And when the Gentiles heard this
That it was the will of God, and the command of Christ, that the Gospel should be preached to them; by whom are to be understood the Pisidians, the inhabitants of Antioch, who had never been proselytes to the Jewish religion:
they were glad;
not that the Jews were likely to have the Gospel taken away from them, and be utterly deprived of it, but that it was to be preached to them:
and glorified the word of the Lord;
not the Lord Jesus Christ, the essential word of the Lord, whom they might not as yet have such a distinct knowledge of; but rather God himself, for his word, particularly his word of command, ( Acts 13:47 ) as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions read; or the sense is, they spake well of the Gospel, and gave glory to God, or the Lord, who had sent it among them: Beza's most ancient copy reads, they "received the word of the Lord", which seems to be a more agreeable reading; to glorify the word of the Lord, is an unusual phrase:
and as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed;
faith is not the cause, or condition of the decree of eternal life, but a means fixed in it, and is a fruit and effect of it, and what certainly follows upon it, as in these persons: some would have the words rendered, "as many as were disposed unto eternal life believed"; which is not countenanced by the ancient versions. The Arabic renders it as we do, and the Syriac thus, "as many as were put, or appointed unto eternal life"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "as many as were pre-ordained". Moreover, the phrase of being "disposed unto", or "for eternal life", is a very unusual, if not a very improper, and an inaccurate one; men are said to be disposed to an habit, or to an act, as to vice or virtue, but not to reward or punishment, as to heaven or hell; nor does it appear that these Gentiles had any good dispositions to eternal life, antecedent to their believing; for though they are said, ( Acts 13:42 ) to entreat the apostles to preach the same things to them the next sabbath, yet the words as there observed, according to their natural order, may be rendered "they", i.e. the apostles, "besought the Gentiles"; and in some copies and versions, the "Gentiles" are not mentioned at all: and as for their being "glad", and "glorifying the word of the Lord", it is not evident that this was before their believing; and if it was, such things have been found in persons, who have had no true, real, and inward dispositions to spiritual things, as in many of our Lord's hearers; besides, admitting that there are, in some, good dispositions to eternal life, previous to faith, and that desiring eternal life, and seeking after it, be accounted such, yet these may be where faith does not follow; as in the young rich ruler, that came to Christ with such an inquiry, and went away sorrowful: as many therefore as are so disposed, do not always believe, faith does not always follow such dispositions; and after all, one would have thought that the Jews themselves, who were externally religious, and were looking for the Messiah, and especially the devout and able women, were more disposed unto eternal life, than the ignorant and idolatrous Gentiles; and yet the latter believed, and the former did not: it follows then, that their faith did not arise from previous dispositions to eternal life, but was the fruit and effect of divine ordination unto it; and the word here used, in various places in this book, signifies determination and appointment, and not disposition of mind; see ( Acts 15:2 ) ( 22:10 ) ( 28:23 ) The phrase is the same with that used by the Jews, (Mlwe yyxl wnqtad) , "who are ordained to eternal life" F25; and (yyxl bytkd lk amle) , "everyone that is written to eternal life"; F26 i.e. in the book of life; and designs no other than predestination or election, which is God's act, and is an eternal one; is sovereign, irrespective, and unconditional; relates to particular persons, and is sure and certain in its effect: it is an ordination, not to an office, nor to the means of grace, but to grace and glory itself; to a life of grace which is eternal, and to a life of glory which is for ever; and which is a pure gift of God, is in the hands of Christ, and to which his righteousness gives a title: and ordination to it shows it to be a blessing of an early date; and the great love of God to the persons ordained to it; and the certainty of enjoying it.
F25 Zohar in Exod. fol. 43. 4.
F26 Targum in Isa. iv. 3. Vid Abkath Rocel, p. 5.