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Bible Commentaries
Acts 17

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

Amphipolis ; the chief city of the first or eastern division of Macedonia.

Thessalonica ; the capital of the second division of Macedonia.

Verse 2

The scriptures ; the Old Testament. The sermons of ministers should not be mere exhortations, or addresses to the passions and imaginations of men, but should contain sound argument and conclusive reasoning-not merely asserting, but proving the great doctrines and duties of the gospel, and enforcing them upon the consciences and hearts of men.

Verse 3

Must needs have suffered ; the Scriptures foretold that the Messiah would suffer. His death was needful in order to their fulfilment, and to the salvation of men.

Verse 4

Consorted with Paul and Silas ; joined them.

Devout Greeks ; gentile Greeks who had become acquainted with the true religion as revealed in the Old Testament, and were worshippers of Jehovah. The women also appear to have been of the same class. So also in verse Acts 17:12 .

Verse 5

Moved with envy ; at the success of Paul and Silas.

Jason ; a relation of Paul, at whose house he and Silas stayed. Romans 16:21 . Rejecters of truth and violators of morality are apt to unite in opposing the gospel, and in doing this, the openly vicious of the basest sort can plead earnestly for the constitution and laws of the country, and express great fears lest these should be violated, and the public receive detriment.

Verse 7

Do contrary to the decrees of Caesar ; are guilty of rebelling against him.

Verse 9

Taken security of Jason ; exacted a bond of him, by which he was made responsible that no disturbance should be caused by the presence of Paul and Silas. In accordance with this they were immediately sent away.

Verse 10

Berea ; a city of Macedonia south-west of Thessalonica.

Verse 11

More noble ; more noble-minded-candid inquirers after truth.

Whether those things were so ; whether the things taught by Paul and Silas were true, in accordance with the Scriptures. Readiness of mind to hear the gospel, and daily to search the Scriptures for the purpose of understanding and obeying them, is evidence of true nobleness of spirit, and the means of increasing it, and of leading many to believe in Christ the Saviour of their souls.

Verse 13

The uneasiness which men feel when others receive the blessings which they themselves reject, is evidence of deep wickedness of heart. In refusing to enter the kingdom of heaven, and in trying to hinder others, they manifest the spirit of the great destroyer, and are hastening towards the place prepared for him and his angels.

Verse 15

Athens ; the most distinguished city in Greece, and the seat of literature, philosophy, and the fine arts.

Verse 16

Men may be renowned for human learning, and greatly attached to rites and forms of devotion, and yet be ignorant of the only proper object and way of religious worship, and be sunk in deep degradation and wickedness.

Verse 17

Disputed ; reasoned with them concerning the Messiahship of Jesus Christ, the worship of the one living and true God, and the retributions of eternity.

Verse 18

Epicureans ; from Epicurus their founder, who taught that pleasure is the chief good.

Stoics ; from stoa, a Greek word meaning a porch; because, in a structure so named, Zeno the founder of this sect taught his doctrines. Among these the two following were prominent: that all things are fixed by necessity, and that the chief good of man lies in raising himself to a state of indifference to all earthly things.

Verse 19

Areopagus ; that is, as the word means, Mars-hill; a rocky height in Athens, opposite the western end of the Acropolis, where the highest Athenian court was held.

Verse 22

Too superstitious ; rather, very religiously inclined, very much disposed to honor the gods.

Verse 23

Passed by ; passed through the city, and beheld the sacred places and objects.

To the unknown God ; or, as the inscription may also be rendered, To an unknown God. They not only worshipped all the gods that were known, but had an altar to one that was unknown. However this might have arisen, it showed the truth of what Paul said, that they were much inclined to honor the gods; and it furnished him with an admirable occasion of preaching to them the true God, who was to them "the unknown God."

Verse 24

Dwelleth not in temples , according to the heathen idea of a local and limited presence. He is not confined to any place, but fills all places.

Verse 26

Hath made of one blood ; caused all men to spring from one family.

Times-bounds ; the countries where they should live, and the periods during which they should occupy them. As all the human race are the offspring, and are under the government of one common Father, they are all brethren of one family, and are bound to treat one another as such. Each has rights given him by his heavenly Father, of which no man or body of men can deprive him, without deep injustice against a brother, and flagrant rebellion against God.

Verse 27

Seek the Lord ; the object of God in creation and providence is, that men may know, worship, and enjoy him. This they may do, for he is everywhere present, sustaining, upholding, and governing all things.

Verse 28

Your own poets ; Aratus of Cilicia, a Greek poet who lived more than three hundred years before, and Cleanthes, who lived about the same time, and was successor of Zeno the founder of the Stoics, both expressed the sentiment referred to; and Aratus expressed it in the very words which Paul quotes.

Verse 29

We ought not to think ; that Jehovah is like material objects of any kind.

Verse 30

Winked at ; suffered, bore with, and did not give them a written expression of his condemnation of these sins, or come out in judgment against them.

To repent ; of their idolatry and wickedness, and turn to the worship and service of the one only living and true God.

Verse 31

That man ; Jesus Christ.

Ordained ; appointed for this purpose.

Assurance ; conclusive evidence. A day of searching and righteous judgment is coming, when each and all must stand before an omniscient and almighty Judge, who will render to all according to their works. Romans 2:6-11 ; Revelation 14:11 .

Verse 32

Some mocked ; they considered a resurrection impossible and absurd.

Verse 34

Clave unto him ; believed his doctrines, and followed him as their teacher.

The Areopagite ; a member of the Areopagus, or Athenian court.

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Acts 17". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/acts-17.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
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