Romans 8:28-30 – Logical Chain Argument

Romans 8:28-30

A logical chain argument, or, a Categorical Sorites.

Rom. 8:28-30 LEB

  1. And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose,
  2. because those whom he foreknew [i.e. Foreloved], he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers.
  3. And those whom he predestined, these he also called, and those whom he called, these he also justified, and those whom he justified, these he also glorified.[1]

[Author’s Note: the ordering below is a combination of logical ordering, (terms 1, and 2), and then historical order of the decrees. I normally do not do this when making a syllogism, because of the added complexity when teaching, but used it this way for the use of the predicate logic.  See end note below for more information.
For more see my post, The Order of the Decrees]

The logical deduction Paul uses here is called a Sorites. This is simply a normal bullseye syllogism (i.e. A.A.A, where A is a proposition that = All Subject is in the Predicate),  but it continues to add additional categories, where the previous category is placed inside the next one.  (All A is inside of B, and all B is inside of C; Thus, all A is inside the category of C.)  What needs to happen is that the predicate of the previous proposition needs to be the subject of the next with affirmative propositions. This will create a circle diagram where one circle will be placed in the next. The circles do not lie; they give a visual demonstration of the deduction; to show if it is invalid or not. In this case, it is valid. Because this is a normal AAA bullseye type syllogism but only longer (i.e. A.A.A.A.A.), one is able (if the sorites is done correctly) to take any two premises and form an independent AAA syllogism.

There are exceptions for a particular premise, for a negative one, and when it is stated in the form of a hypothetical (If P, then Q) but that is for another time.  Also, this type of syllogism may be stated in a reverse format. [2]

The form looks like this with a 6 premise sorites.

All A is inside the category of B

All B is inside the category of C

All C is inside the category of D

All D is inside the category of E

All E is inside the category of F

Thus, All A is inside the category of F.

A to F Sorites

I see examples of other people mentioning this sorites in Romans 8:30, however, they are prone to leave out verse 29, and thus only make this a 4-premise syllogism. This is a mistake, because the first premise comes from verse 29; and thus, the syllogism is in fact 5 premises.

At any rate, the first premise starts with, Those whom God foreloved are those He predestined.” The rest of the verse gives us extra insight as to what this predestination results in for both Jesus and for the ones predestined; however, this is not relevant for the immediate syllogism being made by Paul,  because the next verse simply picks up at the category of,  “whom He predestined … .” The predicate of premise is the subject of the starting premise in verse 30.  Paul does not give the conclusion of this syllogism.  However, in my experience of reading Paul he normally does gives the conclusion. I suspect that he does not here simply because he so exactly spells out the rest of this enthymeme sorites that the conclusion it is not needed, for it is obvious.

In summary, we are told all things work for our good who are called by God in verse 28. Paul then gives a sorites to show the undeniability of this reality. We are told from the initial love of God to glorification the saints are directed by God’s decree to love them, and that this decreeing leads to a good end, without any falling through the cracks or mishaps. Whom God foreloves He glorifies.  God direct and absolute sovereignty is the totality of all Christian metaphysics and ontology.  Soteriology is in fact a sub-category under metaphysics. That is, it is how God uses existence and causality toward this particular group of elect persons.

Also, it is in this syllogism that Paul shows the reality of verse 28’s category of “the called.” Paul shows us that this category needs to be seen in the larger logical and metaphysical reality of God’s decrees.  He desires for them to see it all put together in a chain argument. Here we find being “Called” is in the middle of the decreeing, and that the decree starts with being foreloved first, and then finally ends –without fail—being glorified with Christ.

See my article called,The Order of the Divine decrees to see how this fits together in an even larger view of the Divine Decrees.  Foreloved would be in decree 2. Predestination would be decree 3. Called would be 8. Justification would be 9. And Glorification would be point 10.

(A) Those whom God foreloved are (B) those whom God predestined.

(B) Those whom God predestined are (C) those whom God called.

(C) Those whom God called are (D) those whom God justified.

(D) Those whom God justified are (E) those whom God glorified.

Therefore, (A) those whom God foreloved are (E) those whom God glorified.

Predicate Logic.

Chain syllogism Rule for Natrual Deduction

 HCS = Hypothetical Chain Syllogism rule for Natural Deduction. (see pic)


L = Foreloved. g = God. P=predestined. C = Called. J = Justified. G = glorified. s = Sally.

For every x, if x is fore-loved by God, then x is predestined by God; and, if x is predestined by God, then x is called by God; and if x is called by God, then x is Justified by God; and if x is Justified by God, then x is glorified by God.

1. Ɐx (Lgx ⸧ Pgx) • Ɐx(Pgx ⸧ Cgx ) • Ɐx (Cgx ⸧ Jgx) • Ɐx (Jgx ⸧ Ggx )
2. Lgs         ⸫ Ggs
3. (Lgs ⸧ Pgs) • (Pgs ⸧ Cgs ) • (Cgs ⸧ Jgs) • (Jgs ⸧ Ggs )       1,2 UI
4. Ggs         3. HCS


[1] [] added by author.

[2] All A is B,  All C is A, All D is C,  All E is D, Thus, All E is B.


————–End NOTE—————

[cannibalized from the rough draft of my Systematic Theology book]

“Whom He foreknew,” is about fore-loving, and propositional understanding. When looking at where “foreknow,” is used in the bible it is almost exclusively used, (if not only), for God knowing His elect chosen ones and choosing to favor/love them. Therefore, it is said, Adam knew his wife Eve. Therefore, when texts say, the Father foreknew, it means God fore-loved this group of people. God pre-favored this group by choosing to conform them into the image of Christ. This is true both in respect when considering them as sinners, and as a “neutral lump of clay,” before they had done good or evil.

In Romans 8 Paul emphasizes the first original purpose for the Elect was not, the image of Adam, or even, “the image of God.” The First purpose was the “image of Jesus Christ.” The other decrees, came later and were for the supporting of this first one. Man’s image in the garden as the “image of God,” was good and perfect, but basic. Adam was not the “righteousness of God” like Jesus was, yet this is what the original goal of God was for His chosen ones. Thus, Adam the steppingstone, started elect humans in their march to the image of Christ, who is the very righteousness, power, wisdom and glory of God.

Dear Christian, this was God’s original love for you, from the very beginning. He loves you that much. It was always a love of unmeasurable greatness for you. Speaking of the relative level, death, sin and Satan tried to steal this good purpose of God from you. Simply put. Satan failed and lost. Jesus won. God does not know what failure is; Satan does. God winning is like man being warm-blooded. It is God. He purposes, and then He accomplishes. The stronger man Jesus, stormed into Satan’s crib, beat him, bound him and plundered his house. He brought us out of the house of Satan, and conveyed us into the Temple of God. We can stay as long as we like. We are sons of God. We BELONG in God’s house! Think about that. A beloved child in God’s house, this goal is God’s heart and plan all along. He has always seen you in this way! For those who see His nature and plan, they purify themselves.

The “fore-loved” and “predestined” both are referring to the first intention of “these He also glorified.” The elect are covered with the weighty value of God’s lavished goodness for them. They are predestined to obtain this. Starting with Adam, God is molding the lives and choices of the elect to obtain this purpose of God. God favors them so that sin does not defeat them, like it does for the reprobate. God favors them, so that even if God causes them to be born in a bad place, with bad people, God causes them to hear and believe in His revelation. God denies such favor to the reprobate.

Romans 9 and Ephesian 1 tells us God’s first plan was to bless the elect with the riches of His love, grace and mercy. Thus the doctrine of a logical order of the decrees is already established. We are making this point because what will be extracted from this argument will not work unless this is a presupposition. When reading a historical order of God’s decree being executing, we know the reverse was the original logical order.

Thus, to say,

D.1. (A) Those whom God called are (B) those whom God justified.

D.2. (B) Those whom God justified are (C) those whom God glorified.

D.3. Thus, (A) those whom God called are (C) those whom God glorified.

This is a historical order. God calls and elect a person by the summons of the gospel. God then justified them, by erupting faith to believe the gospel. God then glorifies them by preserving them in this world and bringing them to Himself in heaven.

The last “C” term is the first of the logical order. The “A” is the last in logical order, but first in historical execution. Paul starts with “whom he predestined,” because He is establishing the historical execution, with the presupposition of a logical predetermined or “ predestined” goal He already has. The elect are predestined to value by becoming the image of Christ, and their being made the image of Christ, brings value to Christ. Thus, it is perfectly fine as a chain syllogism to start with, as Paul does “whom He predestined,” because the focus is on the numerical amount of a category.

When making a category truth claim the focus can be more on the attribute or the numerical number of something that belongs in that attribute. They both indirectly apply to each other, but they do not emphasis the exact same thing. Paul’s focus is on the same amount that is in the first group is in the last group. He is emphasizing the success of God’s predetermined purposes. God has a goal of a glorified man in Christ first. God logical worked backwards in decrees to make the happen. Next, God started the history of the world to work towards that goal. Paul’s focus is on the fact that with all this planning in logical order first, and working it out backwards in historical execution, God did not have one single mistake or failure. God does not know what failure is. All those predestined to be glorified in God’s plans, were successfully called, justified and glorified.  Therefore, your faith that nothing can separate you from the love of God is unshakable.

The syllogism above is in historical order, and not decreed ordered.  [There is the possibility of “Foreloved to predestined” is one big broad statement, and “predestined to glorification” is another argument showing the details for what “foreloved to predestined” means.] There are a few categorical statements about reality and a conclusion we are to apply to ourselves from this. This syllogism contains more than 3 premises and so it is a sortie, or chain syllogism.

Paul uses this chain of categorical truths as a foundation to say, “If God is for us then who can be against us?” Verse 28 is a very broad but powerful statement of God’s sovereignty over all providence about every aspect of our lives. God works all things for good, for His elect. After this Paul then gives this chain syllogism as summary (as a broad picture) of our salvation to show how this works.

One thing to remember about the order of God’s decrees is to remember that in a basic bullseye syllogism, the last circle is the first decree, and the smallest circle is the first executed/historical application of these decrees. However, Paul appears to use “predestination” in a time execution order in this passage. That is, in history, God’s thoughts of  “foreloving” and “predestination” are, historically in time, first in order before He acts, and therefore, in this way can be used as starting the historical order of the world. It is like an autobiography of a famous person saying, “on this day, I decided to do this or that.”  Thus, even in history, the day and time of an invisible thought or decision, comes first and is part of the history of such events. God’s thoughts are not linear, but when time started, when God created reality, at this earliest point in time, God’s thoughts are decided to forelove and predestine this group.

Therefore, this historical chain syllogism, might not be the best syllogism to show the nifty-piffy forward and backward visual of God’s decrees in a chain syllogism, (at least for some who are new to such thoughts). For example the syllogism in 1 Corinthians 2 says “(1) All things are ours. (2) We are Christ. (3) Christ is God’s,” and the conclusion would be “All things are God’s.” The larger circle going down to the smaller circle, is the logical order (the Decrees), but going from smaller to larger, is the historical execution.

Additional exercise. 

Since our focus is seeing the basics of God’s decrees, we will keep the syllogism to a historical order.  Paul speaking on the first-born status of Christ says, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy,” (1 Colossian 1:18 NIV.)  And so, we will use the term “supremacy” for “first born from the dead,” because this supremacy was the first purpose for Jesus that Father had.  Using this we will make a more straight forward historical order and can be used in reverse order for a logical order. 

D.1. (A) Those whom God called are (B) those whom God justified.

D.2. (B) Those whom God justified are (C) Those whom God glorified

D.3. (C) Those whom God glorified, are (D) Those whom God made in Christ’s image.

D.4. (D) Those whom God made in Christ’s image are (E) those whom God uses to display Christ’s supremacy.

D.5. Therefore, (A) those whom God called are (E) those whom God uses to display Christ’s supremacy.

Consider our diagram of from 1 Corinthians 3:23. This looks similar. In general, when said in a historical order (in context) the circles go from small to largest, and the logical purpose starts with the largest and goes to the smallest. Creation is for man’s glory.