A Question I Was Asked:

Does 1 Peter 2:8 Support "Double Predestination"?

Thank you for your article on 'double predestination'. However, you did not deal with 1 Peter 2.8, which appears to support it. I would be grateful if you would address this.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let's look at this, it's a very good question. 1 Peter 2:8 states this:

and, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for.

Emil Brunner's Accurate Assessment of "Double Predestination"

"...But of double predestination -- that God has chosen one from eternity for eternal life and has rejected the other from eternity to eternal damnation, there is no word to be found in the Holy Scripture. [yet] One can scarcely avoid drawing this conclusion from the teachings of the Scripture. Logic always misleads in that direction. But the Scripture itself does not do it, nor should we. We should leave the Scripture as it is, unsystematic, in all its parts; otherwise we pervert its message. The Scripture teaches a divine predestination of election; it also teaches the judgment of the unbelieving. It teaches, too, that nothing happens without God's will, but it never teaches — let me repeat it -- even in one single word -- a divine predestination of rejection. This fearful teaching is opposed to the Scripture, while the doctrine of eternal election is not only according to the Scripture, but truly the center of the Holy Scripture, the heart of the Gospel reason cannot fathom this. That is always reason's fate with the Word of God. The dogma of Double Predestination is a product of human logic which cannot withstand the logical teaching of the Scripture. Let us rejoice in our eternal election, let us be wary of defection! Let us say with Paul: "We who are saved," and let us be warned of him: "He that standeth let him take heed lest he fall," for he cannot then escape the Judgment. The life of the Christian, like a door hung upon two hinges, must swing upon this promise -- and this warning. If it slips out of the one or the other it ceases to swing true."

(Taken from Our Faith, Chapter Seven: Eternal Election, by Emil Brunner, translated by John W. Rilling, and published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY, 1954).

To stumble because this is what one is 'destined' to do does not necessarily support the idea of 'double predestination' at all, perhaps God is just not calling and choosing certain individuals to be part of the body of Christ during this Church age. Obviously, to get the full sense we need to broaden this text out a bit. First of all, this is discussing Christ and His Church:

4. As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him - 5. you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6. For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 7. Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," 8. and, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for. (1 Peter 2:4-8).

Now some indeed stumble at the message of the Gospel, we all know that, but if we are then told that "...they stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for," is this supporting double predestination? Let us remind ourselves that 'double predestination' is the belief that a few are destined to be saved, but the majority - I mean the overwhelming majority - are equally destined for hell. No, I don't think there is enough here to support that at all. It is saying that God only calls certain people right now, the rest either never hear the message or they reject the message and - for now - God leaves them to their own devices; they are allowed to stumble. If people reject Christ they stumble; we all know this. They are, therefore, stumbling because of rejecting Jesus Christ - not because of being 'eternally reprobate.' Not because no possibility is even being extended to them to inherit Eternal Life. A very careful study and knowledge of Scripture shows that God can call people at various times. Some, for example, are never called until they are on their deathbeds!

Later in their lives some people may go on to appropriate Christ, but not for the present. Yet nothing here suggests that they are "eternally lost, or, "eternally reprobate" - that God intended to shut them off from the good things of God for all eternity. This is what hard-line Calvinism has taught (and, unfortunately, still teaches), a position which John Calvin himself backed away from in his later life.

Look at Titus 3:

3. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5. he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6. whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7. so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7).

Now, having read that, look at how Ephesians 2 describes true believers - in this case Gentiles - before they came to Christ:

12. remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13).

Please note there that being "without hope" here is a description of our former pre-Christian condition - it does not describe people heading for hell no matter what they might do. It is describing every single one of us before we accepted the Gospel of Christ. We have probably all known people who initially stumbled at the cross of Christ, but later accepted Him and became believers. So "this is what they were destined for" may only mean that certain people are not yet being called into the Church as Christians at the present time. The New Testament does not completely write off those who are not currently believers; I'm afraid it is us believers who are too prone to doing that. Look at what John the Apostle writes:

1. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2).

In this Scripture notice how careful John the Apostle is not to write off those currently outside of the church. He says that Christ is the atoning sacrifice for "our" sins (Christian believers), "but also for the sins of the whole world." We don't yet know how God will deal with millions and nothing prevents Him from showing mercy on a huge scale should He wish to do so. All we are specifically told is that God calls His Elect who are chosen long ago to be part of the church during the Church Age. Their calling is entirely by grace. For the rest, God never carefully lays out how He will deal with them but the Bible contains continual hints of mercy being shown at the end of time, certainly nothing like the cruel dichotomy of hyper-Calvinism in which countless millions are concluded for hell no matter what they might do. A scenario in which God created millions simply for destruction, moreover, He knew that He was creating the vast majority of humanity simply for destruction! That - I have to say - is not in the Bible! In contrast, Philippians tells of the day - right at the end of time - when "every knee shall bow" before Christ (Philippians 2:10-11).

'Eye of a Needle' Comment

When the disciples had heard the 'eye of a needle' comment by Jesus regarding the difficulty of a rich man being saved, this was their quick response,

'When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."' (Matthew 19:25-26).

Jesus is saying, 'No! Despite everything, don't come to the negative conclusion that few can be saved!' Be optimistic! But will some eventually lose out on salvation? Sadly, almost certainly yes, yet if we take the Book of Revelation, it is very positive about the numbers who will finally be saved.

The Book of Revelation's Positivity on the Numbers Finally Saved

In Revelation, chapter 7, after describing the 144,000 who are concluded as 'Israel' (probably the faithful of Israel, but certainly mainly comprising the spiritual Israel of the Church, now grafted into Israel, of course - Romans 11:17-24. That number being used to typify an imagination-defying number), a still further group are then mentioned:

9. After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10. and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:9-10).

Since the 144,000 are identified with Israel and this second group (plainly a different group) come from "...all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues..." some commentators associate this second group with saved Gentiles within the Church, but this is a very questionable explanation since the Church are already 'spiritual Israel' (Romans 2:28-29; Romans 11:17-24; Galatians 6:16), and surely included within the first group of 'Israel'; since this second group are plainly not Israel surely a stronger explanation is that these are those who are redeemed yet were never specifically part of Israel or the Church; simply honourable people who repent and throw themselves on God's mercy. We serve a merciful God. So after the 144,000 of Israel we now have this additional group which seems to surprise John. The text tells us who they are:

13. Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" 14. And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. (Revelation 7:13-15).

As far as one can tell, this additional group of incredible number appear to be those who repented and threw themselves on God's mercy right at the end. They too are saved, Christ embraces them.

No Symbolic Number Given For The Lost

We know for certain that the devil and the false prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire: Revelation 19:20; 20:10. Beyond that, Revelation never offers us any symbolic imagination-defying numbers of the lost (as it so clearly does with the redeemed). We only know that those not written in the Lamb's Book of Life are rejected: Revelation 20:15.

So, in my honest opinion, nothing in 1 Peter 2 is addressing any concept of so-called "double predestination." The Bible only teaches the predestination of the Elect of God. They are saved by grace. The unrighteous, on the other hand, do certainly earn their rejection. They want nothing of God. Yet the Bible itself never draws a parallel between the groups - this is what certain theologians have done. For sure, nothing prevents those seemingly rejected from repenting and accepting Christ right at the end.

Robin A. Brace. October 27th, 2016.