CLAIM: Calvinistic interpreters argue that Paul is teaching predestination and irresistible grace in this passage. Is this the case?
RESPONSE: A couple of observations can be made regarding this passage:
First, God’s predestination is based on his foreknowledge of who would freely choose him. The order of Romans 8:29 is essential to understanding it effectively. God chooses the one “whom he foreknew”—not the other way around. His election is based on those who he knew would freely choose him.
Second, this is plural, rather than singular. Paul writes, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined… 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” This is not referring to an individual believer; it is referring to the entire church of believers. This passage is not about me; it is about we. Therefore, it would be mistaken to interpret this passage as referring to individual salvation.
OBJECTION: Foreknowledge refers to knowing people—not actions
Calvinists retort that this passage refers to God’s knowing us—not what we will do. It is a Hebrew concept to refer to “knowing” someone in a personal or relational sense. Calvinist James Montgomery Boice writes,
The text does not say that God foreknew what certain individuals might do, only that he foreknew them as individuals to whom he would extend the grace of salvation.
In this sense foreknowledge can only mean that God has fixed a special attention upon certain people or has loved them in a saving way… This is the way the word generally is used in the Old Testament.
Likewise, Calvinist R.C. Sproul writes,
He not only foreknew them in the sense of having a prior idea of their personal identities, but he also foreknew them in the sense of foreloving them. We must remember that when the Bible speaks of ‘knowing’ it often distinguishes between a simple mental awareness of a person and a deep intimate love of the person.
However, this would mean that God would need to have a relationship with persons whom did not yet exist! This is a bizarre concept that is foreign to biblical thinking.
 Boice, James Montgomery, and Philip Graham Ryken. The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002. 101.
 Boice, James Montgomery, and Philip Graham Ryken. The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002. 145.
 Sproul, R. C. Chosen by God. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1986. 111.