now.

The points to get out of this are not so much exactly all the details of their narrations, but that there are only four instances found in the vast volumes of classical Greek literature available that span many centuries.  This makes the word an ad hoc construction that is extremely obscure, for the New Testament is only a miniscule work in quantity, in comparison to that vast library of Greek literature.  Obviously, no doctrine of "predestination" is expounded by them in context, either.

I will cite these four instances for the sake of completeness:

Plutarch (c. 100 AD) Quomodo adulator ab amico internoscatur
(Latin title:  "In what manner flatterer from a friend recognized." I.e. "How to recognize a flatterer from a friend.")

Chapter 1:
ὁ μὲν οὖν κοινὸς οὕτω προωρίσθω καιρός: οὓς δὲ παρέχουσιν αὐτοὶ πολλάκις οὐ χρὴ προΐεσθαι τὸν κηδόμενον φίλων 130 ἀλλὰ χρῆσθαι: καὶ γὰρ ἐρώτησις ἐνίοις καὶ διήγησις καὶ ψόγος; ὁμοίων ἐφ᾽ ἑτέροις ἢ ἔπαινος ὥσπερ ἐνδόσιμον εἰς παρρησίαν ἐστίν. οἷον ἐλθεῖν Δημάρατον εἰς Μακεδονίαν λέγουσι καθ᾽ ὃν χρόνον ἐν διαφορᾷ πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τὸν υἱὸν ὁ Φίλιππος; ἦν: ἀσπασαμένου δ᾽ αὐτὸν τοῦ Φιλίππου καὶ πυθομένου πῶς πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἔχουσιν ὁμονοίας οἱ Ἕλληνες, εἰπεῖν τὸν Δημάρατον εὔνουν ὄντα καὶ συνήθη ‘πάνυ γοῦν ὦ Φίλιππε

On one hand the common season/era/appointed-time let-be-pre-defined samely:  On the other hand is not handing over same him many times not he has been assailing to pre-send the trouble/distress, but to assail: and/also for interrogation/questioning and narration blamable fault; to make like upon another has been being approval/praise/commendation even as preluding into outspokenness/frankness is being.  Of what sort to come/go Demaria into Macedonia they are saying according to his time in variance/excellence toward the woman and/also the son the Philippian has been being: of greeting yet same of the Phillipian and of learning in any way toward one anothers' authority of concord/unity the Hellenics, to say the Demaria well-minded being and/also cohabitating altogether at least then [I may be / Oh] Philippe
Here the verb is in the present tense, imperative mood, third person. Plutarch is therefore stating a directive (English has no imperative mood in the third person, only the second person) to define in advance an appointed time.

Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Quis Dis Salvetur

Chapter 28:  
Δευτέραν δὲ τάξει καὶ οὐδέν τι μικροτέραν ταύτης εἶναι λέγει τό: ‘ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν:’ οὐκοῦν τὸν θεὸν ὑπὲρ σεαυτόν. πυνθανομένου δὲ τοῦ προσδιαλεγομένου ‘τίς ἐστιν πλησίον;’ οὐ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον Ἰουδαίοις προωρίσατο τὸν πρὸς αἵματος οὐδὲ τὸν πολίτην οὐδὲ τὸν προσήλυτον οὐδὲ τὸν ὁμοίως περιτετμημένον οὐδὲ τὸν ἑνὶ καὶ ταὐτῷ νόμῳ χρώμενον: ἀλλὰ ἄνωθεν καταβαίνοντα 1 ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἄγει τῷ λόγῳ τινὰ εἰς Ἱεριχὼ καὶ τοῦτον δείκνυσιν ὑπὸ λῃστῶν συγκεκεντημένον, ἐρριμμένον ἡμιθνῆτα ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ, ὑπὸ ἱερέως παροδευόμενον, ὑπὸ Λευίτου παρορώμενον, ὑπὸ δὲ τοῦ Σαμαρείτου τοῦ ἐξωνειδισμένου καὶ ἀφωρισμένου κατελεούμενον, ὃς οὐχὶ κατὰ τύχην ὡς ἐκεῖνοι παρῆλθεν, ἀλλ̓ ἧκε συνεσκευασμένος ὧν 2 ὁ κινδυνεύων ἐδεῖτο, οἶνον, ἔλαιον, ἐπιδέσμους, κτῆνος, μισθὸν τῷ πανδοχεῖ, τὸν μὲν ἤδη διδόμενον, τὸν δὲ προσυπισχνούμενον.

Yet second to arrangement and not one who?/anyone small/unimportant of this to be being is saying the: 'you will love the neighbor of you as yourself:' is it not therefore that the God over yourself.  Of learning yet of the of toward-through-saying [i.e. answer in conversation] who?/anyone is being near; not the same path to Judeans pre-defines-itself the toward of blood not as yet the citizen not as yet the proselytized not as yet the similar having been circumcised not as yet the same and identical law proclaiming:  but from above coming down from Jerusalem leads to the word who?/anyone into I may have consecrated and this shows forth under of robbed having been pierced together, having been thrown half-dead upon of the way/path, under of priest passing by, under of Levite being looked at by the way, yet under of the Samaritan of the having cast in one's teeth [i.e. "foul reproach"] and having been bounded off having compassion, his not however with fortune as that person there passes by, otherwise to have been coming packing up his the daring has been lacking, wine, olive oil, you are binding up, flocks and herds [i.e. wealth], wages to the innkeeper, indeed the delight being given, the yet toward-promising.
Here the verb is in the aorist tense, middle voice (acts in such a way so as to be acted upon).  This is just commenting about the Jewish way of thinking that had been already set forth, just recounting the issue of commonplace Jewish thinking that evoked the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia Ecclesiastica (323-324 AD)

Book 6, chapter 11:
ταύτῃ δ̓ οὖν, ὡς κατά τι θεοπρόπιον, ἐκ τῆς Καππαδοκῶν γῆς, ἔνθα τὸ πρῶτον τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς ἠξίωτο, τὴν πορείαν ἐπὶ τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα εὐχῆς καὶ τῶν τόπων ἱστορίας ἕνεκεν πεποιημένον φιλοφρονέστατα οἱ τῇδε ὑπολαβόντες οὐκέτ̓ οἴκαδε αὐτῷ παλινοστεῖν ἐπιτρέπουσιν καθ̓ ἑτέραν ἀποκάλυψιν καὶ αὐτοῖς νύκτωρ ὀφθεῖσαν μίαν τε φωνὴν σαφεστάτην τοῖς μάλιστα αὐτῶν σπουδαίοις χρήσασαν: ἐδήλου γὰρ προελθόντας ἔξω πυλῶν τὸν ἐκ θεοῦ προωρισμένον αὐτοῖς ἐπίσκοπον ὑποδέξασθαι: τοῦτο δὲ πράξαντες, μετὰ κοινῆς τῶν ἐπισκόπων, οἳ τὰς πέριξ διεῖπον ἐκκλησίας, γνώμης ἐπάναγκες αὐτὸν παραμένειν βιάζονται.

Thusly yet certainly, as according who has been prophesying, out of the Cappadocian land, there-ly the prior of the overseer has been deeming worthy, the gait upon the of Jerusalem vow and/also of the place inquiry on account of having been made fondly the here undertaking no more homely same to be returning turn-upon with another apocalypse and/also to selves nightly peering/beholding one-same both clear sound this most-largely of same quick proclaiming: for it has been being revealed prior-come/go (go forward, advance) outly of the gateway the out of God having-been-pre-defined  to-same overseer to welcome: this yet accomplishing, of after common overseers, the roundabout is telling-fully the out-calling, necessary means-of-knowing same to be staying beside constrain.

"Thereupon, as by Divine direction, he journeyed from the land of Cappadocia, where he first held the episcopate, to Jerusalem, in consequence of a vow and for the sake of information in regard to its places [εὐχῆς καὶ τῶν τόπων ἱστορίας ἕνεκεν].  They received him there with great cordiality, and would not permit him to return, because of another revelation seen by them at night, which uttered the clearest message to the most zealous among them. For it made known that if they would go outside the gates, they would receive the bishop foreordained for them by God. And having done this, with the unanimous consent of the bishops of the neighboring churches, they constrained him to remain." (translation by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, Ph.D., , p. 629)
In the above, "having pre-defined" is a verb participle in the perfect tense (not aorist), middle/passive voice.  In this case, he is talking about some "overseer" who has been pre-designated as such.  In the his translation, McGiffert uses the word "foreordained."
Book 8, chapter 10:  
οὕτω γοῦν, ἡνίκα προσετέτακτο αἱρέσεως κειμένης ἢ ἐφαψάμενον τῆς ἐναγοῦς θυσίας ἀνενόχλητον εἶναι, τῆς ἐπαράτου ἐλευθερίας παῤ αὐτῶν τυχόντα, ἢ μὴ θύοντα τὴν ἐπὶ θανάτῳ δίκην ἐκδέχεσθαι, οὐδὲν μελλήσαντες ἀσμένως ἐπὶ τὸν θάνατον ἐχώρουν: ᾔδεσαν γὰρ τὰ ὑπὸ τῶν ἱερῶν γραφῶν ἡμῖν προορισθέντα. ῾ὁ γὰρ θυσιάζων, ᾿ φησίν, ῾θεοῖς ἑτέροις ἐξολοθρευθήσεται,᾿ καὶ ὅτι ῾οὐκ ἔσονταί σοι θεοὶ ἕτεροι πλὴν ἐμοῦ.᾿’

Samely at least then, at the time when he had placed of taking being laid surely bound-upon of the cursed undisturbed sacrifice to be being, of the accursed you will speak beside of same happening to be at, surely let perchance being offered upon to death justice to be taking, not one destined gladly upon the death has been giving way: for who had known under of the sacred scriptures to us being pre-defined.  'For the sacrificing,' is declaring 'to other gods will be destroyed,' and/also that 'will not be your other gods except of me.'

"When therefore they were ordered to choose whether they would be released from molestation by touching the polluted sacrifice, and would receive from them the accursed freedom, or refusing to sacrifice, should be condemned to death, they did not hesitate, but went to death cheerfully. For they knew what had been declared before by the Sacred Scriptures. For it is said,[φησί: "He says," or "the Scripture saith."] 'He that sacrificeth to other gods shall be utterly destroyed,'[Ex. xxii. 20.] and, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'"[Ex. xx.3.] (translation by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, Ph.D., , p. 857)
Here it is a verb participle in the aorist tense, passive voice.  It is just referring to the sacred scriptures as already being a given. (McGiffert uses the phrase "had been declared before.")

Because we can find so few instances in all the vast classical Greek literature, we know the compound word, προωριζω, would not have an opportunity to bloom into many different nuances. We can conclude that it is an ad hoc construction of the compound of the two root words, which means that it cannot mean anything other than what the two root words individually, pasted together, mean. So, it just means what it says, "pre-define" or "pre-bound," if using the verb form. If it was a noun, like προ-οριστος, then it would be "pre-definition" or "pre-boundary." That is all. There is nothing more to read into the definition than that. Ad hoc constructions like this are very common in that language. Linguists describe it as a "fusional synthetic" language, where you synthesize words by fusing the morphemes together. Writers very often would form compounds such as this.

Even the English word "predestine/predestination" is way more loaded in subjective connotations than is safe to use as a translation, especially with centuries of doctrinal wrangling over it. The English word means to determine beforehand a destiny. But there is nothing of that in the Greek compound word itself. It just means to define something beforehand. There is no Bible teaching on "predestination" either. Just a few verses that are favorite micro-quotes of Calvinists, but which in context do not endeavor to teach or explain "predestination" as a subject matter.

Romans 9 and Calvinist abuse of Pharaoh

Romans 9 is a darling of Calvinist apologists, where they point to Pharaoh as supposedly being created for destruction to God's glory.  As a consequence, it is claimed that many men are damned from the beginning, with no hope, since God has already predestined them for similar destruction.

One of the key phrases is a play on an English language ambiguity, also taken out of context: "For Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this very purpose...'"  (Rom 9:17) That sounds quite provocative the way it is worded in English, but it is a play on the English language.

When an Old Testament story or scripture is cited in the New Testament, it is important to first go back and read that story or scripture citation.

This one references Exodus 9:15-16, which I'll quote in several literal translations, including translating it hyper-literally myself:

"15 For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth.  16 But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth."  (NASB'95)

  "15 For by now I could have put forth My hand and smitten you and your people with the plague so that you were suppressed from the land.  16 Howbeit, for this sake I keep you standing, in order to make you see My vigor, and that My name may be related in the entire earth."  (CLV)

  "15 for now I have put forth My hand, and I smite thee, and thy people, with pestilence, and thou art hidden from the earth.  16 And yet for this I have caused thee to stand, so as to show thee My power, and for the sake of declaring My Name in all the earth."  (YLT)

  "15 that now I-have-sent [qal, perfect] my-hand and/also-have-been-smiting you [hiphil, waw-consecutive + imperfect] and/also-nation-of-you in/with/through-the-plague and/also-you-have-been-being-effaced [niphal, waw-consecutive + imperfect] from-the-earth/land  16 and/also-on-the-other-hand on-account-of this I-have-stationed/set/appointed/stood-you [hiphil, perfect] on-account-of to-show-you [hiphil, infinitive] my-power/strength and/also-in-order-that to-announce/report/count/enumerate [piel, infinitive] my-name in/with-all/whole-earth/land"  (my hyper-literal translation, highlighting the Hebrew verbal grammar, per standard BHS/MCWT text with Westminster morphology/parsing).
This is right before the seventh plague, that of hail.  The thing to keep in mind is how all this started, four Exodus chapters and six plagues before that:
"Pharoah said, 'Who is Yahweh, to whose voice I should hearken to dismiss Israel?  I know not Yahweh; and moreover, Israel I shall not dismiss.'"  (Ex 5:2)
At this point, God could have struck Pharaoh dead, and it would have been the end of Pharaoh.  Game over.

So, given Pharaoh's already-decided obstinate stand, far from striking him dead, God is actually having mercy on him, saving him and using him to display God's power through the plagues upon Egypt, that the whole earth, including Pharaoh, may see God's power.

As the plagues continue, notice that Pharaoh actually survives every one of them, including the plague of death, finally relenting to let the Israelites go.  Pharaoh's death was actually the result of his recklessly pursuing the Israelites through the Red Sea.

Now let's come back to that English-ism:

"For Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this very purpose...'"  (Rom 9:17)
In English, one of the definitions of "raise" is having to do with raising children, animals, or crops.  So, it may seem from the English that God "raised up" Pharaoh from childhood for the purpose of wrath and destruction.

This is not what the original Koine Greek or Hebrew says, however.

In the Hebrew Masoretic text, Exodus 9:16,

וְאוּלָ֗ם בַּעֲב֥וּר זֹאת֙ הֶעֱמַדְתִּ֔יך
The key word is the fourth and last (reading from the right to left), Strong's H5975, inflected as hiphil, perfect tense, first person, singular number, "I-have-stood-you," including the suffix in the second person, singular number, "you."

In the Koine Greek Septuagint translation of the original Hebrew text, in use in New Testament times,

και ενεκεν τουτου διετηρηθης
The last word is Strong's G1301, a compound of δια (Strong's G1223, "dia"), which means "through," and τηρηω (Strong's G5083, "tereo"), which means to watch/keep/guard.  Putting the two together is simply "through-watch/keep/guard."  For example, in Luke 2:51, Mary did this with the declarations of Jesus.  Or, in Acts 15:29, the Gentiles are to take care to keep themselves from "idol sacrifices, blood, strangled things, and sexual immorality."  The verb in Exodus 9:16 is aorist tense, passive voice, indicative mood, second person, singular number, "you are through-kept."

In the New Testament, Exodus 9:16 is cited in Rom 9:17 as,

οτι εις αυτο τουτο εξηγειρα σε
The last word is "you," and the second to last word is εξηγειρα, Strong's G1825, "exegeira," a compound of εξ/εκ (Strong's G1537, "ex/ek"), which means "out," and εγειρω (Strong's G1453, "egeiro"), which means "rouse." Putting the two together, it is simply "out-rouse."  It is inflected as aorist tense, active voice, first person, singular.  This compound word is also used in 1 Cor 6:14, where if "God rouses the Lord, he will be out-rousing us also, through his power."

1 Cor 6:14 having been cited, a clarification is in order here, too.  Removed from the context of 1 Cor 6, "out-rouse" can be misunderstood to be "raise up," as in "resurrect."  Rather, in context, it is speaking of how God's power will be "rousing" us "out" of the entanglement  and trappings of sin, specifically sexual immorality in this context.

So, now we have three different renderings for the same phrase, none of which have anything to do with that English sense of "raising up" (as though a child/animal/crop), but to make to stand up, preserve, and rouse, all of which fairly apply, in the case of Pharaoh, who should have been struck down dead without any further ado, as a result of the stand he chose to voice in Ex 5:2 against the God of heaven and earth.

Backing up just a couple of verses, Rom 9:15 says (KJV),

"For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."  (KJV)
This is a bad translation.  It is not future tense, repeat future tense, future tense, repeat future tense.  This makes it easily mistaken for a tautological English colloquialism, to the effect of "I'll do whatever I damn please." So, this is another English-ism.

In reality, the verb grammar is different:

"for to Moses he is saying, 'I shall be being merciful [ελεησω] to whom ever I may be being merciful [ελεω] and I shall be pitying [οικτειρησω] whom ever I may be pitying [οικτειρω]."
Now if you just read it for what it says, instead of reading into it, the grammar shows that God will do (future tense, indicative mood) what he may/should be doing (present tense, subjunctive mood).  In other words, if God chooses to exercise the option of mercy/pity, he'll keep exercising it.  It isn't an English colloquialism, but a comment about God's faithfulness.

Also note that the two options, mercy and pity, are both positive options, not contrasting ones.  He did not say, "I'll bless them if I so choose or curse them if I so choose."

The Koine Greek for this in the New Testament is a direct, word for word quote from the Koine Greek Septuagint translation of Exodus 33:19, where we are long past the Exodus from Egypt and God is showing Moses his glory:

"17 Yahweh said to Moses: Moreover, this matter of which you have spoken I shall do, for you find grace in My eyes, and I know you by name.  18 Now he said: Show me, I pray, Your glory.  And He said: I shall pass all My goodness before you and proclaim My name, Yahweh, before you; I will be gracious to whom I am being gracious and will have compassion for whom I am having compassion."  (CLV)
This is the lead-in for Paul's comment about Pharaoh in Rom 9:17!:
"16 Consequently, then, not of the willing nor of the racing but of the being-merciful God.  17 For the scripture is saying to Pharaoh..."
You see that this reference to Pharaoh is about the mercy of God, not the wrath of God!

Another problem verse:

"Consequently then, whom he-is-willing, he-is-being-merciful, whom yet he-is-willing, he-is-hardening"   (Rom 9:18)
This refers to Pharaoh, indeed, but recall that Pharaoh had already made his obstinate stand in Exodus 5:2.   God knew he would ahead of time, for in chapter 3 he says,
"and I have known that the king of Egypt is not being disposed to let you(plural) go, apart from a strong/unyielding hand.   And I will stretch out my hand and I will smite Egypt, doing marvels, which I will be doing in the midst of him, so afterward he will be dismissing you(plural)" (Exodus 3:19-20)
So, the cause-effect relationship started with Pharaoh's obstinance, to which God responded accordingly.

Also note that he is speaking of one man, Pharaoh, to whom he was both "merciful" and then "hardening."   It is not talking about creating one person with a predestined "mercy" and another with a predestined "hardening."

Another big problem verse:

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Rom 9:21, KJV)
Notice the highlighted words, "one...another." Most translations have something like this. But let's look at the underlying Greek:
η ουκ εχει εξουσιαν ο κεραμευς του πηλου εκ του αυτου φυραματος ποιησαι ο μεν εις τιμην σκευος ο δε εις ατιμιαν
Now notice that it is the same word, ο, used in both instances, which is the relative pronoun "which."  A pronoun substitutes for a noun or noun phrase already mentioned or assumed, called the antecedent.  The antecedent is the "vessel" already mentioned, which comes from the "lump" of "clay."  As already discussed, that lump of clay is Pharoah.  So, where does the word "another" come from in the KJV and other English translations?  There is a Greek word for "another."  It is αλλος, transliterated "allos," from which we get English words like allegory, allegiance, and so on.  Or, there is ετερος, the word for "different," transliterated "[h]etero," from which we get various English words.  Gal 1:6, for example, uses both of those words: "...different gospel...another [gospel]..."  But the original text does not have either of those words, though it would be so easy to have written them.  Where did they get this?  Calvinist bias, perhaps?  Or perhaps the Latin Vulgate translation of the Roman Catholic Church (405 AD):
an non habet potestatem figulus luti ex eadem massa facere aliud quidem vas in honorem aliud vero in contemeliam?
There's the Latin word for "other/another, something else," which when repeated in distributive clauses means "one thing...another thing."

Here is a more literal rendering from the original:

"or is the potter not having authority of the clay, to do/make out of the same kneading which on one hand into value/virtue instrument, which on the other hand into un-value/un-virtue, if yet God, willing to show the passionate-indignation and to make-known his power, carries/bears in much patience the instruments of passionate-indignation, having been adapted into ruin/destruction." (Rom 9:21-22)
Note from the extremely literal, albeit awkward, rendering above the lack of the sense of "either this or that," but rather that it is a sense of a thing that starts as "this" yet becomes "that."   In other words, this is not a statement of God creating one thing for "honor" (i.e. some people saved from the start) and then creating another thing for "dishonor" (i.e. some people damned from the start), but that he creates one thing for honor that becomes dishonorable (καταρτιζω, Strong's G2675, "katartizo," "adapt/adjust"), and it is used to God's own glory either way.

Again, remember that he is referring to one case in point, a single man:  Pharaoh.   He is the vessel from the "lump of clay."   It is not one person made for salvation and another for damnation.

The two important words here are ηνεγκεν (Strong's G5342, inflected "enegken"), which means carry/bear, and then καταρτιζω (Strong's G2675, "katartizo"), which means "adapt/adjust."   The ruin/destruction is the end effect, not the original intent.

A similar analogy can be found in Jeremiah 18:

"2 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.  4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.  5 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord.  'Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.'" (NASB'95)
That potter in Jeremiah does not make one vessel for the purpose of later destroying it, then another vessel for good use.  What is described is one lump that is ruined, so the potter makes it into another vessel. Likewise, as his analogy goes, Israel is the lump of clay that God is able to make into a better vessel.  Read the rest of the chapter for more context.  Note that in Jeremiah 18 it is talking about the nation of Israel taking action to turn from evil, and how God can "repent" of the evil he planned to do to it.

Taking a step back, it is important to realize that there is no teaching about "Calvinism" or "sovereignty of God" or "predestination" here.  Romans chapters 9 through 11 discuss who is and who isn't "chosen" with regard to Israel, since prior to New Testament times only Israel was popularly viewed as "chosen" by God.  The apostle Paul opens up chapter 9 with a brilliant observation, showing how it is obvious that not all of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the "chosen," since Abraham also begot Ishmael, and Isaac also begot Esau; by extension, not all Israel (of Jacob) are "Israel."  Then he works his way into proving from both scripture and inference that Gentiles can be "Israel" according to the promise, apart from the genealogy or Law of Moses.  By the end of chapter 11, you see that Israel is described as being in the same obstinate state of "hardening" as was described about Pharaoh, with God being patient in his mercy, still intending to deliver them.

This is not a Calvinist treatise about God predestining some to be saved and others damned.  If anything, chapter 9 should serve as a rebuke to Calvinist thinkers, particularly with the following statement:

"You will be saying to me, then, 'Why is he still blaming?  For who has withstood his intention?'  Indeed, surely, who, O man, are you, the one answering in place of God?..."  (Rom 9:19-20)
Calvinists often hurl charges at people for "playing God" when they command a sickness, or a devil, or even bad weather, to be gone.  Ironically, it is the Calvinists who "play God" when they point at these things and say that God is responsible for them.  Rom 9:19-20, above, therefore rebukes the Calvinist "sovereignty of God" teachers of "predestination" and "divine reprobation."

Rom 12:3 "God 'gives' to each 'the' measure of faith"??

That's how Romans 12:3 is usually taken, if not outright recited.

There are two problems with this. First is that the word "the" is not in the original text.  The second is that the verb isn't "give" but rather "divide."

There are an assortment of words that could be used in the Greek for the definite article "the," but none of them are used before the word "measure"!  It literally says

ως ο θεος εμερισεν μετρον πιστεως
os o theos emerisen metron pisteos
as the God divides measure of-faith
There is a definite article there, but it is before the word "God."

However, "the God divides measure of-faith" isn't proper English on both counts.  In English we wouldn't say "the God" (since we use "God" with a capital "G" as a proper noun, a name/title, whereas in Koine Greek it is a common noun, a classification), and in English we would put either a definite or indefinite article before "measure" (since it is not a proper noun), so the translators drop the "the" before "God" and opt to add "the" or "a" before the word "measure," depending on the particular Bible translation, at the discretion of the translators.

ο θεος εμερισεν μετρον πιστεως
o theos emerisen metron pisteos
the God divides measure of-belief
The verb, inflected/conjugated as aorist, active, indicative, third person, singular, is ε-μερι-σεν ("e-meri-sen") which means "divides" (aorist, active, indicative, third person, singular) in order to create a "share" or "portion."

The noun form of the verb is μερος ("meros") which is a division, or a share, or a portion.  We don't have an English verb form of "share" or "portion."  There is an English verb "share," but it means something else (e.g. "Share your things with someone.")

In business, if you take a corporation and divide it into "shares" of stock, then each "share" can be owned by different people.  The company then becomes owned by these collective "stockholders."  Someone divided the company into "shares" so that many could partake of the ownership of the company.  There is the implication that the "shares" would get distributed among many; otherwise, why bother dividing them?

Suppose your mother bakes a pumpkin pie in her kitchen, then cuts the pumpkin pie into pieces so that everyone can have a piece.  When she cuts the pie, "she emerisen metron pumpkin pie." That's half Greek for "she divides [the] measure of pumpkin pie." [Sorry, I had to insert the definite article "the" to make it proper English.]  The reason she divides the pie is so that everyone can partake of a "share" or "portion" of it.

But the "corporation" was already there at that point.  The "pumpkin pie" was already there.  The collective faith of the body of Christ is already a given.

There is one Holy Spirit, not many shares or portions of Holy Spirit(s).  The one Holy Spirit is upon the body of Christ and in all of us who are believers.  That is the only "gift," the "gift" of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13, Acts 2:38).  Then our collective "faith" is divided up to do different things, through the working of that one Holy Spirit.  Some will have faith for this and do it, some faith for that and do it.  Many things collectively get done, but each to his own, and only one Holy Spirit, who is God.

Again, read the context as follows:

3 For I am saying through the grace given to me, to all being among you, not to be overdisposed beyond that which is being necessary to be being disposed, but to be being disposed to sensibility, hekasto hos ho theos emerisen metron pisteos. 4 For even as in one body we are having many members, yet the members are not all having the same function; thus we, the many, are one body in Christ, yet members according to one of another, 6 yet having grace-effects according to the grace given to us, varying, whether prophecy, according to the proportion of the faith, 7 or if service in the service, or if teaching in the teaching, or if entreating in the entreating, sharing in generosity, the presiding in diligence, the being merciful in cheerfulness. (Rom 12:3-8)
In verses 6-8 Paul actually gives examples of those "shares" or "portions": "prophecy," "service," "teaching," "entreating," "sharing," "presiding," "mercy." And notice it says in verse 6 "according to the proportion of the faith."

So, you see that the context proves it out as well.

There is another important point to the context, which is in the first part of verse 3, which is "...not to be overdisposed beyond that which is being necessary to be being disposed..."  This is also very key, because it explains the reason it says "God" in the next phrase.  If any of us were to think more highly of himself than we ought, then we would think that it was we independently doing the work, and not God in us doing the work.  The different "shares" or "portions" that "God deals/distributes/divides/allots" are all part of the working of the one Holy Spirit.  If we are dead, then it is Christ in us, the hope of glory, doing the work of these individual "shares" or "portions."

As an additional exercise, it it sometimes helpful to figure out if the scripture could say what some people want it to say.

Again, here's what Rom 12:3 does say:

εκαστω ως ο θεος εμερισεν μετρον πιστεως
ekasto os o theos emerison metron pisteos
to-each as the God divides [a] measure of faith
Note: There is no indefinite article ("a") in the Greek language.  This means that the original text of Romans 12:3 can legitimately be translated with the indefinite article, if you choose to throw that in, in English.  Again, note the definite article "the" before "God."  There is none before "measure," so if translators do that, that is their interpretation, not literal translation.

Now, if the Greek wanted to say "give" instead of "divide," then it could have said this:

ο θεος εδωκεν μετρον πιστεως
o Theos edoken metron pisteos
the God gives [a] measure of-faith
or, with the definite article "the":
ο θεος εδωκεν το μετρον πιστεως
o Theos edoken to metron pisteos
the God gives the measure of-faith
The word I inserted above for "gives" is:
εδωκεν ("edoken"): "give" (verb, aorist tense, active voice, indicative mood, third person, singular number), Strong's G1325
The word I inserted above for "the" is:
το ("to"): "the" (article, accusative case, singular number, neuter gender), Strong's G3588
For that matter, you could search the scriptures (in vain) for the simple statement, "faith is a gift" ("belief is a gift"), or some other straightforward thing like that:
πιστις εστιν δομα
pistis estin doma
faith is [a] gift
belief is [a] gift

πιστευσαι εστιν δομα
pisteusai estin doma
to believe is [a] gift
to have-faith is [a] gift

θεος εδοκεν πιστιν
Theos edoken pistin
God gives belief
God gives faith

The additional words I used are:
δομα ("doma"): "gift" (noun, nominative/accusative case, singular number, neuter gender), Strong's G1390

πιστις ("pistis"): "faith/belief" (noun, nominative case, singular number, feminine gender), Strong's G4102

πιστιν ("pistin"): "faith/belief" (noun, accusative case, singular number, feminine gender), Strong's G4102

πιστευσαι ("pisteusai"): "to believe/have-faith" (verb, aorist tense, active voice, infinitive mood), Strong's G4100

εστιν ("estin"): "is" (verb, present tense, indicative mood, third person, singular number), Strong's G2076
If such a concept is so simple to express, then why is it so hard for the New Testament to express the idea that God "gives" faith/believing to us, if it were the case that he does?

John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."

Well, on the surface, in isolation, that seems to play right into predestination, the idea being that the Father first has to give one the gift of faith to enable one to respond, so he can draw them in, etc.

There are three things to do before jumping to that conclusion:  1. Check to see whether it actually says what is being read into it.  2. Look at the context.  3. Parse the original text.

1. Whether it actually says what they say it says:

Just read what it says.  It does not say, "No one can believe in me unless the Father who sent me gives him faith."  So, it isn't even a proof-text.

2. Context:

First, go back and read all of John chapter 6, the whole saga from the feeding of the 5000 on, their catching up to him after he walked across the Sea of Galilee, their wanting to see another miracle, get fed like with the manna in the time of Moses, etc., all the way to where they all just walk off because they said that what Jesus was saying was a "hard saying."

Stop reading this post and read John chapter 6 now.  The computing device you are reading this post on will not get impatient with you.

Here's the paragraph around the verse in question:

41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." 42 They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?" 43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught of God."[Isa 54:13, Jer 31:34] Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:41-45, NASB'95)
So, now you see why he said that.  He said he "came down out of heaven."  They respond by thinking carnally, not according to the Word of God, looking at Jesus as just a product of human conception and birth, the "son of Joseph."  Jesus contradicts that by pointing out that they won't be able to come to him like that, and drops yet another bomb, that he is the one who is going to raise them up from the dead at the Judgment on the "last day."  So, if Jesus is right, and he "came down out of heaven," how are they going to come to him, when he goes back to heaven? Hmm.

But the Father spoke to them through the prophets ("And they shall all be taught of God"), and if they chose to listen to and learn from what the Father was saying through the prophets, they would come to Jesus and recognize that Jesus was the Word of God incarnate who was teaching them at that moment.  "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me."

So, it is not as if the Father gives "faith" to some to enable them to "come to Jesus" and then is willing that the rest go to hell.  The way the Father draws a person is through the Word of God. Otherwise, no one comes to the Father.  If they would believe the Word of God, then they would come to Jesus, who is the Word of God made flesh.

3. Parse the original text.

ουδεις δυναται ελθειν προς με εαν μη ο πατηρ ο πεμψας με ελκυση αυτον
oudeis dunatai elthein pros me ean me o pater o pempsas me elkuse auton

no-one, is-being-empowered[present passive], to-come[aorist infinitive], toward, me, if-ever, no, the, father, the, [one-]sending[aorist participle], me, should-draw[aorist], same
The key is that second word, an inflection of "dunamai," the verb form of the noun "dunamis." "Dunamis," as most here already know, is "power/ability" (usually miraculous), so "dunamai" as a verb means "empower."  So, no one is going to come to Jesus by his own ability; he will come by the testimony that the one drawing them has provided, which is the Word of God.  He has to believe the testimony about Jesus, and then believe Jesus.

Jesus says a similar thing at the end of his speech, in verse 65:

ουδεις δυναται ελθειν προς με εαν μη η δεδομενον αυτω εκ του πατρος μου
oudeis dunatai elthein pros me ean me e dedomenon auto ek tou patros mou

no-one, is-being-empowered[present passive], to-come[aorist infinitive], toward, me, if-ever, no, it-may-be-being[present], having-been-given[perfect passive participle], to-him, out, of-the, father, of-me
Again, in verse 65, it is the Word of God which "has been given" to them.  That is the testimony of the prophets pointing to Jesus, and then Jesus himself, who comes out of the Father as the living Word of God, and performed signs and wonders so that they could believe (not so that they could see more miracles and eat more manna).

Also, keep in mind that this is the "Old Testament" and "Old Covenant" part of the Gospels.  Jesus is speaking to the "Jews" who had the revelation of the Word of God, but chose not to "listen" and "learn."  So, they missed it.  This particular group had just seen Jesus feed 5000, so were haplessly looking for more of the same (verse 26-27, 31).  Again, they weren't going to successfully come to Jesus by demanding more "bread from heaven" like the "manna" of the time of Moses, or another such miracle.  They were looking for more physical "manna," whereas Jesus was offering them the Word of God.  (And as we know, Jesus was the "Word of God" incarnate.)

They also knew the scriptures, since they were quoting it to Jesus in verse 31 about the manna, when they said "It is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat'" (Ex 16:4, Neh 9:15, Psa 78:24-25).  If so, then they would also know this one:  "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of YHWH." (Deut 8:3).

Jesus said in verse 49, "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died."  He also repeated that statement in verse 58.  Why did they die?  Well, of course, one obvious thing you can say is that they were mortal, and physical food wasn't going to sustain them forever.  But the point goes beyond that.  In Hebrews 3,

12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.[Psalm 95:7-11]" 16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:12-19, NASB'95)
So, once again, we are back to faith/belief vs. lack of faith/belief that is cited as 100% the responsibility of the individual, not God.  And again, if you read all of John 6, you will see Jesus telling them to "believe," and faulting them for not "believing," over and over again.

John 6:44 is not the 44th proverb of 71 proverbs of the 6th chapter of the Proverbs of John.  You have to read the story.   You have to read the context.

At issue isn't whether God chooses us.  Certainly God chooses us.  The issue is, when does God choose us, and do we have a choice in the matter.  The Calvinist point of view puts God's choice on a timeline of history dating to the beginning of time, certainly before anyone is born, predestining everything that follows.

Other Calvinistic proof-texts

1 Thess 1:4

"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."  (KJV)
That translation is not accurate as it is rendered in English.
ειδοτες αδελφοι ηγαπημενοι υπο την εκλογην υμων
eidotes adelphoi egapemenoi upo ten eklogen umon

"having perceived, brothers, having been loved under God, the choice of-you(plural)"
The word for "election" has become religiously loaded in modern usage.  It is just a common word that means "chosen" or "selected" or "picked out," hyper-literally εκ-λογ__, "out-said."

The context is their faith in the gospel message.  In this verse, it  highlights their choice, not God's.  "Under God" is a prepositional phrase with God in the genitive case.  If it were God's choice being referred to, that would be easy to write, by simply changing the last word:

ειδοτες αδελφοι ηγαπημενοι υπο την εκλογην θεου
eidotes adelphoi egapemenoi upo ten eklogen theou

"having perceived, brothers, having been loved under God, the choice of-God"
But that is not what the original text says.

2 Thess 2:13

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."  (KJV)
More literally,
"Yet we are owing to be thanking to the God always concerning you(plural), brothers, having been loved under [the] Lord, that the God takes/acquires you(plural) from/off original/beginning into salvation in holy-ing of spirit and belief of truth."
The key verb here is ειλετο (Strong's G138, conjugated as "eileto"), "takes/acquires," aorist tense.  It is a "fact," rather than an event on a timeline, so this harmonizes with the fact that it is contingent upon our choice to believe it, and he is addressing believers who chose and do choose to believe.

The second is απ αρχης ("ap arches"), which means "from the original/beginning."  This is where we get the English prefix "arch-" and it is likewise more general a term in the Koine Greek than just "beginning/start" of "time."  However, granting that it is referring to time, the question is, "beginning of what time?"  In Luke 1:2 it says "which from the beginning (απ αρχης) were eyewitnesses.  In John 15:26, Jesus refers to the disciples being with him "from the beginning" (απ αρχης).  In Acts 26:3 the apostle Paul, testifying to Herod Agrippa II, talks about how his way of life "from the beginning" (απ αρχης) was of the nation Israel.  In 1 John 2:7, 2:24, 3:11, 2 John 1:5, 1:6 the apostle John writes of the precepts/message that his audience had heard "from the beginning" (απ αρχης).  So, the phrase is not restricted to the beginning of time/creation.

In this second point, we can again harmonize with God "taking/acquiring us "from the beginning" of when we chose to believe (on our timeline).

2 Tim 1:9

"Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began"  (KJV)
The verbs here are all actually in the aorist tense, not past tense (Koine Greek has no past tense, and they are not in the Koine Greek perfect tense, either).  Furthermore, they are all participles:
του σωσαντος ημας και καλεσαντος κλησει αγια ου κατα τα εργα ημων αλλα κατ ιδιαν προθεσιν και χαριν την δοθεισαν ημιν εν χριστω ιησου προ χρονων αιωνιων

tou sosantos emas kai kalesantos klesei agia ou kata ta erga emon alla kat idian prothesin kai charin ten dotheisan emin en christo iesou pro chronon aionion

"The saving us and calling to holy calling, not according to our acts/works but according to own prior-purpose and grace, given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternities."
The verb participles are "saving," "calling," and "given."  The KJV translates these as verbs in the English present perfect, past, and past, respectively, a common problem in English translations that is not peculiar to the KJV.  So, with that cleared up, we have the aorist "fact" that it is God who saves, calls, and gives us a prior purpose through his grace (favor), from eternity past.  Again, pulling it out of the time line empties the Calvinist proof-text of its power.

1 Pet 1:1-2

KJV:  "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

NASB:  "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,  To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure."
The way this is worded above certainly seems to suggest predestination:  "Elect/chosen according to the foreknowledge of God."  But let's see what the actual text says:
πετρος αποστολος ιησου χριστου εκλεκτοις παρεπιδημοις διασπορας ποντου γαλατιας καππαδοκιας ασιας και βιθυνιας κατα προγνωσιν θεου πατρος εν αγιασμω πνευματος εις υπακοην και ραντισμον αιματος ιησου χριστου χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη πληθυνθειη

petros apostolos iesou christou eklektois parepidemois diasporas pontou galatias kappadokias asias kai bithunias kata prognosin theou patros en agiasmo pneumatos eis upakoen kai rantismon aimatos iesou christou umin kai eirene plethuntheie
Word for word, literally:
Peter apostle of-Jesus of-anointed to-chosen/select to-sojourners of-dispersion of-Pontus of-Galatia of-Cappadocia of-Asia and/also of-Bithynia with prior-knowledge of-God of-Father in holy-ing of-spirit into obedience and sprinkling of blood of-Jesus of-anointed grace/favor to-you(plural) and/also peace might-be-increased/made-plentiful
You can see from the above that the "to chosen/select sojourners of dispersion" comes before a whole list of places from whence they come (still speaking of the people, since the places are in the genitive case), after which comes the "with prior-knowledge of-God."  So, is it that God had the "prior knowledge" of them, or is it that they had the "prior knowledge" of God?

The preposition κατα (Strong's G2596, "kata"), when governing an accusative, means "with" or "in accordance with" or "according to," in terms of association, but does not inherently mean "because of," in terms of causality.  The preposition δια (Strong's G1223, "dia") would mean "through" or "because of," if that word were to be used, but that is not the word used, although it was available to use and could have been used as a preposition.  So, it is "with prior-knowledge," in terms of association, not a cause-effect relationship.

And who "chose/selected" the "chosen/select sojourners"?  Well, with the Calvinist proof-text disarmed, we are back to the question of by whom and when the choosing is done, whether God, men, or both.

2 Pet 2:12

"But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed..."  (KJV)
This translation is not accurate, and is a play on the English words.  "Made to be," juxtapositioned with "taken and destroyed," makes it sound like animals that are raised for slaughter.  But let's look at what it actually says:
ουτοι δε ως αλογα ζωα φυσικα γεγενημενα εις αλωσιν και φθοραν...
outoi de os aloga zoa phusika gegenemena eis alosin kai phthoran...
The word that the KJV translates "made" is γενναω (Strong's G1080, "gennao"), which means born/begotten/generated, not "made" as in "created," which would be κεκτισμενα (Strong's G2936, "ktizo," inflected likewise as a verb participle, perfect tense, passive voice, nominative case, plural number, neuter gender).

Furthermore, there is no verb infinitive "to be taken" in the text.

Furthermore, "destroyed" is not in the text, nor is it a verb. "Destroy" would be a word like απολλυμι (Strong's G622, "apollumi"). The actual word is φθοραν (Strong's G5356, "phthora"), which is a noun that means decay/corruption.

What the verse actual says is,

"These yet as un-logical natural living-beings having-been-born into capture and decay/corruption..."
Well, that's just the decay/corruption of what we are all born into and are captive to, until we choose to acknowledge the truth and become spiritually regenerated.

Jude 1:4

"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation."  (KJV)
This translation is not accurate, and makes it sound like God ordained some to be condemned.
παρεισεδυσαν γαρ τινες ανθρωποι οι παλαι προγεγραμμενοι εις ταυτο το κριμα...
pareisedusan gar tines anthropoi oi palai progegrammenoi eis tauto to krima...

"For some men formerly slip-in-besides, having-been-written-beforehand into this, the decision-effect..."
There isn't actually a Bible word for "ordain," as this is a more modern religious term, but the equivalent word would be καθιστημι (Strong's G2525, "kathistemi"), hyper-literally "with/against/down-stand," meaning "appoint," as in Titus 1:5 "ordain elders in every city" (KJV).  But that was not the word used.  The word actually used, προγραφω (Strong's G4270, "pro-grapho") is a compound of προ (Strong's G4253, "pro"), meaning "before," and γραφω (Strong's G1125, "grapho"), which means inscribe or write.

The other word is κριμα (Strong's G2917, "kri-ma") which refers to the result or effect of a decision.  The "decision" is theirs and the effect of that decision is the sinful life/lifestyle that they are living, which has nothing to do with God's decision or the final judgment/wrath of God to come.

So, this is a reference to these men having been already written about, and what they are doing according to their own volition, not these men having been "ordained by God into condemnation."

Acts 13:48

Speaking of the Gentiles, it says,

"and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." (KJV)
Literally, the text reads,
και επιστευσαν οσοι ησαν τεταγμενοι εισ ζωην αιωνιον
kai episteusan osoi esan tetagmenoi eis zoen aionion
G2532  G4100  G3745 G2258   G5021  G1519 G2222 G166
Word for word,
and/also, [the Gentiles] believe, whoever, having been being, having been set/arranged, into, life, eternal
The key words are:
ησαν (the verb "to be/exist," imperfect tense, indicative mood, third person, plural number)

τεταγμενοι (the verb participle "set/arrange," perfect tense, passive voice, nominative case, plural number, masculine gender)
The pronoun οσοι and verb participle are in the nominative case, tied together grammatically with the intransitive verb ησαν.  It is important to note that the verb participle is a predicate nominative.

It is easy to confuse this with English grammar, where a form of the verb "to be" is used as an auxiliary/helper verb to augment and conjugate the main verb.  This is where you can get the mistranslation, "were ordained."  That is English grammar, not Koine Greek grammar, forming the English past tense form of the English verb "ordain" ("were + ordain+ed") in the passive voice.  That is not a correct translation, for a number of reasons.  First, the Koine Greek does not have English "helper/auxiliary" verbs.  Verbs are conjugated wholly by inflection. Second, the Koine Greek does not have a "past tense."  Third, the verb ησαν is in the imperfect tense, whereas the verb τεταγμενοι is in the perfect tense.  Fourth, the verb τεταγμενοι is a participle.

The imperfect tense is awkward to translate, but denotes incomplete action, something starting in the past and continuing in action from that point on.  So, "were," for the simple past tense, is not actually appropriate for ησαν.  It would have to be translated using either the English past continuous/progressive ("was being") or English present perfect continuous/progressive ("has been being").  Unfortunately, that is too awkward to flow in English, so translators simplify such things in the interest of readability.  Regardless, it is the imperfect tense, and an action that is "incomplete" cannot be viewed as having been "completed" in the past.

The imperfect tense of the verb ησαν does not match the perfect tense of the participle τεταγμενοι.  The perfect tense denotes completed action.  However, this functions as a participle, as if a noun, to which the verb ησαν refers.  Again, this is a predicate nominative.

So, we have "whoever" + "has been being" + "having been set/arranged" ("into life eternal").  Nominative + intransitive verb + nominative (+ prepositional phrase).

That's awkward in English, but that is literally what the text says, and you can't get around that fact.

The "whoever has-been-being having-been-set/arranged into life eternal" qualifies the "they [Gentiles] believe."  Obviously, not all the Gentiles believe.  But those who do believe "have and are being" (imperfect tense) equated with "having-been-set/arranged into life eternal."  This is in harmony with the mainstream, orthodox, Christian faith that we profess: That those who believe are saved (from the judgment and wrath of God to come) or, more grammatically correctly, "those who are believing are being saved (from the judgment and wrath of God to come)," where "believe" is a free will choice.

Where is "God" in all this?  That is a good question.  Obviously, God is in all this, at least indirectly; no one would deny that.  But for this to be a Calvinistic proof-text, you would need for the writer of scripture to specify something to the effect that God was the direct cause of people believing and having-been-set/arranged.  That is not what the text says.  The word "God" is not incorporated into the phrase.  So, if you are a Calvinist, you don't have a proof-text here.  The verb "believe" is a transitive verb, but the verb "has been being" is an intransitive verb, which equates one thing with another.  The only causal thing in the text is the verb "believe."

It's a bit funny that a Calvinist would use this passage, because right before it, we have the apostle Paul telling the Jews,

"To you first it was necessary that the word of God be spoken.  Yet, since in fact you are thrusting it away and not judging yourselves worthy of eternal life, be perceiving!:  We are turning into the nations, for thusly the Lord has directed to us."  (Acts 13:46)
What about this verse, which puts the responsibility for accepting/rejecting eternal life upon the listener?

Gen 50:20

Pretty much everyone knows the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis where, at first plotting to kill him, he was instead sold into slavery by his brothers, ended up in a prison in Egypt for something like twelve years, then interpreted the baker's, the butler's, then Pharoah's dream correctly, ending up saving not only Egypt from the famine, but his father and brothers as well. In the end his brothers were afraid that Joseph would take revenge against them after their father, Jacob, died, but Joseph uttered the famous phrase to them, as typically translated,

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
The Hebrew for this is
ואתם חשבתם עלי רעה אלהים חשבה לטבה למען עשה כיום הזה להחית עם רב
This somewhat more literally translates,
and-you have-devised toward-me evil; God has-devised-it toward-good, in-order-that to-accomplish toward-the-day, the-this, toward-to-keep-alive great-people
The LXX Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture by the ancient Hebrew Jews is
υμεις εβουλευσασθε κατ' εμου εις πονηρα ο δε θεος εβουλευσατο περι εμου εις αγαθα οπως αν γενηθη ως σημερον ινα διατραφη λαος πολυς
This similarly translates, very literally,
you devise against me into evil; yet the God devises about me into good, so-as ever may-become as today, in-order-that many people may-be-sustained
Evidently the Calvinists cannot escape the conclusion that the evil done to Joseph was planned by God, but that is not what the scripture says. I think that the issue comes from the poor choice of English word, "meant." By "meant," it seems that God "willed" it, that is, had a whole stratagem in mind (including the evil against Joseph) from the start. In fact, if God wanted to save Jacob's family, he could have just given Joseph a dream to have just their family store up their own grain for seven years. He could have even warned Joseph, in a dream, about his brothers' scheme against him. There are many possibilities, but what happened was that God turned the whole terrible situation around for the good to save both his family and the Egyptians, who were beneficiaries of the blessings of Joseph's presence there. It does not say that God predestined the evil. But yet again God foiled the devil's plans, and the plans of evil men.

Eph 2:8-9


In conclusion, I have been exhaustive to list all the significant proof-texts around predestination in the New Testament, showing that the actual word meanings, the grammar, and the contexts do not support the Calvinist doctrine by proof-text. I also showed a video demonstration that illustrates the futility of the whole "Calvinism vs. Arminianism," "Predestination vs. Free Will" debate and short-sighted thinking. The video should be enough, actually, but I realize that a careful examination of the scriptures is certainly necessary, and I did this thoroughly. Between the video and the scripture analysis, the proof-texting should be disarmed and the issue resolved.

No copyrightI grant this work to the public domain.