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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 16
Verse 16. Now while Paul waited. How long he was there is not intimated; but doubtless some time would elapse before they could arrive. In the mean time, Paul had ample opportunity to observe the state of the city.
His spirit was stirred in him. His mind was greatly excited. The word used here parwxuneto denotes any excitement, agitation, or paroxysm of mind, 1 Co 13:5. It here means that the mind of Paul was greatly concerned, or agitated, doubtless with pity and distress, at their folly and danger.
The city wholly given to idolatry. Greek, kateidwlon. It is well translated in the margin, "full of idols." The word is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. That this was the condition of the city is abundantly testified by profane writers. Thus Pausanias (in Attic. i. 24) says, "The Athenians greatly surpassed others in their zeal for religion" Lucian (T. i. Prometh. p. 180) says of the city of Athens," On every side there are altars, victims, temples, and festivals." Livy (45, 27) says, that Athens "was full of the images of gods and men, adorned with every variety of material, and with all the skill of art." And Petronius (Sat. xvii.) says humourously of the city, that "it was easier to find a god than a man there." See Kuinoel. In this verse we may see how a splendid, idolatrous city will strike a pious mind. Athens then had more that was splendid in architecture, more that was brilliant in science, and more that was beautiful in the arts, than any other city in the world; perhaps more than all the rest of the world united. Yet there is no account that the mind of Paul was filled with admiration; there is no record that he spent his time in examining the works of art; there is no evidence that he forgot his high purpose in an idle and useless contemplation of temples and statuary. His was a Christian mind; and he contemplated all this with a Christian heart. That heart was deeply affected in view of the amazing guilt of a people that were ignorant of the true God, and that had filled their city with idols reared to the honour of imaginary divinities; and who, in the midst of all this splendour and luxury, were going down to the gates of death. So should every pious man feel who treads the streets of a splendid and guilty city. The Christian will not despise the productions of art; but he will feel, deeply feel, for the unhappy condition of those who, amidst wealth and splendour and adorning, are withholding their affections from the living God, bestowing them on the works of their own hands, or on objects degraded and polluting, and who are going unredeemed to eternal woe. Happy would it be if every Christian traveller who visits cities of wealth and splendour would, like Paul, be affected in view of their crimes and dangers; and happy if, like him, men could cease their unbounded admiration of magnificence and splendour in temples and palaces and statuary, to regard the condition of mind, not perishable like marble; and of the soul, more magnificent even in its ruins than all the works of Phidias or Praxiteles.
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