But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
Paul states that “now” you have come to be “known by God.” So what were they before? Before they had come to Christ, they were not “known by God,” insomuch as they were not yet in a relationship with God, which is consistent with what Jesus said at Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from Me, You who practice lawlessness.’” But how could Jesus know [Greek: Ginosko] “all men” (John 2:24), and at the same time, declare to some, “I never knew [Greek: Ginosko] you” (Matthew 7:23)? The answer is found in the meaning of the Greek word itself. The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance indicates about the Greek word ginosko that it is used “in a great variety of applications and with many implications…and has a wide variety of applications.” (The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, p.20) Even in our own English language, the word “love” is ambiguous, having a wide great variety of applications in which we, who speak the language, can readily discern one meaning from another when used in any given context. So, it is possible that the Greek word ginosko can convey a meaning of knowing the heart of every man (John 2:24), while yet in a different application, meaning an intimate relationship. (Matthew 7:23)
John Calvin writes: “Indeed, for men to know God, they must be known first by God (see Galatians 4:9).” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.264, emphasis mine)
Calvin’s point is that God’s knowledge of them is the cause of their coming to know Him. While Romans 8:29 indeed reveals that every Christian is foreknown of God, and hence is predestined for all that comes with being in Christ, why would anyone conclude that foreknowledge is causative? The bottom line is that Calvinists think that Foreknowledge = Foreordination because they have theologically committed themselves to Determinism, whether Hard Determinism or Soft Determinism. The Calvinist argues that in order for God to have perfect knowledge of the future, the future must therefore be fixed, and hence, the exclusion of Free Will. However, the Calvinist has assumed that the reason why the future is fixed is because God fixed it. But why should you conclude that? The real argument is Limited Self-Determinism vs. Divine Determinism. Either God has written an alleged, Script of Life, in that all of life’s characters are playing their parts in a Divine Play, or God allows man to make free choices, though certainly within the parameters of God’s control (1st Corinthians 10:13), and man makes choices which ultimately determines whether he will bow to Christ from Heaven or from Hell. (Philippians 2:10-11) Therefore, the only reason why Calvinists feel that foreknowledge is causative is because of their bias towards a philosophy of absolute Divine Determinism. Therefore, Calvin’s statement has not proven his point, but merely revealed his reliance upon Circular Logic. Therefore, the best way to unravel Calvin’s quote is to finish the sentence in the way that he understood it, which is to say: “Indeed, for men to know God, they must be known first by God [since God’s knowledge of them is what causes them to know Him].” Galatians 4:9, though, says nothing of the kind. Really, in a plain reading, the verse simply tells us that when a person becomes a Christian, it is foreknown by an omniscient God.
John Calvin explains: “To intensify the blame still more, he corrects himself and says or rather, come to be known of God. For the greater God’s grace toward, us is, the heavier must be our guilt if we despise it.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, pp.76-77, emphasis mine)
Indeed, grace can be resisted. Paul states at 2nd Corinthians 6:1: “We also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
Calvin continues: “Paul reminds the Galatians whence the knowledge of God had come to them. He states that they did not obtain it by their own exertions, by their mental acuteness or industry, but because, when they were at the furthest possible remove from thinking about Him, God prevented them with His mercy. What is said of the Galatians may be extended to all, for the words of Isaiah are fulfilled in all, ‘I am found by them that sought me not: I have appeared to them that asked not for me’ (65:1). The beginning of our calling is the free election of God, by which we are foreordained to life before we are born. On this depends our calling, our faith, the fulfilment of our salvation.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.77, emphasis mine)
First, many Calvinists presume that Arminianism teaches that men pull themselves up by the boot-straps and choose Christ, when yet Arminianism affirms the depravity of man, and hence the necessity of God’s preceding Grace, otherwise known as Prevenient Grace, in which Jesus seeks (Luke 19:10), draws (John 12:32) and knocks. (Revelation 3:20) Second, Calvin’s presumption of a foreordination to becoming known by God, ultimately makes Matthew 7:21-23 mean that the real reason why Jesus had never known them was because He had never elected them. Ultimately, then, it turns man’s rejection of Jesus into Jesus’ alleged, first rejection of them. Arminians thus protest that the high cost of the simplicity of the Calvinist proposition is that it turns God’s love for the world, according to John 3:16, into an utter charade.