Apparently, Luke simply narrates the event describing how "people throng" to Paul and Barnabas to hear the message, and with conscious volition "they" responded. Therefore, the "middle voice" would be more natural. And the "passive" interpretation, in my view, is re-contextualization in modern day context, and is an arbitrary decision.

Text: Acts 13:48 (YLT)

"And the nations hearing were glad, and were glorifying the word of the Lord, and did believe -- as many as were appointed (τεταγμένοι) to life age-during."

  • Could you rephrase that, please? 'What the Luke's narration implies to' makes no sense in English, whether the voice is middle, passive or any other? Was the meaning "implies" or "applies to" or something else? Aug 26, 2022 at 23:06
  • Revised title question, I hope, is clearer.
    – Sam
    Aug 27, 2022 at 2:54
  • With no slight knowledge of Greek, I suggest that in English, "disposed for" might better be "disposed to" and "were appointed" might better be "were appointed to". Does anyone really doubt either suggestion? I see the difference between, for instance, "appointed bishop" and "appointed to the bishopric of…" and I suggest that's not the point. Aug 29, 2022 at 22:24

4 Answers 4


Vertically speaking, the appointment comes from God, hence the passive voice in Acts 13:48 New International Version

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed [by God] for eternal life believed.

Horizontally speaking, the humans volitionally decide to accept the word of the Lord, hence, the middle voice as translated by Dottard:

as many as believed had set themselves for eternal life

In Acts 13:48 -“ τεταγμένοι” (appointed- YTL), What the Luke's narration implies to, “middle” or “passive ”voice?

Both are true. The vertical appointment comes from God and the humans horizontally accept the appointment. This is the concept of Co-reality.


How many fights has this caused in the church over the centuries!! Calvinists vs Arminians, to name just one of them; splits in the English and German churches and many more.

The verb in question is τάσσω (tassó) which occurs 9 times in the NT, sometimes with a specific military meaning (Matt 8:9, Luke 7:8). BDAG provides two basic meanings:

  1. to bring about an order by arranging, arrange, put in place, eg, Rom 13:1, Matt 8:9, Luke 7:8, Acts 13:48, 1 Cor 16:15
  2. to give instructions as to what must be done, order, fix, determine, appoint, eg, Acts 15:2, 18:2, 22:10, 28:23, Matt 28:16.

Significantly, BDAG puts the OP's verse, Acts 13:48 in the first category. Just as significantly, the verb in Acts 13:48 is Perfect Participle Middle or Passive - Nominative Masculine Plural. Thus, the verb is either in the middle or passive voice.

Most English versions translate this as though the verb is definitely in the passive voice and thus give something like, "all who were appointed for eternal life believed".

However, if the verb is understood in the middle voice (more likely), then it should be translated something like, "as many as believed had set themselves for eternal life".

Ellicott appears to agree:

As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.--Better, as many as were disposed for. The words seem to the English reader to support the Calvinistic dogma of divine decrees as determining the belief or unbelief of men, and it is not improbable, looking to the general drift of the theology of the English Church in the early part of the seventeenth century, that the word "ordained" was chosen as expressing that dogma. It runs, with hardly any variation, through all the chief English versions, the Rhemish giving the stronger form "pre-ordinate." The Greek word, however, does not imply more than that they fell in with the divine order which the Jews rejected. They were as soldiers who take the place assigned to them in God's great army. The quasi-middle force of the passive form of the verb is seen in the Greek of Acts 20:13, where a compound form of it is rightly rendered "for so he had appointed," and might have been translated for so he was disposed. It lies in the nature of the case that belief was followed by a public profession of faith, but the word "believed" does not, as some have said, involve such a profession.

  • 2
    If a translation be "translation" of the text, NOT a commentary, much of the textual basis of the division would be lesser. God's word is "Truth," and the divisions are of our making. Any divisive dogma over "truth" is NOT of the Spirit, and exegesis, for that matter.
    – Sam
    May 23, 2020 at 2:57
  • I think you mean Arminians, not Armenians.
    – fdb
    Jun 22, 2021 at 21:20
  • @fdb - Arhh! Oops! Thanks for pointing that out - I will correct it.
    – Dottard
    Jun 22, 2021 at 21:29

Middle voice seems better, which is more coherent to the immediate context. Verse 46 mentions Jews rejecting the gospel, verse 47 mentions Jesus as light upon Gentiles, hence it is natural to mention Gentiles' attitude to the gospel in verse 48. So it could be translated as: as many as were devoting themselves to the eternal life believed.

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    – agarza
    Dec 9, 2022 at 14:08

The word I'd passive. The middle/passive form is the following, acc to John Barach lexicon:

ταττόμενοι | Verb: Pres Mid/Pass Part Nom Plur Masc

If it was a middle voice word then we would have expected διατεταγμένος see Acts 20:13, and although passive it is definitely something done or arranged by themselves.

Acts 20:13: “But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land.” ESV

All predestination words are passive, it is done by God not by men, however it has been scientifically often seen as misinterpreted peculiarly by Gentiles to use as a basis for self entitlement & to shrug all responsibility or freewill.

Mayer's commentary on the Acts 13:48-49:

Τὸν λόγον τ. Κυρίου] see on Act 8:25.

ὅσοι ἦσαν τεταγμένοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον] as many of them as were ordained to eternal (Messianic) life. Luke regards, in accordance with the Pauline conception (Rom 9; Eph 1:4-5; Eph 1:11; Eph 3:11; 2Th 2:13, al.), the believing of those Gentiles as ensuing in conformity to their destination, ordered by God already (namely, from of old), to partake of eternal life. Not all in general became believers, but all those who were divinely destined to this ζωή; and not the rest. Chrysostom correctly remarks: ἀφωρισμένοι τῷ Θεῷ. The τάξις of God in regard to those who became believers was in accordance with His πρόγνωσις, by means of which He foreknew them as credituros; but the divine τάξις was realized by the divine κλῆσις effectual for faith (Rom 8:28-30) of which Paul, with his preaching, was here the instrument. It was dogmatic arbitrariness which converted our passage into a proof of the decretum absolutum; [13] see Beza and Calvin in loc., and Canon. Dordrac. p. 205, ed. Augusti. For Luke leaves entirely out of account the relation of “being ordained” to free self-determination; the object of his remark is not to teach a doctrine, but to indicate a historical sequence. Indeed, the evident relation, in which this notice stands to the apostle's own words, ἐπειδὴ … ζωῆς

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