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Written by Joseph R. Holder   

King James Translation of προορίζω [proorizo]  Versus Other Contemporary Translations

Listed below you will see the six passages where this word προορίζω [proorizo] is used in the New Testament.  In four of the six locations the King James translators translated the word in the English with “predestinate” or “predestinated.”  In these four instances the word is associated with people as will appear by the personal pronouns in the sentence/context.  In two instances the word is associated with impersonal events; in these two verses the KJV translators translated the word with different English words.

Acts 4:28 ( KJV ) For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

Romans 8:29 ( KJV ) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:30 ( KJV )  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

1 Corinthians 2:7 ( KJV ) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Ephesians 1:5 ( KJV ) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:11 ( KJV ) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Listed below are the two passages where the KJV translators distinguished the word translated into English from the English word “predestinate” or “predestinated.”  Although the N KJV follows the KJV pattern of distinction, the other contemporary translations make no distinction whatever in the six verses.  Thus they make no distinction between God’s active “predestination” of His elect to eternal life and His personal involvement in the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus.

When we use the word “predestinate” in ways other than the KJV translators used it, we give credence to the inferior translations that follow a similar indiscriminate practice with the word.

Acts 4:28 ( ESV ) to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Acts 4:28 ( NASB ) to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.

Acts 4:28 ( N KJV ) to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

Acts 4:28 ( NIV ) They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

1 Corinthians 2:7 ( ESV ) But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

1 Corinthians 2:7 ( NASB ) but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;

1 Corinthians 2:7 ( N KJV ) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,

1 Corinthians 2:7 ( NIV ) No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

Given the six appearances of this Greek word in the New Testament, there can be no Biblical basis on which to claim that divine predestination is passive, equivalent to divine omniscience, rather than in some way causative or at least controlling.  The most literal meaning of the two Greek words that make up this word is “pro,” beforehand, and “orizo,” the Greek root for our English word “horizon.”  With this basic concept of the word we may safely view God’s involvement in our salvation as eternal and causative.  We may also view His involvement in the events surrounding the crucifixion of our Lord as prohibitive, not causative.  The question is simple.  Did God effectually take over the minds and actions of otherwise law-abiding civil servants and religious leaders and force them to commit the dreadful acts that they committed against our Lord?  Or did God intervene in the evil intents of these men and prevent them from doing far more than they did?  The basic concept of the word allows for either view.  However, one view imputes the cause of the most wicked events of human history onto divine causation.  The other view attributes divine prevention to God, but in no way compromises the immutable divine attributes of God’s holy and righteous character as set forth in Scripture.

As examples of divine limitation rather than divine cause, Jesus came into the world at a time when Rome governed Judah .  Rome practiced crucifixion against criminals for certain crimes against the state; thus the dominant form of capital punishment would fulfill an Old Testament prophecy regarding one being cursed of God and man who was hanged on a tree.  Apparently Rome prohibited the Jews from practicing stoning, so the Jewish leaders had to appeal to the Roman authorities for permission to execute Jesus.  The time that Pilate spent sending Jesus through the review process with Herod, as well as offering Barabbas to those who demanded Jesus’ crucifixion, further restricted the time that our Lord would spend on the cross.  The timing of the crucifixion the day before a religious holiday meant that he had to be removed from the cross by sundown on the day of His crucifixion.  And finally, Jesus Himself limited the heinous acts against Himself by “giving up the ghost,” by dying of His own accord ( John 10:17-18 ).  As these events clearly indicate, divine intervention appears in multiple acts that served to limit what happened to Jesus.  Further this view of the crucifixion avoids imputing the sins of Jesus’ false accusers and executioners to God, a consequence that inevitably follows the idea that God “predestinated” or causatively orchestrated the evil acts of the men involved in the crucifixion.  

I rest my case on the immutable attributes of God’s righteousness and His consistent judgment against sin, not His active participation in the cause of sin in any human or demon.

In these verses the King James translators distinguished the English words in an apparent effort to avoid any implication of attributing the cause of these wicked acts upon God.  The contemporary translations fail to follow suit and leave the question of God’s involvement in these wicked acts uncertain, implying that He actually caused them.

I believe these verses, as with a multitude of other examples, demonstrate the superiority of the King James translation over any other translation of the Bible in the English language.  In The Great Omission Dallas Willard makes this statement (bold emphasis is mine), “The New Testament literature, which must be allowed to define our terms if we are ever to get our bearings in the Way with Christ, makes this clear.  In that context, disciples of Jesus are people who do not just profess certain views as their own but apply their growing understanding of life in the Kingdom of the Heavens to every aspect of their life on earth.”  When we allow Biblical use to define and frame the words that we use to express our theology, we tend to simplify and to clarify our ideas.  When we depart from Biblical use in favor of either historical or philosophical use of words, we tend to confuse and to complicate our ideas.  Our Lord charged us to feed “lambs,” not just mature and highly informed rams.  May we feed the sheep and lambs of our charge with simple and Biblical truth by using the words of Scripture as we teach them.

To our righteous God be the glory,

Joe Holder

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