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Author: Ron Graham

Glossary Simplybible

Word Study: Ordain

Word family: Ordain, ordained, ordination.

Synonyms: appoint, set in charge, devote, fix or predetermine.

Related ideas: authority, dedication, devotion, vocation, ministry, destiny.

Definitions: In relation to persons, “ordain” means to appoint (put in charge), one who has been chosen for a task. In relation to oneself, “ordain” means to devote or surrender oneself. In relation to seasons and events, “ordain” means to fix or predetermine.

Greek References: καθιστημι (kathisteemi), 2525 (Strong), cf 2476.
Also τιθημι (titheemi) etc. [to lay down] 5087, τασσω (tasso), 5021


  Dedication and destiny

  • Acts 1:7. “...times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority...”
  • John 10:15 “I lay down my life for the sheep.”
  • Acts 13:48 “As many as had been appointed [devoted] to eternal life believed.”
  • 1Thessalonians 5:9 “God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation...”
  • 1Peter 2:6 “I lay in Zion a chief corner stone...”

  Appointment of servants in the church

  • Acts 6:1-6 “Brethren, select from among you seven men whom we may appoint over this task.”
  • Acts 14:23 “And they appointed elders for them in every church.”
  • 1Corinthians 16:15 “...they have appointed themselves for the ministry”
  • Titus 1:5 “Set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.”

Comment 1: It may appear that the ordaining was different in the above cases of servants being appointed to a task. The appointments may seem to be made primarily by the congregation in one case, the apostles in another case, the ministers themselves in another, and by an evangelist in another. These cases however would be more sensibly interpreted as all being similar.

In every case it was the congregation who made the choice. In every case it was the chosen persons who surrendered and devoted themselves. The role of the apostles or evangelist was to prepare the congregation for their choice by teaching, and then giving effect and recognition to the congregation's choice with an appropriate pronouncement to confirm the appointment and make it official.

Comment 2: Special attention needs to be given to the use of tasso in 1Corinthians 16:15 and Acts 13:48. In the first passage, the household of Stephanas devoted themselves for ministry. In the latter passage certain Gentiles at Antioch in Pisidia believed Paul's preaching because they had been devoted to eternal life.

In other words (as the context shows) they were God fearing people seeking light and salvation. Most translations use the word appointed or ordained here, and people of the Calvinistic persuasion use this verse to prove that individuals have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world and foreordained to eternal life without themselves having anything to do with it. There is no ground for this.

A comparison of these two passages shows that self devotion is the meaning intended. In Acts 13:48 Luke was simply observing that these people had qualities that disposed them to eternal life —something which, unfortunately, is unthinkable to a Calvinist.

Best lesson: Evangelists


Webservant Ron Graham

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