Moo on ‘Foreknew’ in Romans 8:29

John Bowling
2 min readJun 19, 2020


Moo divides the interpretative issue into two questions:

(1) What does proginosko mean?

(2) “[W]hat, or whom, precisely, has God ‘foreknown’ in this way?”

The first question has two options:

(1a) ‘Proginosko’ in Romans 8:29 simply means “to know ahead of time.”

(1b) ‘Proginosko’ in Romans 8:29 “highlights the divine initiative in the outworking of God’s purpose.” (555)

Moo gives a reason in favor of 1a and then presents an objection to that reason and two reasons in favor of 1b.

The argument regarding 1a, then, looks like this:

The argument for 1b looks like this:

The second reason, 1b-ii, is less clear than the first, 1b-i. I think the point Moo is making is that if proginosko only had the simple sense of “to know ahead of time” then, because God is omniscient, the object of the verb would have to be all people, not just Christians. But because the object of the verb in its context can only designate Christians, it must have a more specific connotation than simply “to know ahead of time.”

Regarding the second question:

(2) “[W]hat, or whom, precisely, has God ‘foreknown’ in this way?”

Moo lists three ways of answering this question, depending on how one has answered the first question:

(2a-from 1a) Something about a person’s response to the gospel is foreknown.

(2b-from 1b) “[N]ot the individual but Christ, and the church as ‘in Christ.’” (555)

(2c-from 1b) The individual.

The reason offered for 2a-from 1a relates to what Moo has said in 1b-ii. Since God is omniscient, God must be foreknowing “something peculiar to believers” (553). Naturally, since Moo has already argued for 1b, then 2a-from 1a is off the table.

Moo’s argument against 2b-from 1b can be pictured as follows:

The second supporting reason above is also a reason in favor of 2c-from 1b.

For a list of all of my posts on Douglas Moo’s commentary on Romans, see here.



John Bowling

Throwing half-baked ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks.