Does God know everything?

by Matt Slick
12/12/2017

God's Omniscience

Biblically speaking, God knows everything.  He is all-knowing. We call this his omniscience (Latin omnis meaning all, and scientia meaning knowledge).  He has an infinite knowledge and a complete understanding of all things past, present, and future.  This means that God does not learn, is not surprised, and does not fail in what he says will happen. He knows all things in the past, present, and future.

  • God knows everything in the past: 
    • Acts 15:18, "Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago."
  • God knows everything in the present: 
    • Hebrews 4:13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
  • God knows everything in the future: 
    • Isaiah 46:10, "Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;"

We also say that God knows all things actual as well as potential.  By this we are saying that God knows everything that presently exists (actual) as well as what could have existed (potential), but does not. In other words, God knows all situations of possible existence and the outcome of varying alternative occurrences.  Following are some verses that support this idea. We call them counterfactual's. In other words, these are not actually in existence but have the potential of existence.

  • Matthew 11:21, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."
  • Matthew 11:23, “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day."
  • Matthew 24:22, “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short."
  • John 4:10, "Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink," you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.' "

We can see from the above Scriptures that God knows what could have happened or might have happened if situations had been different (counterfactuals). This demonstrates his exhaustive knowledge of potential future events that do not come to pass but could have if God had so desired them to manifest.

Open Theism's false teaching

Open theism is the teaching that God does not exhaustively know the future. Its basic premise is that God cannot know the future because the future does not exist and God cannot know what does not exist. But as we can see from the above scriptures, God knows what might have happened if situations had been different. Therefore, his knowledge of the future is exhaustive and is not limited by the mistaken notion that God cannot know the future.

In open theism, God is limited to the physical realm.  Some open theists even teach that there is a type of form to which God must adhere along with a hint of him being located in a particular area. But this is a topic for another time. The Scriptures are clear that God knows everything. 

The Bible Says

Some of the verses used to establish the idea that God knows everything are as follows...

  • Psalm 139:1–4, "O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all."
  • Psalm 147:5, "Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite."
  • Isaiah 40:14, "With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?"
  • Jeremiah 23:24, “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD. 'Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?' declares the LORD."
  • Hebrews 4:13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
  • 1 John 3:20, "in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things."

Conclusion

Because God is infinite in his understanding (Psalm 147:5) and because there is nothing hidden from his sight (Hebrews 4:13), we can trust that he will not make mistakes and that what he desires will come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). Without God's omniscience, we cannot trust that he would not make mistakes nor can we trust in the absolute assurance of our future resurrection and eternal dwelling with God. Omniscience is one of God's attributes and it demonstrates the majesty of his glory and the limitless perfection of his nature.

 

 

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.