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.”
και επιστευσαν οσοι ησαν τεταγμενοι εις ζωην αιωνιον
The words "were ordained" are in the passive voice. This means that the people who ended up believing did NOT do this action themselves. Rather, Someone else did it TO them, and this Someone was God. The action of "were ordained" PRECEDED their believing the gospel. That is what the TEXT says.
The words "were ordained" is from two Greek words. One is the imperfect word ησαν (essay) meaning "were" and the other is the perfect passive participle τεταγμενοι (tetagmenoi) of tasso and it is only used 8 times in the N.T. In Acts 13:48 it is a perfect passive participle of the verb tasso.
I have two lexicons, Perschbacher and Wigrams, and they both list the verb tasso here as being a passive. There is nothing there about a “middle”. Both lexicons list it as being a nominative, plural, masculine perfect passive participle.
Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
“As many as were ordained to eternal life (οσοι ησαν τεταγμενοι εις ζωην αιωνιον Periphrastic past perfect PASSIVE indicative of τασσω”
Sometimes it is active - meaning the people themselves are doing the action. And sometimes it is passive - meaning that somebody else did the action TO somebody else.
It is used in Matthew 28:16 in the active voice - "the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus HAD APPOINTED them."
It is used in the passive voice in Luke 7:8 "I am a man SET under authority"
It is used in Acts 13:48 in the passive voice - "as many as WERE ORDAINED to eternal life believed."
It is used again in Acts 22:10 in the passive voice where the Lord Jesus speaks directly to the newly converted apostle Paul and tells him -: Arise, and go to Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which ARE APPOINTED for thee to do."
It is used in Acts 28:23 in the active voice where it says: "And when they HAD APPOINTED him a day, there came many to him in his lodging..."
And it is used in Romans 13:1 in the passive voice where it speaks of governments and says: "the powers that be ARE ORDAINED of God."
Acts 13:48 clearly says: ""and AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED."
Those who believed the preaching of Paul and the gospel were a specific number out of the multitude that heard and the Book tells us that this specific number of people who "were ordained to eternal life believed."
Somebody else "ordained" or "appointed" them to eternal life PREVIOUS to their believing. That is what the Book clearly says.
Not only does the King James Bible read this way, but so too do the following Bible translations -
Wycliffe 1395 - and bileueden, as manye as weren bifore ordeyned to euerlastinge lijf.
Tyndale 1524 - eve as many as were ordeyned vnto eternall lyfe.
The Great Bible 1540 - & beleued: euen as many as were ordeyned vnto eternal lyfe.
Matthew’s Bible 1549 - and beleued euen as many as were ordeyned vnto eternal lyfe.
The Bishops’ Bible 1568 - and as many as were ordayned to eternall lyfe, beleued
The Geneva Bible 1587 - and as many as were ordeined vnto eternall life, beleeued.
Beza’s New Testament 1599 - and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Douay-Rheims Bible 1610 - and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Catholic New Jerusalem bible 1985 - all who were destined for eternal life believed.
John Wesley’s New Testament 1755 (hardly a Calvinist) - and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Darby 1890 - and believed, as many as were ordained to eternal life.
Lamsa’s 1933 translation of the Syraic Peshitta - and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
The NKJV 1982 - And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
NIV 2011 - and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
NASB 1995 - and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
ESV 2011 - and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
NET 2006 - and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed.
Holman Standard 2009 - and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.
International Standard Version 2014 - Meanwhile, all who had been destined to eternal life believed
Bounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament 2011 - and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Lexham English Bible 2012 - And all those who were designated for eternal life believed.
The New European Version 2010 - and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Modern English Version 2014 - And all who were ordained to eternal life believed.
The New Living Translation 2015 - and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.
Foreign Language Bibles
Latin Vulgate 405 A.D. - et crediderunt, quotquot erant praeordinati ad vitam aeternam
The Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569 - y creyeron todos los que estaban ordenados para vida eterna. = KJB
Spanish Reina Valera Contemporánea 2011 - y todos los que estaban destinados a recibir la vida eterna creyeron. = “all who were destined to eternal life believed.”
French Martin Bible 1744 - et tous ceux qui étaient destinés à la vie éternelle, crurent. = KJB
French Ostervald 1996 and Louis Segond 2007 - et tous ceux qui étaient destinés à la vie éternelle, crurent. = “all who were destined to eternal life believed”
Italian Diodato 1649 - e tutti coloro ch’erano ordinati a vita eterna credettero. “all who were ordained to eternal life believed”
La Nuova Diodati 1991 - e tutti coloro che erano preordinati alla vita eterna credettero.- “preordained to eternal life believed”
Portuguese Almeida Bible - e creram todos quantos haviam sido destinados para a vida eterna. = “all who had been destined for eternal life believed.”
Portuguese O Livro 2000 - e creram todos os que Deus destinou para a vida eterna. = “and believed all those that God destined for eternal life.”
Expositors Greek New Testament - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown
And as many as were ordained [ tetagmenoi or 'appointed,'] to eternal life believed. A very remarkable statement, which cannot, without force, be interpreted of anything lower than this - that a divine ordination to eternal life is the cause, not the effect, of any man's believing. Grotius (and after him many others, as Humphry) plead ingeniously for a middle sense of the verb, and translate thus: 'As many as disposed (or 'addicted') themselves to eternal life'-
But this, besides having very much of a strained appearance, is vapid, and almost tautological. In favour of the King James Version are such critics as Bengel, Olshausen, Meyer, DeWette, Winer, Alford, Hackett, Webster and Wilkinson. 'In the words, "as many as were ordained to eternal life," we must reckon (says Olshausen, himself a Lutheran) the idea which pervades the whole Scriptures of a predestination of saints. The attempts which have been, made to evade it are in the highest degree forced.’”
These words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ are either absolutely true, or he was lying to us. What do you think?
“ALL that the Father giveth me SHALL COME TO ME; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)
“For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; EVEN SO THE SON QUICKENETH WHOM HE WILL.” (John 5:21)
“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM.” (John 17:2)
If someone whom the Father HAS GIVEN to the Son, and whom the Son WILLS TO QUICKEN, and is among the ALL that the Father gives to the Son who WILL COME, is in any way capable of “rejecting the offer” or “does not accept” or “will not come”, then there are only two possibilities.
The person who refuses to believe and does not “accept” was NOT among those whom the Father HAD GIVEN to the Son to give eternal life to, and they were not among those the Son WILLED TO QUICKEN, nor among the ALL that the Father gives to the Son who WILL COME, but instead were NOT chosen by God and NOT among those whom Christ died for.
OR… Jesus Christ flat out LIED TO US when he said these things.
If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are one of those whom the Father chose in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:3-6) He drew you to himself (John 6:44), called you by name (John 10:3), worked in you "both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13) and gave you both repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25) and the faith to believe in him as your Saviour from sin. (Romans 12:3; Philippians 1:29; Hebrews 12:2; Ephesians 2:8)
And all this was “NOT of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:16)
Who are you going to believe? God or what some "pastor" may have told you?
Acts 13:48 - The Commentators
The "free willers" will go to any ridiculous length to try to wiggle out of what the verses is clearly saying. So you will find the commentators are divided, as it usually the case.
Those who desperately want to get rid of any notion of that dreaded "Calvinism" go through all kinds of mental gymnastics, usually CHANGING the translation of virtually every bible in history, to try to tell us it doesn't mean what it says.
John Trapp’s Complete Commentary - English Puritan on Acts 13:48
“As many as were ordained, &c.] Election therefore is the fountain, whence faith floweth; men are not elected of faith foreseen, and because they believe, as the Arminians would have it.”
Matthew Poole on Acts 13:48
As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed; God, who ordered the end, ordereth the means, and gives them opportunities to hear the word, and by it graciously worketh faith in them whom he hath appointed to eternal life; without which faith, purging the heart, there is no hope of life eternal.
The Geneva Bible Study Notes -
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were t ordained to eternal life believed.
(t) Therefore either all were not appointed to everlasting life, or either all believed, but because all did not believe, it follows that certain ones were ordained: and therefore God did not only foreknow, but also foreordained, that neither faith nor the effects of faith should be the cause of his ordaining, or appointment, but his ordaining the cause of faith.
John Gill on Acts 13:48 -
“and as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed; faith is not the cause, or condition of the decree of eternal life, but a means fixed in it, and is a fruit and effect of it, and what certainly follows upon it, as in these persons: some would have the words rendered, "as many as were disposed unto eternal life believed"; which is not countenanced by the ancient versions. …it follows then, that their faith did not arise from previous dispositions to eternal life, but was the fruit and effect of divine ordination unto it; and the word here used, in various places in this book, signifies determination and appointment, and not disposition of mind…it designs no other than predestination or election, which is God's act, and is an eternal one; is sovereign, irrespective, and unconditional; relates to particular persons, and is sure and certain in its effect: it is an ordination, not to an office, nor to the means of grace, but to grace and glory itself; to a life of grace which is eternal, and to a life of glory which is for ever; and which is a pure gift of God, is in the hands of Christ”
John Calvin on Acts 13:48 -
“And we need not doubt but that Luke calleth those τεταγμενους, who were chosen by the free adoption of God. For it is a ridiculous cavil to refer this unto the affection of those which believed, as if those received the gospel whose minds were well-disposed. For this ordaining must be understood of the eternal counsel of God alone. Neither doth Luke say that they were ordained unto faith, but unto life; because the Lord doth predestinate his unto the inheritance of eternal life. And this place teacheth that faith dependeth upon God’s election. And assuredly, seeing that the whole race of mankind is blind and stubborn, those diseases stick fast in our nature until they be redressed by the grace of the Spirit, and that redressing floweth from the fountain of election alone. For in that of two which hear the same doctrine together, the one showeth himself apt to be taught, the other continueth in his obstinacy. It is not, therefore, because they differ by nature, but because God doth lighten [illumine] the former, and doth not vouchsafe the other the like grace.”
ALL of grace, believing the Book - the King James Bible,
If interested in seeing more about the doctrines of God’s sovereign electing grace unto salvation see -
Did You Choose God or Did He Choose You?
Why do some believe the gospel and others do not?