Acts 4:28 – Mental Resolution or Causal Predetermination?

, posted by Godismyjudge

The Scholastics used to ask “does predestination place anything in the predestined?” A relevant question indeed concerning Acts 4:28. Consider the translation change from the 1984 NIV to the 2012 ISV:

“They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” 1984 New International Version

“to carry out everything that your hand and will had predetermined to take place” 2012 International Standard Version

The NIV speaks of God’s choice – a mental resolution on His part – the ISV speaks of God’s actions impacting and determining the events. In the NIV, God’s mind is set; in the ISV the events are set. The Greek term proorizo is flexible in either direction – both translations are permissible. Yet the ISV clarifies the ambiguous term in favor of Calvinism.

The argument for determinism based on the ISV is simple – God predetermined sinful actions for which man is morally responsible, therefore compatible determinism is true. But this argument is not quite so straightforward based on the NIV. Yes God decided it would happen, but the passage is silent on why God so decided and more importantly how the events would come about. Given God knew the sinful desires and intentions of the Jews, God need only hand Christ over – give them the opening to do what they wanted. Determinism does not flow from the NIV the way it does from the ISV.

I understand the passage in the NIV sense, God’s choice or plan. I take this view because it’s grammatically and contextually likely and because it reconciles with my understanding of the balance of scripture. But as far as translations go, if the Greek is ambiguous, the English should be as well. So I like the ASV “to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.”