III. Biblically Explaining Acts 13:48


I.               Introduction

A.    Many believers struggle to understand and/or to accept the teachings they hear or read about divine election.

B.    Actually, much error exists on the doctrine, so it needs to be explained in a brief but thorough, Biblical way.

C.    We thus offer a seven-lesson series on election, and in this third lesson, we Biblically explain Acts 13:48:

II.            Biblically Explaining Acts 13:48.

A.    Acts 13:48 KJV states that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed," a phrase Calvinists often use as a proof text to claim that God chose who would believe in Christ to be justified.  However, we before learned that this view makes faith logically unnecessary, what in turn conflicts with the inerrancy of the Bible.

B.    Thus, for the correct interpretation that aligns with the Bible's inerrancy, we Biblically explain Acts 13:48:

1.      The verb "were ordained" translates the Greek perfect participle tetagmenoi from the verb tasso, meaning "appoint, determine," and this participle is interpreted by all the major versions to be in the passive voice (U. B. S. Grk. N. T., 1966, p. 470; Arndt & Gingrich, A Grk.-Eng. Lex. of the N. T., 1967, p. 813)

2.      Yet, the perfect passive and perfect middle participles are spelled the same (J. G. Machan, N. T. Grk. for Beg., 1951, p. 186), and tetagmenoi in the middle voice makes the phrase read, "as many as marshaled themselves on the side of eternal life believed," R. B. Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles, 1901, p. 221.

3.      We must view the context to discern the voice of tetagmenoi, and the context supports the middle voice:

                         a.  Some people were so interested in Paul's preaching the first Sabbath that they caused nearly the whole town to show up to hear him the next Sabbath. (Acts 13:39-44) Many of them then "marshalled themselves" on the side of eternal life, what easily supports interpreting tetagmentoi in the middle voice.

                         b.  Also, Acts 13:48 begins Luke's contrast of the Jews' rejection of the Gospel with the Gentiles' reception of it (Ryrie St. Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to Acts 13:48).  Thus, Paul's use of apotheo ("reject") in the middle voice shows the Jews' rejection of the truth and strepho ("turn") in the middle voice describes Paul and Barnabas turning from rejecting Jews to receptive Gentiles, Acts 13:46. (Ibid., U. B. S. Grk. N. T.; Ibid., The An. Grk. Lex., p. 49, 470, 378, 110) Tetagmenoi is then best interpreted in the middle voice to depict the Gentiles' reception of the truth in contrast to the Jews' rejection (apotheo in the middle voice) of it!

                         c.  In addition, the key term "eternal life" in Acts 13:46 and 48 appears only in these two verses in all of Acts. (Moult. & Geden, A Conc. to the Grk. Test., 1974, p. 422-423) If Acts 13:48 starts to contrast Jewish and Gentile responses to the Gospel and tetagmenoi is linked to one "eternal life" term, tetagmenoi as used of those who accept the Gospel is best interpreted in the middle voice to parallel the middle voice of apotheo that shows the Jews' rejection of the truth and which verb is also linked to the other "eternal life" term.

                         d.  Besides, Paul's use of apotheo and strepho in Acts 13:46 borrows from Stephen's pivotal Acts 7 sermon (Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 369), what supports the middle voice for tetagmenoi: Paul claimed the Jews rejected (apotheo) the Gospel like Stephen told of Israel's rejection (apotheo) of Moses (Acts 7:27, 39), so Paul turned (strepho) from the Jews to the Gentiles like Stephen said God turned (strepho) from Israel's faithless generation in the wilderness. (Acts 7:42; Ibid., U. B. S. Grk. N. T., p. 470, 441-443) Since Paul used the middle voice for both apotheo and strepho in Acts 13:46, in view of Luke's contrast in Gospel responses, tetagmenoi in Acts 13:48 is best interpreted to be in the middle voice to stress the Gentiles' acceptance of the Gospel in contrast to Stephen's stress of Israel's rejection of Moses the man of God!

4.      Conversely, to view tetagmenoi in the passive voice in Acts 13:48 strains against the context: The phrase "as many as" in Acts 13:48 KJV translates the correlative pronoun hosoi, meaning "all who." (Ibid. U.  B. S. Grk. N. T., p. 470; Blass-Deb., A Grk. Gram. of the N. T., 1973, p. 159) Hosoi with tetagmenoi in the passive voice makes Luke claim that all who were present in that multi-racial, multi-gendered crowd who believed that day would EVER do so since only they were ordained to do so!  That would mention a level of predestination not described elsewhere either in the immediate context or in all of Scripture, but yet do so briefly with no explanation!  That would counter Luke's aim: Luke 1:1-4 with Acts 1:1-2 shows he meant to give his reader "certainty" about what the reader had heard of the faith, but tetagmenoi in the passive voice in Acts 13:48 would only arouse unsettling questions in Luke's reader about predestination! 


Lesson: The Acts 13:48 perfect participle "tetagmenoi" is in the middle voice, not in the passive voice. 


Application: May we view Acts 13:48 as teaching that motivated people simply believed in Christ for eternal life.