17TH of the 8th month 2015/2016
Shabbat Shalom all,
Ma’asei/Acts 13:48 “And when the gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the Word of יהוה. And as many as had been appointed to everlasting life believed.”
This week I was asked to give some insight and explanation to this verse, and therefore decided to expand on the meaning of this verse in a message tonight called, “APPOINTED TO EVERLASTING LIFE”. The reason that I would like to break open this verse in the context of its setting and proper meaning is that this is a verse that has been taken completely out of context by many who hold fast to a theology of predestination.
These were the words recorded by Luqas, who wrote the book of Ma’asei/Acts, describing what happened after Sha’ul and Barnaḇa had spoken boldly to many who were in the congregation in Antioch.
This verse is one of the verses that many use to prove unconditional election that teaches a predestination theology that states that Elohim made an eternal choice of certain people to eternal life and others to eternal damnation and the number is fixed and cannot be changed! Without going into greater detail of various theologies and their various arguments, I simply want to break down this text in Ma’asei/Acts 13 so that we can gain a clearer understanding of the context of these words that have been hotly debated over for centuries, and gain a better understanding of what it means to be ‘APPOINTED TO EVERLASTING LIFE’.
Before looking at this verse and some key Greek words that are used here, I would first like to summarise the events that we see happening in this chapter, as this will certainly set the proper scene for understanding the context of the words of Luqas.
The setting starts in the assembly that was in Antioch, which was the capital of Syria, and the Set-Apart Spirit called for Sha’ul and Barnaḇa to be separated for the work to which Elohim had called them. After the assembly had prayed and laid hands on Sha’ul and Barnaḇa they were sent out. In Chapter 11 we are told that Barnaḇa went looking for Sha’ul in Tarsos and after finding him, he brought him to Antioch and for an entire year they came together in the assembly and taught large numbers. The reason I am mentioning this is to highlight that before we see these events that took place in Chapter 13, we are able to see that both Sha’ul and Barnaḇa were well known in Antioch and were teaching many people in the assembly. After a prophet came and indicated by the Spirit that there was going to be a great scarcity of food over all the world, the taught ones in Antioch decided to send relief to their brothers who were dwelling in Yehuḏah (Judea) and sent it by the hands of Sha’ul and Barnaḇa. Chapter 12 then turns to what happened during this time as Kěpha had been put into prison. Prayer was earnestly made for him by the assembly and Kěpha was miraculously led out of the prison and went to the house of Miryam where many had gathered to pray. Herodes was extremely upset that Kěpha had escaped and then on an appointed day Herodes exalted himself, put on royal robes and addressed the people, who said that his words the voice of a mighty one and not man. Immediately יהוה smote Herodes because he did not give esteem to Elohim and he became worm eaten and died! After these events Barnaḇa and Sha’ul returned to Antioch from Yerushalayim, taking with them Yoḥanan who was also called Marqos. It is then here that we come to Chapter 13 where Barnaḇa and Sha’ul were sent out by the Set-Apart Spirit and went to Seleukeia, which was a port city about 25km from Antioch. It was from here that Barnaḇa, Sha’ul and Yoḥanan sailed for to Cyprus and when they came to Salamis, which was a principle city on the island of Cyprus, Barnaḇa and Sha’ul proclaimed the Word of Elohim in the congregations, with Yoḥanan being an attendant. After having passed through the whole island they came to Paphos, which was a maritime city on the west end of Cyprus. It was here that they came across a magician and false prophet, who was a Yehuḏi whose name was Bar-Yehoshua who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of understanding. Sergius Paulus called for Barnaḇa and Sha’ul and earnestly sought to hear the Word of Elohim, while Bar-Yehoshua the magician, who was also known as Elumas which means ‘wizard’, withstood Barnaḇa and Sha’ul and sought to turn the proconsul away from them!
Herein we see in this chapter the first contrast of one who sought to hear and believe the Good News versus one who opposed to truth. The proconsul who wanted to hear and believe was one who was ‘of the nations’ while the magician who opposed was a Yehuḏi. Then Sha’ul, who was set-apart, filled with the Set-Apart Spirit, rebuked the magician and called him a son of the devil and told him that he would be blinded by the hand of יהוה. Instantly a mist fell over him and he became blind, and at this the proconsul believed and was astonished at the teaching of the Master!
As a quick side note that many fail to recognise is that we see that in verse 9 where it has been translated as “Then Sha’ul, who also is Paul– filled with the Set-Apart Spirit, looked intently at him”, should better be understood and read as “Then Sha’ul who also was separated – filled with the Set-Apart Spirit, looked intently at him”.
Sha’ul’s name was never Paul, nor was it ever changed to Paul or Paulos!!! Remember in verse 2 of this Chapter 13 we are told that the Set-Apart Spirit said “Separate Barnaḇa and Sha’ul for the work to which I have called them”.
In Greek there is no equivalent for the Hebrew word is פַּלּוּא Pallu – Strong’s H6396 meaning ‘distinguished or separated’, which comes from the primitive root פָּלָה palah – Strong’s H6395 which means, ‘to be separated or distinct, distinguished, wondrously’, and therefore the word ‘Paulos’ which is of Latin origin and means ‘little or small’ was written in here in order to try to transliterate the Hebrew word ‘Pallu’ and render it as a masculine name.
The Greek therefore contained what was assumed to be another name for Sha’ul as opposed to writing what would be very clear in the Hebrew understanding and translate this as it should be and state that Sha’ul who had been separated and was filled with the Set-Apart Spirit, and be in line with what we are told in verse 2!
Sha’ul, who was separated and filled with the Set-Apart Spirit, looked intently at this magician and rebuked him and called him a son of the devil! He was making it clear that by this wicked wizard’s rejection of the truth he identified himself as being a son of the devil, even though he was a Yehuḏi! Sha’ul was basically calling this guy a Satanist who was filled with deceit and recklessness and was an enemy of righteousness! I want to make clear hear a powerful lesson that is contained in this event, and that is how we must take note of the boldness of Sha’ul and how his rebuked a reckless and deceitful and lawless man. He was able to do this with boldness because he was separated and filled with the Set-Apart Spirit! Can you picture how angered this wizard must have been? Call a reckless and deceitful one, who rejects the need to walk in and obey the commands and Torah of our Master and Elohim, a son of the devil (or Satanist) today and see what reactions you get! Our ability to stand up and confront wickedness can only be done when we have been separated and filled with the Set-Apart Spirit. ‘Come out and be separate’ says יהוה!
Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 6:17-18 “Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you. 18 And I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says יהוה the Almighty.”
The Greek word that is translated here as ‘be separate’, and is used in verse 2 of Ma’asei/Acts 2 for ‘separate’, is ἀφορίζω aphorizō – Strong’s G873 which means, ‘to mark off by boundaries, ostracise, separate, set-apart’, and comes from the two words: 1 – ἀπό apo – Strong’s G575 which is a preposition and primitive particle, meaning, ‘from, away from, against’; and 2 – ὁρίζω horizon – Strong’s G3724 which means, ‘predetermined, fixed, appointed, to mark off by boundaries’.
We as we are called to come out and be separated, marked by the clear boundaries of the Torah of Elohim that is now written upon our hearts, in which we delight and meditate upon day and night in order that we prosper in all we do, staying in the Master with great joy!
What I like about these two verses in the second letter to the Corinthians is the promise that is given to those who respond correctly to the call of coming out and being separate. The promise is that יהוה says that He will be a Father to us and we shall be sons and daughters to Him. True children of Elohim have great boldness to withstand wickedness!
Let us get back to Ma’asei/Acts 13:
After this Sha’ul and those with him left Paphos and came to Perge in Pamphulia, where Yoḥanan left them and returned to Yerushalayim. They then passed through Perge and came back to Antioch, where they went into the congregation on the Sabbath. After the weekly readings of the Torah and the Prophets the elders asked if anyone had a word of encouragement for the people, and Sha’ul stood up and began to preach the Good News of Messiah as he gave a brief historical overview that led him to proclaim how it is through יהושע Messiah that forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and in verse 39 Sha’ul makes it clear that by יהושע Messiah everyone who believes is declared right from all sins!
When the Yehuḏim went out of the congregation, the nations begged Sha’ul to have these same words spoken in the congregation on the next Sabbath. After the meeting many of the Yehuḏim who believed as well as some of the worshipping converts from the nations followed Sha’ul and Barnaḇa, who continued to speak to them and urge them to continue in the favour of Elohim. At this point we are able to see another contrast in this Chapter, where some of the Yehuḏim who did not believe got up and left the congregation, while other Yehuḏim who believed along with the converts from the nations, followed Sha’ul and Barnaḇa.
The Greek word translated as ‘follow’ in Luqas/Luke 9:57 is ἀκολουθέω akoloutheō – Strong’s G190 and comes from: Α, α alpha – Strong’s G1 which is the first letter of the Greek language and is used here as a participle of union, along with the word κέλευθος keleuthos – which means, ‘a road, or way’ and therefore this word ἀκολουθέω akoloutheō expresses the intention to ‘follow closely or going behind someone who leads the way’ or ‘to attend, to accompany, to go with or follow a teacher’.
Their ‘following’ of Sha’ul and Barnaḇa clearly shows that they sought to be taught more of the Truth and followed closely behind them in order to hear and learn as much as they could. They were hungry for the Truth!
On the next Sabbath almost all the city came to hear the Word of Elohim. We must, at this point, bear in mind that there were already many who had believed the message that was given on the previous Shabbat along with others who came to hear the Word of Elohim. This seeking to hear the Truth did not sit well with the disbelieving Yehuḏim who were filled with jealousy when they saw all the people who were coming hear the Truth!
These jealous unbelieving Yehuḏim began to contradict what was being spoken and they spoke evil and strongly opposed what Sha’ul was saying. This did not rattle Sha’ul and Barnaḇa as they, with great boldness, said in verse 46:
“…It was necessary that the word of Elohim should be spoken to you first, but since you thrust it away, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, see, we turn to the nations.”
What were Sha’ul and Barnaḇa saying here? They responded to these jealous Yehuḏim who were trying to contradict everything that they were preaching, saying that it was necessary that the Word of Elohim should be spoken to them first. We know that Messiah came through the line of Yehuḏah, and while He came to His own they did not receive Him! Now since they had thrust away the Word of Elohim they, by their disbelief, judged themselves to be unworthy of everlasting life, and now the message of the Light of the World was taken to the nations! Understanding this, look at what is written in:
Yoḥanan/John 1:11-13 “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim.”
In verse 47 Sha’ul then quotes from Yeshayahu/Isaiah 49:6 which speaks of the servant of יהוה, and says: “… And I shall give You as a light to the gentiles, to be My deliverance to the ends of the earth!”
Sha’ul and Barnaḇa were making it clear here that they were servants of Elohim who were bringing the light to the nations! This is when we then come to verse 48 of Luqas’ account where he writes that when the nations heard this they were glad and praised the Word of יהוה. This certainly angered the disbelieving Yehuḏim who then stirred up the people of the city and raised up persecution against Sha’ul and Barnaḇa and got them thrown out of the city. Sha’ul and Barnaḇa dusted off their feet and went on to Ikonion.
The last verse of this Chapter tells us something very powerful. It says that the taught ones were filled with joy and the Set-Apart Spirit!!! Which taught ones? The ones who believed Sha’ul and Barnaḇa a couple of Sabbaths back and followed them closely to learn more! The unbelieving Yehuḏim were jealous and angry while those from the nations who believed and followed were filled with joy and the Set-Apart Spirit. Here we are now once again able to see a 3rd contrast in this Chapter 13 in regards to those who believe versus those who do not!
That is a brief overview of the events that took place in Chapters 11-13. The reason why I have given this overview is to highlight the importance of not taking verses, or parts of verses, out of context but rather understand the fuller meaning that makes perfect sense when seen in the proper context of the events that are recorded for us to learn from.
The much debated verse 48 is what I want to explain to you, in the perfect context of the events that have now been outlined and made plain. Sha’ul and Barnaḇa were taking the Good News to the nations and this upset many of the Yehuḏim who denied Messiah and rejected the idea that the nations could have any part in the Covenants of Promise!
When read out of context, these words in verse 48 that has been translated as “…And as many as had been appointed to everlasting life believed” can often be misunderstood and may even cause confusion to some, yet we need to assess what these words are in fact teaching us. You will be quite amazed at how many theological arguments are out there in regards to this single verse, and how technical some try to present a misguided teaching that promotes a predestined selection of who has been appointed to everlasting life and who has been appointed to eternal damnation.
The Greek word that has many engaged in a huge debate is the word that is translates as ‘appointed’, which in the Greek is the word τεταγμένοι tetagmenoi which is a participle of the verb τάσσω tassō – Strong’s G5021 which means, ‘appointed, draw up in order, arrange, designated, devoted, established, set’.
Luqas used this word here to show that Elohim’s elective decree included the nations who believed in Him and did not exclude them!
In the Greek language verbs, like nouns, also changes form. The form changes based upon the subject of the verb and the kind of action indicated. Each Greek word actually changes form based upon the role that it plays in the sentence. The stem of the verb shows the basic meaning or action of the word, but the ending (or ‘suffix’) changes to show various details. Not only the ending of the verb may change, but the verb form may have a ‘prefix’ added to the beginning of the verbal stem. Sometimes the actual stem of the verb may change or may add an ‘infix’ to indicate certain other details.
While this may all sound ‘very Greek’ to you, the point I am trying to make is that words can carry very different meanings based on the structure of the sentence and the various roles that each word takes. There is much debate as to whether this verb is written in what is called the passive voice or middle voice. In Greek the same form is used to designate both the middle voice and the passive voice, which can cause some heavy debates, and therefore must be understood in the context of its setting within the entire text in order to get the proper meaning and understanding.
The main difference between the passive voice and the middle voice is that in the passive voice the subject receives the action, whereas in the middle voice the subject initiates the action. The middle voice form means that the subject participates in the result of the action and is therefore both doing and receiving the action, indicating that the subject performs an action upon himself as a reflexive action for their own benefit!
Why I am mentioning this is to show that verbs can carry different meanings and can relay a completely different meaning if wrongly interpreted and incorrectly translated.
τεταγμένοι tetagmenoi can also mean, ‘set in position’, and is often used to speak of human disposition and attitude, and is a word that refers to actions, attitudes and decisions of people rather than a pre-ordained appointment granted by Elohim. There is nothing in the Greek word itself that can tell us which voice is intended. However, there are convincing historical arguments that ancient Greeks saw the default rendering of “tetagmenoi” as middle voice, even as modern Greeks do.
What may be a better translation of this word could be the English word ‘disposed’, which means, ‘to put in place, set in readiness or to deal with conclusively’!
This word simply indicates the causative response to true belief in Messiah, and what we must take note of here is that the reference to “those who were appointed to everlasting life believed” is a reference to those who had, on the previous Sabbath, believed the teachings of Sha’ul and Barnaba and followed them and became taught ones, who by belief were saved and now appointed to everlasting life! Those who were appointed clearly identifies those who had received the truth of Sha’ul’s teaching on the Sabbath before and had responded to the Good News and in their active belief were now appointed to everlasting life. These new converts and now appointed ones believed again on the next Sabbath. What did they believe on this second Sabbath? It was belief in the message that the Yehuḏim who had rejected Messiah had judged themselves to be unworthy of everlasting life! Here we are able to see the powerful truth that is being presented in this chapter, and that is one of belief in the Master! Those who reject Him will not inherit everlasting life, while those who believe in the Master and become His taught one will inherit everlasting life.
As I mentioned earlier Sha’ul tells us in verse 39 that everyone who believes is declared right from all sins! Now hear what Sha’ul tells us in:
Romiyim/Romans 6:22-23 “But now, having been set free from sin, and having become servants of Elohim, you have your fruit resulting in set-apartness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the favourable gift of Elohim is everlasting life in Messiah יהושע our Master.”
When one does a simple word study on the phrase ‘everlasting life’ it becomes abundantly clear who it is who gives us everlasting life, and who it is who receives it. It is those who live by belief in the Master that possess everlasting life, and by belief I mean a proper belief that guards to do all He has commanded us to do, for we know that belief/ faith without works is dead!
Appointment to everlasting life is not tied to the belief that Elohim had rejected the Yehuḏim who had thrust the Good News of Messiah away and had now turned to the nations. The appointment to everlasting life is tied to belief/faith in the Good News of Messiah which most Yehuḏim had rejected and thrust away and therefore judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life.
When combing through the various verses that speak of everlasting life it becomes abundantly clear that being appointed to everlasting life is a synonym for true belief, or rather a true believer! What I am saying is simply this – belief – that is true belief – is synonymous with being appointed to everlasting life. We therefore must hold fast to the belief so that we do not find that we too end up judging ourselves unworthy of everlasting life.
Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the belief, lay hold on everlasting life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession before many witnesses.”
Yoḥanan/John 3:16-18 “For Elohim so loved the world that He gave His only brought-forth Son, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but possess everlasting life. 17 “For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only brought-forth Son of Elohim.”
Here Yoḥanan makes it clear in terms of what we see Sha’ul telling the unbelieving Yehuḏim in Ma’asei/Acts 13 who had already judged themselves because they did not believe in Messiah.
Whoever believes in Messiah possesses everlasting life!
Yoḥanan/John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me possesses everlasting life.”
The Greek word used here for ‘possesses’ is – ἔχω echo – Strong’s G2192 which means, ‘to have, hold, consider, obtain, possess’ and expresses an active verb which can render the meaning, ‘to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have (hold) possession of the mind (refers to alarm, agitating emotions, etc.), to hold fast keep’.
We are also told in:
Yoḥanan/John 14:21 “He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Yoḥanan/John 15:10 “If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love, even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love.”
Therefore, to ‘stay’ in the love of Elohim, we must ‘possess’ His commands and that means having a firm grip on the commands, and when we do this by belief in the Master we shall also ‘possess’ and have a firm grip on everlasting life!
Yehuḏah/Jude 1:21 “keep yourselves in the love of Elohim, looking for the compassion of our Master יהושע Messiah unto everlasting life.”
The predestination or foreordination of Elohim determined that He would save sinful man through the sacrifice of His only brought forth Son, and the Good News of Messiah is the power of Elohim for deliverance to everyone who believes, as Sha’ul tells us in:
Romiyim/Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Messiah, for it is the power of Elohim for deliverance to everyone who believes, to the Yehuḏite first and also to the Greek.”
I do hope that you can see the clear simplicity of the text in Ma’asei/Acts 13 that is so often misinterpreted to teach a preselected and unconditional salvation or damnation, when it should be properly understood that those who believed were appointed everlasting life, a possession that they would now have to hold fast to and lay hold of through loving obedience; while those who do not already judge themselves not worthy of everlasting life!
The Aramaic English New testament translates this phrase as follows:
“…And those who believed were ordained to life that is everlasting.”
What is presented very clearly throughout Chapter 13 of Ma’asei/Acts is the clear distinction between true believers who hear, guard and do, and follow the teachings and commands of the Master completely versus those who are hearers only and are deceiving themselves!
Messiah asked the question of whether He would find faith/belief when He comes again and therefore we are able to recognise that He was asking if He would find people who are a hearing, guarding and doing people; for those who hear what the Spirit says and respond correctly, shall possess everlasting life, while those who do not shall be ordained or appointed to destruction and face the second death!
What is also worth making mention of is the wording we see in the next Chapter in regards to those who believed in Ikonion as well as the unbelieving Yehuḏim who stirred up trouble!
Ma’asei/Acts 14:1-2 “And it came to be in Ikonion that they went together into the congregation of the Yehuḏim, and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Yehuḏim and Greeks believed. 2 But the Yehuḏim who would not obey stirred up the gentiles and evilly influenced their beings against the brothers.”
The same thing happened at Ikonion! Do you see what happened here? A great number of both Yehuḏim and Greeks believed! Believed what? The Good News of Messiah that they heard in the congregation – the same thing that happened on the first Sabbath in Antioch!
The emphasis is on the response to the message! You have believing Yehuḏim and unbelieving Yehuḏim. You have believing Greeks and unbelieving Greeks and so we see the clear comparison between those who believed and those who did not believe, whether Yehuḏi or Greek! There is no mention of or statement concerning ‘appointment’ in Ikonion, but there is a large group of both Yehuḏim and Greeks that believed! That is because what I have already mentioned is clear and obvious: True belief is synonymous with being appointed to everlasting life!
Those who believe in the Master will NOT be DIS-APPOINTED!!!
The Greek word here for ‘believes/believed’ is πιστεύω pisteuō – Strong’s G4100 which is a verb that means, ‘to trust, to be committed to, be entrusted with, be persuaded and placed confidence in to do’, and comes from the root noun πίστις pistis – Strong’s G4102 which means, ‘faith, faithfulness, pledge, conviction of the Truth’ which in turn comes from the primary root verb πείθω peithō – Strong’s G3982 which means, ‘to persuade, to put confidence in, to follow, have confidence and rely upon’. When looking at these root terms it is very clear, even in the Greek mind-set, that ‘to believe’ involves action and a confident response to the one you put your trust in and follow.
Titos/Titus 3:8 “Trustworthy is the word, and in this regard I wish you to strongly affirm, that those who have believed in Elohim should keep their minds on maintaining good works. This is good and profitable to men.”
As we consider our election or appointment to everlasting life that our Master and Elohim, by His favour and loving-commitment, has given us to possess as a result of our belief in Him, let us keep our minds on maintaining the good works of obedience, and lay hold of everlasting life, continually making the good confession before many witnesses!
As a true taught one of the Most High you have been APPOINTED TO EVERLASTING LIFE, now do not let go of your firm grip of the truth lest you find your works denying the Master and be in danger of being found judged to not be worthy of everlasting life because of unbelief!
I will close with the closing words of Yehuḏah, a servant of יהושע Messiah:
Yehuḏah/Jude 1:24-25 “And to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you blameless before the presence of His esteem with exceeding joy, 25 to the only wise Elohim, our Saviour, be esteem and greatness and might and authority, both now and forever. Aměn.”
יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!