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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Acts: Chapter 17)

17:1 {When they had passed through} (\diodeusantes\). First
aorist active participle of \diodeuō\, common verb in the _Koinē_
(Polybius, Plutarch, LXX, etc.), but in the N.T. only here and
Lu 8:1. It means literally to make one's way (\hodos\) through
(\dia\). 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. {Amphipolis} (\tēn Amphipolin\). So called because
the Strymon flowed almost around (\amphi\) it, the metropolis of
Macedonia Prima, a free city, about 32 miles from Philippi, about
three miles from the sea. Paul and Silas may have spent only a
night here or longer. {Apollonia} (\tēn Apollōnian\). Not the
famous Apollonia in Illyria, but 32 miles from Amphipolis on the
Egnatian Way. So here again a night was spent if no more. Why
Paul hurried through these two large cities, if he did, we do not
know. There are many gaps in Luke's narrative that we have no way
of filling up. There may have been no synagogues for one thing.
{To Thessalonica} (\eis Thessalonikēn\). There was a synagogue
here in this great commercial city, still an important city
called Saloniki, of 70,000 population. It was originally called
Therma, at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. Cassander renamed it
Thessalonica after his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great.
It was the capital of the second of the four divisions of
Macedonia and finally the capital of the whole province. It
shared with Corinth and Ephesus the commerce of the Aegean. One
synagogue shows that even in this commercial city the Jews were
not very numerous. As a political centre it ranked with Antioch
in Syria and Caesarea in Palestine. It was a strategic centre for
the spread of the gospel as Paul later said for it sounded
(echoed) forth from Thessalonica throughout Macedonia and Achaia
(1Th 1:8).

17:2 {As his custom was} (\kata to eiōthos tōi Paulōi\). The same
construction in Lu 4:16 about Jesus in Nazareth (\kata to
eiōthos autōi\)
with the second perfect active participle neuter
singular from \ethō\. 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. {For three Sabbaths} (\epi
sabbata tria\)
. Probably the reference is to the first three
Sabbaths when Paul had a free hand in the synagogue as at first
in Antioch in Pisidia. Luke does not say that Paul was in
Thessalonica only three weeks. He may have spoken there also
during the week, though the Sabbath was the great day. Paul makes
it plain, as Furneaux shows, that he was in Thessalonica a much
longer period than three weeks. The rest of the time he spoke, of
course, outside of the synagogue. Paul implies an extended stay
by his language in 1Th 1:8. The church consisted mainly of
Gentile converts (2Th 3:4,7,8) and seems to have been well
organized (1Th 5:12). He received help while there several
times from Philippi (Php 4:16) and even so worked night and day
to support himself (1Th 2:9). His preaching was misunderstood
there in spite of careful instruction concerning the second
coming of Christ (1Th 4:13-5:5; 2Th 2:1-12). {Reasoned}
(\dielexato\). First aorist middle indicative of \dialegomai\,
old verb in the active to select, distinguish, then to revolve in
the mind, to converse (interchange of ideas), then to teach in
the Socratic ("dialectic") method of question and answer (cf.
\dielegeto\ in verse 17)
, then simply to discourse, but always
with the idea of intellectual stimulus. With these Jews and
God-fearers Paul appealed to the Scriptures as text and basis
(\apo\) of his ideas.

17:3 {Opening and alleging} (\dianoigōn kai paratithemenos\).
Opening the Scriptures, Luke means, as made plain by the mission
and message of Jesus, the same word (\dianoigō\) 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
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
(\para-tithemenos\), 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). {That it
behoved the Christ to suffer}
(\hoti ton Christon edei pathein\).
The second aorist active infinitive is the subject of \edei\ with
\ton Christon\, the accusative of general reference. This is
Paul's major premise in his argument from the Scriptures about
the Messiah, the necessity of his sufferings according to the
Scriptures, the very argument made by the Risen Jesus to the two
on the way to Emmaus (Lu 24:25-27). The fifty-third chapter of
Isaiah was a passage in point that the rabbis had overlooked.
Peter made the same point in Ac 3:18 and Paul again in Ac
26:23. The minor premise is the resurrection of Jesus from the
dead. {To rise again from the dead} (\anastēnai ek nekrōn\). This
second aorist active infinitive \anastēnai\ is also the subject
of \edei\. The actual resurrection of Jesus was also a necessity
as Paul says he preached to them (1Th 4:14) and argued always
from Scripture (1Co 15:3-4) and from his own experience (Ac
9:22; 22:7; 26:8,14; 1Co 15:8)
. {This Jesus is the Christ}
(\houtos estin ho Christos, ho Iēsous\). More precisely, "This is
the Messiah, viz., Jesus whom I am proclaiming unto you." This is
the conclusion of Paul's line of argument and it is logical and
overwhelming. It is his method everywhere as in Damascus, in
Antioch in Pisidia, here, in Corinth. He spoke as an eye-witness.

17:4 {Some of them} (\tines ex autōn\). That is of the Jews who
were evidently largely afraid of the rabbis. Still "some" were
persuaded (\epeisthēsan\, effective first aorist passive
and "consorted with" (\proseklērōthēsan\). This
latter verb is also first aorist passive indicative of
\prosklēroō\, a common verb in late Greek (Plutarch, Lucian), but
only here in the N.T., from \pros\ and \klēros\, to assign by
lot. So then this small group of Jews were given Paul and Silas
by God's grace. {And of the devout Greeks a great multitude}
(\tōn te sebomenōn Hellēnōn plēthos polu\). These "God-fearers"
among the Gentiles were less under the control of the jealous
rabbis and so responded more readily to Paul's appeal. In 1Th
1:9 Paul expressly says that they had "turned to God from
idols," proof that this church was mainly Gentile (cf. also 1Th
. {And of the chief women not a few} (\gunaikōn te tōn
prōtōn ouk oligai\)
. Literally, "And of women the first not a
few." That is, a large number of women of the very first rank in
the city, probably devout women also like the men just before and
like those in 13:50 in Antioch in Pisidia who along with "the
first men of the city" were stirred up against Paul. Here these
women were openly friendly to Paul's message, whether proselytes
or Gentiles or Jewish wives of Gentiles as Hort holds. It is
noteworthy that here, as in Philippi, leading women take a bold
stand for Christ. In Macedonia women had more freedom than
elsewhere. It is not to be inferred that all those converted
belonged to the higher classes, for the industrial element was
clearly large (1Th 4:11). In 2Co 8:2 Paul speaks of the deep
poverty of the Macedonian churches, but with Philippi mainly in
mind. Ramsay thinks that Paul won many of the heathen not
affiliated at all with the synagogue. Certain it is that we must
allow a considerable interval of time between verses 4,5 to
understand what Paul says in his Thessalonian Epistles.

17:5 {Moved with jealousy} (\zēlōsantes\). Both our English
words, {zeal} and {jealousy}, are from the Greek \zēlos\. In
13:45 the Jews (rabbis) "were filled with jealousy"
(\eplēsthēsan zēlou\). That is another way of saying the same
thing as here. The success of Paul was entirely too great in both
places to please the rabbis. So here is jealousy of Jewish
preachers towards Christian preachers. It is always between men
or women of the same profession or group. In 1Th 2:3-10 Paul
hints at some of the slanders spread against him by these rabbis
(deceivers, using words of flattery as men-pleasers, after
vain-glory, greed of gain, etc.)
. {Took unto them}
(\proslabomenoi\). Second aorist middle (indirect, to themselves)
participle of \proslambanō\, old and common verb. {Certain vile
fellows of the rabble}
(\tōn agoraiōn andras tinas ponērous\).
The \agora\ or market-place was the natural resort for those with
nothing to do (Mt 20:4) like the court-house square today or
various parks in our cities where bench-warmers flock. Plato
(_Protagoras_ 347 C) calls these \agoraioi\ (common word, but in
N.T. only here and 19:38)
idlers or good-for-nothing fellows.
They are in every city and such "bums" are ready for any job. The
church in Thessalonica caught some of these peripatetic idlers
(2Th 3:10f.) "doing nothing but doing about." So the Jewish
preachers gather to themselves a choice collection of these
market-loungers or loafers or wharf-rats. The Romans called them
_subrostrani_ (hangers round the rostrum or _subbasilicari_).
{Gathering a crowd} (\ochlopoiēsantes\). Literally, making or
getting (\poieō\) a crowd (\ochlos\), a word not found elsewhere.
Probably right in the \agora\ itself where the rabbis could tell
men their duties and pay them in advance. Instance Hyde Park in
London with all the curious gatherings every day, Sunday
afternoons in particular. {Set the city on an uproar}
(\ethoruboun\). Imperfect active of \thorubeō\, from \thorubos\
(tumult), old verb, but in the N.T. only here and 20:10; Mt
9:23; Mr 4:39. They kept up the din, this combination of rabbis
and rabble. {Assaulting the house of Jason} (\epistantes tēi
oikiāi Iasonos\)
. Second aorist (ingressive) active of
\ephistēmi\, taking a stand against, rushing at, because he was
Paul's host. He may have been a Gentile (Jason the name of an
ancient king of Thessaly)
, but the Jews often used it for Joshua
or Jesus (II Macc. 1:7). {They sought} (\ezētoun\). Imperfect
active. They burst into the house and searched up and down.
{Them} (\autous\). Paul and Silas. They were getting ready to
have a lynching party.

17:6 {When they found them not} (\mē heurontes\). Usual negative
\mē\ with the participle in the _Koinē_, second aorist
(effective) active participle, complete failure with all the
noise and "bums." {They dragged} (\esuron\). Imperfect active,
vivid picture, they were dragging (literally). See already 8:3;
16:19. If they could not find Paul, they could drag Jason his
host and some other Christians whom we do not know. {Before the
rulers of the city}
(\epi tous politarchas\). This word does not
occur in Greek literature and used to be cited as an example of
Luke's blunders. But now it is found in an inscription on an arch
in the modern city preserved in the British Museum. It is also
found in seventeen inscriptions (five from Thessalonica) where
the word or the verb \politarcheō\ occurs. It is a fine
illustration of the historical accuracy of Luke in matters of
detail. This title for city officers in Thessalonica, a free
city, is correct. They were burgomasters or "rulers of the city."
{Crying} (\boōntes\). Yelling as if the house was on fire like
the mob in Jerusalem (21:28). {These that have turned the world
upside down}
(\hoi tēn oikoumenēn anastatōsantes\). The use of
\oikoumenēn\ (supply \gen\ or \chōran\, the inhabited earth,
present passive participle of \oikeō\)
means the Roman Empire,
since it is a political charge, a natural hyperbole in their
excitement, but the phrase occurs for the Roman Empire in Lu
2:1. It is possible that news had come to Thessalonica of the
expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius. There is truth in
the accusation, for Christianity is revolutionary, but on this
particular occasion the uproar (verse 5) was created by the
rabbis and the hired loafers. The verb \anastatoō\ (here first
aorist active participle)
does not occur in the ancient writers,
but is in LXX and in Ac 17:6; 21:38; Ga 5:12. It occurs also in
Harpocration (A.D. 4th cent.) and about 100 B.C. \exanastatoō\ is
found in a fragment of papyrus (Tebtunis no. 2) and in a Paris
Magical Papyrus l. 2243f. But in an Egyptian letter of Aug. 4, 41
A.D. (Oxyrhynchus Pap. no. 119, 10) "the bad boy" uses it = "he
upsets me" or " he drives me out of my senses" (\anastatoi me\).
See Deissmann, _Light from the Ancient East_, pp. 84f. It is not
a "Biblical word" at all, but belongs to the current _Koinē_. It
is a vigorous and graphic term.

17:7 {Whom Jason hath received} (\hous hupodedektai Iasōn\).
Present perfect middle indicative of \hupodechomai\, 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. {These all} (\houtoi pantes\). Jason, the
"brethren" of verse 6, Paul and Silas, and all Christians
everywhere. {Contrary} (\apenanti\). Late compound preposition
(\apo, en, anti\) found in Polybius, LXX, here only in the N.T.
{The decrees of Caesar} (\tōn dogmatōn Kaisaros\). This was a
charge of treason and was a sure way to get a conviction.
Probably the Julian _Leges Majestatis_ are in mind rather than
the definite decree of Claudius about the Jews (Ac 18:2).
{Saying that there is another king, one Jesus} (\Basilea heteron
legontes einai Iēsoun\)
. Note the very order of the words in the
Greek indirect discourse with the accusative and infinitive after
\legontes\. \Basilea heteron\ comes first, a different king,
another emperor than Caesar. This was the very charge that the
smart student of the Pharisees and Herodians had tried to catch
Jesus on (Mr 12:14). The Sanhedrin made it anyhow against Jesus
to Pilate (Lu 23:2) and Pilate had to notice it. "Although the
emperors never ventured to assume the title _rex_ at Rome, in the
Eastern provinces they were regularly termed _basileus_" (Page).
The Jews here, as before Pilate (Joh 19:15), renounce their
dearest hope of a Messianic king. It is plain that Paul had
preached about Jesus as the Messiah, King of the Kingdom of God
over against the Roman Empire, a spiritual kingdom, to be sure,
but the Jews here turn his language to his hurt as they did with
Jesus. As a matter of fact Paul's preaching about the kingdom and
the second coming of Christ was gravely misunderstood by the
Christians at Thessalonica after his departure (1Th 4:13-5:4;
2Th 2)
. The Jews were quick to seize upon his language about
Jesus Christ to his own injury. Clearly here in Thessalonica Paul
had faced the power of the Roman Empire in a new way and pictured
over against it the grandeur of the reign of Christ.

17:8 {They troubled the multitude and the rulers} (\etaraxan ton
ochlon kai tous politarchas\)
. First aorist active of \tarassō\,
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.

17:9 {When they had taken security} (\labontes to hikanon\). 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 \lambanein to hikanon\ 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 \dounai heikanon\ ("to give
appears. {They let them go} (\apelusan autous\). The
charge was serious but the proof slim so that the politarchs were
glad to be rid of the case.

17:10 {Immediately by night} (\eutheōs dia nuktos\). 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. {Went} (\apēiesan\).
Imperfect third plural active of \apeimi\, old verb to go away,
here alone in the N.T. A literary, almost Atticistic, form
instead of \apēlthon\. {Into the synagogue of the Jews} (\eis tēn
sunagōgēn tōn Ioudaiōn\)
. Paul's usual custom and he lost no time
about it. Enough Jews here to have a synagogue.

17:11 {More noble than those} (\eugenesteroi tōn\). Comparative
form of \eugenēs\, old and common adjective, but in N.T. only
here and Lu 19:12; 1Co 1:26. Followed by ablative case \tōn\ as
often after the comparative. {With all readiness of mind} (\meta
pāsēs prothumias\)
. Old word from \prothumos\ (\pro, thumos\) and
means eagerness, rushing forward. In the N.T. only here and 2Co
8:11-19; 9:2. In Thessalonica many of the Jews out of pride and
prejudice refused to listen. Here the Jews joyfully welcomed the
two Jewish visitors. {Examining the Scriptures daily} (\kath'
hēmeran anakrinontes tas graphas\)
. Paul expounded the Scriptures
daily as in Thessalonica, but the Beroeans, instead of resenting
his new interpretation, examined (\anakrinō\ means to sift up and
down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes as in
Ac 4:9; 12:19, etc.)
the Scriptures for themselves. In Scotland
people have the Bible open on the preacher as he expounds the
passage, a fine habit worth imitating. {Whether these things were
(\ei echoi tauta houtōs\). Literally, "if these things had it
thus." The present optative in the indirect question represents
an original present indicative as in Lu 1:29 (Robertson,
_Grammar_, pp. 1043f.)
. This use of \ei\ with the optative may be
looked at as the condition of the fourth class (undetermined with
less likelihood of determination)
as in Ac 17:27; 20:16; 24:19;
27:12 (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1021). The Beroeans were eagerly
interested in the new message of Paul and Silas but they wanted
to see it for themselves. What a noble attitude. Paul's preaching
made Bible students of them. The duty of private interpretation
is thus made plain (Hovey).

17:12 {Many therefore} (\Polloi men oun\). As a result of this
Bible study. {Also of the Greek women of honourable estate}. The
word \Hellēnis\ means Greek woman, but the word \gunē\ is added.
In particular women of rank (\euschēmonōn\, from \eu\ and \echō\,
graceful figure and the honourable standing)
as in 13:50 (Mr
. Probably Luke means by implication that the "men"
(\andrōn\) were also noble Greeks though he does not expressly
say so. So then the Jews were more open to the message, the
proselytes or God-fearers followed suit, with "not a few" (\ouk
real Greeks (both men and women) believing. It was quick
and fine work.

17:13 {Was proclaimed} (\katēggelē\). Second aorist passive
indicative of \kataggellō\, common late verb as in Ac 16:21.
{Of Paul} (\hupo Paulou\). By Paul, of course. {Stirring up and
troubling the multitudes}
(\saleuontes kai tarassontes tous
. Shaking the crowds like an earthquake (4:31) and
disturbing like a tornado (17:8). Success at Thessalonica gave
the rabbis confidence and courage. The attack was sharp and
swift. The Jews from Antioch in Pisidia had likewise pursued Paul
to Iconium and Lystra. How long Paul had been in Beroea Luke does
not say. But a church was established here which gave a good
account of itself later and sent a messenger (Ac 20:4) with
their part of the collection to Jerusalem. This quiet and noble
town was in a whirl of excitement over the attacks of the Jewish
emissaries from Thessalonica who probably made the same charge of
treason against Paul and Silas.

17:14 {And then immediately} (\eutheōs de tote\). They acted
swiftly as in Thessalonica. {Sent forth} (\exapesteilan\). Double
compound (\ex, apo\, both out and away) common in late Greek.
First aorist active indicative (\exapostellō\, liquid verb). Same
form in 9:30. {As far as to the sea} (\heōs epi tēn
. It is not clear whether Paul went all the way to
Athens by land or took ship at Dium or Pydna, some sixteen miles
away, and sailed to Athens. Some even think that Paul gave the
Jews the slip and went all the way by land when they expected him
to go by sea. At any rate we know that Paul was grieved to cut
short his work in Macedonia, probably not over six months in all,
which had been so fruitful in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea.
Silas and Timothy (note his presence) remained behind in Beroea
and they would keep the work going. Paul no doubt hoped to return
soon. Silas and Timothy in Beroea would also serve to screen his
flight for the Jews wanted his blood, not theirs. The work in
Macedonia spread widely (1Th 1:7f.).

17:15 {But they that conducted Paul} (\hoi de kathistanontes ton
. Articular present active participle of \kathistanō\
(late form in A B of \kathistēmi\ or \kathistaō\), 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. {To
(\heōs Athēnōn\). To make sure of his safe arrival. {That
they should come to him with all speed}
(\hina hōs tachista
elthōsin pros auton\)
. Note the neat Greek idiom \hōs tachista\
as quickly as possible (good Attic idiom). The indirect command
and purpose (\hina-elthōsin\, second aorist active subjunctive)
is also neat Greek (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1046). {Departed}
(\exēiesan\). Imperfect active of \exeimi\, old Greek word, but
rare in N.T. All in Acts (13:42; 17:15; 20:7; 27:43)

17:16 {Now while Paul waited for them in Athens} (\En de tais
Athēnais ekdechomenou autous tou Paulou\)
. Genitive absolute with
present middle participle of \ekdechomai\, 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
. 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. {Was
(\parōxuneto\). Imperfect passive of \paroxunō\, old
verb to sharpen, to stimulate, to irritate (from \para, oxus\),
from \paroxusmos\ (Ac 15:39), common in old Greek, but in N.T.
only here and 1Co 13:5. It was a continual challenge to Paul's
spirit when he beheld (\theōrountos\, genitive of present
participle agreeing with \autou\ (his), though late MSS. have
locative \theōrounti\ agreeing with \en autōi\)
. {The city full
of idols}
(\kateidōlon ousan tēn polin\). Note the participle
\ousan\ not preserved in the English (either the city being full
of idols or that the city was full of idols, sort of indirect
. Paul, like any stranger was looking at the sights as
he walked around. This adjective \kateidōlon\ (perfective use of
\kata\ and \eidōlon\ is found nowhere else, but it is formed
after the analogy of \katampelos, katadendron\)
, full of idols.
Xenophon (_de Republ. Ath_.) calls the city \holē bomos, holē
thuma theois kai anathēma\ (all altar, all sacrifice and offering
to the gods)
. These statues were beautiful, but Paul was not
deceived by the mere art for art's sake. The idolatry and
sensualism of it all glared at him (Ro 1:18-32). Renan
ridicules Paul's ignorance in taking these statues for idols, but
Paul knew paganism better than Renan. The superstition of this
centre of Greek culture was depressing to Paul. One has only to
recall how superstitious cults today flourish in the atmosphere
of Boston and Los Angeles to understand conditions in Athens.
Pausanias says that Athens had more images than all the rest of
Greece put together. Pliny states that in the time of Nero Athens
had over 30,000 public statues besides countless private ones in
the homes. Petronius sneers that it was easier to find a god than
a man in Athens. Every gateway or porch had its protecting god.
They lined the street from the Piraeus and caught the eye at
every place of prominence on wall or in the agora.

17:17 {So he reasoned} (\dielegeto men oun\). Accordingly
therefore, with his spirit stirred by the proof of idolatry.
Imperfect middle of \dialegō\, 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
to the chance-comers, "them that met him" (\pros tous
. Simultaneously with the synagogue preaching
at other hours Paul took his stand like Socrates before him and
engaged in conversation with (\pros\) those who happened by. This
old verb, \paratugchanō\, 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 \Poikilē Stoa\ (the Painted Porch), over against the
Acropolis on the west. In this \Stoa\ (Porch) Zeno and other
philosophers and rhetoricians held forth from time to time. Paul
may have stood near this spot.

17:18 {And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers
encountered him}
(\tines de kai tōn Epikouriōn kai Stōikōn
philosophōn suneballon autōi\)
. Imperfect active of \sunballō\,
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
(\Gnōthi Seauton\, 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 \Stoa\ (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. {What
would this babbler say?}
(\Ti an theloi ho spermologos houtos
. The word for "babbler" means "seed-picker" or picker
up of seeds (\sperma\, seed, \legō\, to collect) like a bird in
the agora hopping about after chance seeds. Plutarch applies the
word to crows that pick up grain in the fields. Demosthenes
called Aeschines a \spermologos\. Eustathius uses it of a man
hanging around in the markets picking up scraps of food that fell
from the carts and so also of mere rhetoricians and plagiarists
who picked up scraps of wisdom from others. Ramsay considers it
here a piece of Athenian slang used to describe the picture of
Paul seen by these philosophers who use it, for not all of them
had it ("some," \tines\). Note the use of \an\ and the present
active optative \theloi\, conclusion of a fourth-class condition
in a rhetorical question (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1021). It
means, What would this picker up of seeds wish to say, if he
should get off an idea? It is a contemptuous tone of supreme
ridicule and doubtless Paul heard this comment. Probably the
Epicureans made this sneer that Paul was a charlatan or quack.
{Other some} (\hoi de\). But others, in contrast with the "some"
just before. Perhaps the Stoics take this more serious view of
Paul. {He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods} (\zenōn
daimoniōn dokei kataggeleus einai\)
. This view is put cautiously
by \dokei\ (seems). \Kataggeleus\ does not occur in the old
Greek, though in ecclesiastical writers, but Deissmann (_Light
from the Ancient East_, p. 99)
gives an example of the word "on a
marble stele recording a decree of the Mitylenaens in honour of
the Emperor Augustus," where it is the herald of the games. Here
alone in the N.T. \Daimonion\ is used in the old Greek sense of
deity or divinity whether good or bad, not in the N.T. sense of
demons. Both this word and \kataggeleus\ are used from the
Athenian standpoint. \Xenos\ is an old word for a guest-friend
(Latin _hospes_) and then host (Ro 16:23), then for foreigner
or stranger (Mt 25:31; Ac 17:21), new and so strange as here
and Heb 13:9; 1Pe 4:12, and then aliens (Eph 2:12). This view
of Paul is the first count against Socrates: Socrates does wrong,
introducing new deities (\adikei Sōkratēs, kaina daimonia
eispherōn\, Xen. _Mem_. I)
. On this charge the Athenians voted
the hemlock for their greatest citizen. What will they do to
Paul? This Athens was more sceptical and more tolerant than the
old Athens. But Roman law did not allow the introduction of a new
religion (_religio illicita_). Paul was walking on thin ice
though he was the real master philosopher and these Epicureans
and Stoics were quacks. Paul had the only true philosophy of the
universe and life with Jesus Christ as the centre (Col
, the greatest of all philosophers as Ramsay justly
terms him. But these men are mocking him. {Because he preached
Jesus and the resurrection}
(\hoti ton Iēsoun kai tēn anastasin
. Reason for the view just stated. Imperfect middle
indicative of \euaggelizō\, to "gospelize." Apparently these
critics considered \anastasis\ (Resurrection) another deity on a
par with Jesus. The Athenians worshipped all sorts of abstract
truths and virtues and they misunderstood Paul on this subject.
They will leave him as soon as he mentions the resurrection
(verse 32). It is objected that Luke would not use the word in
this sense here for his readers would not under stand him. But
Luke is describing the misapprehension of this group of
philosophers and this interpretation fits in precisely.

17:19 {And they took hold of him} (\epilabomenoi de autou\).
Second aorist middle participle of \epilambanō\, old verb, but in
the N.T. only in the middle, here with the genitive \autou\ 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} (\epi ton Areion
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. {May we know?} (\Dunametha gnōnai\). Can we come to
know (ingressive second aorist active infinitive). {This new
(\hē kainē hautē didachē\). On the position of \hautē\
see Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 700f. The question was prompted by
courtesy, sarcasm, or irony. Evidently no definite charge was
laid against Paul.

17:20 {For thou bringest certain strange things} (\xenizonta gar
tina eisphereis\)
. The very verb used by Xenophon (_Mem_. I)
about Socrates. \Xenizonta\ is present active neuter plural
participle of \xenizō\ and from \xenos\ (verse 18), "things
surprising or shocking us." {We would know therefore}
(\boulometha oun gnōnai\). Very polite still, we wish or desire,
and repeating \gnōnai\ (the essential point).

17:21 {Spent their time} (\ēukairoun\). Imperfect active of
\eukaireō\. A late word to have opportunity (\eu, kairos\) 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. {Some
new thing}
(\ti kainoteron\). Literally "something newer" or
"fresher" than the new, the very latest, the comparative of
\kainos\. Demosthenes (_Philipp_. 1. 43) pictures the Athenians
"in the agora inquiring if anything newer is said"
(\punthanomenoi kata tēn agoran ei ti legetai neōteron\). The new
soon became stale with these itching and frivolous Athenians.

17:22 {Stood in the midst of the Areopagus} (\statheis en mesōi
tou Areiou Pagou\)
. First aorist passive of \histēmi\ 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. {Somewhat superstitious} (\hōs
. The Authorized Version has "too
superstitious," the American Standard "very religious."
\Deisidaimōn\ is a neutral word (from \deidō\, to fear, and
\daimōn\, deity)
. The Greeks used it either in the good sense of
pious or religious or the bad sense of superstitious. Thayer
suggests that Paul uses it "with kindly ambiguity." Page thinks
that Luke uses the word to represent the religious feeling of the
Athenians (_religiosus_) which bordered on superstition. The
Vulgate has _superstitiosiores_. In 25:19 Festus uses the term
\deisidaimonia\ for "religion." It seems unlikely that Paul
should give this audience a slap in the face at the very start.
The way one takes this adjective here colours Paul's whole speech
before the Council of Areopagus. The comparative here as in verse
21 means more religions than usual (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp.
, the object of the comparison not being expressed. The
Athenians had a tremendous reputation for their devotion to
religion, "full of idols" (verse 16).

17:23 {For} (\gar\). Paul gives an illustration of their
religiousness from his own experiences in their city. {The
objects of your worship}
(\ta sebasmata humōn\). Late word from
\sebazomai\, to worship. In N T. only here and 2Th 2:4. The use
of this word for temples, altars, statues, shows the conciliatory
tone in the use of \deisidaimonesterous\ in verse 22. {An
(\bōmon\). Old word, only here in the N.T. and the only
mention of a heathen altar in the N.T {With this inscription}
(\en hōi epegegrapto\). On which had been written (stood
, past perfect passive indicative of \epigraphō\, old and
common verb for writing on inscriptions (\epigraphē\, Lu
. {To an Unknown God} (\AGNOSTO THEO\). Dative case,
dedicated to. Pausanias (I. 1, 4) says that in Athens there are
"altars to gods unknown" (\bōmoi theōn agnōstōn\). Epimenides in
a pestilence advised the sacrifice of a sheep to the befitting
god whoever he might be. If an altar was dedicated to the wrong
deity, the Athenians feared the anger of the other gods. The only
use in the N.T. of \agnōstos\, old and common adjective (from \a\
privative and \gnōstos\ verbal of \ginōskō\, to know)
. Our word
agnostic comes from it. Here it has an ambiguous meaning, but
Paul uses it though to a stern Christian philosopher it may be
the "confession at once of a bastard philosophy and of a bastard
religion" (Hort, _Hulsean Lectures_, p. 64). Paul was quick to
use this confession on the part of the Athenians of a higher
power than yet known to them. So he gets his theme from this
evidence of a deeper religious sense in them and makes a most
clever use of it with consummate skill. {In ignorance}
(\agnoountes\). Present active participle of \agnoeō\, old verb
from same root as \agnōstos\ to which Paul refers by using it.
{This set I forth unto you} (\touto ego kataggellō humin\). He is
a \kataggeleus\ (verse 18) as they suspected of a God, both old
and new, old in that they already worship him, new in that Paul
knows who he is. By this master stroke he has brushed to one side
any notion of violation of Roman law or suspicion of heresy and
claims their endorsement of his new gospel, a shrewd and
consummate turn. He has their attention now and proceeds to
describe this God left out of their list as the one true and
Supreme God. The later MSS. here read \hon--touton\ (whom--this
rather than \ho--touto\ (what--this), but the late text is
plainly an effort to introduce too soon the personal nature of
God which comes out clearly in verse 24.

17:24 {The God that made the world} (\Ho theos ho poiēsas ton
. 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
(\kosmos\ on the old Greek sense of orderly arrangement of the
whole universe)
. {And all things therein} (\kai panta ta en
. All the details in the universe were created by this one
God. Paul is using the words of Isa 42:5. The Epicureans held
that matter was eternal. Paul sets them aside. This one God was
not to be confounded with any of their numerous gods save with
this "Unknown God." {Being Lord of heaven and earth} (\ouranou
kai gēs huparchōn kurios\)
. \Kurios\ here owner, absolute
possessor of both heaven and earth (Isa 45:7), not of just
parts. {Dwelleth not in temples made with hands} (\ouken
cheiropoiētois naois katoikei\)
. The old adjective
\cheiropoiētos\ (\cheir, poieō\) already in Stephen's speech
(7:48). No doubt Paul pointed to the wonderful Parthenon,
supposed to be the home of Athene as Stephen denied that God
dwelt alone in the temple in Jerusalem.

17:25 {As though he needed anything} (\prosdeomenos tinos\).
Present middle participle of \prosdeomai\, 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 the universe. {Seeing he himself
giveth to all}
(\autos didous pasin\). This Supreme Personal God
is the source of life, breath, and everything. Paul here rises
above all Greek philosophers.

17:26 {And he made of one} (\epoiēsen te ex henos\). The word
\haimatos\ (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 \laos\, the Gentiles \ethnē\).
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 \antochthonous\ (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 (\epoiēsen\) man as he created (\poiēsas\) the
all. {For to dwell} (\katoikein\). Infinitive (present active) of
purpose, so as to dwell. {Having determined} (\horisas\). First
aorist active participle of \horizō\, old verb to make a horizon
as already in 19:42 which see. Paul here touches God's
Providence. God has revealed himself in history as in creation.
His hand appears in the history of all men as well as in that of
the Chosen People of Israel. {Appointed seasons}
(\prostetagmenous kairous\). Not the weather as in 14:17, but
"the times of the Gentiles" (\kairoi ethnōn\) of which Jesus
spoke (Lu 21:24). The perfect passive participle of
\prostassō\, old verb to enjoin, emphasizes God's control of
human history without any denial of human free agency as was
involved in the Stoic Fate (\Heirmarmenē\). {Bounds}
(\horothesias\). Limits? Same idea in Job 12:23. Nations rise
and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is
an interplay between God's will and man's activities, difficult
as it is for us to see with our shortened vision.

17:27 {That they should seek God} (\Zētein ton theon\).
Infinitive (present active) of purpose again. Seek him, not turn
away from him as the nations had done (Ro 1:18-32). {If haply
they might feel after him}
(\ei ara ge psēlaphēseian auton\).
First aorist active (Aeolic form) optative of \psēlaphaō\, old
verb from \psaō\, to touch. So used by the Risen Jesus in his
challenge to the disciples (Lu 24:39), by the Apostle John of
his personal contact with Jesus (1Jo 1:1), of the contact with
Mount Sinai (Heb 12:18). Here it pictures the blind groping of
the darkened heathen mind after God to "find him" (\heuroien\,
second aorist active optative)
whom they had lost. One knows what
it is in a darkened room to feel along the walls for the door
(De 28:29; Job 5:14; 12:25; Isa 59:10). Helen Keller, when told
of God, said that she knew of him already, groping in the dark
after him. The optative here with \ei\ is due to the condition of
the fourth class (undetermined, but with vague hope of being
with aim also present (Robertson, _Grammar_, p.
. Note also \ara ge\ the inferential particle \ara\ with the
delicate intensive particle \ge\. {Though he is not far from each
one of us}
(\kai ge ou makran apo henos hekastou hēmōn
. More exactly with B L (\kai ge\ instead of
\kaitoi\ or \kaitoi ge\)
, "and yet being not far from each one of
us," a direct statement rather than a concessive one. The
participle \huparchonta\ agrees with \auton\ and the negative
\ou\ rather than the usual \me\ with the participle makes an
emphatic negative. Note also the intensive particle \ge\.

17:28 {For in him} (\en autōi gar\). Proof of God's nearness, not
stoic pantheism, but real immanence in God as God dwells in us.
The three verbs (\zōmen, kinoumetha, esmen\) form an ascending
scale and reach a climax in God (life, movement, existence).
\Kinoumetha\ is either direct middle present indicative (we move
or passive (we are moved). {As certain even of your
own poets}
(\hōs kai tines tōn kath' humās poiētōn\). "As also
some of the poets among you." Aratus of Soli in Cilicia (ab. B.C.
has these very words in his _Ta Phainomena_ and Cleanthes,
Stoic philosopher (300-220 B.C.) in his _Hymn to Zeus_ has \Ek
sou gar genos esmen\. In 1Co 15:32 Paul quotes from Menander
and in Tit 1:12 from Epimenides. J. Rendel Harris claims that
he finds allusions in Paul's Epistles to Pindar, Aristophanes,
and other Greek writers. There is no reason in the world why Paul
should not have acquaintance with Greek literature, though one
need not strain a point to prove it. Paul, of course, knew that
the words were written of Zeus (Jupiter), not of Jehovah, but he
applies the idea in them to his point just made that all men are
the offspring of God.

17:29 {We ought not to think} (\ouk opheilomen nomizein\). It is
a logical conclusion (\oun\, therefore) from the very language of
Aratus and Cleanthes. {That the Godhead is like} (\to theion
einai homoion\)
. Infinitive with accusative of general reference
in indirect discourse. \To theion\ is strictly "the divine"
nature like \theiotēs\ (Ro 1:20) rather than like \theotēs\
(Col 2:9). Paul may have used \to theion\ here to get back
behind all their notions of various gods to the real nature of
God. The Athenians may even have used the term themselves. After
\homoios\ (like) the associative instrumental case is used as
with \chrusōi, argurōi, lithōi\. {Graven by art and device of
(\charagmati technēs kai enthumēseōs anthrōpou\). Apposition
with preceding and so \charagmati\ in associative instrumental
case. Literally, graven work or sculpture from \charassō\, to
engrave, old word, but here alone in N.T. outside of Revelation
(the mark of the beast). Graven work of art (\technēs\) or
external craft, and of thought or device (\enthumēseōs\) or
internal conception of man.

17:30 {The times of ignorance} (\tous chronous tēs agnoias\). The
times before full knowledge of God came in Jesus Christ. Paul
uses the very word for their ignorance (\agnoountes\) employed in
verse 23. {Overlooked} (\huperidōn\). Second aorist active
participle of \huperoraō\ or \hupereidō\, old verb to see beyond,
not to see, to overlook, not "to wink at" of the Authorized
Version with the notion of condoning. Here only in the N.T. It
occurs in the LXX in the sense of overlooking or neglecting (Ps
18:62; 55:1)
. But it has here only a negative force. God has all
the time objected to the polytheism of the heathen, and now he
has made it plain. In Wisdom 11:23 we have these words: "Thou
overlookest the sins of men to the end they may repent." {But
(\ta nun\). Accusative of general reference, "as to the now
things or situation." All is changed now that Christ has come
with the full knowledge of God. See also 27:22. {All
(\pantas pantachou\). No exceptions anywhere.
{Repent} (\metanoein\). Present active infinitive of \metanoeō\
in indirect command, a permanent command of perpetual force. See
on \metanoeō\ ¯Ac 2:38 and the Synoptic Gospels. This word was
the message of the Baptist, of Jesus, of Peter, of Paul, this
radical change of attitude and life.

17:31 {Inasmuch as} (\kathoti\). According as (\kata, hoti\). 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)
. {Hath appointed a day}
(\estēsen hēmeran\) First aorist active indicative of \histēmi\,
to place, set. God did set the day in his counsel and he will
fulfil it in his own time. {Will judge} (\mellei krinein\).
Rather, is going to judge, \mellō\ and the present active
infinitive of \krinō\. Paul here quotes Ps 9:8 where \krinei\
occurs. {By the man whom he hath ordained} (\en andri hōi
. Here he adds to the Psalm the place and function of
Jesus Christ, a passage in harmony with Christ's own words in Mt
25. \Hōi\ (whom) is attracted from the accusative, object of
\hōrisen\ (first aorist active indicative of \horizō\) to the
case of the antecedent \andri\. It has been said that Paul left
the simple gospel in this address to the council of the Areopagus
for philosophy. But did he? He skilfully caught their attention
by reference to an altar to an Unknown God whom he interprets to
be the Creator of all things and all men who overrules the whole
world and who now commands repentance of all and has revealed his
will about a day of reckoning when Jesus Christ will be Judge. He
has preached the unity of God, the one and only God, has
proclaimed repentance, a judgment day, Jesus as the Judge as
shown by his Resurrection, great fundamental doctrines, and
doubtless had much more to say when they interrupted his address.
There is no room here for such a charge against Paul. He rose to
a great occasion and made a masterful exposition of God's place
and power in human history. {Whereof he hath given assurance}
(\pistin paraschōn\). Second aorist active participle of
\parechō\, old verb to furnish, used regularly by Demosthenes for
bringing forward evidence. Note this old use of \pistis\ as
conviction or ground of confidence (Heb 11:1) like a note or
title-deed, a conviction resting on solid basis of fact. All the
other uses of \pistis\ grow out of this one from \peithō\, to
persuade. {In that he hath raised him from the dead} (\anastēsas
auton ek nekrōn\)
. First aorist active participle of \anistēmi\,
causal participle, but literally, "having raised him from the
dead." This Paul knew to be a fact because he himself had seen
the Risen Christ. Paul has here come to the heart of his message
and could now throw light on their misapprehension about "Jesus
and the Resurrection" (verse 18). Here Paul has given the proof
of all his claims in the address that seemed new and strange to

17:32 {The resurrection of the dead} (\anastasin nekrōn\).
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. {Some mocked} (\hoi men echleuazon\). Imperfect active of
\chleuazō\, a common verb (from \chleuē\, jesting, mockery). Only
here in the N.T. though late MSS. have it in 2:13 (best MSS.
. Probably inchoative here, began to mock. In
contempt at Paul's statement they declined to listen further to
"this babbler" (verse 18) who had now lost what he had gained
with this group of hearers (probably the light and flippant
. {But others} (\hoi de\). A more polite group like
those who had invited him to speak (verse 19). They were
unconvinced, but had better manners and so were in favour of an
adjournment. This was done, though it is not clear whether it was
a serious postponement or a courteous refusal to hear Paul
further (probably this). It was a virtual dismissal of the
matter. " It is a sad story--the noblest of ancient cities and
the noblest man of history--and he never cared to look on it
again" (Furneaux).

17:33 {Thus Paul went out from among them} (\houtōs ho Paulos
exēlthen ek mesou autōn\)
. No further questions, no effort to
arrest him, no further ridicule. He walked out never to return to
Athens. Had he failed?

17:34 {Clave unto him and believed} (\kollēthentes autōi
. First aorist passive of this strong word \kollaō\,
to glue to, common in Acts (5:13; 8:29; 9:26; 10:28) No sermon
is a failure which leads a group of men (\andres\) to believe
(ingressive aorist of \pisteuō\) in Jesus Christ. Many so-called
great or grand sermons reap no such harvest. {Dionysius the
(\Dionusios ho Areopagitēs\). One of the judges of
the Court of the Areopagus. That of itself was no small victory.
He was one of this college of twelve judges who had helped to
make Athens famous. Eusebius says that he became afterwards
bishop of the Church at Athens and died a martyr. {A woman named
(\gunē onomati Damaris\). A woman by name Damaris. Not
the wife of Dionysius as some have thought, but an aristocratic
woman, not necessarily an educated courtezan as Furneaux holds.
And there were "others" (\heteroi\) with them, a group strong
enough to keep the fire burning in Athens. It is common to say
that Paul in 1Co 2:1-5 alludes to his failure with philosophy
in Athens when he failed to preach Christ crucified and he
determined never to make that mistake again. On the other hand
Paul determined to stick to the Cross of Christ in spite of the
fact that the intellectual pride and superficial culture of
Athens had prevented the largest success. As he faced Corinth
with its veneer of culture and imitation of philosophy and sudden
wealth he would go on with the same gospel of the Cross, the only
gospel that Paul knew or preached. And it was a great thing to
give the world a sermon like that preached in Athens.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Acts: Chapter 17)