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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 17

Verse 1

Acts 17:1 . Ἀμφίπολιν καὶ Ἀπολλωνίαν , Amphipolis and Apollonia ) cities also of Macedonia. ἡ συιαγωγὴ , the synagogue ) in which there were not only Thessalonian Jews, but also Jews of other states. For the ὅπου , where , seems to refer to the city, not to the house [ i.e. synagogue refers not to the building , but the men ]. εἰωθὸς , custom ) He sought good opportunities in ordinary places. Σάββατα , Sabbaths ) not excluding the intervening days. τρία , three ) A complete number.

Verse 3

Acts 17:3 . Διανοίγων καὶ παρατιθέμενος , opening up the truth and setting before them) Two steps in succession, as if one, having broken the outer shell (rind), were to both throw open and set in the midst the inner kernel. Faith is the key that opens. To this pair of words presently corresponds, ὅτι , καὶ ὅτι , that, and that . He discussed these two heads in order; 1. What were the characteristics predicated of the Messiah in the Old Testament: 2. that these were peculiarly found in Jesus. Comp. on Matthew 16:21 (The Gospel may be divided into two parts; the first, Jesus is the Christ ; the second, Christ must suffer, die, and rise again ). παθεῖν , suffer ) even to death. οὗτος , This ) The subject: He, JESUS, whom I announce (preach) to you . The predicate is Christ .

Verse 4

Acts 17:4 . Ἐπείσθησαν , believed ) In antithesis to οἱ ἀπειθοῦντες , who believed not , Acts 17:5 . προσεκληρώθησαν , attached themselves to [consorted with]) A remarkable verb: became their lot or heritage ; whence a church is called κλῆρος , a heritage , 1 Peter 5:3 . τῶν τε σεβομένων , and of the devout ) A frequent term in this book, especially applied to religious Greeks: ch. Acts 13:43 ; Acts 13:50 , Acts 16:14 , Acts 18:7 ; but applied to those Greeks who used to frequent the synagogues, Acts 17:17 . All are in themselves wild olive trees: but one wild olive is less unsuited for grafting than another; and where there is less natural unsuitableness, there the transition to faith is more easy. γυναικῶν , of the women ) These more than the men were wont to take an interest in religious subjects. Cic. ad Terentiam, says, “Dii quos tu castissimè coluisti; hominesque, quibus ego semper servivi.” πρώτων , the chief ) who thereby gave a noble example.

Verse 5

Acts 17:5 . Ἰουδαῖοι , the Jews ) when so great progress was made. “Common-place (practical observation): those who are foremost in persecuting the followers of the Gospel, are those who alone boast themselves as holy and masters of religion.” Jonas. ἀγοραίων ) those who used to stand in the ἀγορά , or market-place , ready to undertake any work for pay. [ τονηροὺς , wicked ) Truth does not use the help of such men. V. g.] ὀχλοποιήσαντες ) ὄχλος , a band, a number of men. ἐθορύβουν ) θορυβέω used actively, as in Wis 18:19 .

Verse 6

Acts 17:6 . Μὴ εὑρόντες , when they found them not ) Acts 17:10 . τὸν Ἰάσονα , Jason ) Zeal breaking out into a flame, when it does not find those whom it seeks, lays hold of whatever persons are nearest. βοῶντως , crying ) with vehemence. οἱ ) They speak as of men very well known, and yet in a vague and confused manner. Comp. ch. Acts 21:28 : In Jerusalem, the Jews “crying out, Men of Israel, help, This is the man” (Paul), etc. ἀναστατώσαντες , who turn upside down ) A calumny.

Verse 7

Acts 17:7 . Ὑποδέδεκται , hath received [underhand, ὑπὸ ]) stealthily. This is the notion of the verb in James 2:25 , but not so in Luke 19:6 . οὗτοι πάντες , these all ) They mean to mark those who had fled, and those who were present.

Verse 9

Acts 17:9 . Λαβόντες ) viz. οἱ πολιτάρχαι . λαβόντες τὸ ἱκανὸν ) τὸ ἱκανὸν ποιῆσαι is to satisfy , Mark 15:15 , “Pilate, willing to content the people:” ἰκανὰ δοῦναι , to give security or adequate satisfaction , and λαβεῖν τὸ ἱκανὸν , to receive security , are Correlatives. Chrysostom on this passage says, ὅρα πῶς ἱκανὰ δοῦς Ἰάσων ἐξέπεμψε Παῦλον , ὥστε την ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἔδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ; Jason made himself surety for Paul.

Verse 10

Acts 17:10 . Ἐξέπεμψαν ) They sent him forth from Thessalonica, and sent him to Berea . ἀπῄεσαν ) went away into the synagogue, boldly braving a new danger.

Verse 11

Acts 17:11 . Εὐγενέστεροι ) more noble than the Jews of Thessalonica. They are truly noble souls, who are easily accessible in Divine things. ἀνακρίνοντες , searching ) A characteristic of the true religion is, that it suffers itself to be examined into, and its claims to be so decided upon. [How wretched are they who exclude others from such searching scrutiny! How happy they who legitimately exercise that very right! V. g.] Προθυμία καὶ ἀνάκρισις , readiness of mind and accurate scrutiny , well correspond. ταῦτα , these things ) which are expressed in Acts 17:3 .

Verse 12

Acts 17:12 . Ἐξ αὐτῶν , of them ) the Jews. γυναικῶν , women ) who were followed by the men .

Verse 13

Acts 17:13 . Κἀκεῖ σαλεύοντες , there also disturbing [stirring up]) Conduct exceedingly outrageous (intemperate). [97]

[97] The fuller reading, σαλεύοντες καὶ ταράσσοντες , although it was declared by the margin of both Greek Editions to be the less established reading, is however exhibited in the Vers. Germ. E. B.

The fuller reading is supported by ABD d Vulg. But Ee omit καὶ ταράσσοντες . E. and T.

Verse 14

Acts 17:14 . Ὡς ἐπὶ ) ὡς with ἐπὶ , ἐς , πρὸς , is often pleonastic, as Heupelius shows in his Treatise on Dialects, p. 69, and so the LXX., ὡς πρὸς θάλασσαν , Ezekiel 41:12 ; but in this passage ὡς is put in its proper sense, for as it were, as if . Their journey seemed to be towards the sea; but Athens was the destination aimed at. Perhaps Paul himself, or Silas and Timothy, did not at the time know whither the road was leading them: see following ver. (which implies that Paul followed the guidance of others rather than his own).

Verse 15

Acts 17:15 . Καθιστῶντες ) those conducting (constituentes, those who fixed for him his place), i.e. having care of him, putting him in a place of safety. Παῦλον , Paul ) who did not of his own accord retire from danger.

Verse 16

Acts 17:16 . Ἐκδεχομένου , whilst Paul was waiting for them) He had not intended to speak immediately at Athens; but nevertheless presently, without waiting for his companions, stimulated by a remarkable and extraordinary zeal, this soldier of Christ commences the action at once. So he often carried on the Christian warfare alone: Galatians 2:13-14 ; 2 Timothy 4:16 . [ παρωξύνετο , was stirred up with zeal ) He was impatient that idolatrous practices should prevail, and still he had not at the time as yet a handle for attacking them. V. g.] κατείδωλον ) crowded with idols . Κατάκαρπος and κατάσκιος are compounds of the same form.

Verse 18

Acts 17:18 . [ Τινὲς , some ) It is not without danger to despise any one, before that you have informed yourself what kind of a person he is. V. g.] συνέβαλλον ) encountered him. τί , what ) The pride of overloaded (satisfied with its own fulness) and fastidious (contemptuous) reason hereby gives itself vent. σπερμόλογος ) Hesychius explains σπερμόλογος as φλύαρος , καὶτὰ σπέρματα συλλέγων , καὶ κολοιῶδες ζῶον , a seed-picker, trifling and jackdaw like . Compare Eustathius. The seed of Paul was not without its fruit: whereas the philosophers of Athens were void of all fruit. Henry Bullinger says, “Nowhere did Paul teach with less fruit resulting than at Athens: nor is it strange, seeing that there was in that same city a kind of den and covert of philosophers who always stood forth, a most immediate and deadly bane to true piety.” ξένων , of foreign, strange ) which the Athenians heretofore had not had. καταγγελεὺς , an announcer, setter forth ) This word Paul gives back to them in his turn, Acts 17:23 : I do announce to you. ὅτι ) This because is to be referred to the words, “But others said.” ἀνάστασιν , the resurrection ) They fancied that Paul spoke of Jesus in such a way, as if He had been made a δαιμόνιον · they did not fancy that the ἀνάστασις , or resurrection itself, was being set before them as a goddess. εὐηγγελίζετο , he was preaching ) in the brief conversation with them, whereby he was sounding their state of mind. See foll. verse.

Verse 19

Acts 17:19 . Ἄρειον πάγον ) The court of justice was held on a hill (in Greek πάγος ) opposite the citadel of Cecrops, outside the city, and received its appellation from Mars ( Ἄρης ). Thither they brought Paul, almost as if he were one to be put on his trial. δυνάμεθα γνῶναι ) A formula of questioning, as among the Latins, Possumne scire? Moreover it has, in the intention of these Attic questioners, a degree of irony; for a “seed-picker,” such as they supposed Paul to be, is full of chinks [Terence Eun. i. 2, 25, plenus rimarum, one who can keep nothing to himself ]: nor did they think that anything could be said to them, which they did not know thoroughly before. καινὴ ) They desire to hear, if he has anything new . ἡ ὑπὸ σοῦ λαλουμένη , which is spoken of by thee ) deliberately and earnestly.

Verse 20

Acts 17:20 . Ξενίζοντα , strange things ) The same word occurs, 1 Peter 4:4 ; 1 Peter 4:12 .

Verse 21

Acts 17:21 . Ἀθηναῖοι , the Athenians ) An elegant and characteristic description of them follows. ἐπιδημοῦντες ) sojourners : who through sojourning among them acquire the same customs. εὐκαίρουν , used to spend their time ) The Preterite, whereby it is implied, what kind of hearers Paul had at that time. Curiosity yields to faith. λέγειν , to tell : ἀκούειν , to hear ) Two classes. [Both unattended with fruit: and in such a way as that always whatever is newer is preferred to what has gone before (former news), even though the latter have been good. A common fault, and one very pernicious. V. g.] καινότερον , something more new ) New things became immediately depreciated: newer things were sought for. Thence (owing to the prevalence of this feeling) καινότερος is a frequent comparative among the Greeks. Chrysostom do Sacerd. § 418, uses the same concerning Paul, τοὺς καινοτέρους διωγμούς · and Theophr. in the Character of the λογοποιὸς , says, οἷος ἐρωτῆσαι · ἔχεις περὶ τοῦδε εἰπεῖν καινόν ; καὶ ἐπιβαλὼν ἐρωτᾶν , μὴ λέγεταί τι καινότερον ; Moreover they used to seek for newer things, not merely in the case of the occurrences which daily happen; but what seems nobler, in philosophical matters.

Verse 22

Acts 17:22 . Ἐν μέσῳ , in the midst ) A spacious theatre. [The one single messenger of Christ in this instance had to encounter the might (strongest sinews) of human wisdom. V. g.] ἔφη , said ) As among the Lycaonians he set forth natural Theology in the way of instruction (catechetically), so at Athens he set it forth in the way of an address to the ears of a learned audience, with marvellous wisdom, subtilty (refinement), fulness, and courtesy. They ask for new things: Paul, in his apostolico-philosophical speech, begins with what is most ancient and comes to the newest truths; both of which alike were new to them. And he shows them the origin and end of all things, concerning which their philosophers used to discuss so much, and he in a most appropriate manner refutes the Stoics and Epicureans alike. κατὰ πάντα , in all things ) altogether. ὡς δεισιδαιμονεστέρους ) δεισιδαίμων , religiosus , is a word in itself μέσον , of middle signification between good and bad, and therefore has in it an ambiguity conciliatory, and most suitable to this the opening of his speech, wherein, as in the case of the Jews, ch. Acts 22:3 , so in this case, the apostle deals gently with the Gentiles here, until in his subsequent declaration, εὗρον γὰρ , for I found , he verges to reproof. Therefore he calls them δεισιδαίμονας , as being persons who in their religion had fear, a feeling not in itself bad, without knowledge; or, in other words, those who ἀγνοοῦντες εὐσεβοῦσιν , worship ignorantly , the Divinity: the foll, verse. The comparative also mitigates the language; and the particle ὡς ( as being somewhat too fearful in your religion ) explains and softens the expression. Observe, Reader: Impiety and false religions, as many as they are, and as great soever as they may be, as far as concerns the soul, are fears : the Christian religion alone has this peculiarity, that it fully satisfies the noblest faculties and affections of man, and brings with it a calm kind of fear, and confidence accompanying the fear, and love, hope, and joy. ὑμᾶς θεωρῶ , I perceive you ) Great keenness of observation and great freedom of speech. Paul alone against all Athens.

Verse 23

Acts 17:23 . Διερχόμενος , in passing through ) Paul did not wish to stay long at Athens: he ordered Silas and Timothy as soon as possible to come to him; and yet before their arrival he left Athens: Acts 17:15-16 , ch. Acts 18:1 ; Acts 18:5 . Therefore he implies, that he has no want of something to do, even though the Athenians should not give heed to Paul. He shows by the fact itself that he is no “seed-picker.” ἀναθεωρῶν , beholding ) All things may serve the purposes of a wise man, whatever he may come across; but out of many he chooses out the best, as Paul refers to the one altar, dismissing other instances which he might have adduced. σεβάσματα ) works, founded for sacred purposes [gods worshipped, 2Th 2:4 ]. ἐπεγέγραπτο , there had been inscribed ) The Pluperfect, used courteously. To the Athenians of the existing age, when Paul spoke there, might be ascribed either a greater or less degree of ignorance, than to the authors of the inscription . ἀγνώστῳ Θεῷ , To an UNKNOWN GOD) Not even was the article added by the Athenians. Diogenes Laertius says, “When the Athenians, at one time, suffered under a pestilence, Epimenides purified the city, and restrained the plague in this way: He took sheep of black and white fleeces, and led them to the Areopagus, and permitted them to go from it in whatever direction they pleased; instructing those who followed them, wherever the sheep lay down there to immolate them severally τῷ προσήκοντι Θεῷ , to the appropriate or peculiarly fitting God : and in this way the plague ceased. Accordingly from that time, and in the present day, it is certain that altars without a name , βωμοὺς ἀνωνύμους , are found throughout the districts (pagos) of the Athenians.” Pausanias says, that there were in Phalerum βωμοὺς θεῶντε δνομαζομένων ἀγνώστων καὶ ἡρώων · which words ought, it seems, to be so stopped as to make some to be θεοὺς ὀνομαζομένους , gods having names , others to be ἀγνώστους , unknown gods . Philostratus, 6. 2, says, σωθρονέστερον περὶ πάντων θεῶν εὖ λέγειν , καὶ ταῦτα Ἀθήνσιν , οὗ καὶ ἀγνώστων θεῶν βωμοὶ ἵδρυνται . Tertullian against Marcion, says, “I find that altars have been publicly set up (prostitutes) to gods altogether unknown, but it is an Attic idolatry.” The Greek Scholia bring forward this inscription, θεοῖς Ἀσίας καὶ Εὐρώπης καὶ Λυβίης , θεῷ ἀγνώστῳ καὶ ξένω . But they do not produce any witness of this inscription. Jerome, in his Comment. on the Ep. to Titus: “The inscription of the altar was not in the precise form which Paul asserted, To the Unknown God ; but in this form, To the gods of Asia and Europe and Africa (Aphricæ); to the unknown and foreign or strange gods . But because Paul’s purpose did not require a number of unknown gods, but only one unknown God, he has used the singular number to show, that He whom the Athenians had thus designated beforehand in the inscription on the altar is his own God.” Comp. the note of C. Reineccius on this passage. On weighing all the data, and comparing them one with the other, it is evident that there was at first a certain one altar, having this inscription, To the Unknown GOD, namely, to that one Supreme God, the Founder of all things, inscrutable to mortals: and according to the pattern of this altar, which was erected according to the mind of the ancient philosophers, and not at variance with the enigma of Epimenides, the Athenians erected several others, dedicated to the Unknown God ; until, as superstition always degenerates into a more corrupt form, some persons inscribed often one altar to the unknown gods conjointly, thinking that among so many gods they would find one God at least who would attend and be propitious. And it is to this that the employment of the Pluperfect, ἐπεγέγραπτο , had been inscribed , refers, viz. that Paul may intimate that the old form, to the Unknown God , is truer than the more recent forms, to the unknown gods . So Lucan, lib. ii., “dedita sacris Incerti Judæa Dei ” Judea devoted to the worship of an Uncertain or Unknown God. The Philopatris of Lucian has these words: τὸν ἐν Ἀθήναις ἄγνωστον ἐφευρόντες , Finding the Unknown One, who is at Athens ; which is a not obscure allusion to Luke. Gellius, B. ii. c. 28, mentions something not dissimilar concerning the Romans. εὐσεβεῖτε , ye worship ) A mild word, addressed to the Gentiles. τοῦτον , Him ) Paul fixes definitely the vague intention of the blinded Athenians. I preach or announce to you, saith he, One unknown , but nevertheless not strange (referring to their words, Act 17:18 ). ἐγὼ καταγγέλλω , I announce ) whatever ye may think concerning me.

Verse 24

Acts 17:24 . Ὁ ποιήσας , who hath made ) So He is demonstrated to be One God, true, good, different from His creatures, and manifested by creation. κόσμον , the world ) Presently after, the heaven and the earth . Κύροις , Lord ) Psalms 50:9-10 . χειροποιήτοις , made with hands ) There follows, Acts 17:25 , by men’s hands . κατοικεῖ , dwells ) The antithesis concerning men is twice stated in Acts 17:26 .

Verse 25

Acts 17:25 . Οὐδὲ , neither ) The negation belongs to προσδεόμενος . He is said προσδεῖσθαι , who has something, but accompanied with some degree of need (of it): 2Ma 14:35 , σὺ , κύριε , τῶν ὅλων ἀπροσδεὴς ὑπάρχων , εὐδόκησας ναὸν , κ . τ . λ . θεραπεύεται ) Middle. τινός ) There is a double antithesis to this, πᾶσι and πάντα . The masculine is included in the signification of the neuter τινός . διδοὺς ) He hath given and gives . πᾶσι ) to all who live and breathe, who are in the highest degree προσδεόμενοι , in need . As to man specially, see the foll. ver. ζωὴν , life ) To this refer we live , Acts 17:28 . πνοὴν , breath ) spirit . To this refer we move , Acts 17:28 . It is by the spirit, or breath, that the life is continued. This moment I breathe, the very next moment that follows is not in my power. τὰ πάντα , all that they have ) To this refer we have our being , Acts 17:28 .

Verse 26

Acts 17:26 . Ἐξ ἑνὸς ) There is added in most copies αἵματος , which I know not whether Irenæu [98] himself read. Ἀνθρώπου [so some MSS. of Vulg. have homine for omne ] might equally well be understood from what follows, πᾶν ἔθνος ἀνθρώπων . [99] At all events the antithesis is between ἑνὸς and πᾶν , of one and every (viz. race). πᾶν ἔθνος , every race ) He does not say, πάντα ἔθνη , all nations . “We all are one nation. ὁρίσας , having determined or defined ) That there is a God who gave the earth to men to dwell in, Paul proves from the order of times and of places, which indicates the consummate Wisdom of the Governor, superior to all human counsels: Deuteronomy 32:8 ; Deuteronomy 2:5 ; Deuteronomy 2:9 , etc.; Psalms 74:17 ; Psalms 115:16 . προστεταγμένους ) So the LXX., Jeremiah 5:24 , κατὰ καιρὸν πληρώσεως προστάγματος θερισμοῦ , “at the time of the fulfilment of the appointment of harvest:” and Sir 39:16 ; Sir 39:18 , πᾶν πρόσταγμα ἐν καιρῷ αὐτοῦ ἔσται · ἐν προστάγματι αὐτοῦ πᾶσαεὐδοκία . ὁροθεσίας , the bounds ) by means of mountains, rivers, etc.

[98] renæus (of Lyons, in Gaul: born about 130 A.D., and died about the end of the second century). The Editio Renati Massueti, Parisinæ, a. 1710.

[99] The margin of the Exodus 2:0 , as also of the Germ. Vers., leaves the decision to the reader. E. B.

AB Vulg. Memph. Theb. omit αἵματος . But DE de and both Syr. Versions support αἵματος . E. and T.

Verse 27

Acts 17:27 . Εἰ , if ) The way lies open: God is prepared (ready) to be found; but He does not compel a man. He wishes him to be free, in such a way as that, when a man seeks and finds God, this in respect to GOD may be, in some measure, as it were a matter (an act) contingent. ἄραγε ) This particle implies that the attempt is an easy one. ψηλαφήσειαν , if haply [as well they might] they might feel after ) This is a middle term between seek and find . The touch , the coarsest and lowest of the senses, is here appropriately applied to the Gentiles. καίτοιγε , although ) The particle in this place has not so much a concessive force as an intensive force, so as that by it the facility of the “finding” is augmented. It is not necessary that this universe should be thoroughly known: each one may take (derive) an argument from himself. οὐ μακρὰν , not far ) A Litotes [See Append.]; that is to say, He is altogether near and intimately close to us; namely, in the propinquity of His presence, and the tie of connection which binds us to Him. Perverse reason supposes Him to be far off .

Verse 28

Acts 17:28 . Ἐν αὐτῷ ) In Him , not in ourselves: ἐν , in , expresses the most efficacious presence flowing from the most intimate tie of connection, so that we cannot think of (feel) ourselves without thinking of (feeling) Him. ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμὲν we live and move and are [Engl. Vers. have our being ]) These verbs are equivalent to those three things in Acts 17:25 , life and breath and all things : ἐσμὲν , we are , whatever we are, who without Him would have no being at all. Being is implied of that kind which follows motion, as motion follows life. [100] Cypria [101] writes: “We are in the Father, we live in the Son, we have motion and make progress in the Holy Ghost.” ΤΙΝῈς ΤῶΝ ΚΑΘʼ ὙΜᾶς , certain of your own ) Many add ποιητῶν [The margin of both Editions, with the concurrence of the Germ. Vers., leaves the question undecided. E. B. ΠΟΙΗΤῶΝ is supported by [102]


[104] Vulg. Orig. It is omitted by [105]


[107] Iren.]. And indeed Aratus, whose testimony Paul quotes in showing that God is a Spirit, was a poet: but with a weighty effect he abstains from the term poet, and from the name of Aratus. τοῦ ) for ΑὐΤΟῦ , His, i.e. GOD’S. γένος , offspring ) This is an article of natural theology: and in Christian theology it ought not to be so urged, as that more weight should not be given to the other ties of connection which bind us to GOD in Christ; αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα , for we are His workmanship , Ephesians 2:10 . ἐσμὲν , we are ) we all, we men, endowed with mind.

[100] Therefore Bengel takes ἐσμὲν not of our bare existence , as Engl. Vers.; but of all that we are ; which follows life and motion . E. and T.

[101] yprian (in the beginning and middle of the third century: a Latin father). Ed. Steph. Baluzii, Paris. 1726.

[102] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786 1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[103] Cod. Basilianus (not the B. Vaticanus): Revelation: in the Vatican: edited by Tisch., who assigns it to the beginning of the eighth century.

[104] Laudianus: Bodl. libr., Oxford: seventh or eighth cent.: publ. 1715: Acts def.

[105] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[106] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[107] Cantabrigiensis, do.: the Gospels, Acts , , 3 d Ep. John.

Verse 29

Acts 17:29 . Οὐκ ὀφείλομεν , we ought not ) A mild mode of expression, especially in the first person plural. “He hath breathed into us a something divine. Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, and have life and breath, it is foolish to believe that the Divinity is in dumb stone or silver, since it is undoubtedly the highest life which hath given us life.” Jonas. χαράγματι ) The Ablative. τέχνης , of art ) which is external. ἐνθυμήσεως , of man’s device ) which is internal. τὸ θεῖον ) An appropriate appellation of God among men who are still far removed from the knowledge of Him. ὅμοιον , like ) Man is in some measure midway between God and matter. Man is not like metal. Therefore God is much less like metal: for man, the offspring of God, is like God. And not only is likeness in this place denied, but any correspondence whatsoever, which might furnish a foundation for making an image, so as that from it the expectation might be formed, that the nature of God takes delight in such things. The statues (themselves) were not esteemed by the Athenians as gods: but Paul does not even leave them the power, which they were presumed to have, of vividly presenting (representing) the Deity before us.

Verse 30

Acts 17:30 . Χρόνους ) the long times , which both ye, and other nations older than you, have spent. For that the Athenians, a colony of the Egyptians, derived that inscription, to the unknown God , from Isis and her robe (peplo: the πέπλος or robe of state worn by the gods), which was never taken off her so as to reveal her, is shown by Gottfr. Olearius Diss. de Gestis Pauli in urbe Athen. τῆς ἀγνοίας , of ignorance ) Is ignorance brought as an objection against the Athenians? (“Whom ye ignorantly worship,” Acts 17:23 .) They themselves have confessed it. Ἀγνώστῳ Θεῷ , “to the unknown God;” answering to which is the ἀγνοοῦντες , ye ignorantly , of Paul, Acts 17:23 . ὑπεριδὼν ) A frequent verb in the LXX. Transl., applied to a thing which is not attended to, and is left without favourable help (propitious aid) or without severe punishment (animadversion). For it is a verb of a middle signification between good and bad, most suitable to this passage: Genesis 42:21 , ὑπερείδομεν τὴν θλίψιν , “ we overlooked , or did not regard, the distress of our brother,” etc.; Leviticus 20:4 ; Numbers 22:30 ; Deuteronomy 21:16 ; Deuteronomy 22:1 ; Deuteronomy 22:3-4 ; Job 31:19 . And God is said ὑπεριδεῖν , Leviticus 26:44 , οὐχ ὑπερεῖδον αὐτοὺς , “I did not disregard them;” with which comp. Leviticus 26:43 , ἀνθʼ ὧν τὰ κρίματά μου ὑπερεῖδον , “because they disregarded My judgments:” Deuteronomy 3:26 ; Zechariah 1:12 ; Psalms 55:1 ; Psalms 78:59 ; Psalms 78:62 ; Job 6:14 . Therefore Paul means to say this: God passed over the times of ignorance, without any preaching of repentance, faith, and the judgment to come, as if He Himself did not animadvert upon (take notice with a view to punishment) or feel much displeased at the error of mankind, which was so great. Comp. Matthew 20:7 , “No man hath hired us” (the parable of the labourers called at different hours of the day), and Acts 14:16 , “God in times past suffered ( εἴασε ) all nations to walk in their own ways:” although Paul speaks more severely at Athens, than he had spoken to the Lycaonians: for he had courteously invited the latter, whereas here, at Athens, he speaks in atone of threatening. τὰ νῦν , now ) This day, this hour, saith Paul, brings with it the termination of the Divine connivance [dissimulationis, overlooking the times of ignorance, as though they had no existence, acting as if He did not see them], and a season of greater grace or else of greater punishment. παραγγέλλει , plainly enjoins ) even by Paul. πανταχοῦ , everywhere ) Repentance is preached everywhere: because all shall be judged. The penitent escape. μετανοεῖν ) to repent , to cease from their ignorance, etc. Paul, though drawing his discourse from natural Theology, yet blends with it some things out of revealed Theology. Comp. Acts 17:27-28 . For even the Gentiles are to be won over by the doctrines which are above nature.

Verse 31

Acts 17:31 . Μέλλει κρίνειν , He is about to judge ) This is appropriately said in the Areopagus , where justice and judgment used to be dispensed. Paid adds presently the mention of righteousness , as he did also before the judge Felix: ch. Acts 24:10 ; Acts 24:25 . [ τὴν οἰκουμένην , the habitable earth ) Comp. Acts 17:26 . V. g.] ἐν ἀνδρὶ , by the Man ) So he calls Jesus, to accord with the comprehension of his hearers. He was about to speak more in detail of Gospel truths to those who desired to hear. The ἐν , by , is construed with μέλλει κρίνειν , He will judge . ᾧ ) for ὃν , whom. ὥρισε , He hath ordained ) viz. as Judge: ch. Acts 10:42 . πίστιν παρασχὼν ) God hath raised again Jesus from the dead, and by that fact hath demonstrated ( having thereby given assurance ) that Jesus is the glorious Judge of all men. As to this very phrase, comp. the note on Chrys. de Sacerd. p. 450; and as to the use of the verb παρέχειν , Camerar. comm, utr. ling. col. 328, 329. All ought to have faith in God παρασχόντι , affording faith [who gives the assurance which is the object of faith , which faith lays hold of]. Therefore Paul here also preaches repentance and faith: and since faith was altogether unknown to the Athenians, he most elegantly makes merely an allusion to it by this phrase. The language besides implies, that no one is compelled [God affords , or presents the object of faith to all, compels none]. ἀναστήσας , in that He hath raised ) As to the connection of the resurrection of Christ with the universal preaching of Him, see note, ch. Acts 13:32 ; [108] Luke 24:46-47 . Paul did not conclude even this discourse without mention of the resurrection of Christ.

[108] Also 34, as Beng. does not interpret 33 of the resurrection at all. But in ver. 34 of ch. 13, the giving to the whole world of the sure mercies of David , and the declaring of the glad tidings unto the Gentiles, according to the promise made unto the fathers , is represented as necessarily requiring the resurrection of Christ as the preliminary. E. and T.

Verse 32

Acts 17:32 . Ἐχλεύαζον , some mocked ) interrupting Paul. They took as a stumbling-block of offence what is the principal motive of faith, owing to the pride of reason; and having thus fastened on this one point, they reject all the rest. εἶπον , others said ) with more readiness of mind.

Verse 33

Acts 17:33 . Οὕτως , so ) the obedience of the hearers being doubtful [ancipiti auditorum obsequio]: having performed no miracle. ἐξῆλθεν , went forth ) He did not obtrude himself on them.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 17". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.