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Monday, June 7, 2010

TASSO (Pre-destination?) Acts 13:48

Some have objected to the NWT rendering of this verb in Acts 13:48 ("all those who were rightly disposed [tasso] for everlasting life became believers") because they do not like to see a standard "proof" for pre-destination being countered. You see, if the meaning of tasso (that most other Pre-Destinarians insist on here) is "appointed" (or its equivalent), then this verse seems to say that God (or somebody) has pre-determined that these specific individuals are to be saved. This is a terrible accusation to make about the God of Love! To say that He has determined exactly who will be saved (and who will exist in "eternal torment") before they are even born is, in effect, to call God the most cruel person ever.

But tasso has a number of meanings including:

"esp. to draw up in order of battle, to form, array, marshal .... to fall in, form in order .... also generally, to agree upon, settle" - Liddell and Scott, p. 793, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford, 1994 printing.

Notice what highly respected (by Christendom) New Testament language scholar A. T. Robertson says about Acts 13:48 and tasso:

"Periphrastic past perfect passive indicative of tasso, a military term to place in orderly arrangement. .... The Jews here had voluntarily 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 [placed themselves in orderly arrangement; put themselves in line] on God's side as opposed to the Jews Luke does not tell us. This verse does not solve the vexed problem of divine sovereignty and human free agency. There is no evidence that Luke had in mind an absolutum decretum of personal salvation. Certainly the Spirit of God does move upon the human heart to which some respond, as here, while others push him away." - p. 200, Vol. 3, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman press.

Although the Living Bible is a paraphrase Bible, its translators still show their understanding of the word tasso by this translation: "and as many as wanted [tasso] eternal life, believed." A footnote for "wanted" says: "Or, `were disposed to,' or `ordained to.'" - Tyndale House Publishers, 1971.

Noted NT Greek expert and author, Dr. Alfred Marshall, literally translated tasso at Acts 13:48 as
"as many as were having been disposed [tasso] to life eternal" - The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, p. 389, Zondervan Publishing, 1975.

And Adam Clarke wrote:

"[Acts 13,] Verse 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.— This text has been most pitifully misunderstood. Many suppose that it simply means that those in that assembly who were fore-ordained; or predestinated by God's decree, to eternal life, believed under the influence of that decree. Now, we should be careful to examine what a word means, before we attempt to fix its meaning. Whatever Tetagmenoi may mean, which is the word we translate `ordained,' it is neither protetagmenoi nor proorismenoi which the apostle uses, but simply tetagmenoi, which includes no idea of pre-ordination or pre-destination of any kind. And if it even did, it would be rather hazardous to say that all those who believed at this time were such as actually persevered unto the end, and were saved unto eternal life. But, leaving all these precarious matters, what does the word tetagmenos mean? The verb tattw or tassw [tasso] signifies to place, set, order, appoint, dispose; hence it has been considered here as implying the disposition or readiness of mind of several persons in the congregation, such as the religious proselytes mentioned in Acts 13:43, who possessed the reverse of the disposition of those Jews who spake against those things, contradicting and blaspheming, Acts 13:45." - Adam Clarke's Commentary, pp. 597-598, Vol. 5B.

I have been told that the Full Life Study Bible also says about tasso in Acts 13:48:

"Some [such as Countess and his publishers] have understood this verse as teaching arbitrary predestination. However, neither the context nor the word translated `ordained' (Greek tetagmenoi from tasso) warrant this interpretation." Furthermore, it says Acts 13:48

"explicitly emphasizes human responsibility in accepting or rejecting eternal life. The best rendering of tetagmenoi [tasso], therefore, is `were disposed.' `and as many as were disposed to eternal life believed.'"

God has predetermined that certain classes of individuals will receive eternal life or eternal death (e.g., those obeying his laws, those believing and obeying his Son, etc. will receive eternal life; those not obeying his laws, those not believing and obeying his Son, those who are liars, idolaters, etc. will not receive eternal life). But He has obviously not predetermined exactly which individuals will be in these predetermined classes.

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