The Bible verses below are far from exhaustive, and each should be interpreted according to its genre and context. But I am convinced that these verses—rightly interpreted—definitively establish God’s absolute sovereignty over all things. And since compatiblism is true, none of this contradicts the equally biblical teaching that Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and that human choices are genuine and significant.

God Is Sovereign Over . . .

Seemingly random things:

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:33)

The heart of the most powerful person in the land:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
he turns it wherever he will.
(Proverbs 21:1)

Our daily lives and plans:

A man’s steps are from the LORD;
how then can man understand his way?
(Proverbs 20:24)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21)

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. . . .  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
(James 4:13-15)

Salvation:

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
(Romans 9:15-16)

As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
(Acts 13:48)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(Romans 8:29-30)

Life and death:

See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
(Deuteronomy 32:39)

The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
(1 Samuel 12:6)

Disabilities:

Then the LORD said to [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”
(Exodus 4:11)

The death of God’s Son:

Jesus, [who was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
(Acts 2:23)

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
(Acts 4:27-28)

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief. . . .
(Isaiah 53:10)

Evil things:

Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?
(Amos 3:6)

I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
(Isaiah 45:7)

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. . . . “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
(Job 1:21-22; 2:10)

[God] sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. . . . As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
(Psalm 105:17; Genesis 50:21)

All things:

[God] works all things according to the counsel of his will.
(Ephesians 1:11)

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
(Psalm 115:3)

I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
(Job 42:2)

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
(Daniel 4:35)

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14 thoughts on “What Is God Sovereign Over?”

  1. David Biel says:

    This is a great short summary. I am going to copy it and memorize, as I find His Sovereignty to be a chief comfort in life and hope others find the same immutable comfort in this knowledge. Just yesterday I spent a good amount of time dwelling on man’s guilt in their sin even in light of a Sovereign God and I believe the Lord brought very comforting answers to these perplexities. Alas, I am not the one with the blog…

  2. Bill says:

    Justin, wonderful post!

    I think one of the beauties of the internet is that we can help each other too. I’ve got one that immediately came to mind as I was reading your list.

    Under the heading Disability: John 9. (Perhaps summarized in John 9:2-3)

    I look forward to other contributions. Perhaps we can make this an exhaustive list. :-)

  3. Matt says:

    Amen and amen. What a great God.

  4. henrybish says:

    Here are some more:

    Sovereignty over our understanding of scripture:

    Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…

    Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
    Mat 11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

    Sovereignty over sin and unbelief and repentance:

    John 12:37-38 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled

    John 12:39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
    John 12:40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

    Deut 2:30 But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day.

    Josh 11:20 For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses

    Ps 105:25 He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants

    2 Thess 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false

    1 Sam 2:25 But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death

    Act 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    Sovereignty over everything:

    Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    sovereign over lying prophets:

    Ezek 14:9 And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel

    sovereignty over genetic defects:

    Exodus 4:11. Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”

    sovereignty over man’s ways:

    Dan 5:23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven… but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. !!

    Jer 10:23 I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

    Pro 20:24 A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?

    Sovereignty over the decisions of a king:

    1Ki 12:15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD

    1Ki 2:15 You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD.

    and for good measure a couple chucked in for compatibilism:

    Luk 22:22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

    1Ki 14:10 therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone…
    1Ki 14:14 Moreover, the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today….
    1Ki 15:28 So Baasha killed him [and the rest of them] in the third year of Asa king of Judah and reigned in his place…

    and yet Baasha is held responsible:

    1Ki 16:7 Moreover, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it.

  5. Theologian says:

    For those that are interested Wayne Grudem has a helpful list of categories and the biblical support in his book “Sytematic Theology”.

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    Beautiful compilation of verses showing the sovereignty of God!

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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