Is predestination a biblical teaching?

Yes, predestination is biblical.  Predestination is the teaching that God has, from all eternity, freely determined whatsoever shall come to pass.  We find this in Ephesians 1:11 which says, “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”  Notice Paul teaches that predestination occurs according to the purpose of God and that God works all things after His will.  The "all things" means exactly that, all things.

  • Predestination:  "God’s actions in willing something to a specific result; also called “foreordination.” Some Christian theologians, particularly in the Reformed tradition, have seen it as indicating God’s eternal decree by which all creatures are foreordained to eternal life or death. It may also be used synonymously with “election” and indicates God’s gracious initiation of salvation for those who believe in Jesus Christ."1
  • "The divine determination of human beings to eternal salvation or eternal damnation. The doctrine of predestination is a branch, so to speak, of the doctrine of election; God’s predestinating activity is a function of his existence as the electing God. Though expressed in the Old Testament primarily as the corporate election of the people of Israel (cf. Deut. 7:6–8), some also extend predestination to include God’s having decided in advance the events of each day in an individual’s life (e.g., Ps. 139:13–16)."2

The word predestination comes from the Greek προορίζω, "prooridzo."  The word occurs six times in six verses in the New Testament.

  1. Acts 4:28, “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”
  2. Romans 8:29-30, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:7, “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”
  4. Ephesians 1:5, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
  5. Ephesians 1:11, “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”

By looking at these verses, we can see that predestination reveals God's great sovereignty and right to do with His creation as he desires.  But also we can see that predestination deals with salvation.  Unfortunately, many Christians do not accept the biblical teaching on predestination.  Many do not like the idea that God predestines people for salvation, but the fact is the Bible teaches it.

We might say that there are two main views concerning predestination.  One is the view that God has foreknowledge; that is, he knew who would choose Him, and those are the ones He predestined to salvation.  The other idea is held by Calvinists who believe God sovereignly, of His own free will, predestined certain people to be saved, and His choice is not based upon looking into the future to see who would pick Him.

Either way, predestination is found in the Bible, and it is a doctrine that we must accept.  So, to find which view you think is most biblical, study the above list of verses in their context and see if you think that God predestines according to the expected future human choices or not.




  • 1. McKim, Donald K. The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 10944-10947). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 2. Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.

About The Author

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