A STUDY OF ACTS 13:47-48 in English, Greek and Latin
By John E Bristol, BA, ThB, MA
July 31, 2015
The texts of this study:
Act 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I HAVE SET thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Act 13:47 ουτως γαρ εντεταλται ημιν ο κυριος ΤΕΘΕΙΚΑ σε εις φως εθνων του ειναι σε εις σωτηριαν εως εσχατου της γης
Act 13:47 sic enim praecepit nobis Dominus POSUI te in lumen gentibus ut sis in salutem usque ad extremum terrae
Act 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ORDAINED to eternal life believed.
Act 13:48 ακουοντα δε τα εθνη εχαιρεν εχαιρον και εδοξαζον τον λογον του κυριου και επιστευσαν οσοι ησαν ΤΕΤΑΓΜΕΝΟΙ εις ζωην αιωνιον
Act 13:48 audientes autem gentes gavisae sunt et glorificabant verbum Domini et crediderunt quotquot erant PRAEORDINATI ad vitam aeternam
Act 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they DETERMINED that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Act 15:2 γενομενης δε ουν στασεως και ζητησεως συζητησεως ουκ ολιγης τω παυλω και τω βαρναβα προς αυτους ΕΤΑΞΑΝ αναβαινειν παυλον και βαρναβαν και τινας αλλους εξ αυτων προς τους αποστολους και πρεσβυτερους εις ιερουσαλημ περι του ζητηματος τουτου
Act 15:2 facta ergo seditione non minima Paulo et Barnabae adversum illos STATUERUNT ut ascenderent Paulus et Barnabas et quidam alii ex illis ad apostolos et presbyteros in Hierusalem super hac quaestione
Act 27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part ADVISED to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
Act 27:12 ανευθετου δε του λιμενος υπαρχοντος προς παραχειμασιαν οι πλειονες πλειους ΕΘΕΝΤΟ βουλην αναχθηναι εκειθεν κακειθεν ειπως δυναιντο καταντησαντες εις φοινικα παραχειμασαι λιμενα της κρητης βλεποντα κατα λιβα και κατα χωρον
Act 27:12 et cum aptus portus non esset ad hiemandum plurimi STATUERUNT consilium navigare inde si quo modo possent devenientes Phoenice hiemare portum Cretae respicientem ad africum et ad chorum
The unconjugated Greek word TASSO is only used 9 times in the New Testament (Lk 7:8=set, Ro 13:1=ordained; I Co 16:15=addicted themselves, and 16=submit yourselves; Ac 13:48=ordained; Mt 28:16=appointed, Ac 28:23=appointed; Ac 22:10=appointed; Ac 15:2=determined). (Verse I Co 16:16 above is from Greek HYPOTASSO). The Vulgate (Latin) uses six different words to translate these nine Greek words: preordinare, STATUERE, opotere, constituere, and ordinare). All these verses could be translated with only one English or Latin word. It can be seen that the origin of the idea that TASSO should be translated as ‘preordination’ is not compatible with the others uses. It is also the place where Augustine the propagator of the theology of PREDESTINATION for himself and later Luther (VERORDNET) and Calvin got their misleading information.
Another word, different in Greek, but with a similar meaning as TASSO, is TIThHMI (small h=English long a-e as in gate). This word is found only 15 times in the New Testament. It is usually translated as ‘lay, put, or set’, but once as ‘purposed’ and once as ‘advised’. In Latin the word is always translated as a form of ‘PONERE’, but in Acts 27:12 it is translated as ‘STATUERE’=ADVISED. In Acts 15:2 (see above) the word ‘TASSO” is also translated as ‘STATUERE’ in Latin and ‘DETERMINED’ in English.
In Ac 13:47 the verb is in the Indicative active voice and Paul=Thee is the direct object. In Ac 13:48 the verb can be either in the Middle or the Passive voice. In the Passive it can mean we/they have been set/determined/appointed/ordained to eternal life. It also does not mean that we/they had been ordained to ‘believe’. In the Middle voice it can mean we/they have set/determined/appointed/ordained ourselves to eternal life, but not that we have done so to ‘believe.’
In English the most mobile part of any sentence is the adverb. Unlike other parts of speech it can be moved around. The Greek adverb in 13:48 is “ ‘OSOI “ (where the ‘ =English ‘H’). Combine this fact with another, that in Greek, Latin, German and some other languages the significant verb of a sentence is found at the end of the sentence instead of in English where it has a fixed place. Applying this knowledge and the fact that translators today use extreme liberty in how they translate as far as word order or meanings of words, we shouldn’t be too particular about a specific reading of an ancient text in English translation.
Using the following portion (clause) of 13:48 = “and as many as were ORDAINED to eternal life believed”, we can apply some of this knowledge: 1. and as many as (‘osoi) believed were set/determined/appointed/ordained to eternal life [adverb re-located, passive voice, main verb following the adverb]. 2. And as many as believed set/appointed/determined/ordained themselves to eternal life [adverb re-located, middle voice, main verb following the adverb]. Many are called, few are selected. Election always follows a thorough examination [foreknowledge] of the candidates.
Throughout the New Testament the process of becoming a Christian is detailed in John 1:12 , to wit, John 1:12 But AS MANY AS
RECEIVED HIM, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:13 Which were
born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Now the whole process was of God, but it requires that one must first hear the word of the gospel, then must receive it as truth, after which
one receives the authority/right to become the son of God, having received this right and being convinced of its truth, the recipient has one
more step to take, he/she must “align himself tin the queue” of those who desire salvation, Romans 12:1,2, I beseech you therefore,
brethren, by the mercies of God, THAT YOU PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE UNTO
GOD, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
So, get in the line-up of those who are going to heaven, join the formation, you are in God’s army now:
Attention! Salute your rightful King. Take the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and go forth to destroy the enemy and
save those who are victims of his captivity.