Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, March 3rd, 2024
the Third Sunday of Lent
There are 28 days til Easter!
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 17

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

PAUL’S FIRST LABORS IN THESSALONICA V. 1-4, 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

1) "Now when they had passed through," (Diodeusantes de) "Then traveling progressively thru," traveling overland from Philippi, through the cities of Macedonia, westward along the Roman road, without stopping as follows:

2) "Amphipolis and Appolonia," (ten Amphipolin kaiten Apollonian) "Appolonia - a small city about 30 miles SW from Amphipolis. And Amphipolis, about 30 miles SW of Philippi;" on the river Strymon. It became the capitol of the second of the four districts of Macedonia.

3) "They came to Thessalonica," (elthon eis Thessaloniken) "They came by choice to Thessalonica," The "they" were Paul and Silas who came to Thessalonica a seaport city in western Macedonia where there was a colony of Jews. It was a free city, capitol of Macedonia, about 28 miles west from Appolonia, now known as Salonica, with a population of some 600,000.

4) "Where was a synagogue of the Jews:” (hopou en sunagoge on loudaion) "Where there was (existed) a synagogue of the Jews," implying that there was none in Philippi, Amphipolis, or Appollonia. A building belonging to the Jewish community, used for worship and public teaching and exhortation, especially as such related to morals, ethics, and dogmas of the Law of Moses, Matthew 13:54; Luke 4:16; Luke 7:5; Acts 14:1.

Verse 2

1)"And Paul, as his manner was,’’ (kata de to eiothos to Paulo) "Then according to, or based on, the custom or ethic with Paul," wherever there was a synagogue, Acts 13:5; Acts 13:14.

2) "Went in unto them," (eiselthen pros autous) "He entered to them,’’ to approach or witness to them, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-5.

3) "And three sabbath days reasoned with them,’’ (kai epi sabbata tria dieleksato autois) "And upon three successive sabbaths, he lectured or reasoned with them,’’ Isaiah 1:18; Here Paul boldly spoke to the Jews and Christian converts, 1 Thessalonians 1:8.

4) "Out of the Scriptures," (apo ton graphon) "From the Scriptures," drawing conclusions from the Scriptures, based on a study of the words interpreted in contextual setting of their origin, subject matter, prophetic fulfillment, his final standard of appeal, Luke 24:46; 1 Corinthians 15:17.

Verse 3

1) ’’Opening and alleging,’’ (dianoigon kai paratithemenos) "Opening up (examining) and setting out before them," for their examination, consideration, and acceptance, citing and comparing authorities, of Old Testament writings, with Jesus Christ, and what He had done, Genesis 3:15; Numbers 21:9; Deuteronomy 18:15, Isa 7 14; Daniel 9:24; Malachi 3:1.

2) "That Christ must needs have suffered," (hoti ton Christon edei pathein) "That it was necessary for Christ to suffer," Isaiah 53:4-12; Luke 24:24-26.

3) "And risen again from the dead;" (kai anastenai ek nekron) "And it was necessary for Him to rise again, out of the region of dead corpses, from the tomb," Luke 24:44-48.

4) ’’And that this Jesus is Christ,’’ (kai hoti houtos estin ho Christos ho lesous) "And that this Jesus is (exists as) the Christ," is the anointed Messiah, Galatians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 15:1-19; He is the one of whom all Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah speaks, Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Acts 10:43.

5) "Whom I preach unto you." (hon ego katangello) "Whom I declare, proclaim, preach, or set forth to you all,’’ as the Savior. Paul affirmed three premises:

1 . That the true messiah must die and rise again.

2. That Jesus did die and rise again, according to the Scriptures.

3. That He is therefore the Messiah.

This was exactly what Jesus claimed, and the Scriptures seem to evidence so truthfully, when interpreted in their contextual setting, John 8:24; Luke 24:44-48; Acts 4:11-12; Acts 10:43.

Verse 4

1) "And some of them believed," (kai tines eks auton epei sthesan) "And some of them were persuaded," believed that Jesus was the Christ, just as some later believed, when he preached at Mars Hill, Acts 17:34.

2) "And consorted with Paul and Silas;” (kai prosklerothesan to Paul kai to Sila) "And threw in their lot, or voted with, Paul and Silas," gave their testimony that Jesus was the Savior, their Savior and Lord. They joined fellowship with Paul and Silas to show that they were children of God, followers of Christ in deed, John 13:34-35; 1Jo 314.

3)"And of the devout Greeks a great multitude," (ton te debomenon hellenon plethos polu) ’’Both of the worshipping Greeks a great multitude," they were Gentile proselytes and as such stated worshippers with the Jews in the synagogues, or wherever they met among the Gentiles, in dispersion, Acts 16:14.

4) "And of the chief women not a few."(gunaikon te ton proton ouk oligai) "As well as of the chief, or first rank, influential women, not a few," not just a handful, but a large number of respectable first class women, Acts 13:50. Both Gentile proselytes from among the Jews and Gentiles were won from idolatry, perhaps won to Christ after his three sabbaths of preaching in the synagogue, as he stayed on for a time there in Thessalonica preaching and working, enduring hardships for the gospel’s sake, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9.


It had been made by the Roman government a free city, that is, it had the right to self-government, the provincial governor did not interfere in its municipal affairs; the local magistrates, probably elected by the people, had the power of life and death; no Roman garrison was quartered within the city; a senate or an assembly, representing the people, made its regulations; in short, it had many of the privileges and all the insignia of a free community; its allegiance to the central government at Rome was assured, for the possession of its privileges was dependent upon its good behavior. In such a city the charge of inciting treason (Acts 17:7) would be one peculiarly obnoxious, both to the magistrates and people.

- Abbott.


That is, three consecutive Sabbath days; this indicates, probably, only the duration of his ministry in the synagogue. The facts that the Philippians sent twice to him while at Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16), that heathen were converted and added to the Church (1 Thessalonians 1:9), and that a Christian Church was successfully organized, indicates a longer ministry; Lewin supposes that Paul remained in the city for two or three months.

- Abbott.

Verse 5


1) "But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy," (zelosantes de hoi loudaioi) "But, in contrast, the unbelieving jealous and envious Jews," Jews filled with jealousy because of those prominent persons who had been saved at the reasoning and preaching of Paul and Silas, and because they saw their own influence decline.

2) "Took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort," (kai proslabomenoi ton agorion andras tinas ponerous) "Taking certain market-place men, wicked loungers and panderers," men of base moral and ethical character and reputation, a "mafia type of persons," ready for excitement and willing to sellout their testimony for a "mess of pottage," for personal profit of personal public applause, traitors of truth and right. The term "baser sort" indicates "malicious wickedness, moral malignancies, or evil disposed," as in Acts 14:2.

3) "And gathered a company," (kai ochlopoiesantes) "And gathered a crowd," an incited crowd, gathered or raised a mob, the roughs and rowdies of the city, a motley crowd of thugs.

4) "And set all the city on an uproar," (ethurboun ten polin) "They disturbed the city," set it in a state of confusion.

5) "And assaulted the house of Jason," (kai epistantes te oikia lasonos) "And they came down on the residence of Jason," to disturb public and private peace; perhaps this is the Jason, a Grecian Jew, referred to as Paul’s kinsman, Romans 16:21.

6) "And sought to bring them out to the people." (ezetoun autous proagagein eis ton demon) "And they, the lewd fellows, sought them (Paul and Silas, and perhaps Luke) to bring or lead them forth into the mob," the incited, blood-thirsty rabble crowd.

Verse 6

1) "And when they found them not," (me hurontes de autous) "Then when they were finding them not," found not Paul, Silas, Luke, and perhaps in the residence of Jason, as they expected,

2) "They drew Jason and certain brethren," (esuron lason kai tinas adeiphous) "They dragged Jason and some (other) brethren," of the local congregation in Thessalonica.

3) "Unto the rulers of the city, crying," (epi tous politarchas bontes) "Up (for charges) to or before the city rulers, crying out," boisterously they cried, like a bellowing bull, vociferously they cried out in an accusatory manner. The city rulers were termed, definitively, as “ politarchs," a type of city rulers not mentioned elsewhere.

4) "These that have turned the world upside down," (hoti hoi ten oikoumenen anastatosantes) "That those who are having turned the inhabited earth upside down," in other places. What a testimony of the success of the Gospel in other areas, though exaggerated, even as certified by their enemies, Acts 16:20-21; Deuteronomy 32:31, Sin reverses the Divine order, but the Gospel corrects the disorder.

5) "Are come hither also;” (houtoi kai enthade pareisen) "These have also arrived here," in Thessalonicia. Sin had first turned the world wrong side up. And it is the purpose of God, in Christ, to bring to restitution the whole world (creation) that lieth in darkness, or wickedness, 1 John 5:19; Acts 3:19-21; 1 Corinthians 15:23-29.


The Mohammedans praying for rain during a drought, no rain coming. Then the Christians began to pray for rain, and the rain comes. Then the Mohammedans met together to account for this, and they resolve that God was so well pleased with their prayers He kept the drought on so as to keep them praying; but that the Christians began to pray, and the Lord was so disgusted with their prayer that He sent rain right away so He would not hear any more of their supplication!

- Talmage.

Verse 7

1) "Whom Jason hath received:” (ous hupodedektai lason) "Whom Jason has received or taken in of his own will, choice, or accord," to lodge or harbor with him in his residence, as a criminal, Acts 17:5.

2) "And these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar," (kai houtoi pantes apenanti ton dogmaton Kaisaros) "All these (these church brethren with Jason), (Gk. prassousin) practice or commit acts contrary to, or in conflict with, the decrees or dogma of Caesar," contrary to the Roman laws against civil rebellion and treason; These, like their Lord, were charged with treason, insurrection against the government, Luke 23:2; Matthew 26:65. Tho the charges were false, lies.

3) "Saying that there is another king, one Jesus." (basilea heteron legontes einai lesoun) "Repeatedly saying that there is (exists) another king (a king of another kind or order), one known as Jesus," John 11:48; John 19:12; 1 Peter 2:13-15. Tho our Lord was and is "the king of the Jews," neither He nor His church espoused, advocated, or approved any type of civil conduct except absolute respect, honor, and obedience to the civil laws they were under. These charges, as those ’against our Lord, were malicious, fraudulent charges, brought by men of base-character, Mark 12:17; Romans 13:7. It was only when God’s people’s worship was forbidden that any Bible character ever advocated resistance of any form to the civil government’s oppression, Acts 5:29; Daniel 3:16-18.

Verse 8

1) "And they troubled the people," (etaraksan de ton ochlon) "Then (thru such a claim) they troubled or disturbed the crowd," that had gathered to hear their boisterous laments and accusations, with the Jewish "stock argument" against Jesus and His church, though He satisfied Pilate that He was not a traitor to or disloyal to the Roman Government, John 18:33-38.

2) "And the rulers of the city," (kai tous politarchas) "And they also troubled or disturbed the city rulers;" Who too were alarmed, since if the charges were true, it would expose them to the anger of Rome and her emperor, Claudius Caesar, similar to Herod’s alarm when word spread that Jesus, the king of the Jews, had been born, Matthew 1:2-3.

3) "When they heard these things." (akountas tauta) "When they repeatedly heard these vociferous, loud, or boisterously given accusations," by the Jews, against Jason, the local church brethren, and Paul and Silas, Acts 17:6-7.

Verse 9

1) "And when they had taken security of Jason," (kai labontes to hikanon para tou lasonos) "And vvhen they had taken or received security (an adequate bond) of Jason," when he -had put up bond.

2) "And of the other," (kai ton loipon) "And of the rest of the church brethren who had been dragged before the rulers," by the vicious Jews, Acts 17:5-6. When the politarchs, Roman city rulers, had taken bail also from the others they found in their raid on Jason’s home.

3) "They let them go." (apelusan autous) "They(the city rulers) released them," or let them, the Thessalonian brethren, go free, on future good conduct, or to appear later for trial on the charges brought by the base-character rabble, Acts 17:5-6, but perhaps warned to "cool it" or preach no more in this name, Acts 4:18-19; Acts 5:28-29.

Verse 10


1) "And the brethren immediately," (hoi de adelphoi eutheos) "Then the brethren (of the church in Thessalonica) immediately," or at once, because of the hostile attitude of the Jews there in Thessalonica, Acts 17:5.

2) "Sent away Paul and SiIas by night unto Berea:” (dia nuktos eksepempsan ton te kai ton Silan eis Beroian) "During that very night sent both Paul and Silas forth to Berea," for it would have been both rash and useless to attempt further preaching, under the circumstances at that time. Berea is located some fifty miles southwest of Thessalonica, toward Athens. Their stay in Thessalonica was some three weeks to three months by best of estimates.

3) "Who coming thither," (oitines paragenomenoi) "Who as soon as they arrived," in Berea.

4) "Went into the Synagogue of the Jews," (eis ten sunagogue ton loudaion apeesan) "Went directly into the synagogue of the Jews," the first thing after their arrival, a move that showed the strong faith and unswerving courage of Paul, Philippians 3:13-14.

Verse 11

1) "These were more noble than," (houtoi de esan eugenesteroi) "Then these (Jews of Berea) were more noble than," more noble in attitude or disposition toward Paul’s reasoning and preaching from the Scriptures, as he had done in Thessalonica, Acts 17:2-4; Isaiah 1:18.

2) "Those in Thessalonica," (ton en Thessalonike) "Those who were in Thessalonica," those Jews back in Thessalonica, Acts 17:5-9. The comparison is only between Jews of the two places for the Gospel acceptance was as great in Thessalonica as in Berea.

3) "In that they received the word with all readiness of mind," (oitines edeksanto ton logon meta pasea prothunias) "Who received the word with all eagerness," open minds and ears, with an wholesome attitude, an open mind, Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17; John 5:39.

4) "And searched the scriptures daily," (to kath’ hemeran analrinontes tas graphs) "And they were daily examining the scriptures," a matter admonished of the Lord, for the Jews, John 5:39; Isaiah 34:16; Luke 24:44-46.

5) "Whether those things were so." (ei echoi tauta houtos) "Whether these things (asserted or taught by Paul and Silas) were so," true or in harmony with the scriptures, the law, prophets, and Psalms, Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29; Luke 16:31. They were honest inquirers, searchers, for truth, not just curious, Jeremiah 29:13.

Verse 12

1) "Therefore many of them believed," (polloi men oun eks auton episteusan) "Therefore (as a result) many of them out of (or from among the Jews) believed," that Jesus of Nazareth whom Paul preached was the promised redeemer, as recognized and witnessed, Luke 2:25-38, by Simeon and Anna the aged.

2) "Also of honourable women which were Greeks," (kai ton Hellenidon gunaikon ton euschemonon) "As well as of (out of the) Greek women who were honourable," or of the honorable Greek women, women of citizenship or business reputation and public esteem, in relation to their station of life in the city, many of the upper class women believed.

3) "And of men, not a few."(kai andron ouk oligoi) "And of responsible men not (just) a few," from among the Greek men. That is many Greek men, as well as upper class Greek women also believed, probably better educated than those of Asia Minor.

As at Thessalonica, here in Berea the work and witness of the apostles extended beyond the synagogues. Sopater is the only Berean, however, specially named as a witnessing believer there, Acts 20:4.

Verse 13

1) "But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge," (hos de egnosan hoi apo tes Thessalonikes loudaioi) "Then when the Jews from (up at) Thessalonica came to know or realized," received the report,

2) "That the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea," (hoti kai en te Beroia katengele hupo tou Paulou ho logos tou theou) "That the word of God was preached by Paul also in Berea," as it had been in Thessalonica, as Paul preached to Jew and Gentile wherever he went, Acts 20:20-21.

3) "They came hither also," (eltheo kakei) "They came down to Berea also, of their own accord," from Thessalonica, with a zeal, but not according to knowledge, Romans 10:2; Acts 21:20; Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14; Galatians 4:17. As also the Jews had done from Antioch and Iconium to Lystra in Asia Minor, Acts 14:2; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19.

4) "And stirred up the people." (saleuontes kai tarrasontes tous ochlous) "Shaking up and repeatedly troubling, (inciting) the crowds," as they had done in Thessalonica, as base rabble-rousers, Christ haters, and persecutors of the church of Jesus Christ, Acts 17:5-9; even as Paul did before he became a Christian, Acts 26:9-10.

Verse 14

1) "And then immediately," (eutheos de tote) "Then immediately," without delay, before any of the brethren had been arrested, put under bail, as Jason and certain brethren had in Thessalonica, Acts 17:9.

2) "The brethren sent away Paul " (ton Paulon eksapesteilan hoi adelphoi) "The brethren (of the church in Berea) sent Paul away, "from the hatred and mob-inciting violence of the rabble-rousing, marauding Jews from Thessalonica and those they had stirred up in Berea, Acts 17:13. They sent Paul as the Jerusalem church brethren had done, Acts 9:30, and as the brethren from Thessalonica, Acts 17:10.

3) "To go as it were to the sea: " (poreusthai heos ep i ton

Thalassan) "To go out as far as to the sea, " beyond the sea shore, away from the Berean area. How Iong he stayed at Berea is not known, but probably some weeks. It is evident that he later had a strong desire to return to the church in Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 2:17.

4) "But Silas and Timothy abode there still." (hupemeinan te ho te Silas kai ho Timotheos ekei) "But both Silas and Timothy remained there in Berea;" How or when they arrived in Berea is not certain, as they were left behind with the brethren in Philippi when Paul departed, as now left here in Berea, Acts 16:40; while in Thessalonica they sent again and again to meet his needs, Philippians 4:16.

Verse 15


1) "And they that conducted Paul," (ho de kathistanontes ton Paulon) "Then those conducting Paul," aiding and assisting him in escaping from the vengeance of the Christ-rejecting and church despising Jews that had come to Berea from Thessalonica to stir an insurrection, Acts 17:13.

2) " ’ Brought him unto Athens," (egagon heos Athenon) "Brought him as far as Athens," stayed with him until he and they arrived in Athens, a free city, some 250 miles south of Berea; whether the entire journey was made by sea or also part of the way over land is not known, but Berea brethren who cared for him faithfully traveled to protect and help him.

3) "And receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus," (kai labontes entolen pros ton Silon kai ton Timotheon) "And they received (from Paul) a command to Silas and Timothy," direct instructions to Timothy and Silas, to leave Berea upon their return, and come to his side in Athens, Acts 18:5.

4) "For to come to him with all speed, they departed." (hina hos tachista elthosin pros auton ekseesan) "In order that they should come to him as quickly as possible, (then) they departed," or returned to Berea to convey the message to Timothy and Silas. While Paul thought it good to go to and be left alone safely in Athens, it was for but a little time, for he waited for Timothy to arrive, 1 Thessalonians 3:1, after which he sent him back to help the brethren in Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 3:2.

Verse 16

1) "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens," (en de tais Athenais ekdechomenou autous tou Paulou) "Then while Paul (was) awaiting them in Athens," In the city of Athens, waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive, Acts 17:15.

2) "His spirit was stirred in him," (paroksurieto to pneuma autou en auto) "His spirit was stirred up or provoked in him," with a burning passion, even anger, aroused with indignation, It was of that kind of anger he later wrote, "be ye angry and sin not," Ephesians 4:26. To be angry against sin is an wholesome thing; Jesus was, John 2:13-17.

3) "When he saw the city wholly given to idolatry," (theotountos kateidolon ousan ten polin) "When he observed the city being (which was existing) full of idols or images," all to statues and images of heathen gods, against the Word of God, Exodus 20:2-3; Psalms 115:5-9; A reporter in Nero’s court wrote facetiously that it was “easier to find a god in Athens than a man." Not only was the Parthenon filled with these idols but they were also then located on the streets, throughout the city. True believers were repeatedly admonished to avoid, flee from, have no identity with, idolatry and its sensuous associations, 1 Corinthians 10:14; Galatians 5:20; Colossians 3:5.

Verse 17

1) "Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews," (dielegeto men oun en te sunagoge tois loudaiois) -Therefore he addressed (spoke to) the Jews in the Synagogue;" Without waiting for the arrival of Timothy and/or Silas he engaged in disputation, reasoning from the Scriptures, as his custom was, following his usual course, even as his Lord did, Luke 4:16-20; Acts 13:14-16; Acts 13:42-45; Acts 14:1; Acts 18:4-5.

2) "And with the devout persons," (kai tois sebomenois) "And to those worshipping, (devout people), those believing in God, but who had not come to know Jesus Christ as the Redeemer, even as Cornelius once was, Acts 10:1-4. No doubt he chided the Jews for not resisting idolatry, that was so prevalent on every hand.

3) "And in the market daily," (kai en te agora kata pasan hemeran) "And in the market place, (agora) every day," even as he did daily at Ephesus in Asia Minor, after the pattern admonished of his Lord, Luke 9:23, Acts 20:20-21. Even as Socrates disputed there in the agora, (open market place) some 500 years before, on philosophical matters.

4) "With them that met with him." (pros tous paratugchanontas) "To those who came to (chanced to) be there," or to those who took occasion to be there, wherever he had occasion to witness, in the synagogue, or in the public market place, whether Jew or Gentile, Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Verse 18

1) "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans," (tines de kai ton Epikoureion philosophon) "Then some also of the Epicurean philosophers," a well-known school of atheistic materialists who held that the world is a product of chance, and that pleasure for each person is the chief end or objective of human existence. So that each person was to do what seemed best for him, to bring him the most happiness or pleasure in life, with little regards for others, a selfish, covetous, sensual degrading concept, Judges 21:25.

2) "And of the Stoicks," (kai Stoikon) "And of the Stoic philosophers," fatalists, pessimists, carriers of "wet blankets," to throw on any and every expression of joy, hope, or success in life. They were "party-poopers," who too believed not in, but doubted the existence of life after death, John 5:28-29.

3) "Encountered him," (suneballon auto) "Fell in (moved in) close with him, to encounter with, or sharply dispute with him," confronted him (Paul), a thing that pleased him very much, for he was always "set for the defense of the gospel," Philippians 1:17; Judges 1:3; 1 Peter 3:15.

4) "And some said, what will this babbler say?" (kai tines elegon ti an thelot ho sperrmologos houtos legein) "And certain of them derided, repeatedly saying, what may this ignorant plagiarist wish to say?" this idle prater, this seed gatherer, this picker-up and dispenser of bits of knowledge, without sense, unity of thought, or coherence of purpose?

5) "Other some, he seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods:”- (hoi de ksenon daimonion dokei katangeleus einai) "Then others of the masses said, he seems to be a declaimer (announcer) of foreign demons," a representative of demons that are foreign to us. It was a form of contempt against God’s missionary, educator, and writer, John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 5:11-12.

6) "Because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection." (kai ten anastasin euengelizeto) "Simply because he preached Jesus and the resurrection, with fervor," and they had not learned about Jesus before; That Jesus had risen from the dead, was coming again, was the gospel hope, 1 Corinthians 15:1-29.

Verse 19

1) "And they took him," (epilabomenoi de autou) "Then they took hold of him," out of contempt and curiosity of what this imagined barbarian Jew might have to say, out and away from the agora, or the market place masses.

2) "And brought him to Areopagus, saying," (epi ton Areion pagon egagon legontes) "And led him up to the Areopagus repeatedly saying," that is to Mars Hill, challenging him; That was like challenging a greyhound to chase a rabbit, or a fish to swim, or an eagle to fly. He was always ready to preach the gospel, and defend the faith, Romans 1:14-16; Philippians 1:17.

3) "May we know what this new doctrine," (dun a meth a gnonai tis he kaine oute didoche) "Can we (may we) know what this new teaching (you are doing) is?" That was like asking a doughnut man are your doughnuts fresh? It was all the invitation that this "always ready to witness saint needed, to trigger his testimony, and perhaps the greatest oration ever given by a missionary of God, instant "in season and out of season," 2 Timothy 4:2.

4) "Whereof thou speakest is?" (hupo sou laloumene) "That by you is being spoken repeatedly," Acts 20:20-21; Romans 10:8-13. The clashing ideas of these questioning, and equally wrong, Epicureans and Stoics, made an appropriate setting for Paul’s affirmation of life and accountability of every man after death, based on the actual, factual, and evidentiary resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, and His coming judgement, Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:27-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Romans 2:4-9.


These two classes of men represented the two opposite points of the sphere of life. Both represented facts, but separated ones. One was a class of men and minds who had started from the Very high truth that good was sure to be the highest happiness, and had degenerated quickly into the mere pursuit of happiness and pleasure, as if they were good and would bring good of themselves. These were Epicureans. And their opposites were Stoics, a class of men and minds who had started from the noble truth that the highest good involves and is hardship and bravery, and had as quickly degenerated into mere proud endurance - pride in their own strength as the only good, and scorn for any gentleness or pleasure. One said, "It is a bright world, let us enjoy it;” another, "it is a hard world, let us just endure it."

- Frederick Brooks

Verse 20

1) "For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears:” (ksenizonta gar tina eisphereis eis tas akoas hemon) "Because you bring some startling things to our ears," foreign or alien things, surprising or shocking, arresting kind of things to our ears. The Gospel is strange to strangers and aliens from God, John 3:18; Ephesians 2:12. They had darkened (fuzzy, cobweb) minds, thru ignorance of God, (Ephesians 4:18) as well as hardened hearts and astigmatized vision, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

2) "We would know therefore," (koulometha oun gnonai) "We are therefore minded, curious, or disposed to know;" They were by nature and culture, nosey news-mongers for the exciting, fleshly tale, a trait of the Athenians of the times. He who wills shall know, John 7:17.


3) "What these things mean." (tina thelei tauta einai) "What (you) wish or wishes these things to be?" or to mean, these strange, new things to us. You see the natural man, unaided by the Word and the Spirit can not discern the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why he must be told, preached the message, 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 1:8; Proverbs 1:22-29.

Verse 21

1) "(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there," (Athenaioi de pantes kai hoi epidemountes ksenoi) "Now all Athenians and the temporary alien residents," in the Athens area, inclusive of sojourners.

2) "Spent their time in nothing else," (eis ouden heteron eukairoun) "Have leisure (time) with reference to do or engage in nothing else at all," except idle talk, tale-bearing and tale telling, especially hearsay about imaginary gods, Genesis 6:5; Matthew 12:3 b; 1 Timothy 5:13.

3) "But either to tell, or to hear some new thing,)" (he legein ti he akouin ti kainoteron) "Except either to continually or repeatedly hear or say something that (was) newer, or more easily current," than anyone else, Each seemed to want to be egotistically ahead of the other, like gossipers, covetously obsessed by a desire to be the first to pass on the "latest truth," or "fact." The Athenians had a vociferous, cannibalistic, and carnivorous appetite for something new, in circulating stories of both religious and profane nature, when there is really "nothing new under the sun," Ecclesiastes 1:9; Ecclesiastes 3:15.

Verse 22


1) "Then Paul stood," (statheis de Paulos) "Then Paul standing, to speak, to respectfully address the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who had led him there, and challenged him about Jesus, and the resurrection story. It was like a rabbit thrown in a briar-patch, a duck thrown in a pond, or a goose in a tender green field of grass. True people of God "stand up" when challenged in their faith, Acts 5:25; Daniel 3:16-18; Ephesians 6:13-14; 1 Corinthians 16:13.

2) "In the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said," (in meso tou Areiou pagou ephe) "In the midst (center of the Areopagus Stoic philosophers, men of reputable intellect, Acts 17:18-19.)" He spoke out with fervor and preparation, Philippians 1:17; 1 Peter 3:15; Judges 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

3) "Ye men of Athens," (andres Athenaioi) "Ye responsible (reputable) men of Athens," the vocative case of respectful direct address, as he came directly to the subject of address.

4) "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious." (kata panta hos desidaimonesterpus humas thero) "How very religious I observe you all to be in everything;" With delicate tact, Paul chose opening words that could not possibly provoke hostility at the outset. His words were "seasoned with salt," for the occasion, as "wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove," to this pious, astute, over religious council, Colossians 4:6; Matthew 10:16.

Verse 23

1) "For as I passed by," (dierchomenos gar) "For passing leisurely, observingly along," perhaps thru both the streets of the city and the Parthenon, chief collection center of the idol gods on the Acropolis.

2) "And beheld your devotions," (ksi anatheoron ta sebasmata humon) "And studiously looking up to (observing) the objects of your worship," of your devotions, idols made with hands, which feel not, see not, speak not, etc., Psalms 115:3-8.

3) "I found an altar with this inscription," (heuron kai bomon en ho epegegrapto) "I found also an altar (a special altar) in which was (had been) inscribed,"

4) "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." (ageosto theo) To an unknown God," to a god of whom we are uncertain, (not the) God. The "gods," they did presume to know, did not satisfy the longings and cravings of Athenian hearts, as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does, Psalms 107:9; Romans 5:1; 2 Timothy 1:12.

5) "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship," (ho oun agnoountes eusebeite) "What therefore you all reverence or respect, though being or existing ignorant," of that God, the one, true, living God, 1 Corinthians 8:6; Acts 17:28.

6) "Him declare I unto you." (touto ego katangello humin) "This one I announce or preach with fervor, conviction, of my own conscience and will to you all," if you will respectfully listen, Luke 14:35; Romans 10:17; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Verse 24

1) "God that made the world," (ho theos ho poiesas ton kosmon) "The God who made the world (created universe) the existing world," is where Paul began, Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8:6.

2) "And all things therein," (kai panta to en auto) "And all the things existing in it;" This God, as Creator is distinctly delineated as different from their lifeless gods, their objects of devotion and worship, Exodus 20:11; John 1:2-3.

3) "Seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, (houtos ouranou kai ges huparchon kurios) "This one-who exists (today) as Lord of heaven and earth," as Lord of all His creation, as Creator, Acts 7:48-50, Isaiah 66:1-2.

4) "Dwelleth not in temples made with hands;” (ouk en cheiropoietois naois katoike) "Dwells not in handmade shrines," "has not an existence that restricts His life to an handmade shrine," such as the handmade Parthenon, near Mars’ Hill, or the temple Theseusa, 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Corinthians 12:2; Psalms 115:5-8.

Verse 25

1) "Neither is worshipped with men’s hands," (oude hupo cheiron anthropinon therapeuetai) "Nor is he worshipped, served by the hands of men," that is ritual forms and ceremonies do not constitute worship, but perhaps, fellowship, and service rendered in the Spirit does, John 4:23; Colossians 3:17.

2) "As though he needed any thing," (prosdeomenos tinos) "Having or holding a need for anything, "from men; If he were hungry, he would not tell man, Psalms 50:12; Job 41:11.

3) "Seeing he giveth to all," (autos didous pasin) "For he is the God continually giving to all," doling out to men, sustaining all, La 3:22, 23; James 1:17.

4) "Life, and breath, and all things;" (zoen kai pnoen kai ta panta) "Life and breath and all things," that one has or receives, Job 12:10; Daniel 5:23; Isaiah 42:5.

Verse 26

1) "And hath made of one blood," (epoiesen te eks henos) "And He is (exists as the one) who has made out of one," one man Adam, one blood of humanity, though the bloodline is polluted by sin’s blight. He is Creator of all men who derive from one progenitor, one man Adam, by line of his transgression, Romans 5:12, holding that "the blood thereof is the life thereof," Leviticus 17:11; Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23.

2) "All nations of men," (pan ethnos anthropon) "Every nation, race, or ethnic order of men;" All have His image and likeness, though it is deranged and marred by sin, Romans 3:19; Romans 3:23; 1 Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20.

3) "For to dwell on all the face of the earth," (katoikein epi pantos prosopou tes ges) "To dwell (exist in family units) upon all the face of the earth," wherever they have multiplied and scattered over all the earth, Acts 14:18.

4) "And hath determined the times before appointed (horisas prostetogmenous kairous) "Fixing or having appointed seasons or eras," to or for races, nations, or ethnic orders, as it hath pleased Him, according to His sovereign will, 1 Corinthians 12:6; Ephesians 1:11. God’s intervention, as here affirmed, opposes both the Stoical fate and Epicurean chance theories of those Athenian philosophers, 1 Corinthians 1:18-27; Romans 2:1.

Verse 27

1) "That they should seek the Lord," (zetein ton theon) "That they are continually to seek the Lord," to seek the God who sustains them, in whom, by whom, and through whom they have their life, movement, and existent being, Acts 17:26; Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 55:6-7; Jeremiah 29:13.

2) "If haply they might feel after Him," (ei ara ge pselapheseian auton) "So that they may feel after Him," Romans 1:20; grope after Him, as blind men in the dark, seeking help, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

3) "And find Him," (kai heuroien) "And may find him," for they shall find Him who diligently, honestly, earnestly seek Him, when after He convicts them of their need of Him, Proverbs 1:20-28; John 7:17; John 6:37; as the blind Bartimaeus, and as Zacchaeus found Him, Luke 19:1-10; Mark 10:46-52.

4) "Though He be not far from every one of us:" (kai ge ou makran apo hemos heksatou huparchonta) "Though He does not exist (is not being or existing) far from each of us," from each as well as every one of us, for He is "nigh unto all them who call upon Him," Psalms 34:18; Psalms 145:18; He also will "hear their cry and will save them," See also Romans 10:13. One may run from, but not getaway from God; Pharaoh didn’t, Jonah didn’t, the Prodigal son didn’t, the rich barn builder didn’t, nor will you or I get away from His presence and confrontation, in life, in death, or thereafter, Psalms 139:1-11; Hebrews 13:5; Hebrews 9:27; All shall stand before Him in: (John 5:28-29)

1) The judgement seat (Gk. Bema) of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10, or in

2) "The Great White Throne Judgement, Revelation 20:11-12.

Verse 28

1) "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being;” (en auto gar zomen kai kinoumetha kai esmen) "For in Him we live, and we move, and we exist," or have, possess, or hold our existent state of being, Acts 14:17; Romans 1:17; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3; La 3:22, 23.

2) "As certain also of our own poets have said," (hos kai tines ton kath’ humas poieton eirekasin) "Just as, or even as, some (certain ones) of your poets have said," have poetically expressed. The truth of the one living God as creator, sustainer, and order planner of the universe, Paul asserts, has been both acknowledged and affirmed, from the poets of your own people; Paul asserts, even as also taught, in and by nature, whereby these poets had recognized Him, Psalms 19:1-3; Romans 1:20; Romans 2:1.

3) "For we are also His offspring." (tou gar kai genos

esmen) "Because we are also offspring of Him," of this God, we have our origin or existence, as well as our daily continuity. And the offspring partakers of the likeness of its fountainhead, of its origin. Thus man has both the image and likeness of God, though both are by nature, thru Adam’s fall, marred and scarred by sin. Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:9-23; Romans 5:12; Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1.

1. Man has the image of God in a trinitarian way, A. Mind, B. Body, C. Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. And--

2. Man has the likeness of the trinitarian God in that he has a will, volition, or power of choice, in what he does or does not do, as a responsible person, John 7:17.


The great astronomer, Kirchner, had a friend who denied the existence of a God. One day he called on the astronomer, when he saw in one corner of his room a beautiful celestial globe, and inquired whose it was, and who had made it. "It is not mine," said Kirchner, "and I do not think anybody made it. It must have come there by chance, and of its own accord." "Ridiculous!" said his friend; "what is the use of such a reply?" "Why," rejoined he, ’’you cannot believe that this little, imperfect piece of workmanship sprung into existence of itself --how then can you imagine that the glorious heavens, which this merely represents, could have sprung into being of their own accord?" The arrow entered his heart, and he became a servant of that God whose existence he had denied,

- Stokes.

Verse 29

1) "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God," (genousoun huparchontes tou theou) "Whereas we have genitive existence, or (our) offspring existence, of origin or being of and from the one true elohim God," and the offspring partakers of the likeness of that from which it springs - - - in this instance, the likeness of his Creator; though both the image and likeness of God is marred in each, God desires their restoration, and has provided for it, for each, Hebrews 2:9; Luke 19:10; Romans 8:29.

2)"We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto," (ouk opheilomen nomizein to theoin einai homosoion) "We ought not to suppose (hypothesize that) the Divine nature-one (God) to be like, compared with, or similar to," there exists neither thing nor creature of His class, with whom He may be compared or paralleled, Isaiah 40:18; Isaiah 40:25; Isaiah 46:5; La 2:13.

3) "Gold or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device." (chruse arguro e litho charagmati technes kai enthumeseos) "To gold, or to silver, or to stone, (that is) an engraven work of art, of the designed meditation of man," a product of man’s mind and imagination, for both are fallen, deranged, and base-inclined by nature. He cannot, dare not be likened to heathen idols, or imaginary gods, gods of evil imagination, conjured up gods, that have neither:

a) Sight

b) Speech c) Hearing d) Feeling e) Nor life – Psalms 115:3-8.

The arts, devices, clever, cunning, conniving of mind and hand, can invent or produce nothing to which God may even be likened; Hence may be seen these sophisticated idol worshippers and philosophers, mere rebels against the very God who daily showed them mercy, Psalms 89:6; La 3:22, 23; Romans 2:4.

Verse 30

1) "And the times of this ignorance God winked at;” (tous men oun chronous tes agnoias huperidon ho theos ta) "So then the times of past ignorance of men, the true God overlooked, or looked upon lightly," with mercy, as they broke His laws, till Jesus came, Exodus 20:1-5; Acts 14:16.

2) "But now commandeth all men," (nun apangellei tois anthropois) "But, now and hereafter, He declares to all men," to all mankind, to all of responsible age or moral maturity, in understanding right from wrong; This includes all, excludes none, Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5; Luke 24:44-46; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9. So that all men when they hear are without excuse, Romans 10:17; Luke 14:35; Romans 2:1; Romans 2:4-8.

3) "Everywhere to repent:” (pantachou metanoien) "Everywhere, now and hereafter, that they are to repent," to repent of their sins, even the sin of worship of graven god images. What He commands all men to do, calls them to do, they may do; At the command of His Word, thru the convicting of His Spirit, and the God offered gift of faith, Romans 10:17; Proverbs 1:23; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Isaiah 55:6-7; Jeremiah 29:13; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; John 1:11-12. This repentance specifically referred to the bowing down, doing obeisance and devotions in adoration and worship, to and before helpless, lifeless, unhelping idols, gods, false gods selfishly chosen, rather than the living God thru whom they had and owed gratitude for everyday and hour of breath of life, Romans 2:4-5.

Verse 31

1) "Because He hath appointed a day,"(kathoti estesen hemeran) "Because He has set, fixed, or appointed a day," a day of wrath for each rebel against His goodness, His call, His mercy, and His commands, Romans 2:3-6; Isaiah 7:11-13; Isaiah 11:6; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

2) "In which He will judge the world in righteousness," (en he mellei krinein ten oikoumenen en dikaiosunen) "In which He is about to judge (is holding up or holding back) the inhabited earth (all men) in righteousness," Romans 2:16; according to the things written in the Book of God, according to the Word, Revelation 20:11-15; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-2.

3) "By that man whom He hath ordained," (en andri ho horisen) "By a responsible man whom He designated," ordained, provided, or set forth, to whom all judgement, He has committed," John 5:22; John 5:27; John 5:30; Jesus shall judge, in that day, by the Law-will of the Father, out of or based upon the Holy Scriptures, true from the beginning, which cannot be broken, 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Revelation 20:11-15; Psalms 119:16; John 10:35.

4) "Whereof He hath given assurance to all men," (pisten paraschon pasin) "As a guarantee (faith) offering to all," certified to all, by the resurrection, a case made out, as incontestable evidence, 1 Corinthians 15:1-20.

5) "In that He hath raised Him from the dead." (anastesas auton ek nekron) "Having raised Him out of (from among) the dead," the dead bodies, corpses, or tombs of the dead, certified by men and angels, Matthew 28:1-6; Acts 1:3; Luke 24:34; Luke 24:36; Luke 24:44-46. He was raised in proof of His claims, Matthew 26:32; Luke 9:22.


There will be no pleading there, "the statute of limitation;" no "turning State’s evidence," trying to get off ourselves, while others suffer; no "moving for a non-suit." The case will come off inexorably, and we shall be tried. You, my brother, who have so often been advocate for others, will then need an advocate for yourself. Have you selected Him? The Lord Chancellor of the Universe. If any man sin we have an advocate - - - Jesus Christ the righteous. It is uncertain when your case will be called on. "Be ye also ready.

T. DeWitt Talmage

Verse 32


1. The mocker.

2. The procrastinator.

3. The believer.

1) "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead,’’ (akousantes de anastasin nekron) "Then (as soon as) they heard of a resurrection of dead persons," of Jesus and those He raised from the dead, Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32; Acts 4:10; 1 Corinthians 15:15; John 5:28-29; Hebrews 9:27-28.

2) "Some mocked," (hoi men echleuazon) "Some (among them) scoffed," some of those having held to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies, those who doted on a good time for this life alone, the gratification of present desires for temporary pleasures, that last for but a season, Hebrews 11:25; 1 John 2:15-17. Only fools mock at sin or make mock of God and His message, Proverbs 1:26; Proverbs 14:9; Acts 2:13.

3) "And others said, we will hear thee again of this matter" (hoi de epin akousometha sou peri toutou kai palin) "Then others said, we will also hear you again (later) concerning this God matter." These procrastinated, boasted of another chance, another opportunity to just consider the matter of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ later, Proverbs 27:11; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7-8; Hebrews 4:7; Proverbs 1:22-29; They despised or "took lightly" the voice, call, and goodness of God to repentance, Romans 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 7:10.


A sponge is in one period of its history, a soft thing; but sponges become flints by a peculiar process. There are in sponges particles of flint or silex; these are ever attracting particles to themselves, until in process of time, the whole mass is an aggregate of siliceous matter and the once soft sponge has become perfectly hard. So it is with the hardening of the tender conscience; every sin, every delay to repent, takes away the softness, and brings a fresh secretion to the gathering hardness which unresisted sin cannot fail to make.

- Bowes

Verse 33

1) "So Paul departed," (houtos ho Paulos ekselthen) "Thus (under these circumstances) Paul went out," of his own accord, as he pleased, from the philosophers there assembled upon, or in the midst of Mars’ Hill, adjacent to the Acropolis, Acts 17:22.

2) "From among them." (ek mesou suton) "Out of or from in the midst of them,’’ the midst of the skeptic Epicurean and Stoic Athenian philosophers who had challenged and led him up to Mars’ Hill, where this address was delivered on the Areopagus hill with others present, inclusive of two who are named as having been saved, as a result of his message that day, Acts 17:34; Ecclesiastes 11:1-6; Isaiah 55:10-11.

Verse 34

1) "Howbeit certain men," (tines de andres) "But some responsible men," certain, among them is named Dionysius, and others unnamed.

2) "Clave unto him, and believe” (kollethentes auto episteusan) "Adhering to him (following his message, with honest, seeking hearts) believed,’’ when they heard the call of God to repentance and faith; they received Jesus Christ, were saved, and drew close to him, to learn more of the Jesus way, John 1:11-12; Romans 10:9-13; Luke 9:23.

3) "Among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite," (en ois kai Dionysius ho Areopagites) "Among whom (were) both Dionysius, the Areopagite," a member of that august tribunal, a judge in the court. Even unsaved heathen, idolatrous, intellectual judges may be saved, as this one was, at the preaching and astute reasoning of Paul, Isaiah 1:18, Romans 1:14-16.

4) "And a woman named Damaris," (kai gune onomati Damaris) "And a woman known by the name of Damaris," meaning a "delicate woman," about which nothing further is known. The weak and strong, the learned and unlearned, the rich and the poor, are all lost by nature and practice, and need salvation that is freely available to them, John 7:17; John 6:37; Revelation 22:17; Isaiah 53:5-6, Romans 10:13.

5) "And others with them." (kai heteroi sun autois) "And others in colleague with, in close harmony of faith with them," others who had believed in Jesus Christ and “clave to" Paul’s teachings of Jesus Christ. Ancient tradition says that Dionysius, the converted judge, became leader of the little flock (church) Paul left in Athens, though no scripture certifies it. However, since Paul taught glory was to be given to God in the church, by Christ Jesus, Ephesians 3:21, it is reasonable, necessary inference that he did leave a church when he left there.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Acts 17". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/acts-17.html. 1985.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile