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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 17

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verses 1-4


They traveled on. They went along the Roman military road that crossed Macedonia and Greece to the seaport of Dyrrachium; and resuming at the port of Brundisium on the coast of Italy, continued to Rome itself. Amphipolis was some thirty miles from Philippi (about one day’s travel time); Apollonia about thirty miles still farther west; and Thessalonica about twenty-eight miles more. Thessalonica was a rich commercial city, the capital of Macedonia. According to his usual habit. Where there was a Jewish synagogue, this is where Paul began. Here he found people, both Jew and Gentile, who believed in the living God and the Old Testament Scriptures. He would show how the prophets predicted the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and that this proved Jesus to be the Messiah who was to come. Three Sabbath days. This is how long he argued in the synagogue. Some of them were convinced. These were Jews. A large group of Greeks. These were Gentiles who wanted to learn about the God of Israel, and who came to the synagogue regularly, but had not converted to Judaism and been circumcised. And many of the leading women. Wives of the leading citizens, who had much influence. Ramsay thinks the synagogue would have in it: Jews; “Gentiles converted to Judaism”; Greeks [Gentiles]; leading women [mentioned as a climax]. There seemed to be a small number of Jews converted to Christ, plus a large number of Gentiles, some of whom had been idol-worshipers (1 Thessalonians 1:9 and note).

Verses 5-9


But the Jews were jealous. As usual, those who did not believe were filled with hatred. And attacked the home of Jason. Paul and Silas had been staying with him (Acts 17:7). To the city authorities. It is ironic that Jews would go to the Roman authorities and complain that Paul and Silas were promoting another king. These men have caused trouble everywhere! This shows the revolutionary power of the Faith. It changed the world! With these words. They were charging Paul and Silas with the crime of treason against the Romans. Pay the required amount of money. A bond that they would keep the peace.

Verses 10-12


The brothers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. Between forty-five and sixty miles west of Thessalonica. The people there were more open-minded. They were willing to investigate the claims of Paul and Silas. Many of them believed. See note on Acts 17:2. The same types of people were always the first to respond to the preaching of the Good News.

Verses 13-15


They came there. A certain type of Jew followed Paul and tried to destroy the message of Christ. See note on Acts 14:19-20. Sent Paul away to the coast. Ramsay says Luke often passes over the difficulties and dangers which drove Paul from place to place. Alford says the language implies Paul and the others went by sea to Athens. It would have been some 250 miles by land. When Timothy came to Athens, he was at once sent back to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 and note).

Verses 16-18


While Paul was waiting in Athens. Some think he had intended to wait until the others came, before beginning his work. He was greatly upset. PAROKSUNETO: burning with anger [righteous indignation]. He saw that they were worshiping what God had created, rather than the Creator himself (compare Romans 1:25). The attitude of the people toward these beautiful sculptured images, turned them away from God. So he argued. He went first to those who had some knowledge of God (see note on Acts 17:2), but he did not stop there. Epicurean. They taught that happiness is the highest goal of life. Stoic. They taught that happiness is found in being completely free from both pain and pleasure. They said this because. Note Paul’s message: Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah; the dead will be raised to life.

Verses 19-21


So they took Paul. Areopagus was the name of both the hill and the group which met there. [Mars-hill is a Latin name applied to it.] This group compared to our Supreme Court, Remember that Athens was the literary capital of the ancient world; the most cultured city; and the place where Romans went to complete their education at the University where thousands came to study. The hill itself is about fifty feet high, and at that time was surrounded by the most beautiful sculptures in Athens. The latest new thing. Curiosity, not a love for truth, motivated these people.

Verses 22-31


Paul stood up. Many seem to think Paul made a great mistake in what he said to this group, and see a resolve never to repeat this error in what he says in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. But this cannot be! Paul was an inspired apostle! Therefore, what he said was proper for this situation. (1) These people were totally ignorant of God. (2) Acts 17:19 implies they were hostile to some degree. (3) Paul spoke the truth plainly, without any verbal trickery. (4) He followed the principle of 1 Corinthians 9:21. Men of Athens. Since this is an unofficial meeting, he says this to call them to order. You are very religions. [Superstitious originally meant religious.] This is a compliment. He saw this wherever he went in Athens. To an Unknown God. We infer that there were a number of altars in Athens with this inscription which he quotes. Is what I now proclaim to you. “I, whom you consider an ignorant show-off, proclaim to you the God whom you are only dimly aware of.” This is not an insult, but is designed to make them listen. God, who made the world. He describes God: (1) He made the world. (2) Lord of heaven and earth. (3) Does not live in temples. (4) Does not need the service of men. (5) Is the source of life to all men. (6) Created all races from the one man. (7) Decrees that men should look for him. (8) We too are his children. (9) God is not like any image shaped by man. It dishonors him to worship an idol. God has overlooked the times. Before Christ came, the Gentiles had no revelation from God, and the Jews had only an imperfect one (Hebrews 1:1-2; Hebrews 8:6-7). Since Christ has come, God’s final and complete Truth has been given to mankind. To turn away from their evil ways. Knowledge implies responsibility. When men learn the truth, they are obligated to obey it. The gospel leaves no one out. God’s command is to all men everywhere. For he has fixed a day. Everyone will be required to account for how he has used his earthly life. By means of a man. It will be Jesus Christ who sits at Judgment. He has given proof of this. The proof is the Resurrection. If Jesus is raised from death, then all will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:20); this proves the Judgment.

Verses 32-34


Some of them made fun of him. Many want to believe that death “ends it all.” Some wanted to hear him talk about this again. This does not show any great interest, and Athens does not seem to have been such a great success. However, notice that some did believe, Not bad results from one sermon to people who did not even know the living God. Nothing is said of planting a church here, and even as late as Constantine the Great, Athens remained a center of Paganism. Paul did not return to Athens, nor did he write to Christians at Athens. But his greeting to “all God’s people in Greece” (2 Corinthians 1:1) would have included any Christians in Athens.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 17". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/acts-17.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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