Acts 2:23 teaches not that God willed that the Jews should slay Christ, but, that he was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” into the power of those who wished to slay him. Nothing more can be inferred from Acts 4:28. For God predetermined to deliver his Son into the hands of his enemies, that He might suffer from them that which God had laid upon him, and which the Jews, of their own wickedness and hatred against Christ, had determined to inflict upon him.
God, indeed, “determined before” that death should be inflicted on Christ by them. But in what character did God consider them when He “determined before” that this should be done by them? In that character, surely, which they had at the time when they inflicted death upon Christ, that is, in the character of sworn enemies of Christ, of obstinate enemies and despisers of God and the truth, who could be led to repentance by no admonitions, prayers, threats or miracles; who wished to inflict every evil on Christ, if they could only obtain the power over him, which they often sought in vain.
It is evident, then, that there was here no other action of God in this case that that He delivered His own Son into their hands, and permitted them to do their pleasure in reference to him. Yet he determined the limit to which He pleased that they should go, regulating and governing their wickedness, in such a manner, yet very gently, that they should inflict on him only that which God had willed that His own Son should suffer, and nothing more.
This is clearly seen in the manner of the punishment, in preventing the breaking of his legs, in the piercing of his side, in the inscription of the title, and the like. But there appears here no action of God by which they were impelled or moved to will and to do what they willed and did. But He used those who wished, of their own malice and envy, to put Christ to death, in a mode, which, He knew, would conduce to His own glory and the salvation of men.
But the reason that it cannot be said, with truth, that God and Christ, in the delivery of Christ to the Jews sinned, does not consist only or chiefly, in the fact that they were led to this delivery by various motives.
What if Judas had done the same thing [betrayed Christ] with the design that Christ, by his own death, should reconcile the world unto God, would his sin have been less heinous? By no means. It was not lawful for him to do evil that good might come. But the chief reason of the difference is that God had the right to deliver His Son, and Christ also had the right to deliver his own soul to death, and consequently, in doing this, they could not sin. But Judas had no power in this case, and he, therefore sinned. There is a distinction in actions not only as to their end, but as to their principle and form. Saul was not acquitted of sin because he preserved the herds of the Amalekites for sacrifice (1 Sam 15:9-22).
From An Examination of Predestination and Grace in Perkin’s Pamphlet, Part 1, quoted in Arminius Speaks, pp. 181, 182, ed. John Wagner