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ACTS 13:48

by Jacques More

This is an article based on the transcript of the video I made in 2010 entitled, Quick Answers to Calvinists Acts 13:48 - Jacques More

. . . as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 13:48

       This verse really reads like a done deal doesn't it?

       God - since who else could be 'APPOINTING' - is here (?!)

God then, is read - as allocating - eternal life (to whom He will) as a result of which these are the ones seen to believe.

       It looks that way, doesn't it?
              Those appointed to eternal life - they believed?

Well, not quite.

You see, this is ONLY possible if the verb in question is accurately translated as APPOINTED.
       Or, ORDAINED (as per the KJV)

For it is only in that word being used - "appointed" or "ordained" - that the IMPLICATION is given that someone else OTHER THAN the believer is involved.

       HOW ELSE is the Greek verb TASSÓ translated in the New Testament (NT)?

Well, before we look at that, let's re-arrange the words to the way they appear in the Greek.


(they) believed

as many as

(they) were





Let's highlight each section:

       KAI EPISTEUSAN - and they believed
              HOSOI ÉSAN TETAGMENOI - as many as they were TASSÓ
                     EIS ZÓÉN AIÓNION - to life eternal

Further, let's make clear about THEY WERE
The verb 'to be' in Greek is as follows in the imperfect tense (English Past Continuous):

GREEK English
ÉMÉN I was
ÉS or ÉSTHA you were (singular)
ÉN he, she, it was
ÉMEN or ÉMETHA    we were
ÉTE you were (plural)
ÉSAN they were

So, in the right order, literally from the Greek, we have:

And they believed, as many as they were TASSÓ into life eternal

Acts 13:48

Remember THEY WERE is a full and accurate translation of ÉSAN
That is, APART and distinct FROM TASSÓ

So, let's look at what else TASSÓ has been translated into.

1 Corinthians 16:15 - ETAXAN

they have ADDICTED themselves to the ministry of the saints


they have DEVOTED themselves...


to the ministration to the saints they did SET themselves


This would make Acts 13:48 read:

And they believed, as many as they were ADDICTED into life eternal

And they believed, as many as they were DEVOTED into life eternal

And they believed, as many as they were SET into life eternal

Note how GOD now, is not implied in the action of the verb.

Acts 15:2 - ETAXAN

they DETERMINED that Paul and Barnabas


they ARRANGED for Paul and Barnabas


This would make Acts 13:48 read:

And they believed, as many as they were DETERMINED into life eternal

And they believed, as many as they were ARRANGED into life eternal


I also am a man SET under authority




This would make Acts 13:48 read:

And they believed, as many as they were SET into life eternal

And they believed, as many as they were PLACED into life eternal

So, we can see the following words are also used for TASSÓ

addicted, devoted, set, determined, arranged, placed

The verb TASSÓ is also used extensively in the Septuagint (LXX)
The Greek version of the Old Testament Jesus and the apostles quoted

In Ezekiel 40:4 for example, we read,

set thine heart (KJV)
fix your mind on everything I show you (NKJV)

Translated as the Verb TASSÓ in the LXX and conjugated as TAXON

In Ezekiel 44:5 we read,

"And the LORD said to me, 'Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears, all that I say to you' "
       (NKJV; mark well is also in the KJV)

NKJV Margin: Lit. set your heart.

Translated as the Verb TASSÓ in the LXX and conjugated as TAXON

In Haggai 1:5 we read,
"Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Consider your ways!' " (NKJV)
              'set your heart to your ways' (YLT)

Translated as the verb TASSÓ in the LXX and conjugated as TAXATE

We've now seen WHAT ELSE TASSÓ can mean.

And we've seen IN NUMEROUS PLACES it is used as a personal action; not just someone else's action.

But, before we move on, let's go back to the NT where it is translated 'appoint' or 'ordain' and note that IN EVERY OTHER INSTANCE, it is clear *who* is appointing.

Matthew 28:16 - ETAXATO - 'into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them' (KJV)

Acts 22:10 - TETAKTAI - 'all things which are appointed for thee to do' (KJV)

Acts 28:23 - TAXAMENOI - 'and when they had appointed him a day' (KJV)

Romans13:1 - TETAGMENAI - 'the powers that be are ordained of God' (KJV)

There is no room for movement in any of these:
              JESUS appointed
              Are appointed FOR THEE
              Had appointed HIM
              Are ordained OF GOD


Unlike Acts 13:48
              THEY were TASSÓ

Now, Robert Young in his concordance liberally refers to TASSÓ as 'TO ARRANGE' - the meaning for TASSÓ given is,

ADDICT - to arrange, set oneself
APPOINT - to arrange, set in order
DETERMINE - to arrange
ORDAIN - to arrange, set in array
SET - to arrange, set in array

The flavour can be even more visible when comparing with the verbs DIATASSÓ, EPITASSÓ, SUNTASSÓ, PROTASSOMAI and PROSTASSÓ

In the conjugations of TASSÓ seen above from Ezekiel 40:4 and 44:5 we see TAXON
It is not hard then with ARRANGE as the core meaning to see where our English word TAXONOMY comes from - The word for the classification of species.

The 'arrangement', the 'order' of things, is NOT about a specific determination, but an arrangement, a setting.

So even with the verb 'to appoint' it is possible with ARRANGE IN MIND to then understand an order and arrangement, not a specific (allocation).

For example in Romans 13:1 we read,

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.


"The authorities that exist are appointed by God" Romans 13:1

The authorities are arranged, they are set in order by God

By the word's root use therefore it is *not* saying the particular individual is in power by God, but instead Paul's emphasis, by that word, is that the office of ruler or judge is in place by God:
       It is THE OFFICE of such authority in view; not THE PERSON in place as an authority in these arrangements.

If we go back to Acts 13:48, what do we find?
       No particular individuals specified by the core 'arrangement' meaning of TASSÓ
       By that use of the verb, God ceases to be implied and, instead, the individuals are left in doing the action. They are seen having arranged their hearts to eternal life:

It is THEY who WERE determined or set (arranged) who believed.
Exactly like the use of TASSÓ in Ezekiel and Haggai mentioned above.

And this emphasis can also be seen from the context:
The context points to the attitude of heart present,
              Of the new believers in Act 13:48
                     IN CONTRAST
              Of the unbelievers who opposed Paul in In Acts 13:45-46

What opposition?

when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul

Acts 13:45 NKJV

The unbelieving Jews were in opposition.
       Of these Paul then says:

It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since YOU reject it, and JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY of everlasting life, behold we turn to the Gentiles


We read then, THEY judged themselves

unworthy of everlasting life

Acts 13:46

And using the same words in Acts 13:48

ZÓÉN AIÓNION - life eternal/everlasting

With these 2 words in V.46 and in V.48 we see a link between these 2 verses.

One group is set against; the other group is set for.

So that
       THEY were determined.
       THEY were set

              Makes good sense for TASSÓ in Acts 13:48

But why did Luke write this at all?

We have a clue by his regular practise of using HOSOI - as many as
       It is to limit the 'all' he had previously mentioned
       So the reader is not to think everyone is involved: i.e. the whole city

Luke uses HOSOI - as many as - like this:
In Acts 5:36, Acts 5:37 and Acts 10:45 (see the Greek, since this element is not always rendered)
It was his common practise - To limit the ALL suggested beforehand

So that in Acts 13 since he had said 'THE WHOLE CITY' came to hear AND they believed
       Luke, NOT wanting the idea read that ALL believed
              He adds 'as many as' they were determined

Luke's important point is that there were many new believers:
       "And they believed"
But not all who came to hear, did so

Now, it is EXPLICIT that ÉSAN = they were

So that it is
THEY were determined.
Luke just adds the section to reduce the number of new believers in the readers mind.


       The whole city came together to hear (V.44)
       And they believed (V.48a)
       As many as THEY were determined to life everlasting (V.48b)

Devoted, set, arranged (in their hearts)

If you want to check all this out for yourself, to see if the above is accurate, it is easy these days with all the necessary tools online. Check this page out with links to all the resources you need - See for yourself if these things are so (Acts 17:11).

Ref. M.043

Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from the New King James Version

© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.

© copyright Jacques More 2019. All Rights Reserved.

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