Unconditional Election (Six)

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It is written:

“Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

Calvinists maintain that this passage teaches that God indiscriminately predestined some of these individuals to be saved, and the others to be dammed. They argue this from the use of the word “appointed” (“ordained” KJV) in the passage.

What shall we say to this?

First, the word “appointed” in the Greek is tasso. It can have several different translations, depending on context. Notice, for example, Hunt’s remarks about the passage:

“A number of paraphrases, however, give a decidedly non-Calvinistic rendering. The Living Bible puts it, “…as many as wanted eternal life, believed.” Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible says, “as many as had become disposed for life age-abiding….” The Nazarene Translation 2000 by Mark Heber Miller has, “…all those who believed were disposed to ageless Life.” Whatever the differing opinions of translators and commentators, this one verse cannot undo what hundreds of others establish. The Calvinist, to support his beliefs, assumes that tetagmenoi must mean “predestined to salvation.” Yet that is clearly not the meaning in any of the seven other usages of tasso in the New Testament. If that were the intent, why was tasso used and not prooridzo (predestinated)? In fact, Adam Clarke declares rather dogmatically, “Whatever tetagmenoi may mean, which is the word we translate ordained, it includes no idea of preordination or predestination of any kind…. [O]f 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.”6 Nor does the context support the Calvinist rendering, as numerous commentaries declare. McGarvey comments that “the context has no allusion to anything like an appointment of one part, and a rejection of the other, but the writer draws a line of distinction between the conduct of certain Gentiles and that of the Jews addressed by Paul…. Luke says, many of the Gentiles ‘were determined’ for everlasting life. It is an act of the mind to which Paul objects on the part of the Jews, and it is as clearly an act of mind in the Gentiles which Luke puts in contrast with it….”7 Several authorities trace the KJV’s “ordained” to the corrupt Latin Vulgate, which, as T. E. Page points out, “has praeordinati, unfairly…”8 Cook’s Commentary reads, “The A.V. [KJV] has followed the Vulgate. Rather, [it should read] were…disposed for eternal life, as in…Josephus….”9 Likewise Dean Alford translated it, “as many as were disposed to eternal life believed.”10 The Expositor’s Greek Testament says, “There is no countenance here for the absolutum decretum of the Calvinists.”11 A. T. Robertson likewise says: “The word ordain is not the best translation here. ‘Appointed,’ as Hacket shows, is better…. There is no evidence that Luke had in mind an absolutum decretum…of personal salvation.”12”. (Dave Hunt, What Love Is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation Of God, 6912-6945 (Kindle Edition); Bend, Oregon; The Berean Call).

The point being made is that several translators understand that this particular word can have several meanings, depending on context. This is especially clear when we understand that the word itself is in the middle voice, which means that they had “appointed themselves” to eternal life. This is demonstrated especially by the contrast in the passage. Notice that in Acts 13:46, the Jews in context had decided and declared that they were unworthy of eternal life, by actively rejecting the Word of God. This contrast is important in helping us to understand what happens here in verse 48.

“Calvinists fantasize that this provides some support for their doctrine of predestination. Nothing could be further from the truth. The term ‘ordained’ means to arrange or to set in order, to ‘determine.’ “Here the word may be either a passive form, ‘were ordained,’ or a middle form, ‘determined themselves’ (Lenski). The context indicates that the latter is the case, because these Gentiles are set in contrast to the Jews who thrust from themselves the message of salvation. Hence, the sense of the passage is this: ‘Those who believed were those who had determined for themselves that they had been offered and would accept God’s gift of eternal life.” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary, 228; Stockton, CA; Christian Courier Publications)

Second, even if we were to accept the translation of “appointed” or “ordained,” that wold not help the Calvinist claim at all. We need only ask ourselves, “Who has God appointed for eternal life?” Very simply, the passage shows that God has appointed that everyone who accepts and obeys His Word will be saved!

My friends, the doctrine of unconditional election is not from the Word of God.

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