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Volition and Sovereignty. Acts 13:40-52


If we you to understand the issues related to Calvinism and Arminianism, and if you are studying those issues and are dealing with somebody who holds to a strong Calvinistic view of salvation and the doctrines of salvation then two of the passages that they will go to in order to substantiate their view on unconditional election and predestination are found in Acts 13:18 and Romans 8:28-30. There are other verses but those are two of the central verses that are brought into the debate in the attempt to understand the relationship of the sovereignty of God and the volition of human beings. So it is always important to study these types in context, because so much of the time in theology what you get is people making bullet points and they will give the Scripture references and actually cite their Scriptures, but they are just citing the verse, or maybe two verses, and you don't get the context and the flow of argument that surrounds that verse. And often by taking a verse out of context it sounds like it is saying one thing and in reality it isn't saying that at all. 

We have been focusing on the principle that in Acts 13 Paul is explaining the gospel. This is the first in-depth presentation of the gospel that we see from the apostle Paul to a Jewish audience. He is following the principle he states later on in the first chapter of Romans, taking the gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. He believed that that was his mandate from God even though he is the apostle to the Gentiles. There was still this mandate to take the gospel of the kingdom to the Jews and to give them the opportunity of first refusal, which happened almost every time. Then there is a free, open and clear door to take the gospel to the Gentiles who were receiving the gospel with open arms and enthusiasm.

The last few lessons have been to help us to understand how Paul is structuring his presentation of the gospel. It is important to have a very good grasp of the Old Testament presentation of the gospel. Any of us ought to be prepared to be able to be able to walk somebody through a gospel presentation without ever going to the New Testament, except maybe at the end just to lay that groundwork. But that would only be with certain kinds of an audience. With other kinds of audience you do other things; everybody is different. You don't just have one or two canned approaches, you just need to know the Word so that the Holy Spirit can use it.

We have come to the basic presentation of the gospel in Acts 13:38, 39. It has been pointed out that the focal point here in his explanation of the gospel is the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. There are different ways to express the message of the gospel. One way is to talk about it in terms of forgiveness of sins. That is very important for some people, depending on their background and their history. For other people the issue may be reconciliation, for others an understanding of justification, for others it might be an understanding of the gift of eternal life. The focal point is always on the work that Christ did on the cross that provides these. These are just different facets of what was accomplished on the cross. 

A major debate that has occurred is one that is between a group that we will call fatalists or determinists, for lack of a better term. These are those who emphasize the sovereign authority of God, that God oversees and controls history to the degree that human beings really don't have ultimate freedom in the areas of the will. They have freedom at the lower level; they can decide whether to put on a pair of cowboy boots or something like that, but when it comes to significant patters in life, especially salvation, man does not have free will, he does not have responsible choice. He cannot make those kinds of choices, they are predetermined by the sovereign control of God.

On the other side there is a group that has so rejected the sovereignty of God that they emphasize human freedom to the point that man basically determines God's will. Everything is determined by God. Ultimately somebody has go to determine everything, it is either going to be God or the creature. So the way it is set up is to polarize these two positions where there is either a totally sovereign God or a totally free creature.

In recent years there has been an even weirder heretical view on the side of freedom. This came out in the nineties and became known as open theism. Open theism held to the basic view that if God is going to know that something will certainly happen in the future then you have two options. Either He totally controls everything to bring that about—which means there is no freedom—or He is really just making an educated guess. He is not omniscient He is just open to the future. But God can't know with certainty what will happen in the future without being able to control what will happen in the future. In reading the literature on this we find that a vast number of the books that are written are written not from a biblical perspective, even though theologians are writing them. There is a tremendous amount of discussion and argumentation that is based on pure philosophical constructs.

But we just want to deal with what the Scripture says. And want is frustrating for a certain number of people is that on the one side, the determinist side represented historically by two great figures, the bishop of Hippo, Augustine, and John Calvin, and on the other side Pelagianism. Pelgius was a British monk who believed that everybody had the same freedom that Adam had and that everybody was born with the same neutrality as Adam. So there was the initial debate between Augustine and Pelagius, and then later on between Calvinists and a group of former Calvinists out of Holland who were known as Arminians because they were following a theologian professor named Jacobus Arminius. That is the historical context and people think that everything can be divided into two ways. 

Calvinists and Augustinians tend to emphasize the grandeur, greatness and authority of God. They will try to pin their opponent and say, who is in charge, God or man? They are creating a false dichotomy. They have created a God who is less powerful because it is either His control or man's control, He doesn't have the power and authority to oversee creation and maintain His control over the flow of history, working in and through human volition behind the scenes without controlling it. That is a larger, greater God than a God who controls the volition of everybody. Because He is so much greater than all of the circumstances and people He is able to sort of guide and direct the whole process without sacrificing the individual responsibility of the creatures.

The whole concept of freedom is another bag because Adam had one level of freedom but his descendants don't have that same level of freedom. We all know that we were born slaves of the sin nature, Paul explains in Romans chapter six. So this idea that we are free is really a kind of misnomer. It is like the term "fair" which has so many ambiguities to it that one person's fairness is another person's inequality, and another person's socialism is another person's communism. Freedom kind of gets the same way and so we have to be careful about some of these terms. One of the things we need to emphasize and come back to is what the Bible emphasizes, and that is personal responsibility, personal ability to make certain decisions and be held accountable for those decisions.

As we look at Acts 13:38 Paul says, "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, [39] and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses." This is emphasizing the human individual responsibility aspect of the gospel. You determine you eternal destiny—"everyone who believes." It never says everyone who is preordained, everyone who is elect, or everyone who is determined by God. The Scriptures never put it that way. 

This gets into another little rabbit trail. We need to be educated and aware of some of the things that are going on. We have pointed out that within the free grace gospel, the Free Grace Evangelical Society got off track by narrowing the gospel to simply an offer of eternal life and believing in Jesus for eternal life; anything else wasn't the gospel. The problem with that is that that is just one facet of the gospel presentation. You can believe in Jesus for forgiveness of sins, for eternal life, for justification or redemption or reconciliation. Or you can believe in Him because you know that is the only way to heaven, you are just going to trust Him and you really don't understand all of the other stuff—as with a six-year-old, because that is the level at which you can comprehend it. You are not going to sit down and go through nineteen points on the doctrine of regeneration when you are six years old. But what happens when people start trying to slice the baloney real thin and ask certain questions like what is the smallest amount of information you have to believe in order to be saved, that can really lead you down the wrong trail. That is one wrong trail that the GES crowd went down. The other crowd started getting upset about talking about volition in salvation, that faith wasn't volitional. In reading their literature it is thought that what they are really reacting to is a branch of evangelism and tent revivalism—Billy Graham type evangelism—where people say you need know when you decided to trust in Christ, and if you can't pin-point when you made that decision for Jesus then you are not saved. It is decisional. That seems to be what they are going after, but what they end up saying is that faith isn't really volitional. So that created another little problem. It is important to understand these distinctions.

Here, "everyone who believes." When you put a word like believe into an imperatival context, either an imperatival participle or an imperative mood verb, the imperative demands a response, yes or no. You have to make a decision. It is simple grammar. And yet the twists and turns and the gymnastics people went through to try to argue that faith really wasn't volitional! They ended up saying things that Calvinists would say on the side of irresistible grace.

There is the presentation of what Christ did—provide forgiveness of sins. Then there is the challenge to the individual—"everyone who believes." That is the condition. Then the result is "justified from all things, from which you could not be freed [justified] through the Law of Moses." That is the presentation of the gospel.

Then there was a challenge, and the challenge is a warning of judgment that is about to come if they reject this free offer of God's grace. Acts 13:40 NASB "Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon {you:}" That is his statement for introducing a quote from the Old Testament. There are basic different ways by which New Testament writers quote Old Testament passages as being fulfilled. The first is literal prophecy; literal fulfillment. Example: Micah 5:2. Then there is a second category in which it is a historical event that occurred but it is used by the New Testament writer as representing a type or a pattern of a future fulfillment. Hosea: "Out of Egypt have I called my son {Israel]." Matthew chapter two takes that verse and shows that this represented, just as the Jews coming out of Egypt, a type or a picture of Jesus coming out of Egypt after the family fled there when Herod was threatening to kill all of the male babies and then came back. The third way is when a statement is not a literal prophecy in the event in the Old Testament, it is a pattern that is similar—this is similar to that, it is not a literal fulfillment. E.g. Joel 2, the prediction that your old men will dream dreams and your young women will prophesy, etc. The context indicates that that comes at the time of the day of the Lord. Peter quotes from that in Acts chapter two but it is not a literal fulfillment. Of all the things that are mentioned in Joel 2 none are found in Acts 2. The one thing that happens in Acts 2, speaking in tongues, isn't mentioned in Joel 2. All that Peter is saying is that this event is similar to that and I'm just using that prophecy to point out a pattern or a similarity of how God works. That is what we have here in Acts 13. 

He is quoting from Habakkuk 1:5 in order to show that there is a pattern in the way that God deals with sinful disobedience. When people reject His offer of grace then God brings judgment. Acts 13:41 NASB "BEHOLD, YOU SCOFFERS, AND MARVEL, AND PERISH; FOR I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS, A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE, THOUGH SOMEONE SHOULD DESCRIBE IT TO YOU."

There is a certain proper self-righteous indignation here. He looks and it just seems that God is letting them get away with everything. There is such evil going on and God just doesn't seem to deal with it. Habakkuk is going to God at the beginning of the book and saying, Why don't you deal with it? God says He is going to deal with it, He is going to bring the Chaldeans who are going to destroy the country.  Habakkuk 1:5 [God says] NASB "Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because {I am} doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told. [6] For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs." God is saying watch and see what I am about to do. It is a literal prophecy.

Is it literal in Acts 13? Is that the fulfillment? No, this was fulfilled in the Old Testament. Paul is saying that just as God brought judgment upon the Israelites at that time because they rejected God's grace and turned from worshipping God to worshipping idols, so now you have a chance to turn back at this point, worship God, and to accept His Messiah as your savior who has provided you with forgiveness of sins; but if you reject that then you will face the same consequences, the same kind of consequences that the Israelites faced in 586 BC. The implication in Acts is that their hearts are hardened and there are going to be a lot of them that won't believe no matter how well it is declared to them. They are like the people of Judah in 586 BC. They rejected God, rejected the prophets, had everything painted for them very clearly, and they still said no. That is negative volition. It blinds us to the truth. This is how Paul closed his gospel presentation. It generated a lot of discussion.

Verses in Acts that Paul is saying fits with all the messages. It is the same challenge, this warning that there will be a significant judgment on Israel. Acts 3:22, 23 NASB "Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'" Judgment will come if you reject Jesus as Messiah.

Acts 4:11, 12 NASB "He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, {but} WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER {stone.} And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

Acts 10:42 NASB "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead."

Acts 17:30, 31 NASB "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all {people} everywhere should repent [change their thinking about God and about the Messiah], because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." The point: there is judgment coming.

Acts 13:42 NASB "As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath." These are Jews and seekers of God among the Gentiles. When he uses the term "Jews" he is not just talking about ethnic Jews. All through the Gospel of John, John refers to "the Jews" as the bad guys. But John is a Jew, Jesus is a Jew, the other disciples are all Jews, many of those who were believing in Jesus were Jews. The term is one that refers to the leaders of the group, leaders of the Jews. So when the leadership left the synagogue the Gentiles, these proselytes, seekers of God, hang back in order to talk to Paul. The term translated "begged" here is the word parakaleo. It is sometimes translated "challenge," sometimes the basic meaning of calling to one's side; but it also has the idea of making an urgent request for something. So they are pleading will Paul to stay another week and then to address the synagogue again next Sabbath.

Acts 13:43 NASB "Now when {the meeting of} the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews …" This would be talking about the Orthodox of the group, and these would be among the leaders, the more devout among the group. "… and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God." We are seeing a transition in Paul's ministry where now the focus is going to be more upon the Gentiles. The Jews here would be those who were really serious about studying the Word, who were really seeking out its meaning, and the Gentile proselytes who were also genuinely involved in trying to understand the Word of God and to make it a part of their life. They are the ones who are truly expressing positive volition and the ones Paul is focusing on here.

During that next week we could speculate that Paul and Barnabas didn't leave town and that people are coming around and they are having ongoing discussions. They would be discussing what Paul had been saying in the synagogue the week before. This was the main topic of conversation in the Jewish community and among the Gentiles: whether this was really true. And of we can bring in some ideas from some of the other places that Paul went the more devout are probably searching the Scriptures to see how these messianic prophecies that they knew fit in with Jesus. So the next week, after excitement had been building all week, almost the whole city comes together to hear the Word of the Lord (kurios) from the apostle Paul.

Acts 13:45 NASB "But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and {began} contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming." They were filled with envy. In Romans chapter eleven Paul says that the Jews are going to look at God's blessing on the Gentiles and eventually this is going to stir them to jealousy so that they are going to want what the Gentiles have. But that is not what is happening here; just the reverse is happening. A certain segment of the Jews become jealous of the Gentiles and they begin arguing and disputing with Paul.

What happens in this kind of a context is that all of a sudden it becomes about ego. Nobody is listening and nobody is trying to get to the truth of the matter, they are more concerned about refuting whatever the other person is saying so that they look like they win the debate. That is what see a lot today in a lot of politics and a lot of stuff that goes on in the news. People just debate each other, nobody really cares about the truth; they just care about being able to sound better or look better or put down the other person. It doesn't matter of their facts are right or not just as long as they win the debate.

Here they are contradicting Paul. And the use of "blasphemy" in Scripture isn't usually against people; it is against God. You can revile against some people—same word as used for blasphemy—but primarily it is used against God. They are contradicting Paul and the blasphemy is against God. Their contradiction and hostility to Paul and to Paul's message of the gospel is a blasphemy against God. And so they are opposing everything that is spoken by Paul. Again we have to understand the Jews here is the leadership in the congregation.

Then Paul and Barnabas respond with great confidence and boldness. Acts 13:46 NASB "Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, 'It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.'" They spoke out boldly against those who were challenging them. Remember they were in somebody else's house. One of the things we tell young pastors is that if they are invited to speak in someone else's church they should be careful they don't step on their toes. They are not there to correct the pastor in front of his congregation and they are not there to correct the congregation about views they have, they are there to preach the truth as clear as they can without creating trauma in the process. Here Paul and Barnabas are having to create trauma because they had been attacked as they had been teaching the Word. They are going to stand their ground and not back off, and they responded boldly.

"It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first." This is the first time something is introduced that has some sort of implication of necessity or something that has been determined. But it is not in the deterministic sense, it is that God had a plan and that plan was they were supposed to take the gospel to the Jews first. So because that is the way God planned it that was the way they executed it, so that by doing so the rejection by the Jews would make it evident to all that the gospel should go to the Gentiles.

"since you repudiate it" – this is what we want to focus on here. Where is the emphasis there is terms of responsibility? It is on the individual Jew in the congregation. They are the ones who are making the decision to reject what they have been told; "you judge yourselves," and there is a reflexive pronoun there for emphasis, "unworthy of eternal life." It is really interesting the way that Paul sets this up and Luke presents it. If we don't understand this verse we can't understand verse 48, which is the key verse that Calvinism stands on. What was the gospel message that Paul proclaimed? That Jesus died so that you could have forgiveness of sins. But now he doesn't mention forgiveness of sins here, he mentions something else—eternal life. "[you] judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life." How did they judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life? By rejecting the gospel message of Paul. So the responsibility is there. He doesn't say, "You rejected it because you were ordained to eternal condemnation." He doesn't say, "You rejected it because you were predestined to the lake of fire." He doesn't say, "You rejected it because you were not one of the elect." He says, "You rejected it because you judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life." It is all your decision. Because of that it has consequences, and one of those is that we turn to the Gentiles.

Verse 46 is followed by an explanation with a quote from the Old Testament. Acts 13:47 NASB "For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'" It was predicted in the Old Testament that the Jews were going to be the gospel bearers to bring light to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:6 NASB "I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations." So this is part of God's command to the Jews. They were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles. And that is fulfilled through the gospel ministry of the apostles. Isaiah 49:6 NASB "He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.'" Paul recognizes that and applies it to the situation.

Then we see the contrast. It is between the Jewish hostility and their rejection of the message of forgiveness and their rejection of the offer of eternal life. The Gentiles welcome it. Acts 13:48 NASB "When the Gentiles heard this, they {began} rejoicing and glorifying the word [message] of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

This is one of those verses where Calvinists stake their claim for unconditional election. When they read that they say what precedes belief is that in eternity past God had to make a decision as to who would be ordained to eternal life and who would not. They base that on the fact that the verb form there, "had been appointed," is a perfect tense verb, which refers to an act which was completed at some time in the past with results that continue on through history. So they take this phrase, "as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" and say that if you are not appointed to eternal life you won't believe.

We have to stop a minute and say let's look and see if that is really the best way to translate this in light of the context. "As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" is contrasted with the response of the Jews in verse 46: "since you repudiate/reject it, (not "since you weren't appointed to eternal life"" and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we turn to the Gentiles." What it sounds like in the way it is usually translated is that on the one hand there are the Jews who are making a decision to reject the gospel and on the other hand the Gentiles respond because they were appointed to respond. But that is comparing one idea which is of volition in verse 46 with a deterministic idea in verse 48, and that is like contrasting apples with oranges. It doesn't make sense, it is contradictory. In the English it looks that way, which is why we have to go back to the original languages.

The verb that is translated "had been appointed to eternal life" is tasso, a perfect tense verb, which means completed action. The first word "as many as" is a pronoun that indicates a large number of individuals and it is focusing on each of the individuals in that group who had at some time in the past had been something, usually translated appointed or sometimes ordained—to eternal life. That whole phrase is the subject of the verb "believed." We have to understand what that word tasso means. Its general meaning is to appoint or station, or to rank or to bring order to something. It is used as a military term and it is obvious that some people want to bring the military context in to understand the meaning of the word. But the military context of ordering someone in ranks is just one application of this term. The lexicon Bauer, Danker, Arndt and Gingrich is the third edition of the most respected lexicon of Koine Greek that is available. It lists among the meanings of the word tasso, to belong to a group—"as many as belong to eternal life believed." That is a totally different idea, isn't it? "As many as were classed among those with eternal life."

The second meaning listed in Arndt and Gingrich says, "It has the basic idea of giving instructions as to what must be done." So if I am going to appoint you to a task what I mean when I am instructing you is I am appointing you to a course of action. That makes the best sense, to take that phrase as identified by Arndt and Gingrich as the second meaning of the term and to use that. It makes a little more sense. It also clearly in other passages has the idea of determining, appointing, or fixing something. But we have to look at contexts to determine how these words are used. When we look at the phrase "as many as were classified (or, ranked) among those with eternal life believed." That is one way of interpreting this. That is the idea of "as many as were identified with eternal life." The second option: "As many as were given instructions as to what must be done for eternal life believed." That was the second idea given in Arndt and Gingrich.

All of a sudden everything is cleared up because it fits the context. That emphasizes personal decision making and that is what it is being contrasted to—the wrong decision made by the Jews with the right decision made here.

Another suggestion is made that has some merit is to translate this as "As many as were devoted or oriented to eternal life." Who are the ones who believed? The ones who believed were the more devout Jews and the more intent Gentile proselytes who converted to Judaism and were intensely studying the Word. These were the ones who followed Paul and Barnabas out and were plying them with questions because they really wanted to understand the truth. You could say they were really devoted to eternal life. This word tasso is translated that way in 1 Corinthians 16:15 where at the close of the epistle Paul is giving some personal instructions. NASB "Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints)."

The other thing here is that tasso is in a present passive or present middle construction. Middle is a reflexive mood. In Greek in certain tenses they don't have a different ending for passive and a different ending for middle voice; they are the same. You have to discern from context whether it is going to be middle or passive. Here it is used as an aorist middle which has the idea that they have devoted themselves or focused themselves on something. That makes a tremendous amount of sense if we look at Acts 13:48 again, that in contrast to verse 46 there is this one group of unbelievers who reject the truth and they consider themselves unworthy of eternal life, and in contrast to that are Gentiles whom have devoted themselves or focused themselves on understanding eternal life. They are the ones who have been instructed in eternal life and they are the ones who believed.

That makes a lot more sense than bringing in the idea of using it as "as many as were ordained or appointed." It is not even protasso—pro = before—which would be "foreordained." It doesn't say that. And it doesn't say "as many as were foreordained to believe," it says those who were tasso to eternal life. It skips over "believe." They are not foreordained or predestined to believe, but they are foreordained for eternal life. Another way to understand this is that God has ordained a path to get eternal life, and that path to get eternal life means that you have to believe and accept the gospel. And if you accept the gospel then you are ordained to eternal life because you have followed the path that God set forth to get eternal life, and that is by faith alone in Christ alone.

Acts 13:49 NASB "And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region." So there was this tremendous positive response by the Gentiles and they are telling everybody about the fact that they can have forgiveness of sins by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. In contrast the Jews are creating hostility. They are stirring up the devout and prominent men. In other words, they are going to the leaders in the community and slandering and making false accusations about Paul and Barnabas, stirring up everybody against them so that they are raising up persecution against them with the result that they are kicked out of the town and the province.

What Paul and Barnabas do is shake the dust off their feet against them, a symbol of the fact that they did not hold themselves accountable for the decisions of the people. Acts 13:51 NASB "But they shook off the dust of their feet {in protest} against them and went to Iconium."

Acts 13:52 NASB "And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." The term "disciples" is not a synonym for the people who are saved. There are people who are saved who aren't disciples. A disciple is someone who is committed to be a student somebody. There are people who are believers who just really aren't concerned about being a student of the Scriptures. The disciples are those who are pursuing spiritual growth and making that a priority in their life. And the result is that this is another one of those statements that Luke makes in bringing us up to date as to the expansion of the gospel. Those who were pursing spiritual growth were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

This isn't the word used in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit, the word pleroo. This is the word pimplemi which is a descriptive term related to maturity and spiritual growth. In Ephesians 5:18 there is a verbal command with a dative of means—Be filled by means of the Spirit. Here we have a description they were full of joy and full of the Holy Spirit. Their life was characterized by a walk by the Holy Spirit.