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When they had passed through
(διοδευσαντες). First aorist active participle of διοδευω, common verb in the Koine (Polybius, Plutarch, LXX, etc.), but in the N.T. only here and Lu 8:1
. It means literally to make one's way (οδος) through (δια). They took the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads from
Byzantium to Dyrrachium (over 500 miles long) on the Adriatic Sea, opposite Brundisium and so an extension of the Appian Way.
As his custom was
(κατα το ειωθος τω Παυλω). The same construction in Lu 4:16
about Jesus in Nazareth (κατα το ειωθος αυτω) with the second perfect active participle neuter singular from εθω. Paul's habit
was to go to the Jewish synagogue to use the Jews and the God-fearers as a springboard for his work among the Gentiles.
Opening and alleging
(διανοιγων κα παρατιθεμενος). Opening the Scriptures, Luke means, as made plain by the mission and message of Jesus, the
same word (διανοιγω) used by him of the interpretation of the Scriptures by Jesus (Lu 24:32
) and of the opening of the mind of the disciples also by Jesus (Lu 24:45
) and of the opening of Lydia's heart by the Lord (16:14). One cannot refrain from saying that such exposition of the Scriptures
as Jesus and Paul gave would lead to more opening of mind and heart. Paul was not only "expounding" the Scriptures, he was
also "propounding" (the old meaning of "allege") his doctrine or setting forth alongside the Scriptures (παρα-τιθεμενος),
quoting the Scripture to prove his contention which was made in much conflict (1Th 2:2
), probably in the midst of heated discussion by the opposing rabbis who were anything but convinced by Paul's powerful arguments,
for the Cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews (1Co 1:23
Some of them
(τινες εξ αυτων). That is of the Jews who were evidently largely afraid of the rabbis. Still "some" were persuaded (επεισθησαν,
effective first aorist passive indicative) and "consorted with" (προσεκληρωθησαν). This latter verb is also first aorist passive
indicative of προσκληροω, a common verb in late Greek (Plutarch, Lucian), but only here in the N.T., from προς and κληρος,
to assign by lot. So then this small group of Jews were given Paul and Silas by God's grace.
Moved with jealousy
(ζηλωσαντες). Both our English words,
When they found them not
(μη ευροντες). Usual negative μη with the participle in the Koine, second aorist (effective) active participle, complete failure with all the noise and "bums."
Whom Jason hath received
(ους υποδεδεκτα Ιασων). Present perfect middle indicative of υποδεχομα, to entertain, old verb, but in N.T. only in Lu 10:38; 19:6; Ac 17:7; Jas 2:25
. This is Jason's crime and he is the prisoner before the politarchs.
37183718 They troubled the multitude and the rulers (εταραξαν τον οχλον κα τους πολιταρχας). First aorist active of ταρασσω, old verb to agitate. The excitement of the multitude "agitated" the politarchs still more. To the people it meant a revolution, to the politarchs a charge of complicity in treason if they let it pass. They had no way to disprove the charge of treason and Paul and Silas were not present.
When they had taken security
(λαβοντες το ικανον). A Greek idiom=Latin satis accipere, to receive the sufficient (bond), usually money for the fulfilment of the judgment. Probably the demand was made of Jason
that he see to it that Paul and Silas leave the city not to return. In 1Th 2:17f
. Paul may refer to this in mentioning his inability to visit these Thessalonians again. The idiom λαμβανειν το ικανον now
is found in two inscriptions of the second century A.D. (O. G. I. S. 484, 50 and 629, 101). In Vol. III Oxyrhynchus Papyri
no. 294 A.D. 22 the corresponding phrase δουνα εικανον ("to give security") appears.
Immediately by night
(ευθεως δια νυκτος). Paul's work had not been in vain in Thessalonica (1Th 1:7f.; 2:13,20
). Paul loved the church here. Two of them, Aristarchus and Secundus, will accompany him to Jerusalem (Ac 20:4
) and Aristarchus will go on with him to Rome (27:2). Plainly Paul and Silas had been in hiding in Thessalonica and in real
danger. After his departure severe persecution came to the Christians in Thessalonica (1Th 2:14; 3:1-5; 2Th 1:6
). It is possible that there was an escort of Gentile converts with Paul and Silas on this night journey to Beroea which was
about fifty miles southwest from Thessalonica near Pella in another district of Macedonia (Emathia). There is a modern town
there of some 6,000 people.
More noble than those
(ευγενεστερο των). Comparative form of ευγενης, old and common adjective, but in N.T. only here and Lu 19:12; 1Co 1:26
. Followed by ablative case των as often after the comparative.
(Πολλο μεν ουν). As a result of this Bible study.
(κατηγγελη). Second aorist passive indicative of καταγγελλω, common late verb as in Ac 16:21
And then immediately
(ευθεως δε τοτε). They acted swiftly as in Thessalonica.
But they that conducted Paul
(ο δε καθιστανοντες τον Παυλον). Articular present active participle of καθιστανω (late form in A B of καθιστημ or καθισταω),
an old verb with varied uses to put down, to constitute, to conduct, etc. This use here is in the LXX (Jos 6:23
) and old Greek also.
Now while Paul waited for them in Athens
(Εν δε ταις Αθηναις εκδεχομενου αυτους του Παυλου). Genitive absolute with present middle participle of εκδεχομα, old verb
to receive, but only with the sense of looking out for, expecting found here and elsewhere in N.T We know that Timothy did
come to Paul in Athens (1Th 3:1,6
) from Thessalonica and was sent back to them from Athens. If Silas also came to Athens, he was also sent away, possibly to
Philippi, for that church was deeply interested in Paul. At any rate both Timothy and Silas came from Macedonia to Corinth
with messages and relief for Paul (Ac 18:5; 2Co 11:8f.
). Before they came and after they left, Paul felt lonely in Athens (1Th 3:1
), the first time on this tour or the first that he has been completely without fellow workers. Athens had been captured by
Sulla B.C. 86. After various changes Achaia, of which Corinth is the capital, is a separate province from Macedonia and A.D.
44 was restored by Claudius to the Senate with the Proconsul at Corinth. Paul is probably here about A.D. 50. Politically
Athens is no longer of importance when Paul comes though it is still the university seat of the world with all its rich environment
and traditions. Rackham grows eloquent over Paul the Jew of Tarsus being in the city of Pericles and Demosthenes, Socrates
and Plato and Aristotle, Sophocles and Euripides. In its Agora Socrates had taught, here was the Academy of Plato, the Lyceum
of Aristotle, the Porch of Zeno, the Garden of Epicurus. Here men still talked about philosophy, poetry, politics, religion,
anything and everything. It was the art centre of the world. The Parthenon, the most beautiful of temples, crowned the Acropolis.
Was Paul insensible to all this cultural environment? It is hard to think so for he was a university man of Tarsus and he
makes a number of allusions to Greek writers. Probably it had not been in Paul's original plan to evangelize Athens, difficult
as all university seats are, but he cannot be idle though here apparently by chance because driven out of Macedonia.
37273727 So he reasoned (διελεγετο μεν ουν). Accordingly therefore, with his spirit stirred by the proof of idolatry. Imperfect middle of διαλεγω, same verb used in verse 2 which see. First he reasoned in the synagogue at the services to the Jews and the God-fearers, then daily in the agora or marketplace (southwest of the Acropolis, between it and the Areopagus and the Pnyx) to the chance-comers, "them that met him" (προς τους παρατυγχανοντας). Simultaneously with the synagogue preaching at other hours Paul took his stand like Socrates before him and engaged in conversation with (προς) those who happened by. This old verb, παρατυγχανω, occurs here alone in the N.T. and accurately pictures the life in the agora. The listeners to Paul in the agora would be more casual than those who stop for street preaching, a Salvation Army meeting, a harangue from a box in Hyde Park. It was a slim chance either in synagogue or in agora, but Paul could not remain still with all the reeking idolatry around him. The boundaries of the agora varied, but there was always the Ποικιλη Στοα (the Painted Porch), over against the Acropolis on the west. In this Στοα (Porch) Zeno and other philosophers and rhetoricians held forth from time to time. Paul may have stood near this spot.
And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him
(τινες δε κα των Επικουριων κα Στωικων φιλοσοφων συνεβαλλον αυτω). Imperfect active of συνβαλλω, old verb, in the N.T. only
by Luke, to bring or put together in one's mind (Lu 2:19
), to meet together (Ac 20:14
), to bring together aid (18:27), to confer or converse or dispute as here and already
4:15 which see. These professional philosophers were always ready for an argument and so they frequented the agora for that
purpose. Luke uses one article and so groups the two sects together in their attitude toward Paul, but they were very different
in fact. Both sects were eager for argument and both had disdain for Paul, but they were the two rival practical philosophies
of the day, succeeding the more abstruse theories of Plato and Aristotle. Socrates had turned men's thought inward (Γνωθ Σεαυτον,
Know Thyself) away from the mere study of physics. Plato followed with a profound development of the inner self (metaphysics).
Aristotle with his cyclopaedic grasp sought to unify and relate both physics and metaphysics. Both Zeno and Epicurus (340-272
B.C.) took a more practical turn in all this intellectual turmoil and raised the issues of everyday life. Zeno (360-260 B.C.)
taught in the Στοα (Porch) and so his teaching was called Stoicism. He advanced many noble ideas that found their chief illustration
in the Roman philosophers (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius). He taught self-mastery and hardness with an austerity that
ministered to pride or suicide in case of failure, a distinctly selfish and unloving view of life and with a pantheistic philosophy.
Epicurus considered practical atheism the true view of the universe and denied a future life and claimed pleasure as the chief
thing to be gotten out of life. He did not deny the existence of gods, but regarded them as unconcerned with the life of men.
The Stoics called Epicurus an atheist. Lucretius and Horace give the Epicurean view of life in their great poems. This low
view of life led to sensualism and does today, for both Stoicism and Epicureanism are widely influential with people now.
"Eat and drink for tomorrow we die," they preached. Paul had doubtless become acquainted with both of these philosophies for
they were widely prevalent over the world. Here he confronts them in their very home. He is challenged by past-masters in
the art of appealing to the senses, men as skilled in their dialectic as the Pharisaic rabbis with whom Paul had been trained
and whose subtleties he had learned how to expose. But, so far as we know, this is a new experience for Paul to have a public
dispute with these philosophical experts who had a natural contempt for all Jews and for rabbis in particular, though they
found Paul a new type at any rate and so with some interest in him. "In Epicureanism, it was man's sensual nature which arrayed
itself against the claims of the gospel; in Stoicism it was his self-righteousness and pride of intellect" (Hackett). Knowling
calls the Stoic the Pharisee of philosophy and the Epicurean the Sadducee of philosophy. Socrates in this very agora used
to try to interest the passers-by in some desire for better things. That was 450 years before Paul is challenged by these
superficial sophistical Epicureans and Stoics. It is doubtful if Paul had ever met a more difficult situation.
And they took hold of him
(επιλαβομενο δε αυτου). Second aorist middle participle of επιλαμβανω, old verb, but in the N.T. only in the middle, here
with the genitive αυτου to lay hold of, but with no necessary sense of violence (Ac 9:27; 23:27; Mr 8:23
), unless the idea is that Paul was to be tried before the Court of Areopagus for the crime of bringing in strange gods. But
the day for that had passed in Athens. Even so it is not clear whether "
unto the Areopagus
(επ τον Αρειον Παγον") means the Hill of Mars (west of the Acropolis, north of the agora and reached by a flight of steps
in the rock) or the court itself which met elsewhere as well as on the hills, usually in fact in the Stoa Basilica opening
on the agora and near to the place where the dispute had gone on. Raphael's cartoon with Paul standing on Mars Hill has made
us all familiar with the common view, but it is quite uncertain if it is true. There was not room on the summit for a large
gathering. If Paul was brought before the Court of Areopagus (commonly called the Areopagus as here), it was not for trial
as a criminal, but simply for examination concerning his new teaching in this university city whether it was strictly legal
or not. Paul was really engaged in proselytism to turn the Athenians away from their old gods to Jesus Christ. But "the court
of refined and polished Athenians was very different from the rough provincial magistrates of Philippi, and the philosophers
who presented Paul to their cognizance very different from the mob of Thessalonians" (Rackham). It was all very polite.
For thou bringest certain strange things
(ξενιζοντα γαρ τινα εισφερεις). The very verb used by Xenophon (Mem. I) about Socrates. Ξενιζοντα is present active neuter plural participle of ξενιζω and from ξενος (verse
18), "things surprising or shocking us."
Spent their time
(ηυκαιρουν). Imperfect active of ευκαιρεω. A late word to have opportunity (ευ, καιρος) from Polybius on. In the N.T. only
here and Mr 6:31
. They had time for,.etc. This verse is an explanatory parenthesis by Luke.
Stood in the midst of the Areopagus
(σταθεις εν μεσω του Αρειου Παγου). First aorist passive of ιστημ used of Peter in
2:14. Majestic figure whether on Mars Hill or in the Stoa Basilica before the Areopagus Court. There would be a crowd of spectators
and philosophers in either case and Paul seized the opportunity to preach Christ to this strange audience as he did in Caesarea
before Herod Agrippa and the crowd of prominent people gathered by Festus for the entertainment. Paul does not speak as a
man on trial, but as one trying to get a hearing for the gospel of Christ.
(γαρ). Paul gives an illustration of their religiousness from his own experiences in their city.
The God that made the world
(Hο θεος ο ποιησας τον κοσμον). Not a god for this and a god for that like the 30,000 gods of the Athenians, but the one
God who made the Universe (κοσμος on the old Greek sense of orderly arrangement of the whole universe).
As though he needed anything
(προσδεομενος τινος). Present middle participle of προσδεομα, to want besides, old verb, but here only in the N.T. This was
strange doctrine for the people thought that the gods needed their offerings for full happiness. This self-sufficiency of
God was taught by Philo and Lucretius, but Paul shows that the Epicurean missed it by putting God, if existing at all, outside
And he made of one
(εποιησεν τε εξ ενος). The word αιματος (blood) is absent from Aleph A B and is a later explanatory addition. What Paul affirms
is the unity of the human race with a common origin and with God as the Creator. This view runs counter to Greek exclusiveness
which treated other races as barbarians and to Jewish pride which treated other nations as heathen or pagan (the Jews were
λαος, the Gentiles εθνη). The cosmopolitanism of Paul here rises above Jew and Greek and claims the one God as the Creator
of the one race of men. The Athenians themselves claimed to be αντοχθονους (indigenous) and a special creation. Zeno and Seneca
did teach a kind of cosmopolitanism (really pantheism) far different from the personal God of Paul. It was Rome, not Greece,
that carried out the moral ideas of Zeno. Man is part of the universe (verse
24) and God created (εποιησεν) man as he created (ποιησας) the all.
That they should seek God
(Ζητειν τον θεον). Infinitive (present active) of purpose again. Seek him, not turn away from him as the nations had done
For in him
(εν αυτω γαρ). Proof of God's nearness, not stoic pantheism, but real immanence in God as God dwells in us. The three verbs
(ζωμεν, κινουμεθα, εσμεν) form an ascending scale and reach a climax in God (life, movement, existence). Κινουμεθα is either
direct middle present indicative (we move ourselves) or passive (we are moved).
We ought not to think
(ουκ οφειλομεν νομιζειν). It is a logical conclusion (ουν, therefore) from the very language of Aratus and Cleanthes.
The times of ignorance
(τους χρονους της αγνοιας). The times before full knowledge of God came in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the very word for their
ignorance (αγνοουντες) employed in verse
(καθοτ). According as (κατα, οτ). Old causal conjunction, but in N.T. only used in Luke's writings (Lu 1:7; 19:9; Ac 2:45; 4:35; 17:31
The resurrection of the dead
(αναστασιν νεκρων). Rather, "a resurrection of dead men." No article with either word. The Greeks believed that the souls
of men lived on, but they had no conception of resurrection of the body. They had listened with respect till Paul spoke of
the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead as a fact, when they did not care to hear more.
37433743 Thus Paul went out from among them (ουτως ο Παυλος εξηλθεν εκ μεσου αυτων). No further questions, no effort to arrest him, no further ridicule. He walked out never to return to Athens. Had he failed?
Clave unto him and believed
(κολληθεντες αυτω επιστευσαν). First aorist passive of this strong word κολλαω, to glue to, common in Acts (5:13; 8:29; 9:26;
) No sermon is a failure which leads a group of men (ανδρες) to believe (ingressive aorist of πιστευω) in Jesus Christ. Many
so-called great or grand sermons reap no such harvest.
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