I’m certainly not qualified to comment on aspects of scripture when one delves into the Greek or Hebrew. By necessity, I have to trust those who have studied the languages, history and culture. I welcome debate and don’t mind being challenged on things I believe. But perhaps I’m becoming calloused – or possibly even jaded when I see a Calvinist posit something (in this case, the meme above) about their doctrines – particularly as to unconditional election.
I have no doubt that the five-point Calvinist extraordinaire, Mrs. Robinson, stridently believes that Acts 13:48 is a standard-bearer verse in support of unconditional election. But it should be noted at this time in Paul’s ministry, the Jews had become hardened as to, well, matters of faith. The Jews wished to continue as per the law. The Gentiles, on the other hand, were certainly more receptive to eternal life through faith. No one could rightly describe God-fearing Gentiles as totally disabled, hardened or God haters in need of some sort of supernatural grace to effectuate faith. Rather, they already had faith in God. Or at least many of them did. As was, the Gentiles simply did not as yet know about the Messiah. Cornelius is a good example of a devout and God-fearing Gentile (Acts 10:2). And this isn’t something emanating from the foundation of the world. Rather, Cornelius is told by the angel, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”
Notice that the text of Acts 13:48 does not say that these Gentiles are believing in God for the very first time. Only that they are believing the truth about Jesus and their inclusion into the covenant by faith alone. Many God-fearing Gentiles genuinely worshipped God and, unlike the Jews, had not grown calloused in the religiosity of the Pharisaical teachings.
No one could rightly describe these God-fearing Gentiles as totally disabled, hardened, God haters in need of some sort of supernatural grace to effectuate faith. They already had faith in God, they simply did not know about the Messiah yet. The Gentiles are willing to listen – unlike the Jews. And they are ready to receive the mystery of the gospel – as evidenced by Cornelius.
Perhaps Acts 13:48 could be better understood as, “As many had positioned themselves.” Or “As many as were open to everlasting life.” This understanding certainly does not conflict with John 3:16 – whoever believes.
The Calvinistic presuppositions within Acts 13:48 by way of being unconditionally appointed by God before the foundation of the world are not consistent with the whole of God’s word. Nothing in this text suggests that the appointing of these Gentiles was done arbitrarily by God before the creation of the world. And there’s nothing in this text to suggest that the appointing of these Gentiles was done arbitrarily by God before the creation of the world.
For more information, a good video presentation from which much of the above wording has been taken from can be found at:
11 thoughts on “And Here’s to You Mrs. Robinson re Acts 13:48 – It Doesn’t Infer Unconditional Election”
You are correct.
See also this:
1 Corinthians 16:15
I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted G5021 themselves to the ministry of the saints.
One of the English words used for the Greek word as referenced in G5021 of the Strong’s concordance is “addicted”, which is also the same Greek word used for “ordained”.
So, the house of Stephanas ORDAINED THEMSELVES to the ministry of the saints.
Now take that back to Acts 13:48, in that they ordained themselves, or as you also point out, positioned themselves.
Read Acts 13:48 in this manner:
These people already “addicted” themselves to eternal life…they wanted eternal life…they desired eternal life…
Acts 13:48 ACTUALLY STATES:
*****Eternal life was the FIRST thought in their minds. They were ADDICTED to it. They heard about it, and they wanted it. Then the story of HOW TO GET it was told to them. And so, they believed the story. They were completely convinced. And they got what they believed.*****
That’s it in a nutshell…and accurate.
But Cavlinists will never buy that story in a million years, because they think that faith is a gift.
But a Strong’s Concordance…and…a little bit of knowledge on sentence structure, or English Composition helps.
Thanks, Ed, for your added comments and details. I’d always had difficulty with the use of the word “anointed” in this verse – but the reality is that this word must tie in with all of scripture (including John 3:16) to provide one cohesive belief.
Hi Bob. That Strong’s Concordance is a useful tool, because several English words are used for one Greek word, and you can see how that one Greek word is used in other references that have different English words. Take for example John 1:1, LOGOS. We know it’s the English word is “word”, and that the definition is “Spoken word…INCLUDING THOUGHT.”. But did you know that we must give LOGOS to God? The alternate English word for LOGOS is “ACCOUNT”. We must give an account (LOGOS) to God. Or, we must speak to God our own thoughts. I can’t speak someone else’s thoughts. If I did, that’s not LOGOS. That would be rhema. Rhema is another Greek word for the English word “WORD”. Jesus is not Rhema…he is LOGOS.
My point…word study is fun, when coupled with the definition and use.
Ordain being one of those words.
God Bless, and take care! Thanks for your reply.
Word study fun? Not sure I’m quite there yet. But clearly, without agreement on definitions, the variance of what someone thinks something means only widens. All I have to work with right now is my NIV Topical Study Bible. It’s been good enough … but perhaps I’m getting to a point that I really ought to expand the “reference section” on my bookshelf.
Yes, word study. Personally, I stay away from Topical Study stuff. All you are getting is someone else’s opinion. I like to make up my own mind in topics, based on my own study. The Berean’s were Jews, and when Paul was prosylatizing Jews in Thessalonica, the Berean’s “Searched the Scriptures Daily to see if Paul was telling them the truth. They didn’t just take his word for it.
I have a saying:
In a denomination, they search the commentaries daily to see if the Bible is right. In a non-denomination, the preacher reports, we decide, by searching the scriptures daily to see if what we are being told is true, or false.
Word study is an important aspect of that. Since the Bible is written in both Greek and Hebrew, and I use the KJV for study…well, they spoke a different English than we do today.
Suffer the little children.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
Suffer. What does that mean in 21st Century English?
ἀφίημι aphíēmi, af-ee’-ay-mee; from G575 and ἵημι híēmi (to send; an intensive form of εἶμι eîmi, to go); to send forth, in various applications (as follow)
English words used for that one Greek word:
:—cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.
Then look up all of those words in the KJV Bible that uses that one Greek word, and see the applications, and you can sum it up with what you believe is the common denominator.
How does PERMIT, or ALLOW sound? Or, should we allow children to SUFFER, the 21st Century meaning.
Breakdown Hebrews 11:1 to the lowest common denominator. What is the result?
Faith is knowing that you are going to get what you are waiting for. Do you have faith in a bus schedule while waiting at a bus stop? Yes, otherwise, you would not be waiting.
You make a good point … but therein lies a fundamental problem that I have with respect to Christian faith is that nearly everyone it seems wants to, as you say, “Make up my own mind.” And that, I think belies the difficulty of why there’s so much variance of Christian thought – Calvinist to Arminian to Open Theist to ??? In my mind this leads to significant differences in application i.e. foreknowledge, election, baptism, women in ministry and even Hell. In essence, I don’t know that I can really trust myself. Perhaps as one gains a sense of original languages, maybe that changes. But I don’t know.
Here is what Paul said about the Bereans:
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
I’ve debated a lot of Calvinists in the last 10 years or so. Before that, I never even heard of Calvinism…not one peep. I knew about Luther, but not Calvin. I’m not Lutheran, either. I’m 57 years old…and never heard of John Calvin until about 10 years ago.
And it seems that, to Calvinists, there are only two sides to the debate…Calvinism, or Arminian. I never heard of that concept either. Why only two, given the many different denominations out there that have differing views that does not relate to either.
Now, you mention “Open Theism”. Obviously, that’s a term that someone created, but it’s definition is related to free will AS IT PERTAINS TO SALVATION.
So yes, I do indeed believe in free will as it pertains to salvation. But in studying the Bible, what about those who NEVER HEARD, who have already died? Are they not saved? What about children? Are they saved?
Better yet, is there a need for their (children) salvation to begin with? What is “born again”? What does “again” represent? What is spirit and soul and body? When were YOU created? Why are the Jews under the Law of Moses?
Were you ever under the law of Moses? Why does Calvinists, or even non-Calvinists in the EVANGELICAL world, for that matter, say “for there is no difference between Jew and Gentile”? Why did the Jews kill Jesus? Was that a good thing, or a bad thing?
Why is Satan minimized with Calvinists, saying that the devil can only do what God wants him to do by refererncing Job?
What you may want to do is to begin asking questions…not TO anyone in particular, but to you and God. And then search the answers. What is righteousness? Is there really NO ONE RIGHTEOUS, NO NOT ONE, as the Cavlinists state? Was Abraham righteous? Why or why not? Was anyone righteous in the days of Jesus walking the planet?
The major malfunction that the Calvinists have…even FORMER CALVINISTS, such as SOT 101, is that they take what was meant for JEWS ONLY, and make it a doctrine for ALL HUMANS. God purposefully blinded the Jews…but he didn’t blind the Gentiles. They have concluded that Romans 9-11 is about the church, not Jews only. They have concluded that the word ELECT has something to do with SALVATION…it doesn’t. It has nothing to do with salvation at all.
Keep in mind that the Jews are already God followers thru the law of Moses. And for them, there is a transition from the law of Moses to the Law of Christ…and God must unblind them in order for them to come to Christ. But that concept is ONLY FOR THE JEWS, not the Gentiles.
But Calvinists love “for there is not difference between Jew and Gentile”.
They also put a period in “God chose us PERIOD”. That’s not how to read that. There is a TO BE that was PREDESTINED, not the person OR PEOPLE.
In any case, you still need to read the whole bible several times to finally BEGIN to see how flawed Calvinism is…and when you do, you will also see the flaws of other church’s as well, which means that you will have a different take on things than the highly educated theologians.
Oh, and lastly, they take that David is a sinner from the womb, all because scripture states, “I was conceived in iniquity”.
Well, here is a story for you to read that will show how wrong the Calvinists are regarding David being a sinner from the womb:
Thank-you for your kind responses and the interest you’re showing in my writings and thoughts. Three things:
1) My reference to Open Theism in part because of some interest I have in it – but more so because I live in the Twin Cities and at one time – years ago, John Piper (Calvinist) and Greg Boyd (Open Theist) were literally at war with each other. I can’t imagine two Christians farther apart on doctrine than these two men.
2) I suspect that each of these gentlemen has look at scripture, word structure and delved deep into the Greek and Hebrew as both have seminary and PhD degrees. That they can’t/don’t agree makes me think that –
3) Theology isn’t like math or chemistry. I worked in a chemistry environment for 40+ years as a process development technologist and lived and died by the periodic table. I could anticipate reactions and plan for experiments and have expected outcomes … and when there weren’t, as often as not, there was some unknown variable. My point is that I can trust the periodic table. Every chemist / chemical engineer agrees with it. Sadly, I don’t believe the same can be said as to Biblical interpretations.
I don’t doubt the errors of Calvinism. But that the likes of serious theologians (agree or disagree with them) like Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Chan, Helm, Peterson, Bridges and myriads of others – these guys believe they’re correct in their interpretations. Of course, the Boyds, Craigs, Hunt, Walls see things quite different.
I’m harping – my apologies. I need to take your advice and read more and will look at what you’ve referenced above. If nothing else, I find writing a good way for this thick skull to sift through and make sense of things … at least as best I can. Again, thank-you for your time and thoughts. Regards // Bob
My thoughts on cemetary…oh, I mean seminary… who did Paul send to college? He used the Hebrew scriptures and wrote some letters. What did he teach? That Jesus is the messiah that the Jews were looking for. He explained what the good news is 1 cor 15. The seminaries are based on the denominations FOUNDING documents, some 600 years ago at the reformation. So what are they really learning in college? What someone else already decided FOR them. Denomination interpretation. And that’s a problem. I remember Jesus asking someone how he interpreted something. And he was right, but didn’t want to give up his money. But in a denomination, no one asks you how you interpret something… they dictate what their forefathers decided FOR them. And they run with it.
Cemetery? You’re cracking me up! As is, my son-in-law got his MDiv and a PhD from The Al Mohler School of the Bible aka Southern Baptist Theological Seminary so you can imagine some of the conversations we’ve had. I think he’s softened somewhat since graduating but for a while seemed pretty hard-core Calvinist. Denominations … I never thought of them as a methodology for interpretation as per their founding documents. Obviously, I’m not and have been the sharpest tack in the box. But as my wife says, I’m trying.
Well, what I like about your posts, is that you have “common sense” in discussing the issues. You don’t revert to “mysteries” that can’t be explained.
My best friend is Jewish. He’s 74. But he is a Christian Jew. He’s a fan of all of those Calvinists that you mention. It was from my best friend that I first heard the term “irresistable grace”.
Now, earlier in another comment, I mention that what was meant for the Jews only, Calvinists take that to mean all of mankind. So, I can understand why my best Jewish Christian friend migrates to Calvin doctrines. He and I got into a major argument (voices raised, veins popping, etc.) about God choosing who he sends to hell before the foundation of the earth. Everytime he states “God’s in control”, I cringe. That stuff is NOT LOGICAL, not common sense.
But Calvinism isn’t the only denomination that he leaned to. Pentacostal was the other, and the reason…Acts 2, speaking in tongues. He’s a Jew. He can actually speak in tongues. I’ve accompanied him to a few pentacostal church’s. I see a lot of fake and phony speaking in tongues going on…but not with my friend. I never heard him speaking in tongues at church, but…elsewhere…ya. But again, Acts 2:4 is in conjuction with…the latter part of Revelation chapter 6 and the beginning part of chapter 7, being that Acts 2:4 is about prophesy of the 144000 JEWS who will be sealed with the Holy Spirit, and THEY (Jews) will be speaking in tongues.
Acts 2 isn’t about the conversion of Gentiles…Just the Jews. Anyway, this is what I have to deal with, with my best friend, leaning on Calvinism. But I understand his situation.
Oh, by the way…look up the WESTMINSTER CONFESSION dated in the year 1640.
So, those in Calvinist seminary are taught THAT. So, they believe what was decided FOR THEM by some dead people that lived back in 1640. So, what are they really learning?