“He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
before the foundation of the world
The word “foundation” here implies the creation of the world. The term “world” is our ordered system of existence.
Two verses show God doing things before the creation of the world. First, God promised eternal life before time began,
“In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” (Titus 1:2).
“Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,” (2 Timothy 1:9).
God both saved and called us according to his purpose and grace before time began.
Another phrase that does not go back before the creation of the universe is found in Revelation 13:8-9,
“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.”
Revelation 13 goes back to the foundation of the world but not before it.
God foreordained Jesus before the foundation of the world.
“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death,” (Acts 2:23).
We often think it was people who put Jesus to death. This verse says that it was God who predetermined Jesus’ death. Jesus’ death was no random act. God, the Father, gave the humanity of Christ the right to decide when He would die.
“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father,” (John 10:18).
Theologians speak of the decree(s) of God. Decree means God determines all that will be. God determined the death of Christ before time and space. God more than foreknew that He was going to do this. He determined it.
Ransom in Christ was God’s eternal plan (cf. Romans 16:25-26). God declared that the person and work of Christ have a place in the eternal counsel of God. This eternal counsel existed before the created order. Humanity’s fall did not take God by surprise. Redemption was no afterthought of God.
Salvation is no afterthought by God.
No one ever put God under any pressure to redeem humanity in eternity. Salvation was no emergency measure to correct humanity’s situation after sin occurred. God’s purpose of redemption goes back before creation. God’s compassion is as old as His creation. God’s compassion antedates creation. His love is as old as His power.
God planned all eternity at one point. 1 Peter 1:20 is a key verse to establish divine decree. Events of the world are no surprise to God. Sin was no surprise to God. Sin is clearly in the outworking of God’s purpose (Isaiah 14:24,26,27).
A universe without a plan (decree) would be as irrational as a jet without a pilot, or a human being behind the pilotless plane. Without an eternal plan, humanity would plunge into an abyss of meaningless trial.
Why did God decree at all? Why did He decree that man should come into existence? Why did he not just restrict his fellowship to the Trinity? We do not know the answer to those questions. Only an infinite God can answer those questions completely. However, there are some things he has revealed that point to the answer.
We know that the decree did not originate in necessity. God did not have to create anything. There was nothing apart from God to influence Him to create. He was the only being in the universe. What He decreed, He decreed freely, voluntarily.