Chosen to Eternal Life? [Acts 13:48]

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by OldRegular, Jul 17, 2012.

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  1. OldRegular

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    Acts 13:48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

    Some on this forum insist that election is the decision of man and God rubber stamps man’s choice! The above Scripture demonstrates that this doctrine is completely false. It is God who ordains or appoints individuals to eternal life.
     
  2. InTheLight

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    Name one person on BB that insists election is a decision of man. Please provide a link to the post where this person states this.

    Thank you.
     
  3. OldRegular

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    There are a number on this Board of Arminian persuasion who claim that God, in His omniscience looks down through time, sees those who of their own free will believe, and God then elects them. Just a longer version of my statement in the OP!:smilewinkgrin:
     
  4. Winman

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    I agree completely. What I disagree with you about is what was ordained. If you look at the whole passage, what was ordained is explained.

    Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
    47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
    48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

    Paul first preached to the Jews, but they refused to believe. Paul tells them therefore that they will turn to the Gentiles, for the Lord had commanded him to be a light to the Gentiles that he should bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

    This is what was ordained, that Paul would go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel. This verse is simply saying these persons (the Gentiles) who were ordained to eternal life believed. These Gentiles were not excepted or excluded from salvation, it was ordained that they would obtain eternal life just as the Jews would.

    It is not saying that God ordained they would believe, although that is absolutely true in a sense. It was ordained they would believe in that it was ordained that the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit would go out to the Gentiles that they might be enabled to believe. No man can believe in Jesus Christ unless he has heard of Jesus, and no man can hear without a preacher (Rom 10:14).

    But God does not determine who will believe and who will not. The Jews that first heard Paul could have believed, but they refused. These Gentiles did not refuse and believed.
     
    #4 Winman, Jul 17, 2012
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  5. OldRegular

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    That is correct. Those so chosen believed. Please note: They were ordained to eternal life, then they believed! God chose these to Salvation, eternal life, before the foundation of the world.
     
  6. webdog

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    For someone so quick to call me a liar all the time...name one.
     
  7. OldRegular

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    God ordained them to eternal life! Are you saying that they would have eternal life even if they do not believe?
     
  8. InTheLight

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    Well, if there's a number of them on BB, name three of them.
     
  9. Winman

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    What? How did you get this wild idea out of what I wrote?

    I explained how I understand this passage. What was ordained is that the gospel would go out to the Gentiles. This verse is simply saying those who were ordained to eternal life believed.

    If God had not ordained eternal life to the Gentiles, then the gospel would not have gone out to them and they could not possibly have believed.

    Do you understand what I am saying now?

    But I was in no way saying anyone has eternal life without believing on Jesus, I don't know where you got that.
     
  10. OldRegular

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    My emphasis!

    You agree that God ordained some to Eternal Life. How did He ordain them to Eternal Life unless He determined they would believe.
     
  11. quantumfaith

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    Adam Clarke on Acts 13:48

    As many as were ordained to eternal life believed - This text has been most pitifully misunderstood. Many suppose that it simply means that those in that assembly who were fore-ordained; or predestinated by God's decree, to eternal life, believed under the influence of that decree. Now, we should be careful to examine what a word means, before we attempt to fix its meaning. Whatever τεταγμενοι may mean, which is the word we translate ordained, it is neither προτεταγμενοι nor προορισμενοι which the apostle uses, but simply τεταγμενοι, which includes no idea of pre-ordination or pre-destination of any kind. And if it even did, it would be rather hazardous to say that all those who believed at this time were such as actually persevered unto the end, and were saved unto eternal life. But, leaving all these precarious matters, what does the word τεταγμενος mean? The verb ταττω or τασσω signifies to place, set, order, appoint, dispose; hence it has been considered here as implying the disposition or readiness of mind of several persons in the congregation, such as the religious proselytes mentioned Act 13:43, who possessed the reverse of the disposition of those Jews who spake against those things, contradicting and blaspheming, Act 13:45. Though the word in this place has been variously translated, yet, of all the meanings ever put on it, none agrees worse with its nature and known signification than that which represents it as intending those who were predestinated to eternal life: this is no meaning of the term, and should never be applied to it. Let us, without prejudice, consider the scope of the place: the Jews contradicted and blasphemed; the religious proselytes heard attentively, and received the word of life: the one party were utterly indisposed, through their own stubbornness, to receive the Gospel; the others, destitute of prejudice and prepossession, were glad to hear that, in the order of God, the Gentiles were included in the covenant of salvation through Christ Jesus; they, therefore, in this good state and order of mind, believed. Those who seek for the plain meaning of the word will find it here: those who wish to make out a sense, not from the Greek word, its use among the best Greek writers, and the obvious sense of the evangelist, but from their own creed, may continue to puzzle themselves and others; kindle their own fire, compass themselves with sparks, and walk in the light of their own fire, and of the sparks which they have kindled; and, in consequence, lie down in sorrow, having bidden adieu to the true meaning of a passage so very simple, taken in its connection, that one must wonder how it ever came to be misunderstood and misapplied. Those who wish to see more on this verse may consult Hammond, Whitby, Schoettgen, Rosenmuller, Pearce, Sir Norton Knatchbull, and Dodd.
     
  12. Winman

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    I think you understand quite well what I am saying. Paul told the Jews because they refused to listen that he (and those with him) would go to the Gentiles. Then Paul explains he was sent to be a light to the Gentiles to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. THIS is what was ordained, that Paul would preach the gospel to the Gentiles, that he would be a light to salvation to the ends of the world.

    Verse 48 simply says as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The many who were ordained to eternal life are those who would hear the gospel from Paul (and those with him) and believe.

    Now, I believe the phrase "as many" implies God's foreknowledge of those Gentiles who would believe. Not all Gentiles believed, but God foreknew who would, and these persons were ordained unto eternal life.

    But what this verse is not saying is that God DETERMINED who would believe and who would not. All men must choose to believe of their own free will.
     
  13. quantumfaith

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    Jack Cottrell on Acts 13:48


    QUESTION: Dr. Cottrell, can you explain the meaning of Acts 13:48? It sounds very much like Calvinism to me.

    ANSWER: This text summarizes the response of the Gentiles to the powerful preaching of the Apostle Paul at Antioch of Pisidia: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (ESV).

    As usually translated, it is very true that this passage supports the key Calvinist doctrine of unconditional predestination (the “U” in TULIP). This is the idea that in his eternal pre-creation counsels and plans, God surveyed all the human beings whom he would ultimately bring into existence, all of whom as a result of Adam’s sin would become guilty of sin and condemned to hell. By God’s decree this universal sinfulness would also involve universal total depravity, including the loss of all free-will ability to turn toward God for salvation. The only way anyone could ever be saved was if God worked some basic supernatural change within the human heart that would not only make faith possible but would also actually implant that faith within the heart as an irresistible and irrevocable gift. (This last point is the Calvinist notion of irresistible grace—the “I” in TULIP).

    Thus as Calvinists see it, God in his eternal counsels surveyed all these future helpless sinners and determined to save some of them; and he also determined precisely which ones he would save and which ones he would allow to remain in their sin and be condemned to eternity in hell. Why he decided to choose (elect) these specific sinners and not the others is not known to us. The fact is that he unconditionally chose some, and appointed or predestined them to become believers and thus inherit eternal life.

    We can see how the usual translations of Acts 13:48 support this Calvinist view: only those appointed (ESV, NIV, NASB, NKJV) or destined (NRSV) or pre-destined (Weymouth) or ordained (KJV, ASV) or chosen (TEV) for eternal life actually became believers.

    The question is this: how can this be reconciled with the Arminian (non-Calvinist) view? The key lies in the form of the main Greek verb, tassō. The basic meaning of this verb is “to place, to order, to appoint, to ordain, to determine, to arrange in order.” As it appears in this text, the verb form is the participle tetagmenoi. It is simply assumed that this is the PASSIVE form of the verb, thus: “to be appointed, to be ordained, to be destined.” What is often forgotten is that in the Greek language, often the passive and the middle form of verbs are spelled exactly the same way. That is the case here. The word tetagmenoi can also be the MIDDLE form of the verb. Here is the main point: that is how it should be understood in Acts 13:48.

    What does this verse mean, then? The middle voice of a verb in Greek is sometimes used in a reflexive sense. The idea is that the action of the verb is something performed by the subject (not by someone else upon the subject), but in such a way that the action is directed back toward the subject or the self. Understanding that the verb means “to place, to set, to arrange in a certain order or position,” we can see that the statement in 13:48 can quite validly be taken thus: “As many as arranged themselves unto (eis) eternal life believed,” or “As many as turned themselves toward eternal life believed,” or “As many as disposed themselves toward eternal life believed.”

    Why should we accept this approach to the verb—i.e., as middle voice rather than passive? For two reasons. First, it agrees with the general overall teaching of Scripture, that turning toward God is a matter of free will and personal responsibility, not something unconditionally and irresistibly caused by God.

    Second, this agrees with the context, where the Jews’ response to the gospel is being contrasted with that of the Gentiles. In Acts 13:13-41 Paul preached a powerful Sabbath sermon in the Jews’ synagogue at Antioch. Many of the Jews were so impressed that they asked for an encore the next Sabbath (vv. 42-43). Then on “the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord” (v. 44). This crowd obviously included many Gentiles, because “when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him” (v. 45). This provoked Paul and Barnabas to speak this judgment upon the Jews: “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (v. 46). This verse is important because it shows that the exclusion of the Jews from the ranks of the saved was their own choice, not the result of some predestining activity of God. The Jews specifically judged themselves unworthy of eternal life.

    This is exactly the opposite of the Gentiles’ reaction, especially when Paul and Barnabas applied Isaiah 49:6 to themselves: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (v. 47). Verse 48 then describes the reaction of the Gentiles to this preaching. It was in fact just the opposite of the Jews’ reaction: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord.” Then follow the crucial words: and as many as set themselves toward eternal life believed. How did they set themselves toward eternal life? By hearing and heeding the word of God (see Rom. 10:17).

    We cannot ignore the symmetrical contrast between the reaction of the Jews in v. 46 and the reaction of the Gentiles in v. 48. Whereas the Jews rejected the gospel and judged themselves to be unworthy of eternal life (v. 46), the Gentiles received it gladly and embraced the message of eternal life (v. 48). In both cases the decision was a matter of free choice. There is no support for Calvinism in v. 48.

    Dr. Cottrell posted this nice piece of exegesis on his Facebook page on 12/23/11 and gave permission for its publication on the SEA site. He can be reached at [email protected]

    Dr. Cottrell is a professor of Biblical Theology at Cincinnati Christian University. He has earned degrees from University of Cincinnati (B.A. - philosophy), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Princeton Theological Seminary (Ph.D).
     
  14. OldRegular

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    I like my understanding better than Cottrell or Clarke but I raise your Cottrell and Clarke with Gill and Spurgeon!:smilewinkgrin:

    But I must say that Cottrell is good at semantic engineering!
     
  15. Yeshua1

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    there are MANY here who based the election of god upon human response to God offer to be saved in Christ, that God is waiting upon us to"freely respond", NOT that the basis is due to God chosing us by His sovereign Will...
     
  16. OldRegular

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    Thanks much!:thumbs::thumbs:
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    you deny than that sinners cannot freely decide for jesus unles/until god allows them to do such by Act of Grace he decides to grant towards us?
     
  18. The Archangel

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    I'm not going to quote the entire posts. Here are links and my summary of the arguments presented:

    Clark argues the root, τασσω, conveys no inherent meaning of pre-ordination or pre-destination.

    Of course, Clark misses that the participle is passive (an argument Cottrell engages). The passive means that one cannot appoint one's self because, by definition, the subject of the passive verb or participle cannot act upon himself or herself.

    Cottrell argues that the participle is to be understood as a middle, not a passive.

    Now, quantumfaith, I know you like these resources because they bolster your position. However, unless something has changed in your ability to read and evaluate the Greek for yourself, you simply have to take Clarke's and Cottrell's word without being able to adjudicate if they are, in fact, wrong or right.

    Both Cottrell and Clarke make the same basic mistake: They take the word τασσω out of its immediate context.

    Here is the phrase with a wooden translation:
    καὶ (and) ἐπίστευσαν (they believed) ὅσοι (as many as) ἦσαν (were [imperfect]) τεταγμένοι (appointed [perfect passive participle]) εἰς (to) ζωὴν (life) αἰώνιον (eternal).

    There are many things to point out in this phrase:

    1. The participle τεταγμένοι must be taken as a passive, not a middle.

    Why? First off, the participle τεταγμένοι is followed by a preposition, here the preposition εἰς. εἰς indicates that the participle is passive, not middle. Secondly, τεταγμένοι is followed by an accusative, indicating that the participle must be read as a passive. Third, the inclusion of a "helping verb" (were), which is imperfect, indicates an action was done to someone--he or she was not acting upon himself or herself.

    2. The perfect participle logically dis-allows a middle understanding

    Why? Because the perfect's time-frame tells us that an action happened in the past and it has a lasting effect into the present. If this were taken as a middle, the text would be saying that there were a group of gentiles who, in the past, appointed themselves to eternal life and are now realizing the fulfillment of their past action. This is, of course, ludicrous since no gospel had been preached to these Gentiles before.

    So, if you couple the grammatical clues, it is easy to see that Cottrell's exegesis is not correct. Secondly, there is no sound logical argument that can be made for one to appoint himself or herself to believe in something of which they have never heard.

    Also, see these quotes from those who are recognized Greek scholars:

    A.T. Robertson:
    By no manner of legerdemain can it be made to mean “those who believe were appointed.” It was saving faith that was exercised only by those who were appointed unto eternal life, who were ranged on the side of eternal life, who were thus revealed as the subjects of God’s grace by the stand that they took on this day for the Lord. It was a great day for the kingdom of God.

    A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Ac 13:48.
    Robertson's quote is made all the more significant by his earlier statement:
    Why these Gentiles here ranged themselves on God’s side as opposed to the Jews Luke does not tell us. This verse does not solve the vexed problem of divine sovereignty and human free agency. There is no evidence that Luke had in mind an absolutum decretum of personal salvation. Paul had shown that God’s plan extended to and included Gentiles. Certainly the Spirit of God does move upon the human heart to which some respond, as here, while others push him away.

    Ibid.
    Robertson does not, insofar as I can read, affirm Calvinism. However, he pretty much does away with the arguments of Clarke and Cottrell.

    Newman and Nida:
    Those who had been chosen for eternal life is a phrase which occurs frequently in rabbinic literature. The meaning is clearly that those whom God had chosen became believers, and the translator must not attempt to weaken this meaning.
    Chosen for eternal life may thus be rendered as “whom God had selected in order that they would have eternal life.”

    Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1972), 269-70.
    John Polhill:
    The Gentiles of Pisidian Antioch were those who accepted Paul’s message, honoring (glorifying) the word of the Lord (v. 48). Perhaps it was the specific “word” of Isa 49:6 they praised, with its good news that the light of Christ and his salvation extended to Gentiles such as they. Many of them believed, accepting Christ as Savior. They were those who were “appointed for eternal life.” In this phrase we encounter the same balance between human volition and divine providence that is found throughout Acts. On their part these Gentiles took an active role in believing, in committing themselves to Christ; but it was in response to God’s Spirit moving in them, convicting them, appointing them for life. All salvation is ultimately only by the grace of God.

    John B. Polhill, vol. 26, Acts, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 308.
    Thomas Page:
    ὅσοι ἦσαν τεταγμένοι …] ‘as many as were ordained’ A. and R. V. The word τεταγμένοι is distinctly passive,=‘placed in a certain position’ or ‘order’. To the Jews, who of their own choice rejected God’s word, are opposed the Gentiles who believed; but, as the term τὰ ἔθνη was too wide, the historian adds a correcting and limiting phrase, ‘such of them, that is, as had been appointed’, ‘marshalled’ ‘placed in the ranks of those who were on the road toward (εἰς) eternal life’.
    Luke is simply recording a fact; he describes certain Gentiles as τεταγμένοι εἰς ζ. αἰ.; he uses a participle passive to describe their position, but there is no shadow of an indication that the question of ‘predestination’ was before his mind. He could not have used simpler language. Certain men were in a certain position: he states that they were in that position, but by whom placed there, or why, or how, he does not say

    Thomas Ethelbert Page, The Acts of the Apostles, Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1897), 169.
    It simply is a passive participle. Those who come to eternal life do so of their own free will--but it is because of God's prior action.

    The Archangel
     
  19. AresMan

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    "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

    Do you believe ALL the Gentiles actually believed? It says that the same count of individuals who were ordained were the same count who believed.
    Were Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 60:3; and Luke 2:32 all referencing only the whole of the Gentiles present in Acts 13:48? If not, how do you deal with "As many as... believed"?

    I would propose that, embedded in the prophecies, were hidden the promise of the election of those specific Gentiles throughout time to believe and be saved by the Gospel.
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    Let me jump in here and say thank you to all of you who have participated in this thread. This is a great example of how debate should be done. I have learned from it.

    Thanks, to all.
     
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