Question Six: Predestination

Does predestination belong to knowledge of will?
Is foreknowledge of merits the cause of or reason for predestination?
Is predestination certain?
Is the number of predestined certain?
Are the predestined certain of their predestination?
Can predestination be helped by the prayers of the saints?


This question treats predestination.

In the first article we ask:

Does predestination belong to knowledge or will?

[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 23, aa. 1, 3-4; I Sent., 40,1, 2; C.G., III, 163; In Rom., c. 1, lect. 3 (P. 13:7a, 82).]


It seems that it has will as its genus, for

1. As Augustine says,’ predestination is the intention of being merciful. But intention belongs to the will. Consequently, predestination also belongs to the will.

2. Predestination seems to be the same as the eternal election referred to in the Epistle to the Ephesians (1:4): “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world”—because the chosen are the same as the predestinated. Now, according to the Philosopher, choice belongs rather to appetite than to intellect. Hence, predestination belongs more to the will than to knowledge.

3. But it was said that election comes before predestination and is not the same as it.—On the contrary, will comes after knowledge, not before it. But choice pertains to the will. If, therefore, choice comes before predestination, then predestination cannot belong to knowledge.

4. If predestination belonged to knowledge, then it would seem to be the same as foreknowledge; and thus whoever foreknew the salvation of a person would predestine him. Now, this is false; for the prophets foreknew the salvation of the Gentiles; yet they did not predestine it. Therefore.

5. Predestination implies causality. Now, causality does not have the nature of knowledge, but rather the nature of will. Consequently, predestination belongs more to the will than to knowledge.

6. The will differs from a passive potency in this respect, that the latter refers only to effects taking place in the future, for we, cannot speak of passive potency in relation to things that are or have been, whereas the will extends equally to both present and future effects. Now, predestination has both present and future effects; for, as Augustine says: “Predestination is the preparation of grace in the present and of glory in the future.” Therefore, it belongs to the will.

7. Knowledge is not related to things in so far as they are made or to be made but in so far as they are known or to be known. Now, predestination is related to a thing as something that must be effected. Consequently, it does not belong to knowledge.

8. An effect receives its name from its proximate cause rather than from its remote cause. For example, we say that a man is begotten by a man, instead of saying by the sun, which also begets him. Now, preparation is the effect of both knowledge and will, but knowledge is prior to the will and more remote than it. Consequently, preparation belongs more to the will than to knowledge. But, as Augustine says: “Predestination is the preparation of someone for glory.” Therefore, predestination pertains rather to the will than to knowledge.

9. When many motions are ordered to only one term, then the entire co-ordinated complex of motions takes the name of the last motion. For example, in the drawing out of a substantial form from the potency of matter, the following order is had: first, alteration, then generation. But the whole is called generation. Now, when something is prepared, this order is had: first, movements of knowledge, then movements of the will. Consequently, the whole should be attributed to the will; therefore, predestination seems to be especially in the will.

10. If he of two contraries is appropriated to something, then the other contrary is removed from it in the highest possible degree. Now, evil is appropriated especially to God’s foreknowledge, for we say that the damned are known beforehand. Consequently, His foreknowledge does not have good things as its object. Predestination, however, is concerned only with those good things that lead to salvation. Therefore, predestination is not related to foreknowledge.

11. When a word is used in its proper sense, it does not need a gloss. But; whenever the sacred Scripture speaks of knowledge of good, a gloss is added saying that this means approval. This is evident from the Gloss on the first Epistle to the Corinthians (8:3): “‘If any man love God, the same is known by him’—that is, he is approved by God”; and from the Gloss on the second Epistle to Timothy (2:19): “‘The Lord knoweth who are his’—that is, God approves him.” In its proper sense, therefore, knowledge is not related to good things. But predestination is related to good things. Therefore.

12. To prepare belongs to a power that moves, for preparation is related to some work. But, as has been said, predestination is a preparation. Therefore, it belongs to a moving power and so to the will, not to knowledge.

13. A reasoning power modeled upon another reasoning power imitates it. Now, in the case of the human reason, which is modeled upon the divine, we see that preparation belongs to the will, not to knowledge. Consequently, divine preparation is similar; and the conclusion is the same as before.

14. Although the divine attributes are one reality, the difference between them is manifested in the difference in their effects. Consequently, something said of God should be reduced to that attribute to which this effect is appropriated. Now, grace and glory are the effects of predestination, and they are appropriated either to His will or His goodness. Therefore, predestination also belongs to His will, not to His knowledge.

To the Contrary

1. The Gloss on the Epistle to the Romans (8:29), “For whom he foreknew, he also predestinates,” says: “Predestination is God’s foreknowledge and preparation of benefits...”

2. Whatever is predestined is known, but the opposite is not true. Consequently, what is predestined belongs to the class of things that are known; hence, it is included in the genus of knowledge.

3. A thing should be placed in the genus to which it always belongs, rather than in a genus which is not always proper to it. Now, the element of knowledge always belongs to predestination, because foreknowledge always accompanies it. The granting of grace, however, which takes place through the will, does not always accompany predestination, since predestination is eternal while the bestowal of grace takes place in time. Predestination, therefore, should be placed in the genus of knowledge rather than in that of will acts.

4. The Philosopher places habits of knowing and doing among the intellectual virtues, for they belong more to reason than to appetite. This is clearly what he does in the case of art and prudence, as can be seen in his Ethics.” Now, predestination implies a principle of doing and of knowing, since, as is evident from the definition given, predestination is both foreknowledge and preparation. Predestination, therefore, belongs more to knowledge than it does to the will.

5. Contraries belong to the same genus. But predestination is the contrary of reprobation. Now, since reprobation belongs to the genus of knowledge, because God foreknows the malice of the damned but does not cause it, it seems that predestination also belongs to the genus of knowledge.


Destination (from which predestination is derived) implies the direction of something to an end. For this reason, one is said to destine a messenger if he directs him to do something. And because we direct our decisions to execution as to an end, we are said to destine what we decide. For example, Eleazar (2 Maccabees 6:19) is said to have “destined” in his heart not to do “any unlawful things for the love of life.”

Now, the particle pre-, when joined to a word, adds a relation to the future. Consequently, to destine refers to what is present, while to predestine can also refer to what is future. For two reasons, therefore, predestination is placed under providence as one of its parts, namely, because direction to an end, as pointed out in the preceding question,” pertains to providence, and because providence—even according to Cicero—includes a relation to the future. In fact, some define providence by saying that it is present knowledge bearing upon future event.

On the other hand, predestination differs from providence in two respects. Providence means a general ordering to an end. Consequently, it extends to all things, rational or irrational, good or bad, that have been ordained by God to an end. Predestination, however, is concerned only with that end which is possible for a rational creature, namely, his eternal glory. Consequently, it concerns only men, and only with reference to those things that are related to salvation. Moreover, predestination differs from providence in a second respect. In any ordering to an end, two things must be considered: the ordering itself, and the outcome or result of the ordering, for not everything that is ordered to an end reaches that end. Providence, therefore, is concerned only with the ordering to the end. Consequently, by God’s providence, all men are ordained to beatitude. But predestination is also concerned with the outcome or result of this ordering, and, therefore, it is related only to those who will attain heavenly glory. Hence, providence, is related to the initial establishment of an order, and predestination is related to its outcome or result; for the fact that some attain the end that is eternal glory is not due primarily to their own power but to the help of grace given by God.

Therefore, just as we said above that providence consists in an act of reason, like prudence, of which it is a part, because it belongs to reason alone to direct and to ordain, so now we say that predestination also consists in an act of reason, directing or ordering to an end. However, the willing of an end is required before there can be direction to an end, because no one directs anything to an end which he does not will. This is why the Philosopher says that a perfect prudential choice can be made only by a man of good moral character, because moral habits strengthen one’s affections for the end which prudence dictates. Now, the one who predestines does not consider in a general way the end to which his predestination directs him; he considers it, rather, according to the relation it has to one who attains it, and such a person must be distinct in the mind of the one predestining from those persons who will not achieve this end. Consequently, predestination presupposes a love by which God wills the salvation of a person. Hence, just as a prudent man directs to an end only in so far as he is temperate or just, so God predestines only in so far as He loves.

Another prerequisite of predestination is the choice by which he who is directed to the end infallibly is separated from others who are not ordained to it in the same manner. This separation, however, is not on account of any difference, found in the predestined, which could arouse God’s love; for, as we read in the Epistle to the Romans (9:11-13): “When the children were not yet born nor had done any good or evil... it was said... ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” Consequently, predestination presupposes election and love, and election presupposes love. Again, two things follow upon predestination: the attainment of the end, which is glory, and the granting of help to attain this end, namely, the bestowal of the grace that pertains to the call to be among the predestined. Predestination, therefore, has two effects: grace and glory.

Answers to Difficulties

1. The acts of the soul are such that a preceding act in some way is virtually contained in the act that follows. Since predestination presupposes love, an act of the will, the notion of predestination includes something that belongs to the will. For this reason, intention and other elements belonging to the will are sometimes put into its definition.

2.Predestination is not the same as election, but, as we said above, it presupposes election. This is why the predestined are the same as the elect.

3. Since choice belongs to the will, and direction to the intellect, direction always precedes election if both have the same object. But if they have different objects, then there is no inconsistency in election’s coming before predestination, which implies the existence of direction. As election is taken here, however, it pertains to one who is directed to an end; and the acceptance of one who is to be directed toward an end comes before the direction itself. In the case stated, therefore, election precedes predestination.

4. Even though predestination is placed under the genus of knowledge, it adds something to knowledge and foreknowledge, namely, direction or an order to an end. In this respect, it resembles prudence, which also adds something to the notion of knowledge. Consequently, just as every person who knows what to do is not thereby prudent, so also not every one who has foreknowledge thereby predestines.

5. Even though causality does not belong to the notion of knowledge as such, it belongs to that knowledge which directs and orders to an end; and direction of this kind is not proper to the will but to the intellect alone. Similarly, understanding does not belong to the nature of a rational animal in so far as it is animal but only in so far as it is rational.

6. Knowledge is related to both present and future effects, just as the will is. On this,basis, therefore, it cannot be proved that predestination belongs more to one than to the other. Yet predestination, properly speaking, is related only to the future-as the prefix pre- indicates, because it implies an ordering to the future. Nor is it the same to speak of having an effect in the present and of having a present effect, because whatever pertains to the state of this life—whether it be present, past, or future—is said to be in the present.

7. Even though knowledge as knowledge is not related to things in so far as they are to be made, practical knowledge is related to things under this aspect, and predestination is reduced to this type of knowledge.

8. In its proper sense, preparation implies a disposing of a potency for act. There are, however, two kinds of potencies: active and passive; consequently, there are two kinds of preparations, There is a preparation of the recipient, which we speak of when we say that matter is prepared for a form. Then there is a preparation of the agent, which we speak of when we say that someone is preparing himself in order to do something. It is this latter kind of preparation that predestination implies; for it asserts simply this, that in God there exists the ordering of some person to an end. Now, the proximate principle of ordering is reason, and, as is clear from above, its remote principle is will. Consequently, for the reason given in the difficulty, predestination is attributed more to reason than to will.

9. A similar answer should be given to the ninth difficulty.

10. Evil things are ascribed as proper to foreknowledge, not because they are more proper objects of foreknowledge than good things, but because good things in God imply something more than mere foreknowledge, while evil things have no such added implication. Similarly, a convertible term which does not signify an essence appropriates to itself the name of property, which belongs just as properly to the definition, because the definition adds a certain priority.

11. A gloss does not always mean that a word has not been used in its proper sense. Sometimes a gloss is necessary merely to make specific what has been stated in a general way. This is why the gloss explains knowledge as meaning knowledge of approval.

12. To prepare or direct belongs only to powers that move. But to move is not peculiar to the will. As is clear from The Soul, this is also a property of the practical intellect.

13. In so far as preparation made even in a human reason implies an ordering or directing to an end, it is an act proper to the intellect, not to the will.

14. When treating a divine attribute, we should not consider only its effect but also its relation to the effect; for, while the effects of knowledge, power, and will are the same, still, as the names of these attributes imply, their relations to them are not. Now, in so far as predestination is directive, the relation implied by predestination to its effect is more logically said to be a relation of knowledge than a relation of power or will. Consequently, predestination is reduced to a type of knowledge.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties

1.-2.-4. We concede the other arguments presented here. One might reply to the second, however, by pointing out that not everything that is found in more things is thereby a genus, for it might be predicated of them as an accident.

3. Even though the granting of grace does not always accompany predestination, the will to grant grace always does.

5. Reprobation is directly opposed, not to predestination, but to election, for He who chooses accepts one and rejects another and this is called reprobation. Consequently, as the word itself shows, reprobation pertains more to the will. For to reprobate is, as it were, to reject—except that it might be said that to reprobate means the same as to judge unworthy of admittance. However, reprobation is said to belong to God’s foreknowledge for this reason, that there is nothing positive on the part of His will that has any relation to sin. He does not will sin as He wills grace. Yet reprobation is said to be a preparation of the punishment which God wills consequent to sin—not antecedent to it.



In the second article we ask:

Is foreknowledge of merits the cause of or reason for predestination?

[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 19, 5; 2 3, aa. 2, 4-5; I Sent., 40, 1, 1; 41, 3; C.G., III,163; In Ephes., c. 1, lects. 1, 4 (P. 13:445b, 45 1 b); In Evang. Johannis, c. 15, lect. 3 (P. 10:568b) ; In Rom., c. 1, lect. 3; c. 8, lect. 6; c. 9, lect. 3 (P. 13:8a, 86b, 96a, 972).]


It seems that it is, for

1. In his gloss on the verse in Romans (9:15), “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” Ambrose writes as follows: “I will give mercy to him who I know will return with his whole heart to Me after his error. This is to give mercy to him to whom it should be given, and not to give it to one to whom it should not. Consequently, He calls him who He knows will obey, not him who He knows will disobey.”’ Now, to obey and to return to God with all one’s heart are meritofious; the opposite actions are demeritorious. Foreknowledge of merit or of demerit is therefore the cause of God’s intention of being merciful to some and of excluding others from His mercy. This is equivalent to predestination and reprobation.

2. Predestination includes God’s will to save men. It cannot be said that it includes only His antecedent will, because, according to this will—as is said in the first Epistle to Timothy (2:4): “God wills all men to be saved”; hence, it would follow that all are predestined. It remains, therefore, that predestination includes only His consequent will. Now, “We are the cause,” as Damascene says, “of God’s consequent will,” according as we merit salvation or deserve damnation. Our merits foreknown by God are therefore the cause of predestination.

3. Predestination means primarily God’s will with respect to man’s salvation. But men’s merits are the cause of their salvation. Moreover, knowledge causes and specifies the act of the will, since that which moves the will is a desirable thing which is known. Consequently, foreknowledge of merits is a cause of predestination, since two of the things which foreknowledge contains cause the two things contained in predestination.

4. Reprobation and predestination signify the divine essence while connoting an effect. There is no diversity, however, in the divine essence. Consequently, the difference between predestination and reprobation comes entirely from their effects. Now, effects are considered as caused by us. It is due to us, as cause, therefore, that the predestined are segregated from the reprobate, as takes place through predestination. Hence, the same must be said as before.

5. Taken in itself, the sun is in the same relation to all bodies that can be illuminated, even though all bodies cannot share its light equally. Similarly, God is equally related to all, even though all do not participate in His divine goodness in an equal measure, as the saints and philosophers say so often. Now, since the sun is in the same relation to all bodies, it is not the cause of the differences that we find in these bodies, namely, that some of them are dark and others bright. This is due, rather, to differences in the physical constitution of the bodies which affect their reception of sunlight. Similarly, the reason for this difference, namely, that some reach salvation and others are damned, or that some are predestined while others are rejected, is to be found not in God but in us. Consequently, our original thesis stands.

6. Good communicates itself. It belongs to the highest good, therefore, to communicate itself in the highest possible degree, that is, as much as each and every thing is capable of receiving it. Consequently, if it does not communicate itself to something, this is because that thing is not capable of receiving it. Now, according to the quality of his merits, a person is capable or not capable of receiving that salvation which predestination ordains. Foreknowledge of merits, therefore, is the reason wily some are predestined and others are not.

7. Concerning the passage in Numbers (3:12), “1 took Levites...,” Origen writes: “Jacob, younger by birth, was judged to be the firstborn. Because what they intended to do was in their hearts, and this was clear to God before they were born or did any good or evil, It was said of them:‘Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.’” Now, this love, the saints commonly explain, pertains to Jacob’s predestination. Consequently, God’s foreknowledge of the intention Jacob was going to have in his heart was the reason for his predestination. Thus, the same must be said as was said previously.

8. Predestination cannot be unjust, since the ways of the Lord are always the ways of mercy and truth. Nor can there be any form of justice between God and men other than distributive justice. There is no place for commutative justice, since God, who needs none of our good things, receives nothing from us. Now, distributive justice rewards unequally only those that are unequal. But the only cause of inequality among men is difference in merit. Therefore, the reason why God predestines one man and not another is that He foreknows their different merits.

9. As mentioned previously, predestination presupposes election. But a choice cannot be reasonable unless there is some reason why one person is to be preferred to another. Now, in the election we are speaking about, there can be no reason for the preference other than merits. Therefore, since God’s choice cannot be irrational, His election and, consequently, His predestination also must be caused by His foreknowledge of merits.

10. Commenting on that verse in the Prophecy of Malachi (1:2-3), “I have loved Jacob, but have hated Esau,” Augustine says that “the will of God,” by which He chose one and rejected the other “cannot be’ unjust, for it came from their hidden merits.” But the hidden merits can enter into an intention only in so far as they are foreknown. Consequently, predestination comes from foreknowledge of merits.

11. As the use of grace is related to the final effect of predestination so the abuse of it is related to the effect of reprobation. Now, in the case of Judas, the abuse of grace was the reason for his reprobation, since he was made reprobate because he died without grace. Moreover, the fact that he did not have grace when he died was not due to God’s unwillingness to give it but to his unwillingness to accept it—as both Anselm and Dionysius point out. Consequently, the good use of grace by Peter or anyone else is the reason why he is elected or predestined.

12. One person can merit the first grace for another. For the same reason, it seems that he could merit for that other person a continuation of grace up to the end. Now, if one gets final grace, he is predestined. Consequently, predestination can be caused by merits.

13. According to the Philosopher: “One thing is said to be prior to another when the sequence of their being cannot be reversed.” But God’s foreknowledge is related to predestination in this way, because God knows beforehand what He predestines, while He foreknows the evil which He does not predestine. Foreknowledge, therefore, is antecedent to predestination. But what is prior in any order is the cause of what is posterior. Consequently, foreknowledge is the cause of predestination.

14. The word predestination is derived from sending or destining. But knowledge precedes sending or destining, because no one can send a person without knowing him first. Knowledge, therefore, is prior also to predestination; hence, it seems that it is the cause of predestination. Consequently, our thesis stands.

To the Contrary

1. The Gloss on the following verse in the Epistle to the Romans (9:12), “Not of works, but of him that calleth was it said,” reads: “He shows that the words ‘I have loved Jacob, etc.,’ were due neither to any previous nor to any future merits.” And the Gloss on the verse, “Is there injustice with God?” (9:4), says: “Let no one say that God chooses one man and rejects another because He foresaw future works.” Consequently, it does not seem that foreknowledge of merits is the cause of predestination.

2. Grace is the effect of predestination but the principle of merit. Hence, foreknowledge of merits cannot possibly be the cause of predestination.

3. In the Epistle to Titus (3:5), the Apostle says: “Not by the works of justice which we have done but according to his mercy...” Predestination of one’s salvation, therefore, does not arise from foreknowledge of merits.

4. If foreknowledge of merits were the cause of predestination, then no one would be predestined who did not merit. But some predestined never merit, as is evidently the case of children. Consequently, foreknowledge of merits is not the cause of predestination.


There is this difference between a cause and an effect—that whatever is the cause of the cause must be the cause of the effect, but the cause of the effect is not necessarily the cause of the cause. It is evident, for example, that the first cause produces its effect through a second cause, and so the second cause, in some way, causes the effect of the first cause, although it is not the cause of the first cause.

Now, we must distinguish two aspects of predestination, the eternal predestination itself and its twofold temporal effect, grace and glory. Glory has human acts as its meritorious cause, but grace cannot have human acts as its meritorious cause; human acts can act only as a certain material disposition to grace, inasmuch as through these acts men are prepared for the acceptance of it. It does not follow from this, however, that our acts, whether they precede or follow grace, are the cause of predestination.

Now, to discover the cause of predestination we must recall what we have said previously, namely, that predestination is a certain direction to an end, and this direction is brought about by reason, moved by the will. Consequently, a thing can be the cause of predestination if it can move the will. However, a thing can move the will in two ways, first, as something due, secondly, as something not due. Now, as something due, a thing can move the will in two ways, namely, either absolutely or on the supposition of something else. The ultimate end, which is the object of the will, moves absolutely; and it moves the will in such a fashion that the will cannot turn away from it. For example, as Augustine says, no man is capable of not willing to be happy. But that without which an end cannot be had is said to move as something due “on the supposition of something else.” If an end can be had, however, without a certain thing which contributes merely to the well-being of the end, then that thing does not move the will as something due. In this case, the will inclines to it freely; but when the will is already inclined to it freely, the will is thereby inclined to all the things without which it cannot be had, as to things that are due on the supposition of that which was first willed. For example, out of liberality a king makes a person a soldier; but, because one cannot be a soldier without a horse, on the supposition of the afore-mentioned liberality, giving the soldier a horse becomes due and necessary.

Now, the end-object of the divine will is God’s own goodness, which does not depend on anything else. God needs nothing to help Him possess it. Consequently, His will is inclined first to make something freely, not something due, inasmuch as it is His goodness that is manifested in His works. But, supposing that God wishes to make something, it follows as something due from the supposition of His liberality that He make those things also without which those that He has first willed cannot be had. For example, if He wills to make a man, He must give him an intellect. But if there is anything which is not necessary for that which God wills, then that thing comes from God, not as something due, but simply as a result of His generosity. Now, the perfection of grace and glory are goods of this kind, because nature can exist without them inasmuch as they surpass the limits of natural powers. Consequently, the fact that God wishes to give grace and glory is due simply to His generosity. The reason for His willing these things that arise simply from His generosity is the overflowing love of His will for His end-object, in which the perfection of His goodness is found. The cause of predestination, therefore, is nothing other than God’s goodness.

According to these principles, a solution can be found to the controversy that has been taking place between certain groups. Some have asserted that everything comes from God’s simple pleasure, while others say that everything which comes from God is due. Both opinions are false. The former ignores the necessary order that exists between the things God causes, and the latter asserts that everything arises from God because of a natural necessity. A middle course must therefore be chosen so that it may be laid down that those things which are first willed by God come from His simple pleasure, but those that are required for this first class of things come as something due, although on the basis of a supposition. This “debt” does not, however, make God obliged to things but only to His own will; for what is said to come from God as something due is due simply in order that His will be fulfilled.

Answers to Difficulties

1. Divine providence ordains that grace bestowed be used as it should. Consequently, it is impossible for foreknowledge of this right use of grace to be the cause that moves God to give grace. The words of Ambrose, “I will give grace to him who I know will return to me with his whole heart,” cannot be understood as meaning that a perfect change of heart inclines God’s will to give grace but that His will ordains that the grace given be accepted by the person and that he be turned completely toward God.

2. Predestination includes God’s consequent will, which is related in some way to that which we cause on our part, not by inclining the divine will to act, but by bringing about that effect for which His will has ordained grace or by bringing about that which, in a certain sense, disposes us for grace and merits glory.

3. While it is true that knowledge moves the will, not every kind of knowledge does this but only knowledge of an end; and an end is an object moving the will. Consequently, it is because of His knowledge of His own goodness that God loves it; and, from this love, He wishes to pour out His goodness upon others. But it does not therefore follow that knowledge of merits is the cause of His will in so far as it is included in predestination.

4. Although the different formal characters of God’s attributes are drawn from the differences in their effects, it does not follow from this that these effects are the cause of His attributes. For the different formal characteristics of His attributes are not derived from our qualities as though our qualities caused them; rather, our qualities are signs that the attributes themselves are causes. Consequently, it does not follow that that which comes from us is the reason why one man is reprobated and another predestined.

5. We can consider God’s relation to things in two ways. We can consider it only with respect to the first disposition of things that took place according to His divine wisdom, which established different grades of things. If only this is considered, then God is not related to all things in the same way. We can, however, consider His relation to things also according to the way in which He provides for them as already disposed. If His relation to them is considered in this manner, then He is related to all things in the same way, because He gives equally to all, according to the proportion He has made. Now, all that has been said to proceed from God, according to His will taken simply, belongs to the first disposition of things, of which preparation for grace is a part.

6. It belongs to the divine goodness as infinite to give from its perfections whatever the nature of each thing requires and is capable of receiving. But this is not required for superabundant perfections such as grace and glory. Hence, the argument proves nothing.

7. God’s foreknowledge of what lay in the heart of Jacob was not the reason for His willing to give grace to him. Instead, the intention in Jacob’s heart was a good for which God ordained the grace to be given to him. It is for this reason that God is said to have loved him “because his heart’s intention was known by Him.” For God loved him in order that he might have such an intention in his heart or because He foresaw that his heart’s intention was a disposition for the acceptance of grace.

8. It would be contrary to the nature of distributive justice if things that were due to persons and were to be distributed to them were given out unequally to those that had equal rights. But things given out of liberality do not come under any form of justice. I may freely choose to give them to one person and not to another. Now, grace belongs to this class of things. Consequently, it is not contrary to the nature of distributive justice if God intends to give grace to one person and not to another, and does not consider their unequal merits.

9. The election by which God chooses one man and reprobates another is reasonable. There is no reason why merit must be the reason for His choice, however, since the reason for this is the divine goodness. As Augustine says,” moreover, a justifying reason for reprobation [in the present] is the fact of original sin in man—for reprobation in the future, the fact that mere existence gives man no claim to grace. For I can reasonably deny something to a person if it is not due to him.

10. Peter Lombard says that Augustine retracted that statement in a similar passage. But, if it must be sustained, then it should be taken as referring to the effect of reprobation and of predestination, which has a meritorious or disposing cause.

11. God’s foreknowledge of this abuse of grace was not the reason why Judas was reprobated, unless we are considering only the consequences of this abuse—though it is true that God denies grace to no one who is willing to accept it. Now, the very fact that we are willing to accept grace comes to us through God’s predestination. Hence, our willingness cannot be a cause of predestination.

12. Although merit can be the cause of the effect of predestination, it cannot be the cause of predestination itself.

13. Although that with which the consequent cannot be interchanged is prior in some way, it does not always follow that it is prior as a cause is said to be prior; for, if this were true, then to be colored would be the cause of being a man. Consequently, it does not follow that foreknowledge is the cause of predestination.

14. The answer to this difficulty is clear from our last response.



In the third article we ask:

Is predestination certain?

[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 23, aa. 6-7; I Sent., 40, 3; Quodl., XI, 3, 3; X11, 3, 3; De rationibus fidei, c.10 (P. 16:96a); C.G., III, cc. 94, 162-63. See also readings given for q. 5, a. 5.]


It seems that it has no certitude, for

1. No cause whose effects can vary can be certain of its effects. But the effects of predestination can vary, for one who is predestined may not attain the effect of his predestination. This is clear from the commentary of Augustine on the words of the Apocalypse (3:1 1), “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take...” in which he says: “If one person will not receive glory unless another loses it, then the number of the elect is certain.”’ Now, from this it seems that one could lose and another receive the crown of glory, which is the effect of predestination.

2. Human affairs fall under God’s providence as things in nature do. But, according to the ordering of God’s providence, only those natural effects that are produced necessarily by their causes proceed from them with certainty. Now, since the effect of predestination, man’s salvation, arises not necessarily but contingently from its proximate causes, it seems that the ordering of predestination is not certain.

3. If a cause has certitude with respect to some effect, that effect will necessarily follow unless there is something that can resist the power of the agent. For example, dispositions in bodies here below are sometimes found to resist the action of celestial bodies; and, as a consequence, these celestial bodies do not produce their characteristic effects, which they would produce were there not something resisting them. But nothing can resist divine predestination, because, as we read in the Epistle to the Romans (9:19): “Who resisteth his will?” Therefore, if divine predestination is ordered with certitude to its effect, its effect will necessarily be produced.

4. The answer was given that the certitude which predestination has of its effect presupposes the second cause.—On the contrary, any certitude based on the supposition of something is not absolute but conditional certitude. For example, it is not certain that the sun will cause a plant to bear fruit unless the generative power of the plant is in a favorable condition; and, because of this, the certitude of the sun’s producing this effect presupposes the power of the plant as though the latter were a second cause. Consequently, if the certitude of divine predestination includes the presupposition of a second cause, that certitude will not be absolute but merely conditional—like the certitude I have that Socrates is moving if he runs, and that he will be saved if he prepares himself. Therefore, God will have no more certitude about those who are to be saved than I have. But this is absurd.

5. We read in Job (34:24): “He shall break in pieces many and innumerable, and shall make others to stand in their stead.” In explanation of this passage, Gregory writes: “Some fall from the place of life, while others are given it.” Now, the place of life is that place to which men are ordained by predestination. Hence, one who is predestined can fall short of the effect of predestination; therefore, predestination is not certain.

6. According to Anselm, predestination has the same kind of truth that a proposition about the future has. But a proposition about the future does not have certain and determinate truth. Such a proposition is open to correction—as is clear from that passage in Aristotle where he says: “One about to walk may not walk.” Similarly, therefore, the truth that predestination has does not possess certitude.

7. Sometimes one who is predestined is in mortal sin. This was clearly true of Paul when he was persecuting the Church. Now, he can stay in mortal sin until death or be killed immediately. If either happens, predestination will not obtain its effect. Therefore, it is possible for predestination not to obtain its effect.

8. But it was said that, when it is stated that one predestined may possibly die in the state of sin, the proposition is taken compositely and so is false; for its subject is taken as simultaneously having the determination predestined. But if its subject is taken without this determination, then the proposition is taken in a divided sense and is true. —On the contrary, with those forms which cannot be removed from the subject, it does not matter whether a thing is attributed to the subject with those qualifying determinations or without them. For example, taken either way, the following proposition is false: “A black crow can be white.” Now, predestination is the kind of form that cannot be removed from the one predestined. In the matter at hand, therefore, there is no room for the afore-mentioned distinction.

9. If what is eternal be joined to what is temporal and contingent, then the whole is temporal and contingent. Thus, it is clear that creation is temporal, even though its notion includes God’s eternal essence as well as a temporal effect. The same is true of a divine mission, which implies an eternal procession and a temporal effect. Now, even though predestination implies something eternal, it also implies a temporal effect. Therefore, predestination as a whole is temporal and contingent and, consequently, does not seem to have certitude.

10. What can be or not be cannot have any certitude. But the fact that God predestines to salvation can be or not be. For just as He can, from all eternity, predestine and not predestine, so even now He can predestine and not predestine, since present, past, and future do not differ in eternity. Consequently, predestination cannot have any certitude.

To the Contrary

1. In explanation of that verse in the Epistle to the Romans (8:29), “Whom he foreknew, he also predestined,” the Gloss says: “Predestination is the foreknowledge and preparation of the benefits of God by which whoever are freed are most certainly freed.”

2. If the truth of a thing is unshakable, it must be certain. But, as Augustine says: “The truth of predestination is unshakable.” Therefore, predestination is certain.

3. Whoever is predestined has this predestination from all eternity. But what exists from all eternity cannot be changed. Predestination, therefore, is unchangeable and, consequently, certain.

4. As is clear from the Gloss mentioned above J predestination includes foreknowledge. But, as Boethius has proved, foreknowledge is certain. Therefore, predestination is also certain.


There are two kinds of certitude: certitude of knowledge and certitude of ordination. Now, certitude of knowledge is had when one’s knowledge does not deviate in any way from reality, and, consequently, when it judges about a thing as it is. But because a judgment which will be certain about a thing is had especially from its causes, the word certitude has been transferred to the relation that a cause has to its effect; therefore, the relation of a cause to an effect is said to be certain when the cause infallibly produces its effect. Consequently, since God’s foreknowledge does not imply, in all cases, a relation of a cause to all the t1iings which are its objects, it is considered to have only the certitude of knowledge. But His predestination adds another element, because it includes not only His foreknowledge but also the relation of a cause to its objects, since predestination is a kind of direction or preparation. Thus, not only the certitude of knowledge, but also the certitude of ordination is contained in predestination. Now we are concerned only with the certitude of predestination; the certitude of knowledge, found also in predestination, has been explained in our investigation of God’s knowledge.

It should be known that, since predestination is a particular type of providence, not only its notion adds something to providence, but also its certitude adds something to the certitude of providence. Now, the ordering of providence is found to be certain in two respects. First, it is certain with relation to a particular thing, when God’s providence ordains things to some particular end, and they attain that end without failure. This is evident in the motions of celestial spheres and in all things in nature that act necessarily. Second, providence is certain in relation to things in general, but not in particular. For example, we see that the power of beings capable of generation and corruption sometimes falls short of the proper effects to which it has been ordered as its proper ends. Thus, the power that shapes bodies sometimes falls short of forming members completely. Yet, as we saw above when treating providence, these very defects arc directed by God to some end. Consequently, nothing can fail to attain the general end of providence, even though it may at times fall short of a particular end.

The ordering of predestination, however, is certain, not only with respect to its general end, but also with respect to a particular and determinate end. For one who is ordained to salvation by predestination never fails to obtain it. Moreover, the ordering of predestination is not certain with reference to a particular end in the way in which the ordering of providence is; for, in providence, the ordering is not certain with respect to a particular end unless the proximate cause necessarily produces its effect. In predestination, however, there is certitude with respect to an individual end even though the proximate cause, free choice, does not produce that effect except in a contingent manner.

Hence, it seems difficult to reconcile the infallibility of predestination with freedom of choice; for we cannot say that predestination adds nothing to the certitude of providence except the certitude of foreknowledge, because this would be to say that God orders one who is predestined to his salvation as He orders any other person, with this difference, that, in the case of the predestined, God knows he will not fail to be saved. According to this position, one predestined would not differ in ordination from one not predestined; he would differ only with respect to [God’s] foreknowledge of the outcome. Consequently, foreknowledge would be the cause of predestination, and predestination would not take place by the choice of Him who predestines. This, however, is contrary to the authority of the Scriptures” and the sayings of the saints. Thus, the ordering of predestination has an infallible certitude of its own—over and above the certitude of foreknowledge. Nevertheless, the proximate cause of salvation, free choice, is related to predestination contingently, not necessarily.

This can be considered in the following manner. We find that an ordering is infallible in regard to something in two ways. First, an individual cause necessarily brings about its own effect because of the ordering of divine providence. Secondly, a single effect may be attained only as the result of the convergence of many contingent causes individually capable of failure; but each one of these causes has been ordained by God either to bring about that effect itself if another cause should fail or to prevent that other cause from failing. We see, for example, that all the individual members of a species are corruptible. Yet, from the fact that one succeeds another, the nature of the species can be kept in existence; and this is how God keeps the species from extinction, despite the fact that the individual perishes.

A similar case is had in predestination; for, even though free choice can fail with respect to salvation, God prepares so many other helps for one who is predestined that he either does not fall at all or, if he does fall, he rises again. The helps that God gives a man to enable him to gain salvation are exhortations, the support of prayer, the gift of grace, and all similar things. Consequently, if we were to consider salvation only in relation to its proximate cause, free choice, salvation would not be certain but contingent; however, in relation to the first cause, namely, predestination, salvation is certain.

Answers to Difficulties

1. The word crown as used in the Apocalypse (3:11) may mean either the crown of present justice or the crown of future glory. No matter which meaning is taken, however, one person is said to receive the crown of another when that other person falls in the sense that the goods of one person help another, either by aiding him to merit or even by increasing his glory. The reason for this is that all the members of the Church are connected by charity in such a way that their goods are common. Consequently, one receives the crown of another when that other falls through sin and does not achieve the reward of his merits; and another person receives the fruits of the sinner’s merits, just as he would have benefited from the sinner’s merits had the latter persevered. From this, however, it does not follow that predestination is ever in vain.

Or it can be answered that one is said to receive the crown of another, not because the other lost a crown that was predestined for him, but because whenever a person loses the crown that was due to him because of the justice he possessed, another person is substituted in his place to make up the number of the elect—just as men have been substituted to take the place of the fallen angels.

2. A natural effect issuing infallibly from God’s providence takes place because of one proximate cause necessarily ordered to the effect. The ordering of predestination, however, is not made certain in this manner but in the manner described above.

3. A celestial body, taken in itself, imposes a kind of determinism in its action on bodies here below. Consequently, its effect necessarily takes place, unless something resists it. But God does not act on the will in the manner of one necessitating; for He does not force the will but merely moves it, without taking away its own proper mode, which consists in being free with respect to opposites. Consequently, even though nothing can resist the divine will, our will, like everything else, carries out the divine will according to its own proper mode. Indeed, the divine will has given things their mode of being in order that His will be fulfilled. Therefore, some things fulfill the divine will necessarily, other things, contingently; but that which God wills always takes place.

4. The second cause, which we must suppose as prerequisite for obtaining the effect of predestination, lies also under the ordering of predestination. The relationship between lower powers and the power of a superior agent is not one of predestination. Consequently, even though the ordering of God’s predestination includes the supposition of a human will, it nevertheless has absolute certitude, despite the fact that the example given points to the contrary.

5. Those words of Job and Gregory should be referred to the state of present justice. If some fall from it, others are chosen in their place. From this, therefore, we cannot conclude to any uncertainty with reference to predestination; for those who fall from grace at the end were never predestined at all.

6. The comparison Anselm makes holds good in this respect, that just as the truth of a proposition about the future does not remove contingency from a future event, so also the truth of predestination [does not take away the contingency of predestination]. But, in another respect, the comparison is weak. For a proposition about the future is related to the future in so far as it is future, and, under this aspect, it cannot be certain. As we pointed out previously, however, the truth of predestination and foreknowledge is related to the future as present, and, consequently, is certain.

7. A thing can be said to be possible in two ways. First, we may consider the potency that exists in the thing itself, as when we say that a stone can be moved downwards. Or we may consider the potency that exists in another thing, as when we say that a stone can be moved upwards, not by a potency existing in the stone, but by a potency existing in the one who hurls it.

Consequently, when we say: “That predestined person can possibly die in sin,” the statement is true if we consider only the potency that exists in him. But, if we are speaking of this predestined person according to the ordering which he has to another, namely, to God, who is predestining him, that event is incompatible with this ordering, even though it is compatible with the person’s own power. Hence, we can use the distinction given above; that is, we can consider the subject with this form or without it.

8. Blackness and whiteness are, in a sense, examples of forms that exist in a subject said to be white or black. Consequently, nothing can be attributed to the subject, either according to potency or according to act, as long as blackness remains, if it is repugnant to this form of blackness. Predestination, however, is a form that exists, not in the person predestined, but in the one predestining, just as the known gets its, name from knowledge in the knower. Consequently, no matter how fixed predestination may remain in the order of knowledge, yet, if we consider only the nature [of the predestined], we can attribute something to it which is repugnant to the ordering of predestination. For, considered this way, predestination is something other than the man who is said to be predestined, just as blackness is something other than the essence of a crow, even though it is not something outside the crow, but, by considering only the essence of a crow, one can attribute to it something that is repugnant to its blackness. For this reason, as Porphyry says, one can think of a white crow. Similarly, in the problem being discussed, one can attribute something to a predestined person taken in himself which cannot be attributed to him in so far as he is predestined.

9. Creation and mission imply the production of a temporal effect. Consequently, they affirm the existence of a temporal effect, and so must be temporal themselves, even though they include something eternal. Predestination, however, does not imply the production of a temporal effect—as the word itself shows—but only an ordering to something temporal, such as will, power, and all such attributes also imply. Since it does not affirm the actual existence of a temporal effect, which is also contingent, predestination is not necessarily temporal and contingent itself, because from eternity something can be unchangeably ordained to a temporal and contingent effect.

10. Absolutely speaking, it is possible for God to predestine or not to predestine each and every person, and it is possible for Him to have predestined or not to have predestined. For, since the act of predestination is measured by eternity, it never is past and never is future. Consequently, it is always considered as issuing from His will as something free. Because of the supposition, however, certain things are impossible: He cannot predestine if He has predestined, and He cannot predestine if He has already not predestined—for God does not change. Hence, it does not follow that predestination can change.



In the fourth article we ask:

Is the number of predestined certain?

[Parallel readings: See readings given for preceding article.]


It seems not, for

1. No number is certain if something can be added to it. But something can be added to the number of the predestined, because Moses’ petition for such an increase is described in Deuteronomy (1:11) where he says: “The Lord God of your fathers add to this number many thousands.” And the Gloss comments: “This number is fixed by God, who knows who belong to Him.” Now, unless such an addition were possible, Moses would have asked in vain. Consequently, the number of the predestined is not certain.

2. As we are prepared for grace through the disposition of natural perfections, so are we prepared through grace for the attainment of glory. Now, grace is found in whomsoever there is sufficient preparation of natural gifts. Similarly, then, glory will be found wherever grace is found. But one not predestined may, at one time, possess grace. Therefore, he will possess glory and so be predestined. Consequently, one not predestined may become predestined. In this way, the number of the predestined can be increased; hence, it is not certain.

3. If one who has grace is not to have glory, his loss of glory will be due to a failure either on the part of grace or on the part of the one giving glory. However, this loss cannot be due to a failure on the part of grace, for, in itself, it sufficiently disposes for glory; nor can it be due to a failure on the part of the one giving glory, for, on His part, He is ready to give it to all. Consequently, whoever has grace will necessarily have glory. Thus, one who is foreknown [as lost] will have glory and be predestined. Accordingly, our original argument stands.

4. Whoever prepares himself sufficiently for grace, gets grace. But one foreknown [as lost] can prepare himself for grace. Therefore, it is possible for him to have grace. Whoever has grace, however, can persevere in it. So it seems that one who is foreknown [as lost] can persevere in grace up to the time of his death and thus become predestined. Consequently, the same must be said as before.

5. It was said, however, that God’s foreknowledge that a man will die without grace is necessary by conditional necessity, not by absolute necessity.—On the contrary, any necessity, which lacks a beginning and an end, and which is without succession, is not conditional but simple and absolute. Now, this is the kind of necessity that the necessity of foreknowledge is, because it is eternal. Therefore, it is simple and not conditioned.

6. A number larger than any finite number is possible. But the number of the predestined is finite. Therefore, a larger number is possible, and the number of the predestined is not certain.

7. Since good communicates itself, infinite goodness should not impose a limit on its communication. Now, the divine goodness communicates itself to the predestined in the highest possible degree. Therefore, it does not belong to the divine goodness to establish a certain number of predestined.

8. Like the creation of things, the predestination of men depends on the divine will. Now, God can make more things than He has made, because, as we read in Wisdom (12:18): “His power is at hand when He wills.” Similarly, He has not predestined so many men that He cannot predestine more; and so our original argument returns.

9. Whatever God was at one time able to do He still is able to do. But from eternity God was able to predestine one whom He did not predestine. Consequently, He is still able to predestine him, and so an addition can be made to the number of the predestined.

10. In the case of all powers not determined to one course of action, what can be can also not be. Now, the power of the one predestining with respect to the one to be predestined, and the power of the one predestined with respect to his obtaining the effect of predestination, belong to this class of powers, because the one predestining predestines by His will, and the one predestined obtains the effect of predestination by his will. Consequently, the predestined can be non-predestined, and the non-predestined can be predestined. Hence, the conclusion is the same as before.

11. In commentary on that verse in Luke (5:6), “And their net broke,” the Gloss reads: “In the Church, the net of circumcision is broken, for not as many Jews enter as were preordained by God to life.” Consequently, since the number of the predestined can be diminished, it is not certain.

To the Contrary

1. Augustine says: “The number of the predestined is certain and can neither be increased nor diminished.”

2. Augustine says: “The heavenly Jerusalem, our mother, the City of God, will not be robbed of any of the number of its citizens nor will it reign with more than the predestined number.” Now, the citizens mentioned are the predestined. Consequently, the number of the predestined cannot be increased or decreased. Hence, it is certain.

3. Whoever is predestined is predestined from eternity. But what exists from eternity is unchangeable, and what did not exist from eternity can never be eternal. Consequently, he who is not predestined cannot be predestined and, conversely, he who is predestined cannot be non-predestined.

4. After the resurrection, all the predestined will be in the highest heaven with their own bodies. Now, that place is finite, since all bodies are finite, and, as is commonly held, not even two glorified bodies can exist, simultaneously [in one place]. Consequently, the number of the predestined should be determinate.


Treating this question, some have distinguished, saying that the number of the predestined is certain if we mean number understood actively or formally, but not certain if we mean number understood passively or materially. For example, one could say that it is certain that one hundred have been predestined, but it is not certain who these one hundred are. The occasion for such a position seems to be the words of Augustine mentioned previously. Augustine seems to imply that one can lose and another receive the predestined crown without the number of the predestined at all varying. But, if those holding this opinion are speaking about certitude of predestination in its relation to the first cause, that is, to God who predestines, then the opinion is entirely absurd, because God Himself has definite knowledge of the number of the predestined, whether the number be taken formally or materially. He knows exactly how many and who are to be saved, and, with respect to both, His ordination is infallible. Consequently, with respect to both numbers, God has certitude, not only of knowledge, but also of ordination.

On the other hand, if we are speaking about the certitude that can be had about the number of the predestined from its relation to the proximate cause of man’s salvation (to which predestination is ordained), then our judgment about the formal number and the material number will not be the same. For, since the salvation of each individual has been produced through free choice as through its proximate cause, in some way the material number is subject to man’s will, which is changeable. Consequently, the material number in some way lacks certainty. But the formal number is not determined in any manner by man’s will, because by no kind of causality does the human will affect the number of the predestined taken as a whole. Consequently, the formal number remains completely certain. In this way the aforementioned distinction can be sustained, as long as we concede, without any qualifications, that both numbers are certain as far as God is concerned.

It should be noted, moreover, that the number of the predestined is certain in this respect, that it cannot be increased or diminished. The number could be increased if one who was foreknown [as lost] could be predestined; but this would be contrary to the certainty of foreknowledge or of reprobation. Again, the number could be diminished if it were possible for one who is predestined to become non-predestined; but this would be contrary to the certainty of predestination. Thus, it is clear that the certitude about the number of the predestined is made up of two certitudes, the certitude of predestination and the certitude of foreknowledge or reprobation. These two certitudes differ, however; for, as has been said, the certitude of predestination is the certitude of knowledge and of direction to an end, while the certitude of foreknowledge is merely the certitude of knowledge. For God does not preordain the reprobate to sin as He ordains the predestined to merit.

Answers to Difficulties

1. That quotation from Deuteronomy should be understood as referring, not to the number of the predestined, but to the number of those who are in the state of present justice. This is clear from the Interlinear Gloss, which adds: “In number and in merit.” Now, this number of those in present justice is both increased and diminished; but God’s appointment, which predefines this number, too, is never wrong, because it is He who decrees that there be more of these at one time and fewer at another. Or we could even answer that God defines a certain number in the manner of a judgment in harmony with inferior reasons, and this limitation can be changed; but He predestines another number in the manner of an election in harmony with superior reasons, and this limitation cannot be changed. For Gregory says: “He changes His judgment but never His election.”

2. No preparation disposes anything to have a perfection at a time other than its proper time. For example, his natural temperament may dispose a boy to be brave or wise—not, however, in the days of his childhood, but in the days of his manhood. Now, the time when one obtains grace is simultaneous with the time when nature is prepared. Consequently, no barrier can come between them. Thus, when the preparation of nature is found in a person, grace is also found in him. But the time when one obtains glory is not simultaneous with the time when he has grace. Consequently, a barrier can come between these two. For this reason, one who is foreknown to possess grace will not necessarily possess glory also.

3. That one who had grace is nevertheless deprived of glory is not due to failure either on the part of grace or on the part of Him who gives glory. It is due rather to a failure on the part of the recipient, in whom an impediment has arisen.

4. When we affirm that a person is foreknown [as lost], we thereby affirm that he will not have final grace; for, as we pointed out previously,” God’s knowledge is directed to future things as though they were present. Consequently, just as the condition of not having final grace cannot be reconciled with the condition of having final grace, even though the former condition is possible if taken by itself, so the condition of having final grace cannot be reconciled with the condition of being foreknown [as lost], even though the former condition is also possible if taken by itself.

5. The fact that such a thing known by God is not absolutely necessary comes, not from a defect in God’s knowledge, but from a defect in the proximate cause. On the other hand, the reason why this necessity is eternal—without beginning and end, and, as it were, without succession—comes from God’s knowledge, which is eternal, not from the proximate cause, which is temporal and changeable.

6. Even though finite number as finite number does not prevent a larger number from existing, the impossibility may come from another source, namely, from the fixed character of God’s foreknowledge, which is apparent in the problem at hand. Similarly, when we consider the size of some natural thing, we see that a larger size cannot exist, not because of the nature of quantity, but because of the nature of the thing itself.

7. The divine goodness communicates itself only under the guidance of wisdom, for this is the best manner for its communication. Now, as we read in Wisdom (11:2 1), the ordering of God’s wisdom requires that all things be made according to “number, weight, and measure.” Consequently, that there be a definite number of predestined is in harmony with God’s goodness.

8. As is clear from what was said previously, while it may be granted with reference to a determined person that God, absolutely speaking, can predestine or not predestine him, nevertheless, supposing that God has predestined him, He cannot not predestine him. Nor is the opposite possible, because God cannot change. Consequently, it is commonly said that the following proposition, “God can predestine one who is not predestined or not predestine one who is predestined,” is false if taken in a composite sense, but true if taken in a divided sense. All statements, therefore, which imply that composite sense are absolutely false. Thus, we must not concede that the number of the predestined can be increased or diminished, because addition presupposes something which is increased, and subtraction, something which is diminished. For the same reason, we cannot concede that God can predestine more or fewer than He has already predestined.

Furthermore, the example drawn from the making of things is not to the point; for making is a particular action terminating exteriorly in an effect, and the fact that God makes something first and does not make it later indicates no change in God but only in the effect. On the other hand, predestination, foreknowledge, and similar things are acts intrinsic to God; and no change can take place in them without a change taking place in God. Nothing, therefore, that implies a change in these acts should be granted.

9-10. The answer to these arguments is clear, for they are based on an understanding of God’s power as absolute, not as modified by a supposition of predestination or non-predestination.

11. That Gloss should be understood as meaning this: the number of Jews entering is not as large as the total number of all those who have been preordained to life, for it is not only Jews who have been predestined. Or one could reply that the Gloss is not speaking about the preordination of predestination but about the preordination of preparation by which the Jews were disposed for life by means of the Law. Or, finally, one could reply that not as many Jews entered the early Church as are predestined, because, as we read in the Epistle to the Romans(11:25-26): “When the fulness of the Gentiles should come in... all Israel will be saved” in the Church at the end of time.



In the fifth article we ask:

Are the predestined certain of their predestination?

[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 23, 1, ad 4; I-II, 112, 5; In Evang. Johannis, c. 10, lect. 5 (P. 10:484b); In Psalm. 50 (P. 14:348b).]


It seems that they are, for

1. The words of St. John, “His unction teacheth you of all things” (1 John2:27), are understood as referring to all things pertaining to salvation. But predestination pertains very much to salvation, since it is the cause of salvation. Consequently, through an unction they receive, all men are made certain of their predestination.

2. It is consonant with God’s goodness, which does all things in the best possible way, to lead men to their reward in the best possible way. Now, the best possible way seems to be that each and every man be certain of his reward. Therefore, each and every person who is predestined is given assurance that he will come to his reward. Consequently, the same must be said as before.

3. All whom the leader of an army enrolls for merit in battle are likewise enrolled for a reward. Consequently, they are as certain about their reward as they are about their merit. But men are certain that they are in the state of meriting. Consequently, they are also certain that they will obtain their reward. We conclude as before.

To the Contrary

In Ecclesiastes (9:1) we read: “Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred.”


There is nothing inconsistent in the revelation to some person of the fact of his predestination; but, in view of His general law, it would be inconsistent if He revealed this to all the predestined for the following two reasons. The first reason may be found by considering those who are not predestined. Now, if all the predestined knew that they were predestined, then all those not predestined would know that they were not predestined from the very fact that they did not know if they were predestined. This would, in some way, lead them to despair. The second reason may be found by considering those who are predestined. Now, security is the mother of negligence; and if the predestined were certain, about their predestination, they would be secure about their salvation. Consequently, they would not exercise so great care in avoiding evil. Hence, it has been wisely ordained by God’s providence that men should be ignorant of their predestination or reprobation.

Answers to Difficulties

1. When Scripture says that His unction teaches everything connected with salvation, this should be understood as referring to those things knowledge of which pertains to salvation, not to all those things which, in themselves, do pertain to salvation. And, although predestination itself is necessary for salvation, knowledge of predestination is not.

2. It is not proper, when giving a reward, to give the person who is to receive it unconditional assurance. The proper way is to give conditional assurance to the one for whom the reward is being prepared, namely, that the re*ard will be given him unless he fails on his part. This kind of assurance is given to all the predestined through the infusion of the virtue of hope.

3. One cannot know with any certainty that he is in the state of meriting, although he can know, by conjecture, that this is probably the case. For a habit never can be known except through its acts, and the acts of the infused supernatural virtues greatly resemble the acts of the acquired natural virtues. Consequently, it is not easy to be certain that acts of this kind have their source in grace, unless, by a special privilege, a person is made certain of it through a revelation. Moreover, he who is enrolled by the leader of an army for a secular struggle is given only conditional assurance of his reward, because one “is not crowned,—except he strive lawfully” (2 Timothy 2:5).



In the sixth article we ask:

Can predestination be helped by the prayers of the saints?

[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 23, 8; I Sent., 41, 1, 4; IV Sent., 45, 3, 3; C.G., III, cc. 95-96, 113.]


It seems not, for

1. What can be aided can be prevented, but predestination cannot be prevented. Therefore, it cannot be aided in any way.

2. When one thing has its effect whether another thing is present or not, the latter is no help to it. But predestination must have its effect, because it cannot fail whether prayers take place or not. Consequently, predestination is not helped by prayers.

3. Nothing eternal is preceded by something temporal. But prayer is temporal, and predestination is eternal. Therefore, prayer cannot precede predestination, and, consequently, cannot help it.

4. As is clear from the first Epistle to the Corinthians (12:12), the members of the mystical body resemble the members of a natural body. Now, in a natural body, a member does not acquire its perfection by means of another member. Consequently, the same is true [of members] in the mystical body. But the members of the mystical body receive their greatest perfection through the effects of predestination. Therefore, one man is not aided in obtaining the effects of predestination by the prayers of another.

To the Contrary

1. We read in Genesis (25:2 1): “Isaac besought the Lord for his wife because she was barren; and he heard him, and made Rebecca to conceive.” As a result of this conception Jacob was born, who had been predestined from all eternity; and this predestination would never have been fulfilled had he not been born. But it was effected by the prayer of Isaac. Consequently, predestination is helped by prayers.

2. In a certain sermon on the conversion of St. Paul, in which the Lord is represented as speaking to Paul, we read: “Unless Stephen, my servant, had prayed for you, I would have destroyed you.” The prayers of Stephen, therefore, freed Paul from reprobation; and so through these prayers he was predestined. Hence, we conclude as before.

3. One can merit the first grace for someone. For the same reason, therefore, he can also merit final grace for him. But whoever possesses final grace is predestined. Therefore, the predestination of one person can be furthered by the prayers of another.

4. As Damascene tells us in a certain sermon on the dead, Gregory prayed for Trajan and freed him from hell. It seems, therefore, that he was freed from the company of the damned by Gregory’s prayers. Hence, the same must be said as before.

5. The members of the mystical body resemble the members of a natural body. But in a natural body one member is helped by another. Consequently, the same is true in the mystical body, and the above proposition stands.


That predestination can be helped by the prayers of the saints can be understood in two ways. First, it can mean that the prayers of the saints help one to be predestined. This, however, cannot be true of prayers, either as they exist in their own proper condition, which is temporal while predestination is eternal, or as they exist in God’s foreknowledge, because, as explained above, foreknowledge of merits is. not the cause of predestination, whether the merits be one’s own or those of another. On the other hand, that predestination is furthered by the prayers of the saints can mean that their prayers help us obtain the effect of predestination as an instrument helps one in finishing his work. The problem has been considered in this way by all those who have studied God’s providence over human affairs. Their answers, however, have been different.

Attending only to the immutability of God’s decrees, some4have declared that prayer, sacrifice, and similar actions help in no way at all. This is said to have been the opinion of the Epicureans, who taught that all things happened necessarily because of the influence of celestial bodies, which they called gods.

Others said that sacrifices and prayers help to this extent, that they change the preordination made by those who have the power to determine human acts. This is said to have been the opinion of the Stoics, who taught that all things are ruled by certain spirits whom they called gods; and, even though something had been pre-established by them, according to the Stoics, such a prearrangement could be changed by placating their souls through prayers and sacrifices. Avicenna seems to have fallen into this error, too; for he asserts that all human actions whose principle is the human will can be reduced to the wills of celestial souls. He thought that the heavenly bodies had souls, and, just as a heavenly body influences a human body, so, according to him, the celestial souls influence human souls. In fact, what takes place in things here below is according to the notions of these celestial souls. Consequently, he thought that sacrifices and prayers helped these souls to conceive what we wished to take place.

These theories, however, are opposed to the Faith. For the first destroys freedom of choice; the second, the certainty of predestination. Consequently, we must answer the problem differently, and must say that, while God’s predestination never changes, prayers and other good works are nevertheless effective in obtaining the effect of predestination. Now, when considering any order of causes, we must consider not only the order of the first cause to the effect but also the order of the second cause to the effect and the order of the first cause to the second cause, since the second cause is ordered to an effect only through the direction of the first cause. For, as is clear from The Causes, the first cause gives to the second cause the power of influencing the effect.

I say, therefore, that the effect of predestination is man’s salvation, and this comes from it as from its first cause. It can have, however, many other proximate and, as it were, instrumental causes, which are ordered by divine predestination for man’s salvation, as tools are used by a craftsman for completing a product of his craft. Consequently, the effect of God’s predestination is not only that an individual person be saved but also that he be saved by certain prayers or certain merits. Gregory also said this: “What holy men effect by their prayers is predestined to be obtained by prayer.” Consequently, Boethius says: “If we pray well, our prayers cannot be without effect.”

Answers to Difficulties

1. There is nothing that can check the ordering of predestination. Consequently, predestination cannot be impeded. Many things, however, are related to the ordering of predestination as intermediate causes; and these are said to further predestination in the manner described.

2. From the fact that it is predestined that a certain man will be saved because of certain prayers, these prayers cannot be omitted without detriment to his predestination. The same is true of man’s salvation, which is the effect of predestination.

3. That argument proves that prayer does not help predestination by being, as it were, its cause. This we concede.

4. The effects of predestination, which are grace and glory, are not, as it were, basic perfections but secondary perfections. Now, even though the members of a natural body do not help each other in acquiring their basic perfections, they nevertheless do help each other to acquire their secondary perfections. There is, moreover, a member in the body which, having been formed first, helps in the formation of other members—namely, the heart. Consequently, the argument proceeds on a false assumption.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties

1. We concede this argument.

2. Paul was never reprobated according to the disposition made by divine election, because this is unchangeable. He was reprobated, however, according to a [provisional] judgment of God in harmony with lower causes, a judgment which sometimes changes. It follows, therefore, not that prayer was the cause of predestination, but that it furthered only the effect of predestination.

3. Although predestination and final grace are interchangeable, it does not necessarily follow that whatever is the cause of final grace in any manner whatsoever is also the cause of predestination. This is clear from what has been said previously.

4. Although Trajan was in the place of the damned, he was not damned absolutely; for he was predestined to be saved by the prayers of Gregory.

5. We concede the fifth argument.