What’s the significance of Acts 17:26-27?

This passage is frequently cited by determinists, for Paul here states that God “marked out” the “appointed times in history and the boundaries” of nations (Ac. 17:26). This doesn’t entail omni-control on God’s part, however. It only entails that God is involved in setting temporal and geographical parameters around nations. Moreover, nothing suggests that God does this unilaterally or from all eternity. As humans make decisions, God responds to them in ways that delimit the length and scope of nations.

What’s particularly interesting for our purposes, however, is the reason Paul says God does this: because he is, at all times, working among people “so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (vs. 27, emphasis added). God clearly works in people’s lives hoping that they will reach out for him and find him. But this implies that whether or not people reach out for God is not a pre-settled certainty. Insofar as the future is left up to the wills of free agents, it is open and known by God as such.

Category:
Tags: ,
Topics:
Verse:

Related Reading

What is the significance of 2 Samuel 24:12–16?

The Lord gives David three options of how Israel will be judged. “Three things I offer you; choose one of them, and I will do it to you.” This verse reveals how the Lord gives people genuine alternatives and responds to their choices. If God foreknew what David would choose, however, the purpose of the…

Topics:

My Car Crash and the Open View

Last Saturday night Shelley and I were involved in a rather serious four car crash on a local highway. One person was hospitalized, and I’m being treated for neck pain and an on-going dull headache. But thankfully, no one was critically injured. In any event, the crash inspired several folks to e-mail or tweet questions…

How do you respond to Acts 4:27–28?

The Christians in Jerusalem proclaim to the Lord, “…both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against our holy servant Jesus… to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” This passage tells us that Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel…

How do you respond to 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1?

One text says the Lord incited David to count the warriors of Israel and Judah. The other text says that Satan incited David to count the warriors of Israel. (The Lord had forbidden this, as it displayed a confidence in military strength rather than in Yahweh’s power). Compatibilists frequently cite this as an example of…

Molinism and Open Theism – Part I

I’ve been asked for the umpteenth time on Twitter lately about the difference between “Molinism” and “Open Theism,” and for some reason, today seemed like a good day to begin addressing this question. I’ll do this in two parts. Today I’ll outline and critique Molinism, and in a subsequent post I’ll raise yet another critique as…

What is the significance of Exodus 13:17?

The Lord didn’t lead Israel along the shortest route to Canaan because Israel would have had to fight the Philistines. The Lord wanted to avoid this, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” [NIV: “If they face war they might change their minds and return to Egypt”].…

Topics: