Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Files: Benson on Acts 13:48

Joseph Benson makes several key points in his commentaries on Acts 13:48 page 772. He argues that the Calvinist translation of tasso entails reprobation and impugns the God's character. He argues that the Calvinist view breaks down the parallel of the rejection in verse 46 with the acceptance in verse 48. He notes that tasso is never understood as predestination and is frequently dispose, place, or appoint.

Benson then makes a vital point: "the Syriac, likewise, one of the most ancient versions of the New Testament, has rendered the passage in the same sense, which is of great moment, as that translation was made before the meaning of this place was disputed by the different sects and parties of Christians." Benson then he shows that a wide array of scholars translate tasso as 'disposed' rather than 'ordained' including: Doddridge, Hammond, Heylin, Waterland, Whitby, Dodd and Sellon.

Benson concludes: "the sum is: All those, and only those, now believed, who yielded to, instead of resisting the convictions produced in their minds by the preaching of the truth, and the influence of the grace of God, which truth was preached with equal clearness to others, and which grace, in a similar way, visited and strove with others: for God had not reprobated the rest. It was his will that they also should have been saved, but by yielding to inclinations, affections, and passions, which they themselves knew to be sinful, and to which they were under no necessity of yielding, they rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and thrust salvation from them. For they who then repented and believed were not constrained so to do, but grace and mercy were then freely and copiously offered to them, and pressed upon them, and they did not put it away, but yielded to its influence. So that a great multitude, even of such as, it seems, had been idolatrous Gentiles, were converted."

Benson's position represents a middle road between Wesley's "successful prevenient grace" and Whitby's "they disposed themselves"; in that God disposed them for eternal life.

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