Q&A: Ordaining of Acts 13:48
I'm in the midst of Romans 8, actually getting into the latter section and of course, people have Calvinistic thinking about it, that I will need to deal with and move them back into just following what the scripture is teaching. I'm very comfortable doing so, however, this one verse does prove a bit puzzling. I believe I need to define "ordained" and who is the one ordaining, and what is actually being ordained. It seems that ordained here matches well with ordained in Romans 13:2, where God is setting up that something will be as it is, and that he has a purpose with that, so what He is "appointing" and determining will be. Thus, God does seem to be the one ordaining. Now I've wrestled with if this is ordaining of the kind of faith that they exercised, but honestly, I have a difficult time justifying that from the passage. "As many as..." would indicated that it is the people who are ordained. My take is simple, and I'm curious if you can help refine it. As I read this, I see a group of Gentiles (13:26) listening in to Paul's preaching the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and there most certainly are those that "fear God," among them that are not Israel, but do have faith in the God of creation, and perhaps even a type of saving faith that looks for God to be merciful to them, and trusting that he will somehow be, but without the details of its operation. If that is the case, then once they hear the truth of how "all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," and obviously receive it readily for they request that these same words should be preached again the next Sabbath, and they go invite friends and family to attend, might they then be "ordained unto eternal life?" It would appear to me that it makes sense. Almost like Cornelius: someone what obviously blesses Israel, glorifies the God of Israel, and seems to be requesting the mercy of their God, the God of creation, perhaps he too would fit this kind of a statement, being one "ordained unto eternal life," due to his preexistent faith, though not readily recognized until Peter comes and preaches about what Christ accomplished. I'm not sure if he is a perfect match, but he does come to mind.
As I read it, the word is being used in this context to highlight the dispensational change (1 Cor. 2:7). Particularly, the fundamental issue of salvation going to the Gentiles through Israel's fall (in contrast to being dealt with through Israel's rise). This is part of the first official "provocation" declaration to Israel where he turns from Israel who have judged themselves "unworthy of everlasting life" and turns to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:28). This was validated by Peter and what had occurred earlier with the "like gift" where they were forced to recognize that something different was going on and God had "also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:17-18; Rom. 15:16).
Both persons and faith are therefore in view. The persons are viewed both collectively (as Gentiles that have been dispensationally granted repentance unto life in light of Israel's fall) as well as individually (as not all Gentiles are automatically saved, but simply granted repentance unto life). They must still individually exercise true faith and respond positively in godly repentance to the "word of God" they are now privileged to hear as Gentiles (Acts 13:44,46,48; 28:28). As always, their faith must be in connection with hearing the word of God and believing (Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21). This is who God has ordained unto eternal life. Those who do are the beneficiaries of what God has ordained in connection with "the mystery".
It involves therefore everything that has been ordained in connection with "the mystery" and God's revelation of it. The details of which will be made known with increasing "glory" detail through the Pauline curriculum as those who have believed are further educated in their calling and election (1 Cor. 2:7). Acts, however, is primarily about Israel and its message is to them. The use of ordain is in that basic foundational setting in connection with what God has dispensationally ordained concerning the Gentiles today. While it provoked many to "envy" and "jealousy", it should be "accepted" by them and provoke them to "emulation" (Acts 13:45; Rom. 11:11-14). For more on Paul's "provocation" ministry and the transition in Acts, see my book The Fulness of Christ.
Believing unto eternal life has never involved the erroneous ideas of Calvinism and its misteaching of biblical doctrines like election, predestination, etc. It concerns the opportunities that God has ordained and extends program wise, and the belief that must be exercised by men in light of it. God has ordained some particular things in connection with "the mystery", which we Gentiles are privileged to specially partake of today. Hope this helps.
Seated in heavenly places with Him,