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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Acts 17

 

 

Verses 1-15

D.—Labors And Experiences In Thessalonica And Berea

Acts 17:1-15

1Now when they had passed [journeyed] through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a [the, ][FN1] synagogue of the Jews: 2And Paul, as his manner [custom] was, went in unto them, and [on] three sabbath days, reasoned[FN2] [discoursed] with them out of the Scriptures, 3Opening and alleging [setting forth], that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again [that it was necessary (ἕδει) for the Messiah (τὸν Χριστὸν) to suffer and to rise] from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom[FN3] I preach unto you, is Christ, [that This one is the Messiah (δ̔ Χρ.), Jesus, whom I announce to you][FN4]. 4And some of them believed, and consorted with [were convinced, and were allotted to] Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort [But the Jews[FN5] associated with themselves some base men belonging to the populace of the market], and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar [and excited a tumult in the city], and assaulted [placed themselves before] the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to [them before] the people 6 And [But] when they found them not, they drew [dragged] Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city [before the city magistrates (πολιτάρχας)], crying, These that have turned the world upside down [stirred up the world] are come hither also; 7Whom Jason hath received [as guests]: and these all do contrary [act in opposition] to the decrees of Cesar [commands of the emperor], saying that there is another king, one Jesus [that another is the king, Jesus]. 8And they troubled [disquieted] the people and the rulers of the city [the city magistrates], when they [who] heard these things 9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the others, they let them go [dismissed them]. 10And [But] the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea [Beroea]: who coming [these having come] thither went into the synagogue of the Jews 11 These were more noble [But (δὲ) these were of a better character] than those in Thessalonica, in that they [; they] received the word with all readiness of mind [om. of mind], and [inasmuch as they] searched the Scriptures daily [day by day], whether those things were Song of Solomon 12Therefore [Thus then, μὲν οῦ̓ν] many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of [also of the respectable Grecian women and] men, not a few 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge [ascertained] that the word of God was preached of [by] Paul [also, χαὶ] at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up[FN6] [came thither, and sought there also to disturb]6 the people 14 And [But] then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were [that he might proceed][FN7] to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still [remained there]. 15And they that conducted[FN8] Paul brought him unto [as far as] Athens: and receiving a commandment [charge] unto Silas and Timotheus for to [that they should] come to him with all speed, they departed.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Acts 17:1. Now when they had passed through, etc.—Paul and Silas, accompanied by Timotheus, after leaving Philippi, proceeded to Amphipolis, which was situated on the Strymon, by the waters of which it was surrounded. [“Not far from the coast, the Strymon spreads out into a lake; between the lower end of this lake and the inner reach of the Strymonic gulf, Amphipolis was situated on a bend of the river.” (Conyb. and H. I. 341.). Comp. Thuyc. IV:102. Its distance from Philippi was 33 Roman miles.—Tr.]. Without pausing in this place, they travelled30 miles further, in a south-easterly direction to Apollonia [“the exact position of which has not been ascertained” (Conyb., etc. p343).—Tr.], and, rapidly passing onward, continued their journey until they reached Thessalonica 37 miles distant from Apollonia]; here they remained about four weeks [“three sabbath-days,” i.e., in succession.—Tr.]. This city was situated on [the inner bend of] the Thermaic gulf [half-way between the Adriatic and the Hellespont]; it had become, under the Roman sway, a very populous and wealthy commercial city, was the capital of the second district of the province of Macedonia, and was also the residence of a Roman Prætor. The Jews must have established themselves, in large Numbers, in this city; their synagogue appears to have been the only one that existed in northern Macedonia. The definite article before συςαγ. τ. ʼΙουδ., which is omitted in several manuscripts, because it was not understood by some copyists, means that no synagogue had been built in Philippi, Amphipolis or Apollonia, that the Jews who possibly dwelt in those cities possessed only a place of prayer (προςευχή), and that they belonged, as it were, to this synagogue in Thessalonica. [Grotius].

[See note 4 above, appended to the text.—Tr.]. It is a forced construction when the words οῦ̓τος Xριστός are regarded as a predicate (Meyer), in the following sense: ‘This Messiah, described in the Scriptures, who necessarily suffered and rose again.’ And another construction as little commends itself by any internal evidence, according to which Xριστὸς ʼΙησοῦς, not separated by a comma, constitute the predicate (de Wette, Baumgarten [and Alexander]), and the sense would be: ‘This is the Christ Jesus whom I preach.’

Acts 17:4-5. And some of them believed.—The explanations of Paul were partially successful. The arguments adduced from the Old Testament to prove the Messianic dignity of Jesus, convinced (πείθω, descriptive of the progress of the argument) some (a few, as it would seem), of the Jews, but also many Hellenic proselytes [comp. Acts 13:48; Acts 13:50], who visited the synagogue, and not a few respectable women of Hellenic origin, who were also proselytes [“of the first women, i.e., first in rank and social position.” (Alex.).—Tr.]; all these were allotted to Paul and Silas. Προςκληροῦν means to add by lot, sorte lectum adjungere, or, in general, to attach to, and is here to be taken in a passive sense, so that God Himself appears as the author of the allotment; see below Doctr. no2. [“In Acts 17:4, προςεκληρώθησαν is obviously to be taken in a passive sense.” (Winer: Gram. N. T. § 392. ult.).—Tr.]. The majority of the Jews, on the other hand, could not be induced to believe. Their course is accurately described by the readings ἀπειθήσαντες and ἀπειθοῦντες [the former in E, the latter in D. G. H.; see above, note5, appended to the text.—Tr.]; and οἱ ʼΙουδαῖοι, as the antithesis to τινες ἐξ αὐτῶν, Acts 17:4, shows that the believers constituted an exception, and consisted of an inconsiderable minority. Ζηλώσαντες, which Isaiah, undoubtedly, a spurious reading, is intended to state, in accordance with the analogy in Acts 13:45, the feeling or motive which influenced them in their actions. The unbelieving Jews excited a persecution against the messengers of the faith, after having first gained over certain unprincipled and venal idlers and loungers about the market. (ʼΑγοραῖος frequently occurs in classic Greek.). [“Such men as Aristophanes calls πονηρὸς κἀξ ἀγορᾶς; Demosthenes, περίτρμμα ἀγορᾶς; Xenophon, τὸν ἀγοραῖον ὄχλον; Plutarch, ἀγοραίους καὶ δυναμένους ὄχλον συναγαγεῖν; see many other instances in Wetstein, who mentions the modern ‘canaille’ (canalicolæ). Cicero calls them ‘subrostrani;’ Plautus, ‘subbasilicani.’ (Alf.).—Tr.]. With the aid of these men, the unbelieving Jews raised a mob: and now these threatening masses collected before the house of one Jason, where the missionaries lodged. We possess no other information respecting Jason. We learn from the narrative before us that he resided in Thessalonica, that he had connected himself with the Christian congregation which had recently been formed in that city, and that he was the host of Paul and his two companions. It cannot now be determined whether he was a Jew by birth, and changed his Hebrew name Joshua or Jesus, into the Greek form Jason (Ewald) [after the example of the brother of the high priest Onias III. ( 2 Maccabees 4:7, and Joseph. xii51.), which is not probable;—Tr.], or whether he was originally a Greek. The mob which assembled before his house, intended to seize the two strangers, and bring them out to the people (ἀγαγεῖν εἰς τ. δῆηον), that Isaiah, to abandon them to the passions of the excited multitude.

Acts 17:6-9. a. And when they found them not.—As the principal persons had withdrawn from the house which was threatened, (perhaps in consequence of a timely warning), the Jews seized, in their place, the host himself, together with some other Christians, and dragged them before the magistrates of the city. (It is a remarkable circumstance that the somewhat rare word πολιτάρχης, which occurs here, is found in a Greek inscription referring to Thessalonica; see Boeckh: Inscript. II. p52, No1967). [The marble arch on which the inscription is engraved, may have existed at the time of Paul’s visit to Macedonia; a copy will be found in Conyb. and H. I:360. Thessalonica, as an urbs libera, was self-governed, and its supreme magistrates were termed politarchs.—Tr.]. The Jews accused Jason and his friends, amid violent and passionate outcries, of having created political disturbances, and already thrown the whole World into confusion. The exaggeration involved in the term τὴν, corresponds precisely to the excited feeling that prompted it. The words οῦ̓τοι πάντε̣ς are intended to make all the Christians indiscriminately, the absent leaders, and these adherents, accountable for a violation of positive enactments of the emperor, namely, for acknowledging another, that Isaiah, Jesus, as king. The δάγματα Καίσαρος are those edicts which defined the penalties of high treason. (Meyer). Βασιλεύς is here a generic term, comprehending both the imperial majesty, and also the royal dignity of the Messiah. [“The Greeks applied this term to the emperor, though the Romans never styled him rex.” (Hackett).—Tr.]

b. These that have turned the world upside down.—These charges produced their intended effect; both the people and the magistrates began to entertain serious apprehensions [lest political tumults should attract the vengeance of the Roman authorities. (Conyb. etc. I:356.)—Tr.]. Hence, the magistrates took security of Jason and the other Christians, before they released them. T ἱκανόν, like the Latin satisdatio, satis accipere, was the technical term applied in law to any security, whether it consisted of a sum of money deposited in court, or of personal bail; the former Isaiah, without doubt, the meaning in the present case. The conjecture of Chrysostom that Jason himself became surety is refuted by the words ἀπέλυσαν.—For what, however, were Jason and the others required to give security? They were, doubtless, compelled to pledge themselves that they would not attempt to carry out any treasonable plans, but it is scarcely probable that Jason bound himself to refuse his hospitality thenceforward to Paul and his associates. For the motive which led to the immediate removal of Paul and Silas, seems to have been furnished solely by suspicions respecting their opponents, who, as it was apprehended, might adopt further hostile measures against the missionaries. Timotheus, who is not mentioned in Acts 17:10, (comp. Acts 17:14), probably remained at Thessalonica, and, at a somewhat later period, repaired to Berea.

Acts 17:10-12. Berea [Βέροια, Berœa] belonged to the third district of Macedonia, of which Pella was the capital; it was situated on the southern extremity of the province, [about45 miles] southeast of Thessalonica. The reception which the numerous Jews of this place gave to the preachers of the Gospel, was very different from that which the latter had found at Thessalonica. The resident Jews were εὐγενέστεροι than those of the latter city, that Isaiah, entertained nobler sentiments; the sense Isaiah, not generosiores as to their descent, but magis ingenui. This fact they demonstrated as well by their unconditional willingness (πᾶσα προθυμία) to receive the Gospel, as by the earnestness and perseverance of their zeal in daily (τ̀ καθʼ ἡμέραν, comp. Luke 19:47) searching the Scriptures, whether those things were so (οὕτως, as they were represented to them). The result (οῦ̓ν) was, that many of the Jews became believers (πολλοὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν, and not, as in Thessalonica, Acts 17:4, only τινες ἐξ αὐτῶν); and, besides, many proselytes, men and women of a high position, were converted. [“Ελληνιδων is constructed with γυναικῶν, but, at the same time, refers also to ἀνδρῶν; see Matthiæ § 441.” (Meyer).—Tr.]. (Εὐσχ́μων, as in Acts 13:50, is here again to be taken, not according to the classical usage, in a moral, but in a social sense, precisely like the English word “respectable.”).

Acts 17:13-15. But when the Jews.—The Jews of Thessalonica attempted to interfere with the work also in Berea (κᾀκεῖ σαλεύοντες, i.e., here, too, as in Thessalonica, exciting the multitude, τοὺς ὄχλους, the populace—designedly, not τὸν δῆμον.). The Christians, in order to prevent an outbreak, at once sent Paul away, whilst Silas and Timotheus (who had, in the mean time, joined them, Acts 17:10; Acts 17:14), remained for the present in Berea. ʼΩς in the phrase ὡς ἐπὶ τὴι θαλ., is not intended to indicate a feint, as if Paul had only seemed to proceed to the sea [in order to elude pursuit], (Bengel; Neander), for he did really go by sea. If he had not taken that route, some mention would unquestionably have been made of the road which he took, and the cities, which he visited. The word ὡς, therefore, simply expresses his purpose, i.e., ἐπι τ θαλ., to proceed in the direction of the sea. [“Erasmus correctly remarks: Probabilius est eum navigasse … quia nulla fit mentio eorum, quæ Paulus in itinere gesserit, cui fuerint tot civitates peragrandæ. There is nothing in the subsequent narrative which necessarily implies that Paul traveled to Athens by land.” (Meyer). This view Winer adopts, Gram. N. T. § 669.—See note7, appended to the text, above.—Tr.]. Καδιστ́νειν means to transfer or conduct any one elsewhere; ἐξῄεσαν, they departed from Athens.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. When Paul set forth the truth to the Israelites, he invariably took the Holy Scriptures as the foundation of his remarks. “It is written”, is the principle which, like the Redeemer Himself, the apostle adopted. The method which the latter pursued, is here exhibited with more distinctness, than on any other occasion. He begins with the Messiah of the old covenant, the prophecies and types, and proves that the Messiah Isaiah, essentially, one who suffers, but also one who necessarily rises again. It was his first object to convey a knowledge of the prophetic word in its true and natural connection, or, simply, to unfold the Christology of the old covenant. This part was, preeminently, a διανοίγειν. But, secondly, Paul makes the following declaration: “Jesus of Nazareth, whom I preach, is the Messiah”; he was crucified, and is risen again; the true conception of the Anointed of God, and the facts connected with his manifestation, concur in Jesus, and in Him alone. This is παρατίθεσθαι.

2. The conviction which was produced in many hearers, and their entrance into an intimate communion of faith and life with Paul and Silas, were not human works wrought by the latter, but were the work of God; the passive verb, προςεκληρώθησαν, incontrovertibly refers to God as essentially the Author of all. It may be added that the leading thought involved in this word, is that which is expressed by κλῆρος. The phrase: “associated with Paul and Silas by lot”, cannot possibly mean: “assigned to them as their lot, as the portion, property, and gain, of the two men;” such a conception derives support from no source whatever. On the other hand, the term may possibly include the thought that the lines had fallen in pleasant places [ Psalm 16:6] to the new converts themselves, and that by being associated with Paul and Silas, God himself had become their portion, and his grace their lot. (Comp. Psalm 16:5-6.).

3. The experiences of the messengers of Jesus Christ in Philippi, were repeated in Thessalonica, where they were suspected of having caused political disturbances, and were subjected to the charge of high treason. On both occasions the whole power of the Roman empire appears as a barrier to Christianity, resisting it in its effort to conquer the world. The two cases differ in the following points: 1. In Philippi, public usage and the general habits of a Roman colonial city are represented as circumstances which forbid the introduction of new customs; in Thessalonica, on the other hand, the majesty of the emperor, and the imperial legislation, are represented as adverse to Christianity2. In Thessalonica, the Person of Jesus is opposed to that of the emperor; the proclamation of the kingdom of Jesus, as the Messiah, is represented as a crime and as treason against the emperor; this course was not pursued in Philippi. It is possible that the statements of Paul ( Acts 17:3), which prominently set forth the true conception of the Messiah, and the Davidic royalty of Jesus, may have been so misinterpreted as to sanction these suspicions3. Another difference may be found in the circumstance that, at Philippi, the political accusation proceeded exclusively from a heathen source, whereas, in Thessalonica, it was prompted by the Jews; the latter, accordingly, espoused the interests of Rome and the emperor with dishonest intentions, or merely for the purpose of being furnished with a weapon against the Gospel. But, by adopting this plan, they denied the Messianic hope of Israel, and renounced Him, who Isaiah, nevertheless, their King and our own: “we will not have this man to reign over us” [ Luke 19:14]. The whole procedure is a type of those hostile movements, the object of which has been to expose Christianity to the suspicion of being a source of political offences, and which have often injured the cause of the Gospel; Christianity has been uniformly represented, in such cases, as a kingdom of this world, and political and religious aspects have been confounded—an old stratagem of the enemies of Christ.

4. Christian nobility of soul (εὐγενέστεροι) consists in a sincere willingness of mind to receive the word of God, and in an unfeigned and earnest love of the truth. It exhibits the two features, first, of adaptedness to receive, and, secondly, of voluntary action (ἐδέξαυτο—ἀνακρίνοντες)—humble submission, and independent inquiry. True faith is not like the “collier’s faith”—it is not a blind credulity—it does not dispense with reason, evidence, and argument. It Isaiah, on the contrary, praiseworthy—it is a Christian virtue—to prove all things with sincerity and earnestness, to investigate, to institute a thorough search. And the authority of a teacher and pastor should never prevail to such an extent, that the hearer is expected to dispense with a personal search, and with personal convictions of his own conscience, as soon as the former has spoken. In the present case, it was an apostle who taught; nevertheless, the people of Berea did not blindly accept his words, but first searched whether his statements were correct—whether he taught the truth. And they are not censured for having adopted this course, but are, on the contrary, commended for the noble spirit which animated them. This is liberty of conscience—the evangelical method of searching the Scriptures—the exercise of the common priesthood of believers.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Acts 17:1. Came to Thessalonica.—Paul himself remarks ( 1 Thessalonians 2:2), that although he had been shamefully entreated at Philippi, he had, nevertheless, been “bold in his God”, when he came to Thessalonica. It is in such a frame of mind that a servant of God should proceed from one work to another, from one trial to another, from one victory to another. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 17:2. Three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.—Paul always began the preaching of the Gospel, by taking the Scriptures as the basis; his apostolical character did not free him from the control of the latter. He had already borne witness on many occasions by miracles and powers; nevertheless, he held fast to the Scriptures, and drew his testimony concerning Jesus from the prophets. May the Lord closely connect, in our day, the heart and mouth of every witness with the Scriptures. Every departure from the latter, inflicts an irreparable injury on the doctrine or Christian walk. (Ap. Past.).—For three whole sabbath days he discoursed with them, unweariedly enduring their contradictions. The fact here stated, may seem to be of comparatively little importance; but the pain which the apostle suffered during those three days, was greater than that which the scourging at Philippi inflicted. The Jewish schools, were schools of patience to him. (Besser).

Acts 17:3. That Christ must needs have suffered and risen again.—Paul had no other theme than that of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus; and now, after the lapse of so many centuries, we can find no subject that is more important and profitable than that of the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus. Still, when a subject that is so comprehensive, occupies us, we need wisdom in selecting precisely those points which are of most importance to our hearers. In the case of the Jews, the most important point was the necessity of the personal sufferings of the Messiah, (Ap. Past.).

Acts 17:4. And some of them believed.—The blessing which attends even the best teachers, is gradually developed. At first, a single hearer, then several, then many, are reached; compulsion cannot be applied. (Ap. Past).—And of the chief women not a few.—Grace does not give the preference to persons in high station, but neither does it repel them, 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. (Starke).

Acts 17:5. Took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.—The world makes use even of the low populace in executing its plans. When those who belong to the populace accept the Gospel, they are treated with scorn, and the saying is repeated; ‘It is only the ignorant multitude that follows Him’ ( John 7:47-49). But when the world is successful in stirring up the populace against the Gospel, and in silencing the voice of truth by loud outcries, that populace is found to be an appropriate instrument. (Rieger).

Acts 17:6. These that have turned the world upside down.—How greatly the world fears the kingdom of God! How it dreads lest its own works, which are of clay, should be overthrown! It has vast numbers of supporters, and yet, when ten Christians assemble together, it is disquieted by the fear that they will inflict an injury upon it. (Rieger).—The apostles did, indeed, arouse the whole world; but their object was, not rebellion, but conversion—not destruction, but salvation. (Starke).—Although these bitter enemies endeavored to ruin the apostles by the foulest calumnies, their fury nevertheless impels them to bear honorable witness to the extension and power of the Gospel. Blessed are those witnesses of Jesus, whose preaching is followed by a powerful awakening and a salutary disquietude. (Ap. Past.).—Christ came not to send peace, but a sword [ Matthew 10:34]! I. The Gospel, unquestionably, creates a disturbance: (a) internally, in the heart (Rom. Acts 7.); (b) externally, in the social relations of men ( Matthew 10:34). II. But this disturbance alone can produce true peace: (a) peace in the heart; (b) peace in the world.—The words: ‘These are the men that have turned the world upsied down,’ comprehend a well-founded complaint against the apostles, and, at the same time, an honorable testimony in their favor: I. A well founded complaint; for the whole internal and external world is transformed by the Gospel—the heart and the conduct; the family and the state; art and science. II. An honorable testimony; for it is their aim, in all these departments, not to subvert and destroy, but to regenerate and glorify.—The appearance of Christianity, the greatest, but also the most righteous, revolution recorded in the history of the world: I. The greatest, (a) in view of its extent (embracing the whole world in its plan); (b) in view of its depth (its proper field is the human mind). II. The most righteous, (a) on account of its aim (the salvation of the world); (b) on account of the means which it employs (the weapons of the Spirit).—‘It is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land!’ This ancient prediction of the shaking of the world ( Haggai 2:7; Hebrews 12:26; comp. the “twilight of the gods”, in the Northern mythology) is verified in Christianity: I. Internally, (the hearts of men are shaken); II. Historically, (the world is transformed); III. Eschatologically, (the renewing of the heaven and the earth.)

Acts 17:7. Saying that there is another king, one Jesus.—To confound the status politicus with the cause of Jesus, and hinder the progress of his kingdom by arousing the jealousy of the civil government, is an old stratagem of the enemies of Christ. (Ap. Past.).—It is true that faithful teachers do preach another King, but it is He who rules only by humility and the cross. By Him the kings of the earth reign, and He makes kings of all His true servants—in heaven. Revelation 1:5-6. (Quesnel).

Acts 17:9. And when they had taken security of Jason.—What a warm friend the Gospel had won for Paul in Jason, in the course of a few days! (Williger).—It is a noble act to become surety for persecuted Christians, for the whole world is ashamed of them. (Gossner).

(——On Acts 17:1-9).—Paul in Thessalonica: I. His labors, Acts 17:1-4; II. Their close, Acts 17:5-9. (Lisco).—Evangelical preaching: I. Its matter is at all times the same—founded on the Scriptures, culminating in the Person of Jesus. II. Its result is at all times the same—favorable in individual cases, unfavorable in most cases, (id.).—The enemies of the Gospel condemning themselves: I. They are compelled to pervert the truth, before they can complain of it (representing Christ and the apostles as insurgents); II. They commit precisely the sin of which they accuse the disciples (creating disturbances). (id).—Paul and Jason, models for guests and hosts: I. The dangerous, and yet beloved guests; II. The endangered, and yet blessed host, Hebrews 13:2.

Acts 17:10. Who coming thither, went into the synagogue.—The flight of a servant of God, is merely a change of place, but not of his work, of his mind, of his zeal, or of his love for the cross. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 17:11. And searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.—The Holy Scriptures are the true touchstone by which points of faith are to be tested, and the true and exclusive rule by which we are to be governed. (Starke).—Pearls may be found in the deep waters of the Scriptures; may God send us additional divers, who can find them! (id.).—Thou dost not accept a coin, O Prayer of Manasseh, without examining it; why then shouldst thou lightly accept a creed, which, if false, will hereafter inflict an irreparable loss on thee?—That man has a truly “noble” mind, whose faith is founded, not on Prayer of Manasseh, but on the word of God. (Starke).—Hence the apostles did not expect that men should be converted without light; they did not demand “the collier’s faith”; they encouraged, instead of forbidding, their hearers to examine their doctrine, and compare it with the Scriptures. (Ap. Past.).—The genuine spirit of inquiry Isaiah, in general, allied to the Gospel. Serious inquirers are not easily induced to pronounce a rash judgment respecting the word of God. They refrain, at least, from making those objections to the Gospel which, a superficial mind is always ready to advance. (Williger).

Acts 17:12. Women … and men.—It may be that the women are mentioned before the men, because, as it frequently occurs, they were the first who received the faith, and the men were influenced by them. The growth of the kingdom of God depends, indeed, on the house and family, in which woman, unquestionably, finds an appropriate sphere. (Rieger, Starke, Williger).

Acts 17:13. The Jews of Thessalonica—came thither also, and stirred up the people.—Believers seldom labor with as much zeal for the truth, as the ungodly exhibit in opposing it; for the path of the former leads upward, and is difficult; that of the latter descends, and is easy. (Quesnel).

Acts 17:15. Receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed.—Paul did not wish to be alone, and did not believe that he could dispense with the aid of others; he desired fellow-laborers, who might pray, testify, contend, and suffer, in company with himself. (Gossner.).

(——On Acts 17:10-15).—Christian nobility of soul (εὐγενέστεροι, Acts 17:11): it is revealed, I. In a willing and candid acceptance of the divine word; II. In an independent and personal application of the word and salvation of God.—Searching the Scriptures: it Isaiah, I. A blessed privilege; II. A sacred duty; III. A rare art of the evangelical Christian.—A genuine scriptural faith, and an honest searching of the Scriptures, sustain each other: I. A faith which condemns such searching, is blind; II. A searching which despises the faith, mistakes the true way.—The several stages which mark the judicious use of the Scriptures: I. A willing reception, as distinguished from levity and contempt, Acts 17:11; II. Diligent searching as distinguished from a blind faith, Acts 17:11; III. A living faith, as distinguished from a barren knowledge, Acts 17:12.—The excitement of the people, produced, respectively, by the Gospel, and by a fanatical spirit; ( Acts 17:13, compared with Acts 17:16); I. The former builds up, Acts 17:3-4; the latter destroys, Acts 17:13; II. The former controls noble minds, Acts 17:11; the latter governs the populace, Acts 17:6; III. The former contends with the sword of the Spirit, Acts 17:11; the latter, with carnal weapons, Acts 17:6.—[ Acts 17:10. The perseverance of Paul, as a preacher of the Gospel: I. Described; (a) no labors wearied him; (b) no dangers alarmed him; (c)no failures discouraged him. II. Its source; (a) a living faith; (b) an ardent love; (c) well-founded hope. III. Lessons taught by it; (a) to Christian pastors; (b) to anxious inquirers; (b) to experienced Christians.—Tr.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - beforeσυναγ., of text. rec., from E. G. H, is omitted by Lach. and Tisch. in accordance with A. B. D. and Cod. Sin, but is retained by Alf. as genuine, and with him de Wette agrees,—Tr.]

FN#2 - Acts 17:2. διελέγετο [of text. rec. from G. H, many minuscules, fathers, etc.] is to be unconditionally preferred to the other readings, viz, διελέξατο [of A. B. Cod. Sin, and adopted by Lach. and Tisch.], and διελέχθη [of D. E, and adopted by Born.], since the aorist could have easily been substituted here [by copyists] for the imperfect, inasmuch as the other verbs in the narrative are in the aorist. [The Vulg. here drops the perfect, and translates disserebat.—Tr.]

FN#3 - Acts 17:3. a. [The margin of the Engl. Vers. proposes the insertion in Italics of said he after “whom.” See Winer: Gram. N. T. § 63. I:2. d. ult.; II:2. and § 647.—(Tynd, Cranm, Geneva, insert said he; Rheims omits the words).—Tr.]

FN#4 - Acts 17:3. b. [Lach. and Tisch, but not Alf, omit before Xρ., with A. B. Cod. Sin.; but it is inserted in B. G. H.—The text. rec. omits the comma between Xρ, and ̓Iησ., as Alf. also does, with Griesb, Knapp, Tisch, de Wette, etc. Lechler inserts ̓Iησ between commas, as his translation above shows, with Lach, Stier, etc.—Tr.]

FN#5 - by copyists] merely to complete the picture and assign the limits of the opposition. The manuscripts, in general, exhibit very considerable variations in the whole passage. [Alf. reads: IIροςλαβ. δὲ οἱ. τῶν ἀγ; Tisch. inserts οἰ άπειθ after ̓Iουδ; Lach. reads Zηλώσ.δὲ οἰ I. καὶ προςλαβ.τῶν ἀγ; Tisch. and Scholz: IIροςλαβ. δὲ οἱ I.οἱ ἀπειθ. Born, in accordance with D. and some fathers, reads: οἱ δε άπειθ. ̓Iονδ.συστρέψαντες.—Meyer holds that the reading of Lachm. is sustained by external authority (A. B. minuscules; Vulg. viz. Zelantes autem Judæi assumentesque de vulgo, etc. Syr. etc.), but believes that all these variations are additions to the original text, viz. IIροςλαβ. δὲ οἱ.I.. He says that the latter is found only in the minuscule numbered142, but that ἀπειθ. is wanting in A. B. minuscules, versions, etc. The Cod. Sin. reads: Zηλ. δὲ οἱ ̓Iουδ. καὶ προςλαβ.—See below, Exeg. etc. note on Acts 17:4-5.—Tr.]

FN#6 - After σαλεύοντες, Lach, Tisch. and Born. insert καὶ ταράσσοντες, from A. B. D. Cod. Sin. Vulg.—Alf, with text. rec., omits the two words in accordance with E. G. H.; Meyer and de Wette regard them as transferred from Acts 17:8, ταρ. being a gloss on σαλ, and then, with καὶ, inserted in the text.—Tr.]

FN#7 - Instead of ὡς from G. H, Lach. and Tisch. adopt ἕως from A. B. E. Cod. Sin.; Meyer and Alf. suppose that this ἕως proceeded from a misunderstanding of the genuine ὡς, as if it indicated “only a feint,” whereas it really indicates the direction in which Paul went; Vulg. usque ad.; D. omits the word altogether. See Exeg. note below.—Tr.]

FN#8 - For καθιστῶντες of text. rec. from D (corrected). E. G. H, Lach, Tisch, and Alf. read καθιστάνοντες, in accordance with A. B. D. (original).—Cod. Sin. (original) exhibits only καθισ., and in the next line, παντες; for the latter a later hand(C) substituted--τωντες. On the forms, see Winer, § Acts 15 : ἵστημι—The same editors omit αύτον after ἥγαγον with A. B. D. Cod. Sin.; the text. rec. inserts it with E. G. H. Vulg.—Tr.]


Verses 16-34

E.—PAUL AT ATHENS; HIS OBSERVATIONS AND OCCASIONAL ADDRESSES; HIS MISSIONARY DISCOURSE ON THE AREOPAGUS, AND ITS EFFECT

Acts 17:16-34

16Now [But] while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred [moved with indignation] in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry [city full of idols][FN9]. 17Therefore disputed he [He now discoursed, διελ. μὲν οῦ̓ν] in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons [Jews and proselytes], and in the market [market-place] daily with them that met [fell in] with him 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered [But some of the Epicurean and of the Stoic philosophers entered into discourse with] him. And some said, What will this babbler[FN10] say [What may this babbler intend to say]? other some [but others], He seemeth to be a setter forth [proclaimer] of strange [foreign] gods: because he preached unto them [the gospel of, εὐηγγελίζετο] Jesus, and the resurrection 19 And they took him, and brought him unto [the] Areopagus[FN11], saying. May we know [Can we learn] what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest [which thoudeclarest], Isaiah 20 For thou bringest certain strange things [something strange] to our ears: we would know therefore [we wish, therefore, to know] what these things mean [what this may be]. 21([Om. parenth. marks]. For [But] all the Athenians, and [the] strangers which were there [strangers in the city], spent their time in [were disposed to do] nothing else but [than] either to tell or to hear some new thing [something new]).

22Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill[FN12] [the Areopagus], and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things [points] ye are too superstitious [very devout]. 23For as I passed by [through the city], and beheld your evotions[FN13] [sacred objects], I found [also, χαὶ] an altar with this [the] inscription, to the [an] unknown god. Whom [What][FN14] therefore ye ignorantly worship [ye worship without knowing it], him [that] declare [proclaim] I unto you 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth [therein, He (οῦ̓τος) dwelleth, as he is the Lord of heaven and earth,] not in temples made with hands; 25Neither is worshipped with men’s [Nor is he ministered unto by human[FN15]] hands, as though [if] he needed any thing, seeing he [whilst he himself, αὐτὸς] giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the [And hath caused that every nation of men, sprung from one blood, should dwell over the whole] face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed [earth, in that he hath fixed the appointed[FN16] times], and the bounds of their habitation [habitations]; 27That they should [To] seek the Lord [God][FN17], if haply [perhaps] they might feel after [om. after] him, and find him, though he be [is] not far from every one of us: 28For in him we live, and move, and have our being [move, and are, ἐσμέν]; as certain also [also some] of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring [race]. 29 Forasmuch then as [As, therefore,] we are the offspring [race] of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device [stone, unto a graven work of the art and reflection of a man]. 30And the times [The times, indeed, μὲν οῦ̓ν] of this [om. this] ignorance God winked at [has overlooked]; but now [and now] commandeth all men every where to repent: 31Because [Inasmuch as][FN18] he hath appointed [fixed] a day, in the which [in which] he will judge the world in righteousness by that [a] man whom he hath ordained [appointed]; whereof [in that] he hath given assurance [offered faith][FN19] unto all men, in that he hath raised [offered faith unto all, by raising] him from the dead.

32And [But] when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and [but the] others said, We will hear thee again of [concerning] this matter. 33So [And thus, χαὶ οὕτως] Paul departed from among them [went out of the midst of them]. 34Howbeit [But, δὲ] certain men clave [attached themselves] unto him, and believed: among the which [whom] was [also, χαὶ] Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Acts 17:16-17. a. Now while Paul waited.—During the first part of this second missionary Journey of the apostle, we find him in Asia, or, specially, in Asia Minor; the second and third parts already exhibit him on European soil. The second part embraced Macedonia—Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea; the third, which now commences, refers exclusively to Greece (which, at that period, was called Achaia), and embraces, indeed, simply the two principal cities of Athens and Corinth. Paul waited in the former until Silas and Timotheus, for whom he had sent, ver15, should join him. Although Luke does not again mention them until they meet with Paul in Corinth, Acts 18:5, we are authorized by the statement in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 to 1 Thessalonians 3:2, to assume, that Timotheus soon afterwards joined the apostle in Athens, and then received certain commissions which required him to return to Thessalonica. Luke had, in the mean time, remained in Philippi, and this circumstance explains his silence respecting the arrival of Timotheus at Athens, etc.

b. His spirit was stirred in him [his spirit was moved with indignation], παρωξύνετο τ. πν., his spirit was filled with indignation, suffered a moral shock [comp. 1 Corinthians 13:5, and δῆμος—ὠργίσθη καὶ παρωξύνθη, Dem. κατὰ Μειδιόυ. p514. (Mey.).—Tr.]; the imperfect indicates an abiding state of mind, and not merely a sudden and transient emotion [see Exeg. note, Acts 8:15-17 ult.—Tr.]. He had, namely, observed, after spending some time in the city, and carefully surveying it (θεωρεῖν, not simply ιʼδεῖν), that it was full of images of the gods. (Κατείδωλος, a word not found elsewhere, but accurately formed, according to the analogy of other compounds, is not used in a subjective sense, as if it were equivalent to idolis dedita, but in an objective sense, viz, idolis abundans; compare κατάδενδρος, arboribus plenus; κατάμπελος, vitibus abundans). Numerous Greek and Roman writers add their testimony that this characteristic feature distinguished Athens among all the Hellenic cities; thus, Xenophon describes that city as ὅλη βωμός, ὅλη θῦμα θεοῖ και Ì ἀνάθημα, de Rep. Ath., and Livy remarks: Athenas—multa visenda habentes—simulacra Deorum hominumque omni genere et materiae et atrium insignia. XLV:27.—The indignation of the apostle, and his desire to expose such heathenish errors (οῦ̓ν), induced him to enter into conversation both with Jews and proselytes in the synagogue, and with persons of every other class whom he encountered in the market-place; the truths of religion were the subjects of his δια̣λέγεσθαι. Such opportunities the market place daily (κατὰ πᾶσαν ἡμέραν) furnished; as the same remark is not made with regard to the synagogue, it follows that the latter afforded such opportunities only on the sabbath-day.—The expression ἀγορά, seems to imply that the city possessed only one market-place; this fact was long doubted, and the conjecture was generally adopted that Paul’s conversations were held in a place called Eretria [Potter’s Antiq. of Greece I:43. Edinb1832.—Tr.]. The usual explanation of this name, however, is erroneous, and, in general, those who have more recently furnished us with topographical accounts of Athens, are convinced that this city never contained more than one market-place [forum, agora], and thus the accuracy and fidelity of the narrative before us are established even with regard to a point of apparently little importance ( ἀγορά). [For a very full description of this Agora, see Conyb. and H. I:379. ff.—Tr.]

Acts 17:18. Then certain philosophers.—It was doubtless on the occasions when such conversations were held in public place, that some philosophers, who belonged partly to the Epicurean, and partly to the Stoic school, came in contact with Paul. (Συμβάλλω signifies in Acts 4:15 simply to confer together in a friendly manner; the word does not necessarily indicate a debate or a contest). [“The Epicurean philosophy was antagonistic to the Gospel as holding the atomic theory in opposition to the creation of matter,—the disconnection of the divinity from the world and its affairs, in opposition to the idea of a ruling providence,—and the indissoluble union and annihilation together, of soul and body, as opposed to the hope of eternal life, and indeed to all spiritual religion whatever. The Epicureans were the materialists of the ancient world, etc.—While the philosophy of the Stoics approached the truth in holding one supreme Governor of all, it contravened the latter, in its pantheistic belief that all souls were emanations of Him. In spirit it was directly opposed to the Gospel,—holding the independence of man on any being but himself, together with the subjection of God and man alike to the stern laws of an inevitable fate, etc.” (Alford).—Tr.]. In consequence of these conversations, the Athenians were divided in their opinions. Some looked with contempt on Paul, as a vain babbler, who could say nothing that merited attention; (σπερμολόγος originally signified a rook or crow [Aristoph. Av232, 579], and was applied to any one who prated in an inflated or pompous manner.—The question: τὶ ἂν—θέλοι λέγειν, primarily signifies: ‘We do not clearly understand what he means to say;’ the interrogator, however, virtually expresses a disparaging judgment). Others were, at least, disposed to seek for more information, as Paul appeared to them to proclaim foreign divinities (ξένα δαιμόνια; similar language was employed when Socrates was accused: καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰςάγει). This opinion was suggested, as Luke explains, by the circumstance that Paul preached the Gospel concerning Jesus and the resurrection of the dead.—It is not probable that the Athenians supposed that, ἀνάστασις[“resurrection”] was the name of a goddess or heroine (Chrysostom, Baur, Baumgarten); Luke appears, on the contrary, to have mentioned the resurrection in immediate connection with the Person of Jesus, solely for the reason that this subject most of all surprised the Hellenic philosophers, as a novel or strange (ξένος) conception.

Acts 17:19-21. The people whose interest and curiosity had been aroused by the language of the apostle, conducted him (ἐπιλαόμενοι, leniter prehensum, Grotius [comp. Acts 9:27]) to the Areopagus, that Isaiah, the hill of Ares [Mars—so called from the legendary trial of Mars, Pausan. I:285—Tr.], north of the western extremity of the Acropolis, on which spot the supreme court of the republic usually held its sittings. But that Paul was not subjected to a formal trial before the court of the Areopagites, and that his discourse was not a judicial defence (as Adami, a divine of the Netherlands, Observ. 1710, conjectured, and as Baur and Zeller have recently asserted), will appear from the following considerations: first, the whole context, which leads to an opposite conclusion, specially, the courteous question in Acts 17:19, and the wish expressed in Acts 17:20; secondly, the explanatory remark of the narrator in Acts 17:21, according to which it was simply curiosity, and neither fanaticism nor intolerance that occasioned the scene which followed; thirdly, the whole tone of the discourse, which nowhere assumes the character of a defence or apology; and, lastly, the scene at the close, when Paul departs without molestation, and not the slightest trace of a judicial process is exhibited.—The request addressed to Paul, viz, that he should explain himself more fully, Acts 17:19, is exceedingly polite, and marked by Attic courtesy (δυνάμεθα γνῶναι); still, it is somewhat ironical, as the speakers undoubtedly believe that they already understand the subject, and are convinced that Paul can teach them nothing which they do not already know; and the expression in Acts 17:20, ξενίζοντά τινα, certain strange things, i.e., something strange or foreign, is tinged with that Hellenic arrogance with which barbarians [persons not Greeks by language or nation (Rob.)] were surveyed. Luke adds by way of explanation, Acts 17:21, that all the Athenians, both foreigners who resided in the city, and natives, found no occupation more pleasant than that of reporting or hearing of some new thing (εὐκαίρουν, vacabant, for which they always had time). Bengel explains the comparative καινότερον with great felicity, in the following terms: ‘nova statim sordebant, noviora quaerebantur.’ The people not only derived pleasure from such reports, but also sought for honor and distinction by communicating their own reports of new things (λέγειν,ἀκούειν). The imperfect εὐκαίρουν describes a characteristic feature of the people at the time when the occurrence took place, without, however, implying that the remark was also applicable to a later period. [“De Atheniensium garrulitate, et curiositatenimia, seu studio novitatis intempestivo … plures scriptorum veterum loci loquuntur... Conf. Wolfiusin Curis, et Wetstenius ad h. l.” (Kuinoel).—Tr.]

Acts 17:22. a. As the request is so plainly addressed to the apostle, he does not hesitate to rise before the most intelligent audience which the heathen world could furnish, even if the request did not proceed from a sincere love of the truth,, and was, moreover, pronounced in an ironical tone of voice; he was conscious that he had received a call ( Acts 9:15) to “bear the name of Jesus before the Gentiles.” With all the confidence of faith he takes a position (σταθείς) in the middle of the plateau on the hill, which was about [fifty or] sixty feet high. [i.e., above the valley separating it from the Acropolis. (Robinson).—Tr.]. He saw before him the Acropolis, which rose above him, and was adorned with numerous works of art; beneath the spot on which he stood, was the magnificent temple of Theseus; around him were numerous temples, altars, and images of the gods. Compare Robinson’s Researches, etc, Vol. I. p10, 11. [American edition].

b. He begins by saying in gentle terms, well suited to make a favorable impression, and indicating his wish to recognize with candor every favorable circumstance, that the observations which he had made (θεωρῶ), enabled him to bear witness that the Athenians were indeed, in every respect, a God-fearing people. Ως before δεισιδ., imports: ‘I recognize you as such—such ye appear to me to be.’ The word δεισιδαίμων is undoubtedly sometimes found in the classic writers in an unfavorable sense, viz, superstitious; it is here taken in such a sense by the Vulgate, by Erasmus, Luther, and others. It Isaiah, however, a vox media, and not unfrequently conveys the idea of genuine fear of God. [Kuinoel says: ‘Vocabulum δεισιδ.—duplici sensu adhiberi solet—bono sensu—malo sensu;’—he furnishes the most important references in each case.—Tr.]. The word Isaiah, without doubt, to be understood here in a good sense, although it appears to have been intentionally chosen, in order to indicate, in a mild manner, the conception of fear [δείδω] which predominated in the religion of the apostle’s hearers, and which ultimately led to superstition. The comparative δεισιδαιμονετέρους does not include the collateral idea of excess; the apostle simply compares the Athenians with other Greeks [i.e., “more devout than others are, soil.ἅλλων.” (Winer: § 35:4)—Tr.]; he does not intend to flatter, but only states a fact which was admitted by the ancients. Isocrates speaks of the Athenians as τοὺς πρὸς τὰ τῶν θεῶν εὐσεβέστατα διακειμέισιδ. Similar testimony is borne by Sophocles, Plato, Xenophon, and, lastly, Josephus; see the passages in Wetstein, II:562 f. [Alf. translates δεισιδ.: carrying your religious reverence very far; Conyb. and H.: all things—bear witness to your carefulness in religion; Hackett: more religious (scil. than others); Alexander: god-fearing (or more exactly demon-fearing.—Tr.]. Γάρ, in Acts 17:23, implies that the opinion expressed by the apostle in Acts 17:22 respecting the eminently god-fearing spirit of the Athenians, was founded on his own observations, since, in addition to other sacred objects (dedicated to gods whose names are known), he had noticed an altar dedicated to an unknown God. Σένασμα is equivalent to ressacra, or, quod religionis causa homines venerantur; hence it comprehends sacred places, groves and temples, altars, statues, etc. ʼΑναθεωρῶ means: to survey several objects in succession.

Acts 17:23-25. a. An altar with this inscription: “To the [an] unknown God.”—It was supposed at an early period of the Christian Church, (and the remark has since been frequently repeated), that Paul took the liberty of employing the singular number, while the inscription was expressed in the plural. Thus Jerome remarks on Titus 1:12 : ‘Inscriptio autem arae non ita erat, ut Paulus asseruit: “Ignoto Deo,” sed ita: “Diis Asiae et Europae et Africae, Diis ignotis et peregrinis.” Verum quia Paulus non pluribus Diis ignotis indigebat, sed uno tantum ignoto Deo, singulari verbo usus est.’—While this church father assumes that the apostle here exhibits an instance of rhetorical license, the change in the number has, in more recent times, been ascribed to the historian: the singular, it has been said, is unhistorical; the inscription could not possibly have been otherwise expressed than in the plural, viz, ἀγνώστοις θεοῖς (Baur: Paulus, p175 ff). But why should the singular be deemed impossible? It is true that if the article had been prefixed to ἀγν. θεῷ, it would not be conceivable that such an inscription should appear on an altar in Athens. But why should it be impossible that an altar should be dedicated ‘to an unknown God’? Pausanias (Attic. I:1.) says that there were in Athens βωμοὶ θεῶν τῶν ὀνομαζ ομένων ἀγνώστων καὶ ἡρώων and Philostratus (Vita Apollon. VI:2) remarks that it was prudent to speak well of all the gods, especially in Athens, οῦ̓ καὶ ἀγνώστων θεῶν βωμοὶ ἵδρυνται. These two statements may undoubtedly be so understood, as if each of the altars mentioned, had been dedicated “to unknown gods” (plur.); still, they may also, and, indeed, with greater probability, be understood to mean that each one had been dedicated “to an unknown god”, and bore this inscription. Altars with this inscription seem, indeed, to have been erected in Athens in several different places. Various opinions respecting the origin and purpose of such altars, have been entertained, which as they are all founded on mere conjectures, we forbear to notice. [See de Wette, Meyer, etc, ad. loc.—Tr.]

b. After these remarks, the apostle, in order to convince his hearers that he was not discussing a subject which was absolutely new to them, proceeds to state the theme of his discourse: “What ye accordingly (οῦ̓ν) worship devoutly, without knowing it, I proclaim unto you.” [See note6 above, appended to the text.—Tr.]. The object of their worship (εὐαεβεῖτε,, religiose colitis) is intentionally designated by the neuter, ὃ—τοῦτο, in an abstract and indefinite manner, corresponding to ἀγνοοῦντες; when the apostle subsequently makes a positive statement, he introduces concrete and personal terms: θεὸς ποιήσας, etc.—The Athenians expected to hear something that was altogether new and strange ( Acts 17:18, ξένων δαιμ καταγγελεύς.; Acts 17:20, ξενίζοντά τινα εἰςφέρεις); but Paul appeals to their own consciousness, and founds his remarks on the statement involved in the inscription on the altar; his meaning is the following: ignotum, non tamen peregrinum, prædico vobis.

c. Hebrews, first of all, proclaims the true God, Acts 17:24-25, as the only God ( θεὸς, etc.), and as the independent and absolute Creator and Lord of the world, who is too exalted to need any thing, such as a dwelling in temples, or the service of human hands, specially that of priests. θεραπεύειν is a word frequently used to designate the worship of the gods. The expression προςδεόμενος is also happily chosen, as equivalent to τὸ ἔχειν μὲν μέρος, ἔτι δὲ δεῖσθαι πρὸς τὸ τέλειον, (Ulpian). [The pronoun τινος, after προςδεόμενος “may be either masculine (any one) or neuter (any thing)” (Alex.). “Luther (in his version) takes τινὸς as a masculine pronoun, which admirably suits both the words which precede, and also πᾶσι, which follows.” (Meyer)—Tr.]. The apostle, in full view of those magnificent temples, which were adorned with all the wonders of art, and which constituted the pride of the Athenians, utters these words: ‘God does not dwell in temples made with hands.’ Surrounded, as Paul at the moment Isaiah, by numerous altars of sacrifice, he exclaims: ‘God is not ministered unto by human hands.’ The words αὐτὸς διδούς, are intended to confirm the remark which he had just made, or, rather to expose the delusion of the Athenians, and mean: ‘It is He Himself, on the contrary, who gives life and breath to all men;’ πνοή expresses the condition on which the continuance of life depends; all that supplies the natural wants of man is indicated by καὶ τὰ πάντα.

Acts 17:26-28. a. Paul proceeds, in the second place, (in connection with these fundamental truths concerning God) to give a correct view of man. [“Observe the threefold subject of the discourse: Theology, Acts 17:24-25; Anthropology, Acts 17:26-29; Christology, Acts 17:30-31.” (Mey.).—Tr.]. He says, in general, that mankind is one by virtue of the divinely appointed propagation from one blood. (Αῖ̓μα is here used not merely in the scriptural sense, involving the conception of a connection of life and generation with the blood, comp. John 1:3, but also in the strict classical sense; the word occurs, in reference to generation and blood-relationship, already in Homer, Ιι. ζ. 211; Od. π. 300, and afterwards, in Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristotle.). With respect to the construction, πᾶν ἕθνος does not depend on ἔθνος as the object of the latter; the whole clause, on the contrary, (including πᾶν ἔθνος as the accusative before the infinitive κατοικεῖν) is governed by ἐποίησε, in the following sense: instituit, ut ex uno sanguine orta omnis hominum gens—habitaret. [De Wette, who also adopts this view, refers to Matthew 5:32; Mark 7:37, as illustrations of an accusative with the infinitive, preceded by ποιεῖν.—Tr.].—Paul here combats, not so much the opinion of the Athenians specially, who deemed themselves to be autochthones, as, rather, the delusion in general, which was fostered by the. religion of nature in all its forms, according to which the respective origins of the different nations of the earth were all essentially distinct from one another.—The apostle also expresses another thought, viz, that the partition of mankind into nations, is to be ascribed to a divine appointment. God caused men—he says—to spread themselves over the surface of the earth—ὁθισας, etc, that Isaiah, appointing and determining the times and the boundaries of the nations. The word καιροί refers, (as κατοικεῖν which precedes, and κατοικίας which follows, plainly show,) principally to the abodes of the nations, that Isaiah, to the period during which a nation may retain possession of the territory which it has occupied, and to the point of time when it shall be dispossessed. And thus the Statement is also made, that God controls the history of all nations.

b. After having spoken of the life of nations, Paul refers to the life of the individual, and, in the third place, sets forth the loftiest aim of man, viz, to seek God, with whom he is closely and intimately connected, Acts 17:27-28. According to the structure of the sentence, ζητεῖνstill refers to πᾶν ἕθνος ἀνθρώρων, i.e., to the nations—it was the design of the divine partition and collocation of the nations that they should seek τὸν κύριον, ‘the Lord of heaven and earth,’ comp. Acts 17:24. Ζητεῖν, however, does not indicate a seeking merely after the knowledge of God (Meyer), but also after a living and essential union with Him. Εἰ ἄραγε with the optative indicates that the result is doubtful; the speaker implies in a delicate manner, that mankind, as a whole, had missed the mark at which they aimed. The result of the search, if it should be successful, would be the ψηλαφεῖν and εὑρίσκειν, that Isaiah, the object sought would be reached and touched, and, accordingly, be actually found. The apostle adds: ‘Although (καίτοιγε) it is not necessary to seek him long, since he is not far distant from every one’ (hence an unsuccessful search is the less excusable.).Γάρ, in Acts 17:28, confirms the proposition which immediately precedes; it explains the meaning of the words: ‘he is not far from every one of us,’ and also assigns the reason: ‘we are, namely, in God, ἐν αὐτῷ̓, even as we are in space which encompasses us, or in the atmosphere which essentially surrounds us, and on which the functions of life depend.’ ʼΕν αὐτῷ does not mean through Him (Grotius; Kuinoel), nor does it mean: on Him, that Isaiah, reposing on Him as on a foundation; the most obvious grammatical explanation at the same time best suits the logical connection. The three words ζῶμεν, κινούμεθα, ἐσμὲν, are arranged according to a descending scale, when the objective relation of the conceptions respectively expressed by them is considered; when their subjective logical connection, on the other hand, is examined, they are arranged according to an ascending scale; that is to say, life in itself is more than movement, the latter more than mere existence; but there is a gradual rise in the following thoughts: if we were without God and entirely isolated, we would not live, not even move, indeed, not even exist (ἐσμὲν). As a confirmation of his statement, and as fully harmonizing (ὡς καὶ—εῖ̓ρήκασιν) with the proposition advanced by him (ἐν αὐτῷ—ἐσμέν), Paul quotes an expression used by certain poets who were themselves Greeks like his hearers (οἱ καθʼ ὑμας), the sense of which is: ‘We, too, belong to his race.’ The quotation, which constitutes the beginning of an hexameter, is taken verbatim from the poet Aratus, a native of Soli in Cilicia, who flourished during the third century before the Christian era. The following words occur at the beginning of his astronomical poem, entitled Φαινόμενα, Acts 17:4 f.:

——πάντη δὲ Διὸς κεχρήμεθα πάντες

τοῦ γὰρ γένος ἐσμέν.——

Tοῦ (poetical, for τούτου [Winer §171. init.) refers in Aratus to Zeus [Jupiter], but is applied by Paul to the true God. Now when Paul attributes the same thought to several poets (τινες—εἰρήκασι), he has probably also Cleanthes of Lycia in view, who in his Hymn. in. Jov. Acts 17:5, introduces the following words:ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ γένος ἐσμέν. The apostle may have become acquainted with such passages, and retained them in his memory, without rendering it necessary to assume that he had received a regular Hellenic education in his earlier years, or had devoted himself to the study of Greek literature; his acquaintance with the passages quoted by him may be the more readily explained, when we remember that he was reared in Tarsus, in which city Greek culture prevailed, and that Aratus was a native of the same province to which he belonged.

Acts 17:29. Forasmuch then.—From this poetical saying, involving a principle which his hearers well knew and readily conceded, Paul draws an additional conclusion (οῦ̓ν) against the worship of images, as well as against the pagan habit of thought (νομίζειν), which sustained that worship. However direct and unequivocal this refutation is in principle, the language employed is exceedingly moderate and gentle, especially in the introduction of the first person, οὐκ ὀφείλομεν, whereas he might have said: ‘It is foolish and senseless in you to yield to such a delusion!’ The inference is the following: If we are allied to God, if He and we are homogeneous, it must follow that the Deity (τὸ θεῖον, conforming to the philosophical usus loquendi of the ancients), on the one hand, and a substance, on the other, which is nothing but a metal or a stone, cannot be homogeneous, as such a substance (the form of which is simply a work of human art) and man are heterogeneous.—The apostle makes this statement notwithstanding that, or rather, precisely because, the most costly statues of the gods, made of silver and gold, of marble and ivory, the most renowned masterpieces of ancient art, were standing on the Acropolis and other places, as well as in the temples of Athens. Xάραγμα (from χαράσσω) denotes a carved or sculptured work, a production of the skill and deliberation of a man; ἐνθύμησις does not, according to the usus loquendi, mean the desire or motive proceeding from an artistic inclination (Meyer), but is equivalent to reflection, consideration. When Paul, therefore, designs to prove that the worship of images is irrational, he directs the attention of his hearers both to the materials of which those images are made (χρυσ ἀργ. λιθ.), and also to the way and manner in which they are constructed and completed, that Isaiah, partly by means of skilful hands (τέχνης), partly by reflection or deliberation on questions like these: “Which of the gods shall be made? of what material? etc.” Terms, that exhibit the most striking contrast, viz, ἀνθρώπου and τὸ θεῖον, are intentionally placed in juxtaposition. [Meyer].

Acts 17:30-31. At this point a new division of the discourse commences, referring to the subject of salvation, to the Saviour himself, to repentance, and to faith. Paul had already intimated that men had hitherto failed to discover the truth—that they had gone astray. After assuming this position (οῦ̓ν), he proceeds to bear witness that God had overlooked the times of ignorance (ὑπεριδών i.e., had allowed them to pass by without any positive manifestation of grace, on the one hand, but also without a stern rebuke, on the other), whereas now, when a crisis had arrived (τανῦν), He demands a change of mind, or repentance on the part of all men (the terms τοῖς ἀνθρώποις πᾶσι πανταχοῦ express the conception of universality in the most explicit manner). [“ὑπερώποις, not to look at, not to notice; LXX. Psalm 55:2; Deuteronomy 22:1; not to punish, Joseph. Ant. ii68 (9),” (de Wette).—“Hath overlooked; it should be observed that no such metaphor as ‘winked at’ is to be found in the original” (Conyb. and H. I:407. note).—Tr.]. This demand, which concerns all mankind, is now made in view of the fact that (καθότι) God has fixed a day for the righteous judgment of the world, which he will execute through a man [“ἐν ἀνδρί, i.e., in the person of a Prayer of Manasseh, who will be the representative of God.” (Meyer).—Tr.], whom he has appointed for that purpose (ῷ̓ ὥρισε, an attraction frequently occurring [Winer, § Acts 24:1]), after having offered faith in him to all men by raising him from the dead; the expression πίστιν παρέχειν means—to make such faith possible, or bring it near, namely, by means of the testimony borne in favor of him and his dignity by the fact of his resurrection.

Acts 17:32-34. a. The speaker had proceeded so far, without, however, having concluded, when he was interrupted by loud mockery of the resurrection; the definite article is intentionally omitted before the genitive in the expression ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν; its presence would have denoted the resurrection of all the dead, whereas that of only one who had been dead, namely, Jesus, is here meant. The other hearers, who did not actually mock, and who remarked in courteous terms that they would listen to him on this subject on a future occasion, at least implied that they, too, desired at that time to hear no more. And thus (οὕτως, i.e., when so little could be expected from the manner in which his words had been received), Paul withdrew from the assembly. Still, some men attached themselves to him, and were also converted; among these, Luke mentions only one by name, viz, Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, which was the most ancient tribunal of Athens, and universally regarded with respect. That he was a man of great distinction may be inferred from the circumstance that the court of the Areopagites consisted of the noblest and most independent men, whose integrity of character was unquestioned. Tradition represents him as having been the first bishop of Athens, and as having died as a martyr; at a later period several writings, and a peculiar system, of a mystical character, were falsely ascribed to him. [See the article Dionysius Areopagita, in Herzog: Encyk. III:412–418.—Tr.]. Damaris is entirely unknown; the manner in which she is mentioned [simply, γυνὴ ὀνόματι], clearly shows that it is an error to represent her as having been the wife of Dionysius. (Chrysostom):

b. The unity of this discourse is readily seen; its theme is the inscription on that altar: ἀγνώστῳ θεῷ. The apostle gladly admits that a religious feeling of a certain character governed the Athenians, but refers to that inscription as an evidence that they were deficient in the true knowledge of God. Hence he proclaims the truth to them, first, with respect to God, Acts 17:24-25; secondly, with respect to Prayer of Manasseh, who is appointed to seek and to find God, and who is related to Him, Acts 17:26-28. After an intermediate observation, Acts 17:29, which rebukes the error of image-worship, Paul proclaims, thirdly, that the times of ignorance had reached their end, and demands a return to God, and faith in the Risen One, who is the Saviour and the Judge of the world. (Comp. Lange: Church History, II:222 ff.). The whole discourse is admirably suited to the time and the place, is characterized by wisdom and mature reflection, is considerate and yet frank, moderate and yet pointed, lofty in the thoughts which it expresses, and marked by genuine Pauline features in its fundamental views (respecting the unity of the revelation of God in creation, in the conscience, and in the work of redemption), as well as in the distinction-between the ante-Christian and the Christian historical periods; hence we cannot believe that any foundation exists which would sustain the doubt expressed by some writers respecting the credibility of this narrative of the appearance of the apostle in Athens, and of this report of his discourse. [“As this discourse was interrupted ( Acts 17:32), we have no right to describe it as a mere lesson in natural theology, nor even to assume (with Calvin and some others) that it is less fully reported in the last than in the first part, &c.” (Alex.).—Tr.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The number of the masterpieces of ancient art, and the beauty of these productions of architecture and statuary which present themselves to the eye of Paul, afford him no æsthetic enjoyment, neither do they fill him with wonder and enthusiasm, but, on the contrary, arouse a moral indignation in his soul. On the first occasion on which the Spirit of Christ, in one of his disciples and apostles, comes in contact with ancient art in its highest stage of development, a sentence of rejection is pronounced in the case of the latter. Are then Christianity and art, when viewed in themselves, of a nature so opposite, that they repel each other? By no means; that opinion is correct only in so far that the Spirit of Christ neither recognizes nor admits an exclusively æsthetic or purely artistic impression derived from the creations of art, but, on the contrary, contemplates and judges art only in connection with the deep religious and moral thoughts which constitute its true foundation. And, further, the Spirit of Christ accords with classical antiquity, in so far, namely, as both reject that which is partial and incomplete, and, with entire consistency, view man in the totality of his nature. While Paul surveys the works of art in Athens, he cannot dissever the artistic skill with which they are constructed from the thoughts which they are intended to express, or from the purpose for which they are made; those superb temples, those noble statues, etc. are, namely, in their very nature the creations of the spirit of paganism, and are designed to sustain a polytheistical worship; the city that is so richly adorned with works of art, as, in truth, a κατείδωλος πόλις. And hence this world of art, as Paul gazes on it, leads him to think with a moral indignation of the error, the delusion, the sin against the living God, which it continues to cherish. The Spirit of Christ at no time and in no place tolerates a judgment which is divested of every moral and religious element.

2. The present is also the first occasion on which Christianity comes in contact with philosophy, as well as with art. Here, too, the encounter is not of a friendly nature; the only difference is found in the fact that while Paul commenced the contest in the first case, the philosophers are here the assailants. Neither the narrative in Acts 17:16-18, nor the discourse delivered on the Hill of Mars, contains a single expression implying that a direct attack on philosophy had been made by Paul. But both before and after his discourse, the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers speak of his doctrine partly in a mocking and contemptuous, and partly in a cold or disdainful manner. This circumstance may be readily understood, when we remember that it was precisely with the schools of Epicurus and Zeno that Paul came in contact. The systems of both were, more than others, at variance with the Christian doctrine—that of the Epicureans on account of their doctrine concerning the Deity, and pleasure as the sovereign good—that of the Stoics on account of their moral self-sufficiency. Still, this first encounter by no means justifies the inference that Christianity itself is hostile to philosophy. It may, on the contrary, be already predicted, after noticing the fruitful germs of thought which this Athenian discourse presents, that the truth in Christ Jesus will itself give rise to a Christian philosophy.

3. The very first thought expressed in this missionary discourse, is of such a character: ἀγνοοῦντες εὐσεβεῖτε—καταγγέλλω ὑμῖν Paul begins by referring to that inscription on an altar: “To an unknown God,” and sets forth more fully the deep meaning which it conveys. The worship of an unknown God involves a confession both of a want of knowledge, and of the pressing need of the worship of Him who is unknown. The gods who are known, mentioned by name, and worshipped as such, do not satisfy the religious wants of Prayer of Manasseh, and hence these wants impel him to look beyond the limits and forms of the existing worship for relief. But the object of worship now added, is confessedly unknown and unnamed ( ἀγνοοῦντες εὐσεβεῖτε, Acts 17:23; ἄγοια, Acts 17:30.); and the worship, moreover, of an unknown Deity, involves a dim conception or presentiment of the unknown God. Religious truth, however indistinctly or dimly apprehended, nevertheless lies hidden even in the mass of pagan legends of gods, forms of worship, and superstitious practices. But that which the religious mind, groping in the dark, attempts to find (comp.ζητεῖν, ψηλαφεῖν, Acts 17:27), is a gift of Revelation, and is now consciously and distinctly proclaimed (τοῦτο—καταγέλλω ὑμῖν). These are the germs both of a “Philosophy of Mythology”, and of a “Philosophy of Revelation.”

4. Paul proclaims the one personal God as the Creator of the world and the Lord of the world, exalted above every creature; thus he states the truth in direct terms, without attempting to controvert and reject any opposite views. His remarks refute, at the same time, the whole system which confounds God and nature—a system which constitutes the foundation of natural religion, which is expressed in its myths, and which clings to the ancient philosophy. The Hellenic gods had a beginning; there was no theological system without a theogony which adopted this principle; even the philosophy of the classical period cannot yet accurately discriminate between God and the world, neither does it rise to a true conception of the creation. (Comp. Baumgarten, Il. I:249 ff, and, with regard to Plato, Zeller: The Philosophy of the Greeks, II:474 ff, 2d. ed1859.). At all times, and in every stage of philosophic thought, the fact of the creation of the world, and the conception of the supernaturality of God as the Lord of the world, are fundamental principles of the truth, which cannot, without danger, be misunderstood or undervalued.

5. We are indebted to revelation for the true view of man and human nature. The unity of the human race ( Acts 17:26), was unknown to all polytheistic religions. All these, conforming to the theory that there are many gods, proceeded on the principle that the primordials of the various nations were also many in number, and that these nations and their respective founders were originally of different degrees of rank. This essential difference as to origin, was assumed as perpetuated in the subsequent history of the nations. The conception of unity in the history of mankind, was also entirely foreign to heathenism. Even those nations which had risen to the highest degree of culture and intelligence, the Greeks and the Romans, regarded themselves, respectively, as constituting the central point of the history of the world; they could form no conception of a Universal History of mankind, viewed as one race. (See Baumgarten, II:1269 ff.). That unity is exhibited solely by Revelation, both in the Old and in the New Testament, in which the human race is traced back to the one and the true God. According to the truth of the Bible, the history of the world begins with Him, and continually points to Him; this great principle was revealed under the old covenant in facts of history which were full of promise; it was exhibited in its reality in the Person of the Redeemer, who Isaiah, at the same time, the second Adam and the Son of God.

6. The indwelling of man in God is asserted by the apostle in Acts 17:28 : ἐν αὐτῷ ζῶμεν—ἐσμέν. This proposition has often been misunderstood and subjected to abuse; some have, very erroneously, even found Pantheism in it. For, in the first place, the apostle does not here speak of the world, of the creature, in general, but solely of Prayer of Manasseh, and that, too, in connection with the proposition that man can find God and is near to Him. In the second place, it is simply asserted that we are in God and live in Him, but not even remotely that God, as it were, is lost in the world, that Isaiah, combined or identified with it, or that the world is substantially one and the same with God. In the third place, the supermundane nature of God, Acts 17:24, is attested with sufficient distinctness by the very conception of the creation and by the words: κύριο οὐραοῦ καὶ γῆς, so that no arbitrary attempt to confound and identify God with the world, or the world with God, can be successfully made.—Nor does Paul, as it has sometimes been said, assert the indwelling of God in the world; but, on the contrary, he speaks of the indwelling of man in God, that is to say, not merely of a conditional dependence on God and His life, His power, and His existence, but of a most intimate nearness to Him who is omnipresent, and who, like space or the atmosphere, completely surrounds and sustains us.

7. Christ, as the turning-point in the history of the world, is placed before us in a brilliant light at the close of the discourse. The period of ἄγνοια, preceded his appearance; with him came the light, and it abides. Before he came, God “overlooked,” and exercised forbearance; henceforth, we look forward to the righteous judgment of the world, on the appointed great day. Repentance is every where preached to all men, so that they may not be subject to a sentence of condemnation. Only two features of the Person of Jesus Christ are depicted—he is described as a Prayer of Manasseh, a member of the human race, partaking of human nature, and subject to death (ἐκ νεκρῶν), and as the Judge of the world; to this office he was appointed (ὥρισε) by God, who has also, by raising him from the dead, presented him to men as the object of their implicit faith. But if God will hereafter judge the world in the Person of Jesus Christ, it follows that Christ is not merely Prayer of Manasseh, but also the corresponding and perfect organ of the holy and just, the omniscient and omnipotent God, and that, therefore, he himself partakes of the divine nature and dignity.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Acts 17:16. His spirit was stirred in him [moved with indignation]. Thus when the Spirit of Christ first came in contact with the noblest works of human art, the judgment of the Holy Ghost was set forth as the strait gate through which they all must pass. Nevertheless, Paul did not on this account seize the axe and destroy the images of the gods, and the altars (Gossner), like the iconoclastic Puritans, who condemned art as unchristian and ungodly in its very nature.—It was his primary object, not so much to cast down the idols from the altars, as, rather, to cast them out of the hearts of men. (Leonh. and Sp.).—-“When I first came to Athens,” Lucian, the pagan, says, “I gazed with wonder and rapture on all the glory of the city.” But Paul looked with other eyes on the city which was called “the altar and court of justice of Greece, the inventress of all the sciences.” (Besser).

Acts 17:17. And in the market daily with them that met with him.—For many persons were at all times standing idle there, Matthew 20:3. (Starke).—As the Gospel is founded on the truth, it does not hide itself, Luke 12:3. (id.)

Acts 17:18. Certain philosophers, etc.—In Jerusalem the Sadducees and Pharisees, in Athens the Epicureans and Stoics, in our day a worldly mind and the love of pleasure, on the one hand, and the pride of reason and self-righteousness, on the other, have always been the two hereditary archenemies, between whom the preacher of the cross must force his way.—The preaching of the cross, unto the Greeks foolishness, now as formerly [ 1 Corinthians 1:23]: I. To Epicurean frivolity; (a) to its unbelief; (i) to its carnal tendencies. II. To Stoical arrogance; (a) to its pride of reason; (b) to its self-righteousness.

Acts 17:19. What this new doctrine … is?—While the Gospel seems to the world to present matter that is new, or of which men never had heard, its doctrine Isaiah, in reality, older than all the wisdom of men, and it survives all the transient systems devised by that Wisdom of Solomon, since it is a power of God [ Romans 1:16] unto all eternity. (Leonh. and Sp.).—Brought him unto Areopagus.—The Lord well knows how to honor his servants. Here he furnishes the poor and despised Paul with an opportunity to appear on the celebrated Hill of Mars before a large assembly, and publicly to bear honorable witness to the truth; thus God chooses that which is mean, in order to expose the folly of the wise. [ 1 Corinthians 1:18 ff.]. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 17:21. For all the Athenians … some new thing.—The spirit of curiosity Isaiah, in general, a hinderance to the truth; still, God sometimes employs it as the means for conveying truth to the heart, Acts 17:34. (Quesnel).—The desire for “some new thing” is praiseworthy, when its objects are a new heart, the new man [ Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10], and the new Jerusalem. (Starke).—Worldly curiosity, and the Christian thirst for knowledge: I. The former seeks amusement; the latter, instruction. II. The object of the former is novelty; of the latter, truth. III. The former fritters away its strength among many objects; the latter finds peace in the one thing needful [ Luke 10:42].

Acts 17:22. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said.—The peculiar audience, consisting of philosophers, the associations connected with the place, and the curiosity of the hearers, are alike unable to persuade the holy apostle to depart in the least degree from his Gospel, and to indulge the caprices of the Athenians. But it is also obvious that he adapts his discourse to the peculiar state of their hearts, and with great wisdom and moderation endeavors to make an impression on them. (Ap. Past.).—That in all things ye are too superstitious [ye are very devout].—Why may the people of Athens hereafter rise up in the judgment [ Matthew 12:42], as accusers of the pagans in Christendom? I, The Athenians were devout; a devout fear of an unknown God was the basis of their superstition. II. The pagans in Christendom are estranged from God, and, in their unbelief, reject a revealed God.—The degree in which even pagans were prepared to receive the Christian faith. (Nitzsch: Wittenb. Sermons).

Acts 17:23. To the [an] unknown God.—Alas! How many an altar of the heart bears this inscription! The Divinity is already inscribed by nature on the hearts of all men. Where is the man to be found, who does not suppose that he really offers worship? But this light of knowledge is unhappily so much obscured in most men by carnal desires, prejudices and bad examples, that the true God still remains unknown to them. 1 John 2:3-4. (Starke).—How necessary it, therefore, Isaiah, that a Paul should arise in every church and house, and preach to the Christians of our day, that with all their show of knowledge and adoration, they serve and build altars to an unknown God! (Gossner).—The preachers of the Gospel are men who proclaim the unknown God. (Starke).—There are many here, whose hearts resemble the market-place of Athens or the Pantheon, the temple of all the gods. One idol stands there beside another—anger, pride, lust, covetousness, sloth, the love of honor. Search thine own heart, and learn whether it contains these images! The most of us must answer affirmatively, and confess: ‘The object of my worship is life, science, art, money, pleasure, my betrothed, my spouse or child, or Some other earthly treasure.’ And there, in a secret spot, discovered only by the painful pulsations of the conscience, stands an altar with the inscription: To the unknown God, that is to say: ‘To the God in whose name I was baptized and confirmed, to whom I have consecrated myself, whose mercy preserves and sustains me, but with whom I maintain no living communion, and whose commandments I transgress according to my own will.’ (Ahlfeld).—He is an unknown God also to those who live in the world and its lust, but not in Him. Such persons illustrate the fundamental principles of the Epicureans in their practice (and they are men not rarely found); the sole object of their life is enjoyment; they desire to forget that they possess immortal souls, and they say in secret: ‘Let us eat and drink: for tomorrow we die’ [ Isaiah 22:13; 1 Corinthians 15:32]. They are those (also, men not rarely found), who no longer retain an altar in the house, not even in the most obscure corner, but who blaspheme, or at least inwardly despise the altar in the house of God, since they have not God in their hearts. They have forgotten that they are “His offspring;” their life is severed from the maternal soil of the church, and is withering in the foul soil of worldly lust. To them the living God has become a strange and unknown God, whom they do not regard. (Langbein).—To whom is the living God an unknown God? I. To those who believe themselves to be wise; II. To those who offer an external worship, without seeking God himself; III. To those who live, not in Him, but in the world and its lust; IV. To those who do not desire to find Him in Christ, (id.).—The believing heart, an altar of the well-known God: I. In such a heart the presentiment of the divine nature and presence is converted by the word of God into absolute certainty; II. The painful fear inspired by the holiness of God is changed, by the redemption of Christ, into holy peace; III. The inclination to commit sin is overcome, in the service of God, by the Holy Ghost. (Florey).

Acts 17:24. God that made the world, etc.—This is the One God—Paul intends to say—who, out of nothing called into existence the world, with the whole array of its elements, bodies and spirits, by the word which conveyed His command, by the wisdom with which he arranged all things, and by the almighty power which enabled him to do all things. (Tertullian).—But Paul at the same time destroys the idols of the Athenians by these words; for while he bears witness to the glory of that God whose throne is in heaven, and whose footstool is the earth, he smites the idols that dwell in temples made with hands. God can dwell only in Himself, where he was before he made the world. He is Himself His temple. Nevertheless, he has built as many temples for Himself, as there are living hearts that love him; in these he desires to dwell, to be known, and to be adored.—Without, we have gone astray; within, in the soul, we are directed to the right way. Do thy work within thyself, and if thou desirest to find any “high and holy place,” give thyself up internally to God as His temple. If thou desirest to pray in a temple, pray in thyself, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (Augustine).—Where is the temple in which I am to seek, to find, and to worship God? I. It is Heaven, in which the spirits made perfect stand before his throne; II. It is the visible creation, in which he has not left Himself without a witness of His power, Wisdom of Solomon, and goodness; III. It is the Church, in which the unknown God is revealed in the Gospel of His Son; IV. It is my heart, in which He desires to dwell by His Holy Spirit.

Acts 17:25. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing.—God does not need us, but we have need of God. (Starke).—It is very true that idols need the services which human hands can render; there are, indeed, workshops to be found in the cities of India and China, the signs of which bear the inscription: ‘Here old gods are repaired, and new ones made.’ (Lean, and Sp.).

Acts 17:26. And hath made of one blood, etc.—The unity of the human race, as descended from one progenitor, necessarily follows from the unity of the Creator, and from the creation of man after his image, Acts 17:28-29.—The one Adam, on whom all depends ( Acts 17:31), points back, as the second, to a first Adam. (Stier).—We, human beings, all constitute one people! This is the new and wonderful light in which the Gospel teaches us to view the national and exclusive feeling of the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient nations, (id.).—And hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.—What think ye, ye mighty warriors and invaders? Listen ! God also has a will of his own, when kingdoms are to be divided. Numbers 34:2; Psalm 105:5; Psalm 105:44. (Starke).—The holy and almighty hand of God is revealed in the government of the world as it is in the creation—in the life of men as it is in nature.—The, change or the permanence of the boundaries of nations is not determined by soil, climate or nationality, but by the divine plan according to which God governs His Kingdom, and by the internal development of the human race. The people of Israel were dispersed among the nations, when the period in which they hardened themselves, had come. Athens is not an eternal city, and Rome is not an immortal Rome; the glory of both passed away, when their time was fulfilled; for the earth, in its present form, is only a temporary “habitation” of men, the ultimate purpose of which Isaiah, ( Acts 17:27), that they might be brought back to their God. (Stier).—God in history: He reveals in it, I. His creative power—permitting the human mind to unfold itself in the varied forms of national character; II. His patience and goodness—granting to each nation the time and opportunity for developing its peculiar character; III. His righteous judgment—assigning limits to the power and prosperity of every nation, whether it dwell in Greece or Rome, or whether it even be His chosen people of Israel; IV. His holy love—determining the great purpose or end of the history of the world, namely, that the kingdom of God may come, and that men may seek and find Him.

Acts 17:27. That they should seek … find him.—paul here proclaims natural truths; he speaks of the perfections of God, and of His providence which rules over the human race. But does he introduce empty definitions and distinctions—tedious propositions and arguments? Not in the least degree; the truth which proceeds from his lips, assumes life, and his heart, which lives in God, earnestly desires the hearers to seek that God who is so near to them. The philosophy that can infuse such a spirit into us, is evangelical and divine. (Ap. Past.).—O that this saying were inscribed on every heart—that tie great purpose for which we are placed on earth is to seek God in his works, both without us, and within us. (Quesnel).—Such seeking after God could not be unsuccessful, for ‘he is not far from every one of us.’ The whole universe proclaims with eloquent silence that the Lord is the exalted source of all things, so that all may feel after him, not indeed with the senses of the body, but with those of the mind. (Calovius).—And, therefore, thou canst not say: ‘Who shall ascend into heaven and bring him down? or, Who shall descend into the deep and bring him up from the dead?’ He is as nigh unto thee as is the law of the Holy One in thy conscience, as the desire of thy soul for salvation, as the involuntary cry for help, or as the continued sighing for peace in thy heart and mouth. (Menken).—But such seeking implies that a great loss has been sustained—that men have gone astray and chosen their own ways; it consists solely in an actual groping and seizing, indicating two distinct truths: first, that darkness had covered the nations; secondly, that He who remained near, and always is near, may be surely and easily found. (Stier).—Paul represents it as the ultimate purpose of all the great arrangements of God in the world, that man should seek Him: he regards man’s noblest aim and perfection as consisting in such seeking after and finding. Let us consider, I. The great object of our search; II. The path which conducts to that object. (Schleiermacher).

Acts 17:28. For in him we live, and move, and have our being [and are].—So near is He to all men, if they would but believe it; but the human race would prefer that He should be far distant; it continues to imitate our first parents, who hid themselves from the presence of God in Paradise. (Gossner).—God alone possesses the true life, and is necessarily self-existent; our life and being are derived from Him. Isaiah 44:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6. (Starke).—In the Father (of whom are all things), we are; in the Son (who is the life), we live: in the Spirit (who is the breath of all flesh), we move. (Cyprian).—We are his offspring: I. By our creation after the image of God; II. By our redemption through the incarnate Son of God.—We are the offspring of God: I. The truth of these words; proved from (a) the Scriptures, (b) the human heart, (c) the experience of man. II. The effect which they should produce: (a) holy humility, (b) holy confidence. (Tholuck).

Acts 17:29. As we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think, etc.—The pagans had not properly understood their own words. They reasoned thus: ‘If we belong to the divine race, then the gods must belong to the human race, and it consequently is both in our power and becomes a duty, to make human images of them.’ Paul presents to them an inference of a different kind. ‘Those who belong to the divine race’—he says—‘dishonor themselves, if they do not restrict their worship to their Founder and Head, but bow down before any being inferior to Him who is the Lord over all.’ He could now apply the same remark to the children of this world, who, it is true, do not worship images made by themselves, but who render superhuman honors to the inventive spirit of Prayer of Manasseh, usually styled “genius;” for they, too, worship nothing else than their human thoughts. Indeed, these words of the apostle rebuke all spiritually dead Christians, who engage in a mere external worship; for their god is distant or dead, and not the living and omnipresent God, in whom we live, move, and are. (Williger).

Acts 17:30. The times of this ignorance God winked at, etc.—It was a singular incident, when Paul accused these educated men of ignorance; nevertheless, the charge was well-founded. The period of polished but ignorant heathenism embraced centuries. (Berleburger Bible).—Among the features of heathenism, Paul specifies, with great forbearance, only its ignorance. But that this ignorance had been voluntarily maintained, and was reprehensible, he immediately indicates by employing the moderate expression: “winked at” [overlooked], by preaching repentance, and by solemnly proclaiming the judgment. (Stier).—But now commandeth … to repent.—However affectionate the terms may be, in which we address our hearers, those terms in which we call them to repentance must be emphatic in a still higher degree. Every word of the apostle here takes hold of us, and shows that, in his view, no degree of ignorance, no philosophy, no official dignity, no condition whatever, can in any degree justify the neglect of the universal duty of repentance, which God himself has enjoined.—The narrow way of repentance, the only way for all men: nothing exempts from the duty of walking in it: I. Neither ignorance, nor knowledge; II. Neither the deepest guilt, nor the loftiest virtue; III. Neither paganism, nor the Christian faith.

Acts 17:31. A day in the which he will judge the world. (Popular paraphrase of Acts 17:30-31).—God will, in his mercy, refrain from punishing all past sins, but henceforth he demands repentance before all things else, inasmuch as he has caused the coming judgment which Jesus will hold, to be proclaimed as a warning; he will inspire every one who penitently recognizes the appointed Judges, with confidence in the same Prayer of Manasseh, whom he has also appointed to be the Saviour; and, since the resurrection of that Saviour, he offers to all believers the new life which proceeds from him. (Stier).—He who surveys the world with spiritual eyes, can expect nothing else than a future judgment. (Starke).—By that [a] man.—He is the man without form or comeliness [ Isaiah 53:2], the Crucified One, before whom all the gods and demigods of Athens—Theseus and Hercules, Zeus and Apollo—with all their glory, sink into the dust; before whose foolishness of preaching, all the sages of Greece—Thales and Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato—become speechless, and whose invisible and lowly kingdom will survive the laws of Solon and Lycurgus, and the vast empire of Alexander.

Acts 17:32. Some mocked; and others said, etc.—The world is almost entirely divided into these two classes of sinners. The one consists of those who mock at saving truth, the other of those who continually postpone the effort to derive advantage from it. (Quesnel).

Acts 17:33. So [And thus] Paul departed from among them.—He did not return. The Lord himself forbade us to give that which is holy to the heathen, and to cast our pearls before swine [ Matthew 7:6]; he made no reply to the unsuitable questions of Herod [ Luke 23:9]. When men have advanced to such a point that they do not even take offence at the Gospel, but either ridicule or superficially criticise it, as one of the passing topics of the day, the servants of God can no longer hope, but only remain silent. (Williger).—Thus favorable opportunities pass by, while men are deliberating; they neglect to avail themselves of good counsel, and of the presence of a man of God. He is taken from them, and does not return; they die before they are prepared in their conscience to appear before God, John 8:21. (Quesnel).

Acts 17:34. Certain men … believed; among the which was Dionysius.—Only one man among so many philosophers? O what vast power it needs to induce the wise men of this world to bow before the cross! (Quesn.).—Large numbers do not constitute one of the essential features of the true church. Common stones are far more numerous than precious stones; but which are the more valuable? (Starke).—It seems then that the truth still gains a victory; and, as ancient writers testify, a Christian congregation was subsequently founded in Athens, which flourished in an eminent degree. Thus the Christian religion, even when it is persecuted, prevails over all academical distinctions. (Bogatzky.)

ON THE WHOLE SECTION, Acts 17:16-34; (comp. the foregoing sketches on each verse).—

The wisdom of the world, and divine wisdom: I. The former investigates, it is true, but merely for the sake of intellectual amusement, Acts 17:21; the latter endeavors to understand with accuracy the import, and to fulfil with certainty, the great design of life on earth. II. The former Isaiah, indeed, indistinctly conscious of the nature and being of the living God, Acts 17:23, but offers its full worship to idols which it has itself devised; the latter, guided by the light of Revelation, penetrates into the innermost depths of the Godhead. III. The former Isaiah, indeed, indistinctly conscious of the original glory of Prayer of Manasseh, Acts 17:28, but is unwilling to acquire any knowledge respecting the redemption of a fallen race; the latter finds its own perfection in the atonement which Christ made for the world. (Leonh. and Sp.).

The apostle’s sermon before pagans, addressed also to the hearts of Christians: I. The power of God—in the creation of the world; II. His love—in the government of the world; III. His holiness—in the judgment of the world. (C. Beck: Hom. Repert.).

The exceeding glory of the divine nature, and the high rank of human nature, (id.).—The messenger of the Gospel, in the heathen world: I. His feelings; (a) he feels himself repelled by the abominations of heathenism; (b) he is filled with holy sorrow, on witnessing the heathen worship of idols. II. His conduct; he avails himself of every opportunity to labor for God and Christ: he is rejoiced whenever he finds (a) hearers—Jews, proselytes, pagans,—or (b) a place where he can bear witness to the truth. III. His hearers are (a) men who regard themselves as philosophers, (b) persons entertaining the most erroneous opinions, (c) inquisitive people. (Lisco).—God, drawing men [ John 6:44]: (Homily). I. The departure from God, Acts 17:16-26. Man ceases to know God, and now seeks in vain for relief in sensual enjoyments, or in human Wisdom of Solomon, Acts 17:18, or in external works of piety, Acts 17:24-25. II. His communion with his own heart, Acts 17:26-29. What profit has sin afforded thee? None. After what does thy heart long? After the Most High. Where is He—thy God? Not far. He who appoints the times of all men, has thought also of thy weal and woe. What is thy soul? His breath. What is thy body? His temple. And thou wouldst serve sin? Thou wouldst seek the Eternal One in transitory objects? No. He dwells not in temples made with human hands. Thou wilt find Him when thou becomest even as He is—and that He has made possible to thee. III. The return to the Father, Acts 17:30-31. He who is invisibly nigh unto thee in thy conscience and in thy experience of life, has visibly approached thee in His Son Jesus Christ. In Christ alone canst thou learn that thou art the offspring of God, and canst alone for thy fall from Him. All that is past, God will in mercy overlook, but He now commands that thou shouldst come to Him through repentance and faith. He that believeth in Him, shall not be condemned. (Lisco).

The conduct of Paul’s hearers at Athens, an image of that of modern hearers of the Gospel, Acts 17:32-34; I. Some mocked; II. Some said: ‘We will hear thee again of this matter’ III. Some clave unto Paul, and believed. (id.).

“Luther in Rome,” “Calvin in Paris”—are impressive scenes in history, but the present is still more striking: Paul in Athens! Let us then approach somewhat nearer, and contemplate, I. The peculiar sentiments of the apostle, which his abode in the city of the Athenians awakened. Such a spot, this herald of the mystery of the cross had never before beheld. He does not avert his eyes from the monuments of the highest art and skill before him, but even perceives in them certain indications of the nobility of the human mind. But their magic charms neither deceive his senses, nor call him down from that still more elevated position, in which divine grace in Christ had placed him; a deep sorrow, produced by such aberrations of the human mind, fills his whole soul. II. The testimony which he there delivered. He proclaims three great truths in opposition to three great falsehoods which controlled the philosophy of that age, and from which even that of modern times is not yet freed: The creation out of nothing, as opposed to naturalism—the personality of God, as opposed to pantheism—the nature of sin, as opposed to antinomianism and rationalism. III. The result. It Isaiah, at first, not satisfactory—the word of the apostle encountered too many deep-rooted prejudices. Still, his secret hope is not disappointed. Even one convert has great weight in the balance of the kingdom of God. No one can remain strictly neutral. (F. W. Krummacher, in Trinity Church, Berlin, 1847).—“It was, in every respect, an extraordinary scene. There was a striking contrast between a discourse marked by such spirit and power, and those sophistical declamations by which precisely the topics of which Paul here treats, were obscured,—declamations, which had already been the subjects of the complaints and ridicule of Socrates. What would Socrates (whose equal Athens no longer possessed) have said, if he had heard such a discourse as Paul delivered on this occasion? He would probably have recognized in it the kingdom of God, from which he was not far, and would have been One of those who desired to hear more concerning the divinely appointed Judge of the human race, and concerning the resurrection. In the Person of the Redeemer of the world, he would have found more than that ideal of the just man described by Plato. He would rather have listened to such a discourse concerning the unknown God, than to the most eloquent orations of the sophists concerning the gods, the mere creatures of the imagination.—He would doubtless have concurred neither with the Epicurean, nor with the Stoic philosophers, when they termed Paul a babbler.” (Hess: History of the Apostles).—(Lavater has furnished a poetical paraphrase of Paul’s discourse at Athens, in his work entitled: Jesus Messiah, or the Gospels and the Acts, in verse1786, in the fourth vol.).

Three books of the knowledge of God: I. The book of the world, in two parts: Nature, and History, Acts 17:24-26; II. The book of the heart, in two parts: Reason, and Conscience, Acts 17:27-28; III. The book of the Scriptures in two parts: the Law, and the Gospel, Acts 17:30-31.

Paul at Athens, or, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, etc.” 1 Corinthians 1:27; I. The sermon of Paul at Athens was foolishness in the eyes of the world; nevertheless, its contents confounded all the wise men of Greece. II. The result of Paul’s labors in Athens was feeble in the eyes of the world; nevertheless, it was the beginning of the end of heathenism.

The Christian’s sentiments respecting worldly art and science; I. He does not despise them, for he recognizes (a) in their noble productions a gift and a consciousness of that God who is not far from every one of us, Acts 17:26-28; and (1b) even in their aberrations, the effort and struggle of the human mind that is seeking God, Acts 17:29-30. But, II. He does not fear them, for (a) he boldly applies the holy standard of the divine word even to their most admired productions, Acts 17:24-25; Acts 17:29; and (b) he confidently expects, even in the case of their most firmly established errors, the victory of Christian truth, Acts 17:30-31.

Paul at Athens, a model as a University preacher: I. He freely admits the human claims of every noble art and science,—proved (a) from the contents of his sermon, in which every academical department is noticed: Philosophy, Acts 17:24; Acts 17:27; Natural Science, Acts 17:25-26; History and Law, Acts 17:26; Art and Poetry, Acts 17:28-29; (b) from the form of his sermon, which, by its highly intellectual character, and its adaptation to the place and the hearers, illustrates his desire to become a Greek unto the Greeks. But, II. He conducts all his hearers before the tribunal of divine truth; (a) by showing that error and sin are the foul stains which mar every merely human effort, Acts 17:29-30; (b) by pointing, in the light of Revelation, to God as the source and aim of all spiritual life.

Paul at Athens, brought unto Areopagus: I. He is apparently judged and condemned by the superficial wisdom of men; (a) some mock, on hearing his doctrine; (b) others coldly decline to hear him to the end, Acts 17:32. But, II. In truth he judges and expels, in the name of the living God, (a) the delusion of heathenism, by proclaiming the Creator of heaven and earth, Acts 17:24-29, and (b) the sin of heathenism, by preaching repentance and faith, Acts 17:30-31.

[Whom ye ignorantly worship, Acts 17:23.—Illustrations of the act of worshipping God ignorantly: derived, I. From Paganism; (a) consciousness that worship is due to a higher power; (b) the ignorance manifested, and its causes effects; II. From Judaism (Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.); (a) the recognition of the true God: (b) the ignorance manifested, etc.; III. From Popery; (a) the adoption of the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament; (b) the ignorance manifested, etc.; IV. From Protestantism; (a) entire freedom in searching the Scriptures; (b) the ignorance manifested (e.g., as to the insignificance of all worship in which the heart is not interested; the nature, power, etc, of a living faith; the Person of Christ; the duty, manner, etc, of preparing for death, etc.), and its causes and effects.—Tr.]

Footnotes:

FN#9 - κατείδωλον is rendered in the English text, in accordance with the Vulg. (idololatriæ deditam), wholly given to idolatry; the margin proposes as a substitute: full of idols, which is regarded as a more accurate version; (Rheims: given to idolatry). Wahl defines the word thus: idolis refertus (κατά intendendi vim habente).—For θεροῦντι, of text. rec. from D. G. H, and agreeing with αῦτῷ, Lach, Tisch, and Alf. substitute θεωροῦντος (agreeing with IIAαύλου, from A. B. E.; Cod. Sin. also exhibits the genitive.—Tr.]

FN#10 - σπερμολόγος; babbler, in the Engl. text (Tynd, Cranmer, Geneva), but base fellow, less accurately, in the margin. “Babbler is (here) the very best English word.” (Alf.). Wahl: nugator, i. e., a trifler. See Exeg. note, below.—Tr.]

FN#11 - ἐπὶ τὸν ̔́ Aρειον πάγον (ἅρειος. adj. from Aρης. Rob. Lex.). Areopagus in the Engl. text (Wiclif, Rheims). The margin offers the following note; “Areopagus, or Mars’ Hill. It was the highest court in Athens.” See the next note. Alford remarks: “There is no allusion here to the court of Areiopagus, nor should the words have been so rendered in Engl. Vers, especially as the same ̓Aρείου πάγου below ( Acts 17:22) is translated Mars’ Hill.”—Tr.]

FN#12 - Mars’ Hill, in the Engl. text, is the version of τοῦ ̓Aρείου πάγου. The margin furnishes the following note: “Mars’ Hill, or, the court of the Areopagites.” See the foregoing note on Acts 17:19.—Tr.]

FN#13 - Acts 17:23. a. [σεβάσματα is rendered devotions in the Engl. text, for which the margin proposes as a substitute: gods that ye worship. The latter “is more accurate, but too restricted, as the Greek word denotes every thing connected with their worship, not its objects merely, but its rites and implements, including temples, images, and altars.” (Alexander).—Tr.]

FN#14 - Acts 17:23. b. ὃ—τοῦτο is the original reading, Cod. A (original hand). B. D. [Vulg. quod—hoc], whereas the reading ὃν—τοῦτον [of text. rec. from E. G. H.] is a correction intended to adapt the words to those which follow. [Lach. Tisch. and Alf. adopt the neuter gender.—Cod. Sin. (original) has ὅ—τοῦτο, which a later hand (C) changed to ὁν—τοῦτον.—Tr.]

FN#15 - Acts 17:25. άνθρωπίνων is sustained by weighty authorities [A. B. D. Cod. Sin. Vulg. manibus humanis], as compared with άνθρώπων [of text. rec. from E. G. H.—The former is adopted by Lach. Tisch. and Alf.—B. G. H. read κατὰ πάντα instead of καὶ τὰ πάντα, but recent editors reject this reading as erroneous, and are sustained by A. D. E.—Tr.]

FN#16 - of text. rec.] is supported only by one uncial manuscript, viz, D. as originally written. [Hence, the former reading is adopted by recent editors generally, except Born, who prefers that of the text. rec., which also appears in Cod. Sin.—In place of πᾶν τὸ πρόςωπον of text. rec. from E. G. H, Lach. Tisch. Born. and Alf. read παντὸς προςώπου, with A. B. D. Cod. Sin.—αἵματος of text. rec. from D. E. G. H. is wanting in A. B. Cod. Sin. Vulg.; it is omitted by Lach. and Tisch, but not by Alf.; Meyer regards the word as original, and believes that it was inadvertently dropped by copyists.—Tr.]

FN#17 - Acts 17:27. τὸν θεόν is decidedly better attested [by A. B. G. H. Cod. Sin. Vulg.] than τ. κύριον [of text. rec. from E. Hence, Lach. Tisch. Born. and Alf. adopt the former.—Tr.]

FN#18 - Acts 17:31. a. καθότι should be preferred, on account of the external testimony in its favor, to διότι [of text. rec.], which was the more usual word. [καθότι, in A. B. D. E. Cod. Sin, and adopted by Lach. Tisch. Born. and Alf.; διότι in G. H.—Tr.]

FN#19 - Acts 17:31. b. [πίστιν παραχ̓ὼν, translated given assurance in the Engl, text, but offered faith in the margin (Tynd, Cranmer); the latter is the more literal version, and is thus explained by Alexander: “having made it (faith) possible by furnishing the necessary evidence.”—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Acts 17:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/acts-17.html. 1857-84.

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