Bible Verses On Predestination Vs Free Will

There has been a decades-long religious debate on predestination vs. free will. There are those who say the two cannot coexist, while other experts argue for one or the other. 

These debates raise many important questions. Does it matter that we live a righteous or sinful life if God has already determined our fate? Do we really have free will? Are some of us doomed to damnation?

I’ll discuss these questions in this post and talk about what the bible says regarding predestination vs. free will. 

What Is Predestination?

What Is Predestination

Predestination is the concept that God has predetermined everything that happens in our lives. This doctrine is applied mostly when it comes to salvation and where individual souls end up. 

There are different kinds of predestination doctrines. 

The traditional idea of predestination says that God has already chosen those he will save, and thus those who will go to heaven. 

Early reformists like John Calvin believed in the doctrine of double predestination. It says that God has already determined those who’ll go to heaven as well as those who are eternally damned to hell. 

Two other types of predestination are conditional and unconditional election

Conditional election is the belief that God predestines for salvation those whom he already knows will have faith in Christ. This elevates the importance of free will, since you can only be saved if you decide to have faith. 

In contrast, unconditional election is the belief that God saves anyone, regardless of whether they choose to believe or not. So free will is pointless. 

There’s also something called corporate election that says God chooses churches as a whole. Anyone in that Church automatically gets chosen.  

For the purposes of this article, I’ll stick to the traditional concept of predestination; that is, God has already chosen those he will save. 

Is Predestination In The Bible?

Yes, predestination is mentioned severally in the Bible. The best known mention is in Romans 8:29-30

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Also in Ephesians 1:11.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.

And again in Ephesians 1:4-5.

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

The Bible makes it clear that God has chosen who will be saved. Indeed, he knew it before the foundation of the world. 

What Is Free Will?

On the flip side of the coin is free will. Many of us think of free will as the absolute freedom to do anything we desire. 

But many theologians and philosophers disagree. Even in non-spiritual aspects, there’s nothing like free will. 

There are tons of factors that shape our decisions including our environment, friends, upbringing and wealth. Research has shown that something as simple as being hungry can shape our decisions. 

When it comes to spiritual matters, only God truly has free will. 

Man has free will, but it is not absolute. Many Biblical experts say that God shapes the desires of our hearts and opens our ways to new things to nudge us in the right direction. 

The original sin by Adam also affects us. As long as we are in the flesh and in this world, we are predisposed to sin. 

But, through faith and constant repentance, we still have the freedom to reject the path of righteousness. 

The Bible says in 2 Peter 3 that God doesn’t want anyone to perish ‘but that all should reach repentance’. 

So God has chosen all of us for salvation, but we have the free will to reject it. 

Bible Verses About Free Will 

Here’s what the Bible says about free will. 

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 

Romans 10:9-10 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

We also have the free will to sin. 

James 1:14-15 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

John 3:16 makes it clear that we have the will to choose faith in Jesus. 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Predestination vs. Free Will

Predestination vs. Free Will

The majority consensus among Christians and Catholics is that both predestination and free will exist side by side. They are not mutually exclusive. 

God has already chosen those who will end up in heaven with him, but humans still have free will to accept or reject salvation. 

How exactly the two concepts co-exist is a mystery. One explanation provided by several famous theologians is foreknowledge

God knows who will be saved because he already knows what you’ll do in the future. He can see what path you’ve chosen to follow. 

It may seem like this goes against free will, but it doesn’t. God’s concept of time is different from our own. 

He doesn’t force us to do certain things. Instead, he sees what we’ve done in the past, what we are doing, and what we will do in the future. 

So we have free will, but God can see what we decide to do with that free will. This he knows who will be saved. 

Here’s how the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: 

CCC 600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace.

Final Thoughts

The Bible doesn’t have a neat answer about predestination vs. free will. All that we know is that both concepts are Biblical. 

It’s true that God has already chosen those he will save. It’s also true that we have the free will to choose life or death. 

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Catholics & Bible

6140 S Drexel Ave
Chicago, IL 60637


Amazon Disclaimer

Catholics & Bible is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


Catholics & Bible do not intend to provide any health related advice. We try to help our readers better understand their lives; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for any professional medical guidance. Please read our PRIVACY POLICY.