Similar-sounding to the term election is the New Testament term granted. Are some individuals unconditionally granted repentance and saving faith, while others are not? A few scriptures on the surface seem to indicate this. We will explore them carefully and draw out their truest, purest meanings.
We begin by laying out the verses in question: Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2Timothy 2:25, Philippians 1:29.
Acts 5:31 (NASB, underline mine): He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 11:18 (NASB, underline mine): When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has also granted to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life."
2Timothy 2:25 (NASB, underline mine): with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.
Philippians 1:29 (NASB, underline mine): For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf.
The Granting of Repentance
In the first three verses--Acts 5:31, 11:18, and 2Timothy 2:25--we have the same Greek phrase translated into English as the granting of repentance. The Greek phrase is didomi metanoia. The first word, didomi, is a common word meaning "to give, grant, supply, or furnish". It is used in a wide variety of ways over 400 times in the New Testament. The second word, metanoia, is far more technical and breathtaking.
The Greek word metanoia is usually translated "repentance" in the New Testament. However, it has a demandingly precise technical definition filled with theological and spiritual meaning.
Metanoia is made up of two words, meta + noia. The first word, meta, is usually translated "with" or "among" or "after" in the New Testament. The second word, noia (noeo), means "to perceive, think" (from nous, "mind"). Put together, metanoia literally means "with thinking" or "after thinking" or "beyond thinking" or "additional thinking". In other words, metanoia is not normal thinking, it is some kind of thinking in addition to normal thinking. What does that sound like?
It sounds like revelation. It sounds like when God adds His thoughts "with" or "among" or "after" or "beyond" our thoughts.
Regarding Acts 5:31, 11:18, and 2Timothy 2:25 and God "granting repentance" to people, we now see that means He is granting His thoughts alongside and above those people's own thoughts. In the context of soteriology, those pre-salvation thoughts are of the reality of sin, the fear of judgment, the need for a Savior, the identity and authenticity of Jesus Christ, the impulse to confess, the hunger and thirst for righteousness, the interest in the Bible, and so on.
Metanoia in Acts 5:31, 11:18, & 2Timothy 2:25
God granting metanoia to Israel (Ac 5:31), or granting metanoia to the Gentiles (11:18), or potentially granting metanoia to Paul's ministry enemies (2Timothy 2:25), says absolutely nothing whatsoever about an unconditional selection for heaven or hell. Those who do not tediously study the Greek (metanoia in particular), or the actual wording in these verses, make the rookie error of rushing to a conclusion based on what these verses seem to be saying--that some individuals are unconditionally granted repentance (and therefore, salvation), while others are not.
Have you noticed all three verses refer to groups, not individuals? In Acts 5:31 and 11:18 Luke does not say only saved people were granted repentance, he says Israel as a whole and the Gentiles as a whole were granted repentance/God's convicting thoughts/metanoia. Because of the global outpouring of the Holy Spirit and global evangelism in the New Covenant, all humans were, are, and will have been granted God's thoughts on sin and salvation (Mt 24:14, Rev 14:6).
In 2Timothy 2:25, referring to ministry enemies, Paul says "perhaps God may grant them repentance" (NASB, underline mine). It is quite an error to think Paul was saying some individuals are unconditionally granted repentance, while others are not. He would be contradicting Luke's globally ubiquitous statements in Acts 5:31 and 11:18.
Rather, in using the word "perhaps", Paul left open the possibility that God may choose to withhold His convicting thoughts from them, and instead, give them over to a reprobate mind if they had rejected the gospel enough times. This "perhaps" possibility of reprobation was always on Paul's mind; he mentioned it to the Romans (Ro 1:24,26,28), to the Ephesians (Eph 4:19, "ceased to feel" YLT), and to Timothy (1Ti 4:2). If a person rejects the gospel enough times, whether Timothy's ministry enemies or someone in your own family, eventually God will stop granting them convicting, revelatory thoughts about sin and salvation and give them over permanently to lostness. In this sense there is always a "perhaps" hope God will grant metanoia to opponents we gently instruct in the gospel. However, that "perhaps" cuts both ways; He may be permanently finished granting metanoia to that person or group.
Metanoia and metanoeo (the verb form) are used a total of 58 times in the New Testament. Most of these uses are soteriological (concerning pre-salvation or in the salvation moment). There are a few verses, however, that use metanoia and metanoeo concerning those already born-again, or post-salvation. This is instructive and helpful. Even after we are in His family God keeps granting His thoughts alongside and above (meta) our own thoughts (noia). He keeps granting new thoughts, additional thoughts, higher thoughts, alternative thoughts, convicting thoughts, revelatory thoughts. He keeps granting repentance.
Why, then, do some Christians seem to not recognize God's thoughts in their mind? Maybe God is not even putting His thoughts in their mind? Both can be true, and there are reasons why. One reason is, they do not have a healthy, godly sorrow over their sin, idols, or spiritual laziness. Notice how Paul addressed this in 2Corinthians 7:9,10 (NKJV, underline mine): Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance [metanoia]. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance [metanoia] leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Paul says, godly sorrow over our sin, idols, or spiritual laziness leads to and produces metanoia, it leads to and produces God's granted thoughts into our mind. If we are comfortable, lukewarm, distracted, or outright rebellious about personal sin, idols, or spiritual laziness we will either not recognize His thoughts in our thoughts, or, He will withhold His thoughts altogether.
In Revelation 2:5,16,21,22, 3:3,19, Jesus Himself commands the different churches and individuals to repent or metanoeo. He is speaking to professing Christians. (Metanoeo is simply the verb form of metanoia.) When used as an imperative or command, metanoeo is ordering us to recognize, accept, and mind-change to God's already-granted thoughts. Many Christians are looking for God to reveal His thoughts on this or that subject when they have not recognized and accepted thoughts God has already granted on previous subjects. To him who hears and heeds more will be given; he who does not hear and heed even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him. Mark 4:23-25 (NKJV, underline mine): "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
If you want ongoing, ever-evolving levels of God's thoughts, then recognize, accept, and change your mind on God's already-granted thoughts, the ones you are minimizing, ignoring, or rejecting altogether.
Granted to Believe & Suffer
What about Philippians 1:29? In similar wording, Paul says it has been granted to the Philippians to believe and suffer. Does this mean some individuals are unconditionally chosen and granted to believe, while others are unconditionally not chosen and not granted to believe, and therefore go to hell? Here is the verse again (NASB, underline mine): For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf.
Context, Tenses, & Definitions
Paul is writing to a suffering Philippian church who, along with other Macedonian churches, were "in a severe test of affliction" (2Co 8:1,2 ESV). The context of Philippians 1:27-30 also mentions the opposition and tribulation they were facing. It is into this situation that Paul writes about gifts to believe and suffer.
Understand the grammatical tenses of the key words in this verse. First, the verb "has been" (or "is" in some translations) is in the aorist tense, meaning it should read more literally, "it was granted", as in Young's Literal Translation. Whatever was granted was granted at some time in the past. Additionally, the Greek for "granted" is charizomai, the verb form of grace gift or privilege. Paul does not use the common word for grant or give, didomi, the word used in Acts 5:31, 11:18, and 2Timothy 2:25. Whatever was granted was granted as an unusual special privilege, a gift, above and beyond a general granting.
Second, the verb "to believe" (pisteuo) is in the present active infinitive, meaning, a continual lifestyle of believing in the here and now and endlessly. Paul is not referring to saving faith at the salvation moment, but daily, ongoing, growing, active, overcoming confidence in the Lord. The verb "to suffer" (pascho) is also in the present active infinitive, meaning, continual or persistent suffering.
Putting It All Together
The context, tenses, and definitions tell us what Paul meant in Philippians 1:29. He is not referring to God having unconditionally granted saving faith to someone for individual salvation. Not at all. He is referring to God having granted the Philippians the spiritual grace gifts of faith and martyrdom (suffering) to persevere with Him in the midst of great affliction. These two spiritual gifts are listed in 1Corinthians 12:9 and 13:3. Paul said God charizomai or grace-gifted the Philippians with these two special abilities at some point in the past, probably at the salvation moment or shortly thereafter, for present active infinitive faith in the midst of present active infinitive suffering.
Summary & Conclusions
God grants additional, higher thoughts to a person's mind to illuminate and convince them regarding sin and salvation (pre-salvation). He grants additional, higher thoughts to our mind to illuminate and convince us regarding whatever is necessary for our ongoing development in Him (post-salvation). He occasionally grace-gifts the spiritual gifts of faith and martyrdom for those in severe tests of affliction.
See beloveds, when we do our spiritual homework humbly, honestly, responsibly, and fastidiously, we do not come to the disturbingly bizarre conclusion that God grants/handpicks some individuals for heaven and grants/handpicks some individuals for hell. We come to conclusions that make amazing sense in context, in tenses, in definitions, and in practical applications.