(1 Pet. 1:2) Are some “chosen” for heaven and others “chosen” for hell?

CLAIM: Peter writes that all Christians are “are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Pet. 1:1-2). Does this mean that Christians are “chosen” for heaven and non-Christians are “chosen” for hell?

RESPONSE: If you read this verse carefully, you will notice that God’s election (Greek eklektos) is based on his foreknowledge. That is, God chose these Christians, because he foreknew that they would freely choose him.

Peter uses the Greek word proginosko (pro-gen-OCE-coe), which is translated as “foreknowledge.” In all 220 NT uses (and even in secular Greek at the time), the term never once refers to “choice.”[1] It always refers to knowledge. Literally, this word means “to know in advance.” Therefore, God foreknew who would freely accept him and reject him. This is our basis for being “chosen.”

Later, in chapter 2, Peter returns to the subject of election (or being “chosen” c.f. 1 Peter 1:1). He uses the same Greek word (eklektos) to refer to Christ as being “chosen” (1 Pet. 2:4 ESV). Of course, it would be heretical to think about Christ as being one among many Messiahs who was “chosen.” That is, it wasn’t as though God had many sons to choose from to send to Earth! Instead, God “chose” Christ for the purpose of saving humanity. In the same way, Christians are chosen for the purpose of spreading the gospel (“to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” 1 Pet. 2:5). Therefore, Peter incorporates their election with Christ’s election. Both Christ and the church were chosen for a purpose. For more on the subject of predestination and election, see comments on Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 1:4.

[1] Forster and Marston write, “Now we have seen that to interpret it as “choice” would depart (as all commentators agree) from all secular usage… [In] 220 NT uses of ginosko in the Bible there is no instance of it simply meaning “choose” unless implicit in an existing relationship.” Forster, Roger T., and V. Paul Marston. God’s Strategy in Human History. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1974. 241.