Twice in the book of Romans Paul (Saul) uses the term “foreknew”. Both times it refers to the destiny that God has – first for an individual, and second for a nation.
“Whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
God has a destiny, a pre-designed plan, for every individual. That destiny has a uniform element, in that everyone is to be conformed to the image of Yeshua (Jesus), the perfect model of man made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). That destiny also has a unique element in which every individual is different. God designed His plan for each individual according to each one’s own personality and character. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He designed His plan for each of us before we were even born. He already knew us; He “foreknew” us. He designed His plan for us on the basis of that foreknowledge.
Predestination is not arbitrary, but determined by God’s foreknowledge. Foreknowledge precedes predestination.
The second instance of foreknowledge refers to the nation of Israel – not a person but a people.
“God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.” (Romans 11:2)
It is beyond our comprehension how God can know a person before he is born. How much more so an entire people group! God knew the history of Israel before it happened.
Israel is a “chosen” people. Part of that “chosen-ness” comes from the history of ancient Israel; part from the birth of Yeshua; and part from the mission of the early apostles. Yet there is another part of Israel’s chosen position: it has to do with things that have not yet happened. God already knows about events in Israel’s future that have not yet come to pass. On the basis of His foreknowledge of future events, God chose the people of Israel. He “foreknew” them.
Those events will be “much more” than all the previous events (Romans 11:12). There will be a revival as in the book of Acts, but much greater (Acts 2:17). There will be a miraculous military victory like those of ancient Israel, but much greater (Zechariah 14:2-5). There will be a kingdom like Solomon’s, but much greater (Micah 4:1-8). All believers in Yeshua can be “grafted in” to that destiny (Romans 11:17), become members of “Israel’s commonwealth” (Ephesians 2:12), and “partners” in the same promises (Ephesians 3:6).