555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

505. What Is Meant by "As Many as Were rdained to Eternal Life Believed"?

This passage in Acts 13 48 has been much discussed. Those Gentiles did not all become believers, but only those in whom the preaching of the apostles had awakened faith and who, being taken into the congregation, had striven earnestly to "make their calling and election sure." It forcibly reminds us that salvation is the gift of God and not in any sense something we can obtain by our own merit or acts; but at the same time, in order to attain this gift (which is divinely ordained to all those who comply with certain conditions), we must put ourselves in the attitude of faith and belief. Further, throughout the whole Scriptures, there is a pervading sense of the fact that many are specially called to be saints and to perform a certain work, who are obedient to the summons and yet who were not in such attitude before. The case of Paul is an illustration in point. He was called right out of the midst of his sinful life of persecution. Some commentators hold that in the case of these Gentiles, God had chosen for himself certain men to become witness-bearers and to be set apart for a special work. Still other translators make the passage read: "As many as disposed themselves to eternal life believed," referring to I Cor. 16:15. We may add, by way of further explanation, that while the call to salvation is a universal one, the call to special service is one that comes only to the few.