Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations"
Galatians 1:15 "But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me,"
The idea of God choosing someone makes more sense when you know this. The Bible talks about God knowing in 2 ways: 1) God knows all people and all things, (what is known as his omniscience) but it also talks about: 2) God “knowing” in a way that is synonymous with his choosing and possessing a people for himself.
Listen to some uses of "know" in the Bible and ask yourself what each means.
In Genesis 18:19 God says of Abraham, "I have known him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord." Virtually all the English versions translate this, "I have chosen him."
In Amos 3:2 God says to the people of Israel, "You only have I known among all the families of the earth." He knew about all the families, but only chose Israel.
In Matthew 7:23 Jesus said to the hypocrites at the judgment day, "I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." Of course he knew of them, but he didn’t know them.
In Hosea 13:5 God says to Israel, "I knew you in the wilderness, In the land of drought," meaning He took note of their situation and cared for them.
And Genesis 4:1 says, "Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain." Meaning he had intimate relationship of love with her.
So the meaning of the word foreknew in Romans 8:29 is that God elects his own people from the beginning, he chooses them and loves them and cares for them.
I know the thought of certain people being elected/ chosen, / or ‘specifically loved’ by God trips some people up. It makes them wonder why some are chosen and others are not. It can cause them to get angry with God, to think he is somehow unfair.
But let me ask you this, “Why do you feel the need to get God off the hook for something that he himself doesn’t feel the need to justify or explain to human beings? Why, as a human being, do you accuse God of not meeting your code of what is moral or just?” Some days I can’t even put my shirt on the right way you know. Why would I argue with God in how he chooses to do things?
Instead of arguing with the Bible, or running away from the language of foreknowledge, why don’t you try to lean into it, embrace it, and worship God through it. Allow God to be God and let Him make decisions about the fate of all men, and while doing so rejoice in the idea that as wretched, sinful, idolatrous and disobedient as you are - in spite of that, in fact, even foreseeing that - rejoice that God would chose you for salvation.
Acts 13:48 - "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing & glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed."