‘The Godhead are LIVING IN AN ENDLESS DURATION OF TIME and have successions of thoughts, experiences, and volitions, or a chronology of events, in Their existence, as set forth in the following passages:
- Those describing the Godhead as living in a succession of time: 57:15; Ps. 102:24-27; 95:10-11; Zeph. 3:5; Zech. 1:12; He. 13:8; Re. 1:8.
- Those referring to the Godhead as engaging in the process of reasoning and decision, inviting man to join in this process: Ge. 1:26-27; Is. 1:18; 55:8-9; Jer. 29:11; 44:21-22.Our only concept of reasoning is the process of thinking one thought after another in a succession of time and coming to a conclusion, which we did not have at the beginning of the process. There is no hint in the Scriptural record that God is not actually thinking along with us in the same process of time that we are living in. Duration or succession is absolutely imperative to the reasoning process. Our ability to think is just as worthless without a duration of time to act in as an automobile would be without a road to operate upon.
- The Godhead are represented as experiencing emotional reactions of pleasure, grief, and indignation in accordance with man’s attitude and conduct: 6:5-6; 22:12; Ps. 78:38, 56-61; 95:10-11; Is. 12:1; Eze. 6:9; 16:42-43; Micah 7:18-19; Zeph. 3:17; Zech. 1:12-16; Lk. 15:7, 10.
These verses, among many others, show the variableness of Divine experiences in the duration of time, in response to man’s treatment of God’s love and blessings. Great climaxes of happy and grievous reactions are often involved as God observes man’s obedience and extreme rebellion. God controls His vindictive emotions and manifests wrath only in righteous judgment in His responsibility as the Moral Governor of the universe.
- The Godhead are said to perform specific actions at definite periods or instants in a succession of time: Ge. 2:3; Ex. 20:11; 31:17; He. 4:4; De. 2:25; Josh. 10:14.Allow God to exist in a duration (or succession) and all is natural and highly exciting. He then can have new thoughts, make new decisions, and perform acts of unspeakable wisdom. Then He can look back upon His works and have Divine complacency that they are “very good” and be “refreshed” by contemplation.
- God is said to be exerting continual care and oversight over those in happy submission to Him, making observations, reacting thereto, and planning their protection: De. 11:12; 23:14; I Kgs. 22:19; II Chr. 16:9.They were to live their lives in realization that their God was constantly watching their behavior. God’s loving presence could only be a reality if they continued in purity of life and devotion.
- The Godhead have made decisions to do certain things or have made changes in Their plans, as a result of making certain observations of man’s condition, rebellion, or change of attitude in humiliation and prayer: 6:5-7; Ex. 2:23-25; Ex. 32:7-14 (fervent intercession of Moses); Nu. 11:1-2; De. 9:18-19, 25; I Sam. 15:10-11, 23, 35; II Kgs. 13:3-5; 19:16, 20, 28; II Chr. 7:12-16; Jonah 3:10; Jonah 4:2.Allow the Godhead to be living in a duration of time and we have graphic accounts of God’s reactions against rebellion, and His sympathetic and moving response to humbleness and repentance. Prayer actually moves a compassionate God, who is concerned with our welfare, and changes things. We have in II Kings 19:14-37, for example, the following sequence: A dire need, humiliation before God, earnest petition, God having heard the prayer and considering the situation, God’s reactions, deliverance, and judgment upon the enemy.
- The incarnation of the Lord Jesus into humanity brought about changes and experiences in the inter-personal relations of the Godhead which cannot be conceived of apart from a succession of time or a true chronology of events: 1:1-2, 14; 6:38; 8:42; 12:23, 28; 16:27-28, 17:4-5, 11-12; 20:17; Acts 2:32-33; Ga. 4:4-5; Phil. 2:5- 11; Re. 3:20-21. (…)
There was an eternal duration of past time when the Triune Members of the Godhead had Their perfect fellowship together. This was before the Second Person took upon Himself a catastrophic change of existence through His incarnation by way of the Virgin Birth. Then there was a period of time when the Son of God as the Son of Man “tabernacled among us” in the special enduement of the Holy Spirit and in sacred prayer fellowship with the Father. Then there was the second greatest event in the history of mankind (second only to creation), when the Savior in His lonely atoning sufferings said, “It is finished.” Then His subsequent resurrection life and ascension introduced a change into the very realm of the Godhead—a God-man in the heavens, ever living “to make intercession.” How can anyone in simple-mindedness conceive of such immense inter-personal changes in the essential nature and experiences of the Godhead without allowing a true chronology of succession in the Divine existence? These tremendous facts confound philosophical speculations.
- The Holy Spirit began His special earthly activity in the present dispensation at a distinct point of time, involving inter-personal events in the experiences of the Godhead: Jn. 7:39; 14:16-17, 26; 16:7-8; Acts 1:5; 2:1-4, 33; Ep. 3:2-6.
The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the blessed Trinity, is the executive Agent in bringing to pass the program of God on earth, particularly as regards man’s salvation and the communication of the will of God to man. In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit came upon selected individuals at selected times to reveal truth, guidance, and to energize them in bestowing spiritual gifts. Profound changes were to be made in the Gospel age, in that a new intimate spiritual relationship with the resurrected and glorified Christ was to be established through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. New profound blessings and manifestations were to be the common experience of those reconciled to God. This new “stewardship of God’s grace” could not be bestowed until the advent, atoning death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus (Jn. 7:39). Thus we have a specific point of time in the durative experiential life of the Godhead when these new manifestations of the Holy Spirit began. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,” said the Lord Jesus concerning the then future time of accomplishment (Jn. 14:16). Obviously, there is a genuine chronology in the experiences of the Godhead. Frequent reference is made in the New Testament to another distinct point of time when these blessed privileges shall be terminated in a future climax of judgment.
- God is represented as having made many decisions concerning distant plans which He expects to bring to pass in the process of time, representing them as future in His own activity: Ge. 3:15; 12:1-3; I Sam. 2:35; Is. 7:14; 2:44; Acts 1:7; II Tim. 1:9-10 and Tit. 1:2 (“long ages ago,” lit., “before times eternal,” ASV); I Pe. 1:10-12; Acts 15:14-17; Ep. 1:10; Re. 1:1; Acts 17:31; 1:11.
These passages have been selected to represent long-distant plans that God the Father has made in His dispensations of love and mercy toward mankind. Because of man’s rebellion and persistence in wickedness, God has had to modify His plans and also pursue dispensations of justice and judgment as a righteous Moral Governor. These plans are general in scope, although they often involve many details, and do not necessarily involve a knowledge of all that shall develop or be decided upon in the course of time. They indicate that God the Father has taken forethought, experienced reactions, and has made decisions in a past duration of time, and has declared many future events which He has determined to bring to pass in His great mercy and regulation of world affairs.SUMMARY: The theological dogma that God is an “eternal now,” or that time (or succession) is not an element in the Divine existence, is evidently a philosophical rather than a Biblical concept. In the Bible God is presented as a living Being who:
1) walks or dwells with men,
2) performs definite acts at definite times,
3) rests or ceases and contemplates activity,
4) observes, thinks and is reasoned with,
6) is grieved,
7) is jealous,
8) is provoked to anger and then causes His wrath to rest,
9) is moved with compassion, forgives and comforts,
10) delights and rejoices,
11) hearkens unto men,
13) changes His plans,
14) makes new decisions, etc.These various acts, states of mind, or experiences obviously conflict and cannot coexist at the same instant in a particular series of events, and thus require the chronological element of time for their occurrence. God is “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Is. 57:15, ASV).When one endeavors to show how a God who is timeless (or an “eternal now”), or who does not have a succession of actions or events in His basic existence, can make a choice in time, (which is not a reality to enter into a succession of time and bring about a chronology of thoughts, reactions, decisions, and actions, which were always being experienced in His timeless existence), grave complications arise which the plain and simple record of Scripture appears to know nothing about. An “eternal now” God would not have a duration of time in which to make a choice to enter into a duration of time, to bring about experientially a genuine chronology of events.
(…) There is considerable evidence from the Scriptures that future choices of moral beings (when acting freely in their moral agency), have not been brought into existence as yet and thus are not fixities or objects of possible knowledge. This applies to actions of the Godhead as well as to the self-caused actions of men. To say that the smallest details of Divine action down through the countless ages of eternity have always been in the Divine mind, is to say that God never experiences climaxes of decisions as a result of contemplation, or that God never originates anything new. This is fate applied to the Infinite. Choice is impossible without the origination of something new.
But God is represented in the Bible as making new decisions, as pondering situations and as making up His mind in conformity thereto. He also changes His mind when certain reactions take place. The Scriptures do not even hint that these descriptions of Divine actions are mere adaptations to our way of thinking, but simply and beautifully put them forth as revelations of the great God. These profound portrayals of the great unknown should excite all of us as we seek to lift the veil of our limited vision. (…)
- Many future choices, actions, and mass reactions of men appear to be known to God beforehand and form the basis for many detailed plans of events that God purposes to bring to pass in making reconciliation for all men possible and in His government of world affairs. For example:
- The rejection and putting to death of Christ, the Messiah and Savior, whom God purposed to send into the world because of sin: Ge.3:15; Is. 53:2-3, 12; Zech. 12:10; Mk. 8:31; 9:12, 31; Mt. 20:17-19; 21:33-39, The Lord Jesus would come as “the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12), as a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners” (He. 7:26), into a world that “loved the darkness rather than the light” (Jn. 3:19), energized by and under the dominion of “the evil one” (Ep. 2:2; I Jn. 5:19), “the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). The Savior’s total witness “that its deeds are evil” (Jn. 7:7) would call for such a revolutionary change that God the Father expected a total rejection by the masses and made His plans accordingly. Satan would finally be utterly conquered (Lk. 10:17-18; Ro. 16:20; Re. 20:1-3, 10). But this would only happen after having brought great sorrow and suffering to the Savior through his many evil emissaries in religious and political leadership (Mt. 4:9; 27:20).
- God revealed to Moses that after his death Israel would rebel and require judgments to bring them back to repentance and forgiveness: 31:16-21. Many times God had experienced Israel as “a stubborn people” (De. 9:13), and was observing “their intent” or inner attitude then, even before the blessings of the promised land (De. 31:21). Moses affirmed that they were rebellious while he was still with them, with the hallowing influence of his Divine experiences, “how much more, then, after my death?” (De. 31:27).
- Jeremiah, the prophet (626-580 B.C.), was a subject of knowledge before conception, evidently because of God’s special plan and purpose to raise up a prophet to give final warning to Judah of the Babylonian captivity, which God was bringing about because of their sins: Jer. 1:5, 7. Jeremiah experienced very special Divine influence and enduement from early life, that appears to be almost compelling, and went forth with great
- Because of God’s knowledge of man’s extreme unwillingness to receive the truth and repent of sin, God knows that the world will never be converted to Christ but will become more and more determined in pursuit of selfish gratification: Mt. 24:14; II 2:3-4; I Tim. 4:1-3; II Tim. 3:13. The Lord Jesus was asked, “Are there just a few who are being saved?” (Lk. 13:23), and He had to agree with great heaviness of heart. Comparatively few would enter “the narrow gate” and walk the “narrow” way to life (Mt. 7:13-14). Thus God has had to make His plans accordingly and is taking out “a people for His name” from all nations (Acts 15:13-14).
- God determined, “according to His own purpose and grace,” to make possible the forgiveness of sins through the sacrificial death of Christ “long ages ago” (lit., “before times eternal”), and thus the blessings of the Gospel were not of recent origin: II Tim. 1:9-10; Tit. 1:2.
- [Note of the author of this website:
“before the foundation of the world” is a mistranslation. It should be rendered differently. Click here for more information on this subject.]
The concept of the plan of atonement through the sufferings of Christ was worked out as a possibility “before the foundation of the world” and the creation of man (I Pe. 1:20), and resolved upon as a certainty “from the foundation of the world” (Re. 13:8, AV). The former passage may be rendered: “Having come to be perceived beforehand, indeed before (the) foundation of (the) world,” the Greek perfect tense suggesting a process of thought before the conclusion. In Re. 13:8 we have the words: “The Lamb came to be slain from (the) foundation of (the) world,” as the Authorized Version correctly renders it, again using a perfect tense.
[Here he goes on being correct:]
This would indicate that the sacred spiritual sufferings of the Savior unto death in a future incarnated humanity became a certainty in the mind of God from the moment (early in history) that man sinned. This also made redemption necessary, as a means of reconciliation, to be brought to pass in a future duration of time (Acts 3:18; 4:27-28).
- It was affirmed at the Jerusalem Council that God’s present program of gathering out from the world all who will respond to the Gospel, before fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies by the return of the Lord Jesus and the establishing of the millennial kingdom, was not some new Divine plan but was “known from of old”: Acts 15:13-18 (ASV, 1901, also ASB).
- Many events and future plans that God has decided upon and prophesied as certain to come to pass appear to be associated with the idea of causation.
Scripture reveals that God can control the human will in the absolute sense— setting aside, in such acts, its normal moral freedom and accountability and placing it temporarily under a law of cause and effect (as De. 2:25; Jer. 50:9; Re. 17:17). In matters of personal salvation, however, God never coerces the will but always maintains a delicate balance of moral freedom (as De. 30:19, 15-20; Is. 1:18-20; Jn. 5:40; Ro. 2:5-11; Re. 3:20).
- Abraham’s descendants would spend about 400 years in Egypt (actually becoming 430 years): Ge. 15:13-15; Ex. 12:40-41.
- “The king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion”: Ex. 3:19-20. God purposed to judge Egypt for their sins and cruel persecution of the Israelites and would harden Pharaoh’s heart, or allow him to remain unpersuaded in his stubbornness, to be the occasion for these righteous judgments (Ex. 11:9- 10). God finally destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea by hardening the hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians to pursue the Israelites with great violence and determination (Ex. 14:4, 5, 8, 17). God’s causation extended from their minds into the physical realm, “He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty” (Ex. 14:23-25, 27).
- Cyrus, king of Persia, was prophesied about 150 years before his great mission of making provision for the returning Jewish remnant from the 70-year captivity which God had determined upon. Is. 44:28-45:4. God could cause him to be so named, brought into power at the desired period, and move him to make his proclamation (II Chr. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4).
- The 70-year Babylonian captivity was determined upon by God as judgment upon Judah for their rebellion against God’s rulership: 25:11-13; 29:10-14. Jeremiah was raised up as a special prophet to warn the nation of the coming catastrophe (Jer. 1:4-10). As a last measure, he was instructed to publish these warnings in a book. “Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them.” But God’s pleadings and warnings were rejected (Jer. 36:1-7; 37:2).
- It was prophesied in Old Testament times that the Messiah would be rejected and would endure sufferings characteristic of crucifixion. And our Lord specifically mentioned crucifixion in New Testament times: 52:13-53:12; Zech. 12:10; Mt. 20:17-19; Jn. 12:32-34.
- The sacred Atonement was to consist in the Savior’s voluntary spiritual suffering unto death in total mental realization of the dreadful sinful rebellion of This rebellion was against the reasonable moral government of a loving God. The Atonement did not consist in man’s rejection, brutal treatment, and putting to death of the Savior. God the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (II Co. 5:21). The Savior must identify Himself with sinners so intimately that He is treated as if their sins were His, if the seemingly insurmountable problems of reconciliation were to be solved. He must be the great High Priest who voluntarily places the sin of mankind, not upon the head of an innocent animal, but upon Himself, with dreadful heart-broken solemnness, until it crushes out His holy and spotless life: Jn. 1:29; 6:51; 10:17-18; He. 2:9; 7:26-27; I Pe. 2:24; Mk. 15:37, 39.
- Faced with the expected certain rejection of the loving Saviour when He came to earth (Jn. 7:7) and the usual stoning to get rid of Him (Jn. 10:31-33), how is God going to provide the Saviour with a duration of time in the public view in which His penetrating agony over man’s sin, in full consciousness, can be brought to the climax of death? God long determined to exert a causative mental preference in the minds of rebellious leaders and the multitude so they would all manifest their tempers in demanding crucifixion rather than stoning: Mt 27:22-23; Acts 3:18; 4:27-28
- Since such victims were usually conscious for several days, this period would provide the Savior with a duration of time in which He could display publicly before all men His agony of mind and heart because of And this would not interfere with their moral responsibility and guilt in their rejecting the Messiah: Jn. 1:11; Acts 3:13-15; 5:30.
- “The blood and water” that flowed from the Savior’s side when it was pierced proved to be strong evidence that He died from a broken (ruptured) heart. It appears He did not die from the crucifixion. It is also noted that His unusual early and astonishing death as observed by the centurion (Mk. 15:39) also confirms a death from spiritual agony: Jn. 19:32-37; Mk. 15:43-45.Descriptions representing the dreadfulness of such double agony (of spiritual and physical suffering), therefore, were given by inspiration in Old Testament times, particularly to Isaiah and the Psalmist David (Psalm 22). They were brought into many trying experiences to prepare them to write such solemn things. Our Lord with deepest realization foretold His crucifixion and agonized in the Garden to be delivered from that threatened violent death by stoning. Stoning would make impossible the Atonement for which He came. His prayer was heard and He was delivered (He. 5:7).
- God’s knowledge of man’s extreme unwillingness to respond to His overtures of reconciliation has led Him to make many detailed plans as to the course of the ages, which have been prophesied in Old and New Testaments, many of which are still future: 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5-6; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Mt. 24 and 25; Acts 1:11; I Th. 4:16-17; Re. 1:1, 7; 4 to 22.God planned and prophesied the advent of the Savior and the accomplishment of redemption, as we have seen. He also planned the bodily return of the Lord Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom of righteousness. Many details of this return were prophesied in the Old Testament, with many more prophesies by our Lord and the New Testament writers. God will judge nations and individuals in absolute righteousness. Their destiny will be determined upon the basis of their reactions to God’s measures of mercy. The many details foretold in Revelation chapters 4 to the end will take on new meaning when they are being fulfilled, and will show God’s wisdom in revealing them. The sum total of all of God’s dispensations will be a grand and unending oblation to the Triune Godhead (Re. 19:1-9).God can prophesy these many things because He has determined to bring them to pass by His direct causation. He is “the Lord God, the Almighty” (Re. 4:8). The exact time of the return of the Lord Jesus from heaven to close the present Church age of God’s great mercy does not appear to be a fixity in the Divine mind. We are in a great parenthesis which does not seem to have been prophesied in Old Testament times. The prophets were given to see the two peaks of Christ’s first and second coming, without visualizing the valley of time in between them. There appears to have been a great extension of this parenthesis of time in the mercy of God, over what was expected in New Testament times. See chart on page 22.In addition to God’s long-range plans of general dispensations on earth, many plans have been made as to the existence and rulership of nations. “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes, and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17). Some prophecies of God’s plans have been given (as to Daniel, Dan. 2:36-43; 7:1-7). We are to pray about God’s present decisions (I Tim. 2:1-2).
- Many Bible passages, when taken in their natural meaning, appear to indicate that God does not have absolute foreknowledge over all His own future actions, nor over all those of His moral creatures. Examples are:
- God is said to have repented or regretted that man had been created, when it became evident how stupendous and persistent man’s indulgence in sinful rebellion had become: 6:3, 5-7, 12. The word “repent” and its derivatives is used to describe the actions of God some 33 times in the Old Testament (Ge. 6:6; Jud. 2:18; II Sam. 24:16; Jer. 26:19; Zech 8:14), and can only indicate an aroused state of grief and disappointment. There are some exceptions where He changed His mind because of happy reactions. See page 111 for Old and New Testament words for repentance.
- God experienced a climax of blessing when Abraham was about to carry through God’s strange command to slay his son Isaac on an altar: Ge. 22:12.
- God was determined to wipe out the whole nation Israel after the golden calf apostasy and start a new nation through Moses, but changed His mind through the humble and reasoning intercession of Moses: 32:7-14.
- God was waiting to see how the nation Israel reacted in humility after the golden calf crisis before determining His judgment upon them: Ex. 33:5.
- Israel’s complaining amidst blessings suddenly brought forth God’s judgment, which was stayed by their humility and the prayer of Moses: Nu. 11:1-2.
- God expected to discover from the 40-year wandering in the wilderness Israel’s true heart and reactions to His loving provisions: De. 8:2.
- God had changed His mind about driving out some of the nations of Palestine because of Israel’s sin: 2:20-22; compare 3:1-5 with Ex. 33:2; 34:24. God expected to find out from these nations whether Israel would be faithful and true or not.
- God very reluctantly gave Saul to be king over His chosen people Israel, in response to their demands (I Sam. 8:6-7), and later repented or regretted His choice of Saul after Saul disobeyed: I 15:10-11, 23,
- Saul had an impressive background and was “a choice and handsome man” (9:1-2), was anointed by the Holy Spirit for “God changed his heart” (10:6, 9-11). The natural interpretation is that if God had foreseen Saul’s rebellion, He would not have chosen him to be king. Samuel’s grief must have reflected God’s grief (I Sam. 15:11).
- God changed His mind and decided to add 15 years to King Hezekiah’s reign over Judah, because of his humble prayer: II Kgs. 20:1-7.
- God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but in the process God was moved with mercies and changed His mind, staying the angel’s hand from further judgment: I Chr. 21:11-15. God had moved David to register all Israel because of needed judgment (II 24:1). Of the three means of punishment offered to him, David elected to fall under the direct judging hand of God for he felt that God was more merciful than men.
- When King Rehoboam of Judah and the leaders humbled themselves when threatened with judgment, God changed His mind and granted them “some measure of deliverance,” or modified the severity of His planned judgment: II Chr. 12:5-8.
- God declared through Jeremiah that He will change His purposes of judgment and blessing in accordance with man’s reactions toward His dispensations: Jer. 18:5-10.
- After Jeremiah had gone throughout Judah, warning of the coming Babylonian captivity of 70 years which God had determined to bring to pass against them for their rebellion against His loving plans (25:8-11), he was instructed by God to proclaim in the temple the possibility of God changing His purpose of judgment if they would respond in repentance, all to no avail: 26:2-7, 12-13. Jeremiah was brought to justice and threatened with death, so God had to bring about the promised judgment.
- Joel, during a previous period of judgment, set forth the fact that God might be induced to repent of His pronounced judgments if man would sincerely repent in deep humility and exposure of heart: Joel 2:12-14.
- God sent Jonah to pronounce Nineveh’s destruction in 40 God changed His mind and spared the city when one of the greatest recorded times of repentance took place: Jonah 3:2, 4, 10. This is exactly what Jonah feared might happen because of God’s great mercy (Jonah 4:2).
- Judas was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles to serve God and be a witness to the Gospel and revealed truth. He obviously was partaking of this truth, but rebelled and became an apostate—thus frustrating theloving plans of his Master: Acts 1:25; Mt. 10:2-4; Lk. 6:12-13; Mk. 3:14-15. The reasons why the Twelve were chosen are given below. If the Lord Jesus chose to bestow extended labor of preparation upon one whom He certainly foresaw would fall of the intended mission, it would appear that an unwise and inconsistent choice was made. Judas had no authority, he merely “became a guide to those who arrested Jesus” (Acts 1:16).
- The Lord Jesus chose the Twelve from His disciples after an all-night of prayer to the Father: 6:12- 13.
- The threefold purpose in calling the Twelve is plainly declared: Mk. 3:14-15.
- Judas was in a state of salvation when chosen and sent forth to represent Christ: 9:1-2; Mt. 10:8 (12:25-26); 10:16, 20 (Jn. 8:44); Mk. 6:7, 12; Lk. 9:6; Jn. 13:20.
- Judas rebelled against his Master (Jn. 6:64, 70-71), joined himself to Satan (Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:2, 27), and thus fell from his “ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:17, 25).
- It does not appear that the treachery of Judas was specifically prophesied in the Old Testament, nor that the Lord Jesus expected his apostasy until He perceived its development in his mind. If our Lord expected it all the time, why was He “troubled in spirit” or heart stricken at its development (Jn. 13:21)? It is obviously presented as a tragic The following are the passages involved and suggested literal translations for careful study: Jn. 6:64 “But there are some of you who are not believing. For Jesus was knowing from the beginning who they are who are not believing and who it is who would deliver Him up.” “From the beginning” most likely refers to their unbelief or turning of heart, which Jesus was observing (Jn. 2:24-25). See Mt. 19:4, 8; Jn. 15:27; 16:4; Acts 11:15; 26:4; Phil. 4:15—”from the beginning” of the thing spoken of.
Jn. 6:70—”Did not I choose out for Myself you the twelve, and out of you one a devil is?” This strongly implies that he was not such originally, but became so (Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:2, 21).
Jn. 6:71—”For this one was about to be delivering Him up, one out of the twelve.” Nothing is prophetic here, merely stating his purpose.
Jn. 13:11—”For He was knowing him who was delivering Him up, therefore He said, Ye are not all clean.” Here was a present activity.
Jn. 13:18—”Not concerning all of you am I speaking; I Myself am knowing the ones I did choose out for Myself; but thus is the Scripture fulfilled (or again illustrated): He who is eating My bread did lift up against Me his heel.” Our Lord is referring back to a purely historical event in the life of David, where his counselor Ahithophel betrayed him and joined Absalom’s rebellion (Ps. 41:9, see II Sam. 15:12; 16:23), which was similar to His sad experience. Since David wrote of “my close friend, in whom I trusted,” the Lord Jesus in applying this passage must have felt similarly and had trusted Judas.
In Jn. 13:18 and 17:12 we have the conjunction “hina” with a verb “to fulfill,” which may be translated either “in order that might be fulfilled,” as in the case of a specific prophecy, or “so that was fulfilled” indicating a re-fulfillment or an application of an Old Testament historical situation or declaration.
Jn. 17:12—”While I was with them I Myself was keeping them in Thy name whom Thou didst give Me, and I guarded (them), and no one out of them perished (or did destroy himself), except the son of perdition, so that the Scripture was fulfilled.” What Scripture our Lord had in mind is not known, perhaps Ps. 41:9, as above.
Acts 1:16-17, 20—”Men, brethren, the Scripture, which the Holy Spirit did speak beforehand through David’s mouth, must have been fulfilled in the case of Judas, who became a guide to those who took Jesus. For that having been numbered with (us), he was among us and did receive the allotted portion of this ministry . . . For it has been written in the Book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation become desolate and let no one dwell in it, and his office let another take.'”
Reference is back to Ps. 69:25, where we notice a plural pronoun used, not a singular pronoun which would be the case if this had been a specific prophecy to Judas.
The other reference is to Ps. 109:8, where the words, “let another take his office.” are a part of a context extending from verse 6 to verse 19. This whole passage is a pronouncement against “adversaries from the Lord” (20). Since only one small part of this passage is referred to, it would appear that the brief quotation in Acts 1:20 is intended as an application of a previously pronounced judgment upon a typical enemy of God. Obviously, if this had been a specific prophecy of Judas, the whole passage would have been referred to and not just five words. Peter’s reference to the Holy Spirit speaking “through David’s mouth” must relate to his lifetime inspiration in his writings (II Sam. 23:2), and not to any specific prophecy concerning Judas, as the Lord Jesus spoke of (Mk. 12:36).
- The exact day of Christ’s return does not appear to be firmly fixed as a matter of Neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit know: Mk. 13:32; Mt. 24:36. It will occur when the Father in His authority decides that it should. (Acts 1:7), which is His supreme prerogative (Jn. 14:28; I Co. 11:3; Re. 1:1).
- The coming of Christ and the fulfillment of end-time prophecies of judgment and the establishment of the millennial kingdom was expected to take place during apostolic or New Testament times, but has been delayed these many centuries by the long-suffering and mercy of God: 16:27-28; 24:34; Ro. 13:11-12; Phil. 4:5; Jas. 5:8-9; I Pe. 4:7; I Jn. 2:18; Re. 1:1, 3; 3:11; 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20.
The coming of Christ will be a time of great judgment upon the ungodly (Is. 61:2; Ro. 2:5; II Th. 1:7-9). Peter confronts the scoffers with the reasons for God’s loving delay (II Pe. 3:3-9). How could New Testament revelation uniformly portray the soon coming of Christ if it was fixed in the Divine mind that some 1900 years would elapse?
- Names can be blotted out of the Book of Life, plagues can be added, and souls shut out from the Tree of Life upon certain conditions of persistent rebellion against God: 3:5; 22:18-19. If the entire course and destiny of everyone was known to God, those who do not continue faithful unto the end would never be written in the Book of Life or have an expected part in the Tree of Life.’
Source: Gordon Olson, The Truth Shall Make You Free, The Truth About The Nature and Character of God, p 17-20, 24-31 (Illinois, Bible Research Fellowship Inc., 1980).