Bible scholars differ greatly in their understanding of the Greek word translated “foreknew” in Romans 8:29, “Those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.”
Some say it simply means “to know beforehand,” referring to people God eternally knew would become believers. Others say it means “chosen,” that the people predestined for likeness to Jesus were unconditionally chosen from before the beginning of time. Because the Greek word in question can only mean “to know beforehand” in Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17, many believe it should be translated that way elsewhere. So Romans 8:29 would mean that from eternity past God foresaw certain people as His own and predestined them to become like His Son. But howmuch or how little His foreknowledge of their character, conduct, or choices had to do with His choices is not revealed.
This interpretation of the word foreknowledge leaves the mystery element in the divine election and human responsibility question without diminishing either God’s absolute sovereignty or our genuine freedom.
One thing we can say for sure is that all believers have been “chosen according to [in harmony with] the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Pet. 1:2).