Known by God Before You Were Born

1 Peter 1:1–2, Part 2

Principle for Bible Reading

When did God know you would be his adopted son or daughter? Peter says that our election is “according to the foreknowledge of God.” In this lab, John Piper asks what it means for God to foreknow us, and then explores the relationship between our election and God’s foreknowledge.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:01)

What Kind of Elect Exiles? (01:01–03:23)

We’re looking at three prepositional phrases (according to, in, and for), all modifying “elect exiles” in 1 Peter 1:1–2.

God Foreknew Christ (03:23–06:19)

  1. What does it mean that we are elected “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Peter 1:2)?
  2. Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), and then “made manifest” when he came to earth.
  3. So how can God foreknow an eternal person like the Son? We need to study how the Bible uses the word for “know” or “foreknow.”

How Does God “Know” Me? (06:19–09:35)

  1. Adam “knew” his wife (Genesis 4:1), meaning he had sex with her. To know is to know uniquely, intimately, and within a covenant.
  2. God “knew” Abraham (Genesis 18:19), meaning he chose him among all the nations. He set his love and favor uniquely on him.
  3. God only “knew” Israel (Amos 3:1–2). Surely, God knew of all the peoples of the earth, so this must mean God has taken special, close, committed, intimate, personal interest in Israel.
  4. Anyone who loves God has been “known” by God (1 Corinthians 8:3). Knowing is something that God does beforehand that brings about their faith and love.

Election and Foreknowledge (09:35–12:06)

  1. In eternity, the Father set his knowing and committed favor on the Son. (1 Peter 1:20)
  2. So in a similar way, God has set his unique, intimate, committed, loving favor on us as Christians (“according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”). (1 Peter 1:2)
  3. But election cannot equal foreknowledge, because Peter says that our election is according to foreknowledge. (1 Peter 1:1–2)
  4. No, our current status as elect exiles is rooted in eternity in God’s foreknowledge. Election is a present realization of what God foreknew before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:1–2)

Study Questions

  1. There are three prepositional phrases in 1 Peter 1:2. What word or idea are they modifying or explaining? What is according to the foreknowledge of God, and so on?
  2. Read Genesis 4:1, Genesis 18:19, Amos 3:1–2, and 1 Corinthians 8:3. How does that help you understand what it means for God to know or foreknow someone?
  3. Peter says our election is “according to the foreknowledge of God.” What, if any, is the difference between our election and God’s foreknowledge of us?
Piper: “When we’re saved, we’re experiencing something born in God’s mind before the foundation of the world.”