Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tasso - "rightly disposed"; Acts 13:48 (Response to accusations made by Robert H. Countess)

TASSO - Countess objects to the NWT rendering of this verb in Acts 13:48 ("all those who were rightly disposed [tasso] for everlasting life became believers") because he does not like to see a standard "proof" for pre-destination being countered. - p. 84. You see, if the meaning of tasso that Countess (and most other Pre-Destinarians) insists 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.'" [material in brackets has been added by me, as usual - RDB.]

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!

It would be senseless for Jesus to exhort men to walk on the difficult road that leads to life and avoid the broad easy road that leads to destruction (Mt. 7:13, 14) if their fate were already determined and they could do nothing about it anyway!

And the Lord (or Peter) would be hypocritical if God had already predetermined who perishes and who lives eternally when he said that he did not want anyone to perish but wants everyone to come to repentance! (2 Peter 3:9) What difference would it make for anyone whom God had already predetermined to eternal torment to "come to repentance"? And how could God "not want anyone to perish" and not be able to accomplish it? If he truly didn't want anyone to perish, the all-powerful God would provide everyone an equal opportunity to receive eternal life! (And He has!)

And the Apostle John would be cruelly misleading us (if he really believed God had already predetermined which individuals will live eternally) when he said: "The man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:17, NIV). Obviously, if God had already decided before you were born that you will not be saved, it wouldn't matter if you did God's will perfectly or not at all!

In the same way, Jesus would be very cruel (and dishonest) in his answer to the man who asked "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus quoted to him the two greatest commandments and said to the man, "Do this, and you will live." Again, if God had already predetermined those who live eternally and those who "eternally roast in hell," it would be senseless to ask "what shall I do to inherit eternal life" and equally senseless to tell the man what he should do to receive eternal life!

And why would Jesus tell anyone, "be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" - Rev. 2:10, NASB. According to the pre-destination idea it was already decided before you were born!

In fact, there are so many scriptures throughout the Bible showing the falsity of the pre-destination doctrine that it is inexcusable for anyone to teach such a God-defaming pagan doctrine!

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