Acts 13:48, Belief, then Eternal Life
By W. T. Purkiser, Richard S. Taylor, Willard H. Taylor
At first reading, Acts 13:48 would seem a clear declaration of an exact correspondence between believing and foreordination to believe. When Paul turned from the Jews in Pisidian Antioch to the Gentiles, they greatly rejoiced; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." Though this is not protasso, foreordain, as in 17:26, the perfect tense, passive voice would seem to give it that sense. But R. J. Knowling acknowledges a body of scholarly opinion which takes the word as being in the middle voice, not passive, which would suggest, As many as had set themselves unto eternal life. This would fit the context perfectly and make excellent sense. Obviously the Jews had not properly set themselves to obtaining eternal life; rather by their willful rejection of the truth had judged themselves "unworthy of eternal life" (v. 46). But even if the word is to be taken in its strongest sense, there is no countenance here," Knowling observes, for the absolutum decretum of the Calvinists."*
*The Expositor's Greek Testament. 2:300. A. T. Robertson's comment is helpful (Word Pictures. 3,200): "The rejected the word of God. On the other side were those Gentiles who gladly accepted what the Jews had rejected the word of God. On the other side were those Gentiles who gladly accepted what the Jews had rejected, not all the Gentiles. 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 vexing 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." See also John Wesley, Notes, in loco.
The above is from God, Man, & Salvation, by W. T. Purkiser, Richard S. Taylor, Willard H. Taylor, copyright, 1977 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City. ISBN: 0-8341-0440-7.
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