Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Luke's Use of Pluperfects of Completed Action

Turretinfan responded to my comments on Acts 13:48:

However, Dan unfortunately seems to have misunderstood how the timing is indicated by the context. In this case, the reference timing is the time when the Gentiles, heard the gospel message, were glad, glorified the word of the Lord, and believed. The pluperfect indicates an action that was "past" with respect to those events.

That means that the ordaining was done before hearing, the being glad, the glorifying, and the believing. That does not necessarily specify when exactly the ordaining was done, which is a point that Dr. White tried to emphasize.

If we only had this verse we could not say whether the ordaining had been done (notice my own use of the pluperfect) in eternity past, a week before the message was preached, or five minutes before the apostle spoke. (link) Emphasis mine.

Acts 13:48 states: 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.

In my understanding of Acts 13:48: I peg the timing of tazzo-ing (ordaining) to the context (either the Gentiles hearing of the gospel or the Gentiles hearing that the gospel applied to them). On the other hand, Turretinfan pegs it to something outside the context (predestination from before the foundation of the world). In doing so, note that Turretinfan denies that pluperfects of completed action are complete at a time implied in the context or at a specified time. But this contradicts standard Greek grammars:

The Pluperfect of Completed Action. The Pluperfect is used of an action which was complete at a point of past time implied in the context. (Burton)

The Pluperfect represents an action as already finished at some specified past time (Goodwin)

Turretinfan seeks an unspecified past time - one not implied in the context. This further contradicts Luke's usage. Here are all Luke's pluperfects of completed action (Acts 13:48 excepted). Note that all cases the timing of the past time is implied in the context.


Luke 2:49 But 1 he replied, 2 “Why were you looking for me? 3 Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Luk 4:41 Demons also came out 1 of many, crying out, 2 “You are the Son of God!” 3 But he rebuked 4 them, and would not allow them to speak, 5 because they knew that he was the Christ.
Luk 6:8 But 1 he knew 2 their thoughts, 3 and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Get up and stand here.” 4 So 5 he rose and stood there.
Luk 8:2 and also some women 1 who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: 2 Mary 3 (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out,
Luk 8:29 For Jesus 1 had started commanding 2 the evil 3 spirit to come out of the man. (For it had seized him many times, so 4 he would be bound with chains and shackles 5 and kept under guard. But 6 he would break the restraints and be driven by the demon into deserted 7 places.)
Luk 8:35 So 1 the people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus. They 2 found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.
Luk 8:38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go 1 with him, but Jesus 2 sent him away, saying,
Luk 19:22 The king 1 said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, 2 you wicked slave! 3 So you knew, did you, that I was a severe 4 man, withdrawing what I didn’t deposit and reaping what I didn’t sow?
Luk 23:35 The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed 1 him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save 2 himself if 3 he is the Christ 4 of God, his chosen one!”
Luk 23:49 And all those who knew Jesus 1 stood at a distance, and the women who had followed him from Galilee saw 2 these things.
Act 1:10 As 1 they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly 2 two men in white clothing stood near them
Act 4:22 For the man, on whom this miraculous sign 1 of healing had been performed, 2 was over forty years old.
Act 7:18 until another king who did not know about 1 Joseph ruled 2 over Egypt. 3
Act 7:44 Our ancestors 1 had the tabernacle 2 of testimony in the wilderness, 3 just as God 4 who spoke to Moses ordered him 5 to make it according to the design he had seen.
Act 8:27 So 1 he got up 2 and went. There 3 he met 4 an Ethiopian eunuch, 5 a court official of Candace, 6 queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. He 7 had come to Jerusalem to worship, 8
Act 9:7 (Now the men 1 who were traveling with him stood there speechless, 2 because they heard the voice but saw no one.) 3
Act 9:21 All 1 who heard him were amazed and were saying, “Is this not 2 the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging 3 those who call on this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners 4 to the chief priests?”
Act 12:9 Peter 1 went out 2 and followed him; 3 he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real, 4 but thought he was seeing a vision.
Act 14:23 When they had appointed elders 1 for them in the various churches, 2 with prayer and fasting 3 they entrusted them to the protection 4 of the Lord in whom they had believed.
Act 14:8 In 1 Lystra 2 sat a man who could not use his feet, 3 lame from birth, 4 who had never walked.
Act 16:3 Paul wanted Timothy 1 to accompany him, and he took 2 him and circumcised 3 him because of the Jews who were in those places, 4 for they all knew that his father was Greek. 5
Act 19:32 So then some were shouting one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had met together. 1
Act 20:38 especially saddened 1 by what 2 he had said, that they were not going to see him 3 again. Then they accompanied 4 him to the ship.
Act 21:18 The next day Paul went in with us to see James, and all the elders were there. 1
Act 21:26 Then Paul took the men the next day, 1 and after he had purified himself 2 along with them, he went to the temple and gave notice 3 of the completion of the days of purification, 4 when 5 the sacrifice would be offered for each 6 of them.
Act 23:5 Paul replied, 1 “I did not realize, 2 brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You must not speak evil about a ruler of your people.’”

Now of course, Turretinfan (and James White) could backpedal and deny that Acts 13:48 is a pluperfect of completed action and instead claim it's some other kind of pluperfect. But pluperfects of completed action require completion within the context, not outside the context.

2 comments:

Go Share Your Faith said...

Hmm....I read your assertion and I read your passages to prove it and I don't think you were successful in making your case..

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Go Share Your Faith,

Thanks for sharing your thougths. Here's an example of where I am coming from:

Luke 2:49 But 1 he replied, 2 “Why were you looking for me? 3 Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Ok so 'know' is pluperfect. Now it could be a pluperfect of action or a pluperfect of existing state. But how to tell the difference? What if all we had was:

Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

One might conclude it's a pluperfect of existing state; what's important is that they knew. But put back into it's context:

But 1 he replied, 2 “Why were you looking for me? 3 Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

What's important is that they knew just before they were looking. It would not do to say they knew in the distant past, but no longer do. The fact that the action took place in the narrative has explanitory significance.

OK, back to Acts 13:48. The fact that they were ordained to eternal life helps explain why they believed. But an event happening within the context is the best candidate to provide such an explanation. If it's not an event happening in the context (if it's simply background info.) then it doesn't have the explainitory power an event just prior to their belief that lead to their belief would have.

Predestination in and of itself doesn't explain why they believed right then and there. God predestines some to believe very early in life and some on their death bed. But an event in the context could provide an explination as to why they believed.

God be with you,
Dan