We trust that it will prove both interesting and spiritually profitable to compare the kingdom of God, prepared for a certain company of people from the foundation of the world, according to Matthew 25:34, with the salvation and calling, which God, according to His own purpose and grace, gave, before the world began, to another company of people, as recorded in II Timothy 1:9. This will open the way for our study, “What God Foreknew and What He Foretold.”
We quote first Matthew 25:31 and 34: “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
We quote II Timothy 1:9: “The power of God Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
By comparing Matthew 25:34 to 37, with II Timothy 1:9, we learn that there is a decided contrast in that the place of blessing, in the Matthew kingdom, is yet to be, and it is to be gained by good works, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned brethren, whereas the salvation given in II Timothy, is not according to works. These saved people are saved unto good works.
Then we observe this contrast: the “Matthew” kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world; the “grace and purpose” of God in the salvation and calling of II Timothy was given before the world (age) began.
In speaking of this same salvation and calling, the Holy Spirit, in Ephesians 1:4, uses this language
“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world (kosmos).
And again in Ephesians 3:11:
“According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”
Thus we observe that both expressions are used in referring to the same eternal purpose in Christ Jesus: “before the ages began.” and “before the foundation of the world.” God also foreordained the good works of these selected ones. Ephesians 2:10 and 11.
In this connection it is interesting to note that the two expressions, “before the age began”, and “before the foundation of the world”, are used in other Scriptures: first, I Corinthians, 2:7: “the hidden; the mystery which God ordained (predestinated) before the world (age) unto our glory.”
Again, John 17:24:
“Thou lovest me before the foundation of the world (kosmos).
Again, I Peter 1:20
“Christ, as of a Lamb, Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world (kosmos).”
Certainly we would agree that it takes no profound student of the Scriptures to distinguish between that kingdom of God, with the Son of man on the throne, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, and the kingdom of the Son of God’s love (Colossians 1:12 to 15) with Christ in the heavenlies, Head of His Body, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Our message of salvation is not according to our works but according to His grace and purpose which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
In Acts 2:23, we learn that the death of Christ was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. In I Peter 1:20, we are told that that foreknowledge antedated the foundation of the world. Not all of God’s foreknown spiritual programs were foretold. Some of them were foreknown but not foretold. Some of them were both foreknown and foretold.
By searching the Scriptures we shall that God’s determinate counsels purposes are fixed with respect to the foundation of the world. The counsel of God and the eternal purpose of God are not identical. This word “foundation” is the Greek “katabole” from “kataballo” to “throw down”. The “throw-down” of the world. Perhaps this refers to the first great “over-throw” of the world. It is most important to note in the study of a Scriptural truth, whether the fact was purposed before the foundation of the world, or foretold and prepared since the foundation of the world.
In Matthew 13:35, Luke 11:50, Hebrews 4:3, Revelation 13:8 and in Revelation 17:8, we find the expression “from the overthrow of the world (kosmos)”.
It is interesting to compare Matthew 13:35 with Romans 16:25: Matthew 13:35 records the words of Christ when He was giving the seven parables of the kingdom.
“I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret (k-ru- p-t-o) from the foundation of the world (kosmos).”
Romans 16:25 has reference to Paul’s “my gospel”; “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (secret-musterion) which was kept a secret (sigaohushed) since the world (ainosios) began.”
SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.
In Hebrews 9:26 we find the expression, “since the foundation of the world.” This different expression is found in Luke 1:70 and in Acts 3:21: “since the world began.”
In Acts 3:21 the same redemption of Israel by their Deliverer, in fulfillment of the covenants which God made with Abraham and David and the promises made to Israel: “As God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world (aion-age) began.”
Read Acts 3:14 to 21: Note the redemption and kingdom of Israel is offered to the rulers of that nation, upon the condition of their repentance, “Christ, Whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets SINCE THE WORLD (age) BEGAN.”
We learn from the two Scriptures that God promised to Israel a kingdom. It was promised to them by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began “. . . Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” Acts 3:24. This word “foretold” is the Greek “prokatagello” literally, to announce beforehand. If God announced some event beforehand, then it should not be considered a secret. That which is in fulfillment of Scripture should not be confused with the mystery”.
But compare this with Ephesians 3:9: “the dispensation of the mystery (secret) which from the beginning of the world (age) hath been hid in God.” This should be carefully noted: that Israel’s kingdom, of Acts 3:21, made known to and by Israel’s prophets since the world began, differs from the dispensation of the mystery of Ephesians 3:9, which was hid in God from the beginning of the world. This language is used in Colossians 1:26: “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations.” This is peculiarly a mystery among the Gentiles. Colossians 1:27. It is designated the “unsearchable (untraceable) riches of Christ among the Gentiles.” Ephesians 3:8. What Christ is going to do as King on His throne was forewritten. What Christ is now doing as Head of the Church was never foretold nor forewritten by Israel’s prophets.
In Acts 15:18, we find these words “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world (age).”
We have already mentioned, Acts 2:23, God’s foreknowledge of the suffering of Christ. “Foreknowledge” is the Greek “prognosis”, to know before. “Foreordained” in I Peter 1:20, was from before the foundation of the world. Therefore we see that Christ’s suffering on the cross was foreknown” by God from before the foundation of the world. But that “foreknowledge” was not hid in God, nor from the sons of men in other ages, as was the truth concerning the Body of Christ; but was testified beforehand. Note the Greek word in Peter 1:11, “promarturomai”. A witness was a martyr. Christ’s death was “before witnessed.” Israel’s kingdom was “before witnessed.” The mystery of Ephesians 3:8 and 9 and Colossians 1:24 to 28, was not “before witnessed.”
Thus we see that the prophets from Moses to Malachi foretold Christ on the tree. Likewise Christ on the throne. But not one of them foretold Christ in the heavenlies as Head of the Body. Hence the “mystery”.
In other words, the death and resurrection of Christ were known and purposed before the foundation of the world and witnessed beforehand from the foundation of the world.
The kingdom of Israel, the Son of man as King on the throne, of Matthew 25:34, was not purposed before the foundation of the world, but prepared from the foundation of the world. and told ahead of time by all of God’s holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:21.
But the mystery of Ephesians and Colossians was foreknown and purposed before the foundation of the world. This ministry of Christ was not made known by the prophets of Israel. “Hid in God”, “Hid from other ages”. Hence untraceable riches of Christ. Body members were predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son; to be His children, and to be blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. The Greek “predestinate” is “pro-orixo”. “Orizo” is literally horizon.
KNOWN UNTO GOD—NOT MADE KNOWN BY GOD
Now compare carefully, Acts 15:13 to 18 with Colossians 1:24 to 28.
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me;
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.
And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up;
That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my Name is called, saith the Lord, Who doeth all these things.
Known unto God are all His works, from the beginning of the world.”
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body’s sake, which is the Church;
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God, which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God;
Even the mystery which hath been bid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Now the question, if the calling out and calling in of Gentiles, in Acts 15:14 to 17, agree with the words of the prophets, they knew it and wrote about it. But the Gentiles’ salvation, hope and calling of Colossians, was not that foreknown by the prophets and foretold by the prophets. If the truth of Ephesians 3:6 concerning Gentile salvation was not made known to Israel’s prophets and the Gentile salvation of Acts 15:14 was, what conclusion must we reach? The outgathering of Acts 15:14 is not the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.