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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 17

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

When they had passed through (διοδευσαντες). First aorist active participle of διοδευω, common verb in the Koine (Polybius, Plutarch, LXX, etc.), but in the N.T. only here and Luke 8:1. It means literally to make one's way (οδος) through (δια). They took the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads from Byzantium to Dyrrachium (over 500 miles long) on the Adriatic Sea, opposite Brundisium and so an extension of the Appian Way.

Amphipolis (την Αμφιπολιν). So called because the Strymon flowed almost around (αμφ) it, the metropolis of Macedonia Prima, a free city, about 32 miles from Philippi, about three miles from the sea. Paul and Silas may have spent only a night here or longer.

Apollonia (την Απολλωνιαν). Not the famous Apollonia in Illyria, but 32 miles from Amphipolis on the Egnatian Way. So here again a night was spent if no more. Why Paul hurried through these two large cities, if he did, we do not know. There are many gaps in Luke's narrative that we have no way of filling up. There may have been no synagogues for one thing.

To Thessalonica (εις Θεσσαλονικην). There was a synagogue here in this great commercial city, still an important city called Saloniki, of 70,000 population. It was originally called Therma, at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. Cassander renamed it Thessalonica after his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great. It was the capital of the second of the four divisions of Macedonia and finally the capital of the whole province. It shared with Corinth and Ephesus the commerce of the Aegean. One synagogue shows that even in this commercial city the Jews were not very numerous. As a political centre it ranked with Antioch in Syria and Caesarea in Palestine. It was a strategic centre for the spread of the gospel as Paul later said for it sounded (echoed) forth from Thessalonica throughout Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Verse 2

As his custom was (κατα το ειωθος τω Παυλω). The same construction in Luke 4:16 about Jesus in Nazareth (κατα το ειωθος αυτω) with the second perfect active participle neuter singular from εθω. Paul's habit was to go to the Jewish synagogue to use the Jews and the God-fearers as a springboard for his work among the Gentiles.

For three Sabbaths (επ σαββατα τρια). Probably the reference is to the first three Sabbaths when Paul had a free hand in the synagogue as at first in Antioch in Pisidia. Luke does not say that Paul was in Thessalonica only three weeks. He may have spoken there also during the week, though the Sabbath was the great day. Paul makes it plain, as Furneaux shows, that he was in Thessalonica a much longer period than three weeks. The rest of the time he spoke, of course, outside of the synagogue. Paul implies an extended stay by his language in 1 Thessalonians 1:8. The church consisted mainly of Gentile converts (2 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:8) and seems to have been well organized (1 Thessalonians 5:12). He received help while there several times from Philippi (Philippians 4:16) and even so worked night and day to support himself (1 Thessalonians 2:9). His preaching was misunderstood there in spite of careful instruction concerning the second coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

Reasoned (διελεξατο). First aorist middle indicative of διαλεγομα, old verb in the active to select, distinguish, then to revolve in the mind, to converse (interchange of ideas), then to teach in the Socratic ("dialectic") method of question and answer (cf. διελεγετο in verse Acts 17:17), then simply to discourse, but always with the idea of intellectual stimulus. With these Jews and God-fearers Paul appealed to the Scriptures as text and basis (απο) of his ideas.

Verse 3

Opening and alleging (διανοιγων κα παρατιθεμενος). Opening the Scriptures, Luke means, as made plain by the mission and message of Jesus, the same word (διανοιγω) used by him of the interpretation of the Scriptures by Jesus (Luke 24:32) and of the opening of the mind of the disciples also by Jesus (Luke 24:45) and of the opening of Lydia's heart by the Lord (Acts 16:14). One cannot refrain from saying that such exposition of the Scriptures as Jesus and Paul gave would lead to more opening of mind and heart. Paul was not only "expounding" the Scriptures, he was also "propounding" (the old meaning of "allege") his doctrine or setting forth alongside the Scriptures (παρα-τιθεμενος), quoting the Scripture to prove his contention which was made in much conflict (1 Thessalonians 2:2), probably in the midst of heated discussion by the opposing rabbis who were anything but convinced by Paul's powerful arguments, for the Cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:23).

That it behoved the Christ to suffer (οτ τον Χριστον εδε παθειν). The second aorist active infinitive is the subject of εδε with τον Χριστον, the accusative of general reference. This is Paul's major premise in his argument from the Scriptures about the Messiah, the necessity of his sufferings according to the Scriptures, the very argument made by the Risen Jesus to the two on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:25-27). The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was a passage in point that the rabbis had overlooked. Peter made the same point in Acts 3:18 and Paul again in Acts 26:23. The minor premise is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

To rise again from the dead (αναστηνα εκ νεκρων). This second aorist active infinitive αναστηνα is also the subject of εδε. The actual resurrection of Jesus was also a necessity as Paul says he preached to them (1 Thessalonians 4:14) and argued always from Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and from his own experience (Acts 9:22; Acts 22:7; Acts 26:8; Acts 26:14; 1 Corinthians 15:8).

This Jesus is the Christ (ουτος εστιν ο Χριστοσ, ο Ιησους). More precisely, "This is the Messiah, viz., Jesus whom I am proclaiming unto you." This is the conclusion of Paul's line of argument and it is logical and overwhelming. It is his method everywhere as in Damascus, in Antioch in Pisidia, here, in Corinth. He spoke as an eye-witness.

Verse 4

Some of them (τινες εξ αυτων). That is of the Jews who were evidently largely afraid of the rabbis. Still "some" were persuaded (επεισθησαν, effective first aorist passive indicative) and "consorted with" (προσεκληρωθησαν). This latter verb is also first aorist passive indicative of προσκληροω, a common verb in late Greek (Plutarch, Lucian), but only here in the N.T., from προς and κληρος, to assign by lot. So then this small group of Jews were given Paul and Silas by God's grace.

And of the devout Greeks a great multitude (των τε σεβομενων Hελληνων πληθος πολυ). These "God-fearers" among the Gentiles were less under the control of the jealous rabbis and so responded more readily to Paul's appeal. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul expressly says that they had "turned to God from idols," proof that this church was mainly Gentile (cf. also 1 Thessalonians 2:14).

And of the chief women not a few (γυναικων τε των πρωτων ουκ ολιγα). Literally, "And of women the first not a few." That is, a large number of women of the very first rank in the city, probably devout women also like the men just before and like those in Acts 13:50 in Antioch in Pisidia who along with "the first men of the city" were stirred up against Paul. Here these women were openly friendly to Paul's message, whether proselytes or Gentiles or Jewish wives of Gentiles as Hort holds. It is noteworthy that here, as in Philippi, leading women take a bold stand for Christ. In Macedonia women had more freedom than elsewhere. It is not to be inferred that all those converted belonged to the higher classes, for the industrial element was clearly large (1 Thessalonians 4:11). In 2 Corinthians 8:2 Paul speaks of the deep poverty of the Macedonian churches, but with Philippi mainly in mind. Ramsay thinks that Paul won many of the heathen not affiliated at all with the synagogue. Certain it is that we must allow a considerable interval of time between verses Acts 17:4; Acts 17:5 to understand what Paul says in his Thessalonian Epistles.

Verse 5

Moved with jealousy (ζηλωσαντες). Both our English words,

zeal and

jealousy , are from the Greek ζηλος. In Acts 13:45 the Jews (rabbis) "were filled with jealousy" (επλησθησαν ζηλου). That is another way of saying the same thing as here. The success of Paul was entirely too great in both places to please the rabbis. So here is jealousy of Jewish preachers towards Christian preachers. It is always between men or women of the same profession or group. In 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10 Paul hints at some of the slanders spread against him by these rabbis (deceivers, using words of flattery as men-pleasers, after vain-glory, greed of gain, etc.).

Took unto them (προσλαβομενο). Second aorist middle (indirect, to themselves) participle of προσλαμβανω, old and common verb.

Certain vile fellows of the rabble (των αγοραιων ανδρας τινας πονηρους). The αγορα or market-place was the natural resort for those with nothing to do (Matthew 20:4) like the court-house square today or various parks in our cities where bench-warmers flock. Plato (Protagoras 347 C) calls these αγοραιο (common word, but in N.T. only here and Acts 19:38) idlers or good-for-nothing fellows. They are in every city and such "bums" are ready for any job. The church in Thessalonica caught some of these peripatetic idlers (2 Thessalonians 3:10) "doing nothing but doing about." So the Jewish preachers gather to themselves a choice collection of these market-loungers or loafers or wharf-rats. The Romans called them subrostrani (hangers round the rostrum or subbasilicari).

Gathering a crowd (οχλοποιησαντες). Literally, making or getting (ποιεω) a crowd (οχλος), a word not found elsewhere. Probably right in the αγορα itself where the rabbis could tell men their duties and pay them in advance. Instance Hyde Park in London with all the curious gatherings every day, Sunday afternoons in particular.

Set the city on an uproar (εθορυβουν). Imperfect active of θορυβεω, from θορυβος (tumult), old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 20:10; Matthew 9:23; Mark 4:39. They kept up the din, this combination of rabbis and rabble.

Assaulting the house of Jason (επισταντες τη οικια Ιασονος). Second aorist (ingressive) active of εφιστημ, taking a stand against, rushing at, because he was Paul's host. He may have been a Gentile (Jason the name of an ancient king of Thessaly), but the Jews often used it for Joshua or Jesus (II Macc. 1:7).

They sought (εζητουν). Imperfect active. They burst into the house and searched up and down.

Them (αυτους). Paul and Silas. They were getting ready to have a lynching party.

Verse 6

When they found them not (μη ευροντες). Usual negative μη with the participle in the Koine, second aorist (effective) active participle, complete failure with all the noise and "bums."

They dragged (εσυρον). Imperfect active, vivid picture, they were dragging (literally). See already Acts 8:3; Acts 16:19. If they could not find Paul, they could drag Jason his host and some other Christians whom we do not know.

Before the rulers of the city (επ τους πολιταρχας). This word does not occur in Greek literature and used to be cited as an example of Luke's blunders. But now it is found in an inscription on an arch in the modern city preserved in the British Museum. It is also found in seventeen inscriptions (five from Thessalonica) where the word or the verb πολιταρχεω occurs. It is a fine illustration of the historical accuracy of Luke in matters of detail. This title for city officers in Thessalonica, a free city, is correct. They were burgomasters or "rulers of the city."

Crying (βοωντες). Yelling as if the house was on fire like the mob in Jerusalem (Acts 21:28).

These that have turned the world upside down (ο την οικουμενην αναστατωσαντες). The use of οικουμενην (supply γεν or χωραν, the inhabited earth, present passive participle of οικεω) means the Roman Empire, since it is a political charge, a natural hyperbole in their excitement, but the phrase occurs for the Roman Empire in Luke 2:1. It is possible that news had come to Thessalonica of the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius. There is truth in the accusation, for Christianity is revolutionary, but on this particular occasion the uproar (verse Acts 17:5) was created by the rabbis and the hired loafers. The verb αναστατοω (here first aorist active participle) does not occur in the ancient writers, but is in LXX and in Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38; Galatians 5:12. It occurs also in Harpocration (A.D. 4th cent.) and about 100 B.C. εξαναστατοω is found in a fragment of papyrus (Tebtunis no. 2) and in a Paris Magical Papyrus l. 2243f. But in an Egyptian letter of Aug. 4, 41 A.D. (Oxyrhynchus Pap. no. 119, 10) "the bad boy" uses it = "he upsets me" or " he drives me out of my senses" (αναστατο με). See Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, pp. 84f. It is not a "Biblical word" at all, but belongs to the current Koine. It is a vigorous and graphic term.

Verse 7

Whom Jason hath received (ους υποδεδεκτα Ιασων). Present perfect middle indicative of υποδεχομα, to entertain, old verb, but in N.T. only in Luke 10:38; Luke 19:6; Acts 17:7; James 2:25. This is Jason's crime and he is the prisoner before the politarchs.

These all (ουτο παντες). Jason, the "brethren" of verse Acts 17:6, Paul and Silas, and all Christians everywhere.

Contrary (απεναντ). Late compound preposition (απο, εν, αντ) found in Polybius, LXX, here only in the N.T.

The decrees of Caesar (των δογματων Καισαρος). This was a charge of treason and was a sure way to get a conviction. Probably the Julian Leges Majestatis are in mind rather than the definite decree of Claudius about the Jews (Acts 18:2).

Saying that there is another king, one Jesus (Βασιλεα ετερον λεγοντες εινα Ιησουν). Note the very order of the words in the Greek indirect discourse with the accusative and infinitive after λεγοντες. Βασιλεα ετερον comes first, a different king, another emperor than Caesar. This was the very charge that the smart student of the Pharisees and Herodians had tried to catch Jesus on (Mark 12:14). The Sanhedrin made it anyhow against Jesus to Pilate (Luke 23:2) and Pilate had to notice it. "Although the emperors never ventured to assume the title rex at Rome, in the Eastern provinces they were regularly termed basileus" (Page). The Jews here, as before Pilate (John 19:15), renounce their dearest hope of a Messianic king. It is plain that Paul had preached about Jesus as the Messiah, King of the Kingdom of God over against the Roman Empire, a spiritual kingdom, to be sure, but the Jews here turn his language to his hurt as they did with Jesus. As a matter of fact Paul's preaching about the kingdom and the second coming of Christ was gravely misunderstood by the Christians at Thessalonica after his departure (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:2). The Jews were quick to seize upon his language about Jesus Christ to his own injury. Clearly here in Thessalonica Paul had faced the power of the Roman Empire in a new way and pictured over against it the grandeur of the reign of Christ.

Verse 8

They troubled the multitude and the rulers (εταραξαν τον οχλον κα τους πολιταρχας). First aorist active of ταρασσω, old verb to agitate. The excitement of the multitude "agitated" the politarchs still more. To the people it meant a revolution, to the politarchs a charge of complicity in treason if they let it pass. They had no way to disprove the charge of treason and Paul and Silas were not present.

Verse 9

When they had taken security (λαβοντες το ικανον). A Greek idiom=Latin satis accipere, to receive the sufficient (bond), usually money for the fulfilment of the judgment. Probably the demand was made of Jason that he see to it that Paul and Silas leave the city not to return. In 1 Thessalonians 2:17. Paul may refer to this in mentioning his inability to visit these Thessalonians again. The idiom λαμβανειν το ικανον now is found in two inscriptions of the second century A.D. (O. G. I. S. 484, 50 and 629, 101). In Vol. III Oxyrhynchus Papyri no. 294 A.D. 22 the corresponding phrase δουνα εικανον ("to give security") appears.

They let them go (απελυσαν αυτους). The charge was serious but the proof slim so that the politarchs were glad to be rid of the case.

Verse 10

Immediately by night (ευθεως δια νυκτος). Paul's work had not been in vain in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:20). Paul loved the church here. Two of them, Aristarchus and Secundus, will accompany him to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4) and Aristarchus will go on with him to Rome (Acts 27:2). Plainly Paul and Silas had been in hiding in Thessalonica and in real danger. After his departure severe persecution came to the Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). It is possible that there was an escort of Gentile converts with Paul and Silas on this night journey to Beroea which was about fifty miles southwest from Thessalonica near Pella in another district of Macedonia (Emathia). There is a modern town there of some 6,000 people.

Went (απηιεσαν). Imperfect third plural active of απειμ, old verb to go away, here alone in the N.T. A literary, almost Atticistic, form instead of απηλθον.

Into the synagogue of the Jews (εις την συναγωγην των Ιουδαιων). Paul's usual custom and he lost no time about it. Enough Jews here to have a synagogue.

Verse 11

More noble than those (ευγενεστερο των). Comparative form of ευγενης, old and common adjective, but in N.T. only here and Luke 19:12; 1 Corinthians 1:26. Followed by ablative case των as often after the comparative.

With all readiness of mind (μετα πασης προθυμιας). Old word from προθυμος (προ, θυμος) and means eagerness, rushing forward. In the N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 8:11-19; 2 Corinthians 9:2. In Thessalonica many of the Jews out of pride and prejudice refused to listen. Here the Jews joyfully welcomed the two Jewish visitors.

Examining the Scriptures daily (καθ' ημεραν ανακρινοντες τας γραφας). Paul expounded the Scriptures daily as in Thessalonica, but the Beroeans, instead of resenting his new interpretation, examined (ανακρινω means to sift up and down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes as in Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19, etc.) the Scriptures for themselves. In Scotland people have the Bible open on the preacher as he expounds the passage, a fine habit worth imitating.

Whether these things were so (ε εχο ταυτα ουτως). Literally, "if these things had it thus." The present optative in the indirect question represents an original present indicative as in Luke 1:29 (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1043f.). This use of ε with the optative may be looked at as the condition of the fourth class (undetermined with less likelihood of determination) as in Acts 17:27; Acts 20:16; Acts 24:19; Acts 27:12 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). The Beroeans were eagerly interested in the new message of Paul and Silas but they wanted to see it for themselves. What a noble attitude. Paul's preaching made Bible students of them. The duty of private interpretation is thus made plain (Hovey).

Verse 12

Many therefore (Πολλο μεν ουν). As a result of this Bible study.

Also of the Greek women of honourable estate . The word Hελληνις means Greek woman, but the word γυνη is added. In particular women of rank (ευσχημονων, from ευ and εχω, graceful figure and the honourable standing) as in Acts 13:50 (Mark 15:43). Probably Luke means by implication that the "men" (ανδρων) were also noble Greeks though he does not expressly say so. So then the Jews were more open to the message, the proselytes or God-fearers followed suit, with "not a few" (ουκ ολιγο) real Greeks (both men and women) believing. It was quick and fine work.

Verse 13

Was proclaimed (κατηγγελη). Second aorist passive indicative of καταγγελλω, common late verb as in Acts 16:21.

Of Paul (υπο Παυλου). By Paul, of course.

Stirring up and troubling the multitudes (σαλευοντες κα ταρασσοντες τους οχλους). Shaking the crowds like an earthquake (Acts 4:31) and disturbing like a tornado (Acts 17:8). Success at Thessalonica gave the rabbis confidence and courage. The attack was sharp and swift. The Jews from Antioch in Pisidia had likewise pursued Paul to Iconium and Lystra. How long Paul had been in Beroea Luke does not say. But a church was established here which gave a good account of itself later and sent a messenger (Acts 20:4) with their part of the collection to Jerusalem. This quiet and noble town was in a whirl of excitement over the attacks of the Jewish emissaries from Thessalonica who probably made the same charge of treason against Paul and Silas.

Verse 14

And then immediately (ευθεως δε τοτε). They acted swiftly as in Thessalonica.

Sent forth (εξαπεστειλαν). Double compound (εξ, απο, both out and away) common in late Greek. First aorist active indicative (εξαποστελλω, liquid verb). Same form in Acts 9:30.

As far as to the sea (εως επ την θαλασσαν). It is not clear whether Paul went all the way to Athens by land or took ship at Dium or Pydna, some sixteen miles away, and sailed to Athens. Some even think that Paul gave the Jews the slip and went all the way by land when they expected him to go by sea. At any rate we know that Paul was grieved to cut short his work in Macedonia, probably not over six months in all, which had been so fruitful in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea. Silas and Timothy (note his presence) remained behind in Beroea and they would keep the work going. Paul no doubt hoped to return soon. Silas and Timothy in Beroea would also serve to screen his flight for the Jews wanted his blood, not theirs. The work in Macedonia spread widely (1 Thessalonians 1:7).

Verse 15

But they that conducted Paul (ο δε καθιστανοντες τον Παυλον). Articular present active participle of καθιστανω (late form in A B of καθιστημ or καθισταω), an old verb with varied uses to put down, to constitute, to conduct, etc. This use here is in the LXX (Joshua 6:23) and old Greek also.

To Athens (εως Αθηνων). To make sure of his safe arrival.

That they should come to him with all speed (ινα ως ταχιστα ελθωσιν προς αυτον). Note the neat Greek idiom ως ταχιστα as quickly as possible (good Attic idiom). The indirect command and purpose (ινα-ελθωσιν, second aorist active subjunctive) is also neat Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1046).

Departed (εξηιεσαν). Imperfect active of εξειμ, old Greek word, but rare in N.T. All in Acts (Acts 13:42; Acts 17:15; Acts 20:7; Acts 27:43)

Verse 16

Now while Paul waited for them in Athens (Εν δε ταις Αθηναις εκδεχομενου αυτους του Παυλου). Genitive absolute with present middle participle of εκδεχομα, old verb to receive, but only with the sense of looking out for, expecting found here and elsewhere in N.T We know that Timothy did come to Paul in Athens (1 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:6) from Thessalonica and was sent back to them from Athens. If Silas also came to Athens, he was also sent away, possibly to Philippi, for that church was deeply interested in Paul. At any rate both Timothy and Silas came from Macedonia to Corinth with messages and relief for Paul (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:8). Before they came and after they left, Paul felt lonely in Athens (1 Thessalonians 3:1), the first time on this tour or the first that he has been completely without fellow workers. Athens had been captured by Sulla B.C. 86. After various changes Achaia, of which Corinth is the capital, is a separate province from Macedonia and A.D. 44 was restored by Claudius to the Senate with the Proconsul at Corinth. Paul is probably here about A.D. 50. Politically Athens is no longer of importance when Paul comes though it is still the university seat of the world with all its rich environment and traditions. Rackham grows eloquent over Paul the Jew of Tarsus being in the city of Pericles and Demosthenes, Socrates and Plato and Aristotle, Sophocles and Euripides. In its Agora Socrates had taught, here was the Academy of Plato, the Lyceum of Aristotle, the Porch of Zeno, the Garden of Epicurus. Here men still talked about philosophy, poetry, politics, religion, anything and everything. It was the art centre of the world. The Parthenon, the most beautiful of temples, crowned the Acropolis. Was Paul insensible to all this cultural environment? It is hard to think so for he was a university man of Tarsus and he makes a number of allusions to Greek writers. Probably it had not been in Paul's original plan to evangelize Athens, difficult as all university seats are, but he cannot be idle though here apparently by chance because driven out of Macedonia.

Was provoked (παρωξυνετο). Imperfect passive of παροξυνω, old verb to sharpen, to stimulate, to irritate (from παρα, οξυς), from παροξυσμος (Acts 15:39), common in old Greek, but in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 13:5. It was a continual challenge to Paul's spirit when he beheld (θεωρουντος, genitive of present participle agreeing with αυτου (his), though late MSS. have locative θεωρουντ agreeing with εν αυτω).

The city full of idols (κατειδωλον ουσαν την πολιν). Note the participle ουσαν not preserved in the English (either the city being full of idols or that the city was full of idols, sort of indirect discourse). Paul, like any stranger was looking at the sights as he walked around. This adjective κατειδωλον (perfective use of κατα and ειδωλον is found nowhere else, but it is formed after the analogy of καταμπελοσ, καταδενδρον), full of idols. Xenophon (de Republ. Ath.) calls the city ολη βομοσ, ολη θυμα θεοις κα αναθημα (all altar, all sacrifice and offering to the gods). These statues were beautiful, but Paul was not deceived by the mere art for art's sake. The idolatry and sensualism of it all glared at him (Romans 1:18-32). Renan ridicules Paul's ignorance in taking these statues for idols, but Paul knew paganism better than Renan. The superstition of this centre of Greek culture was depressing to Paul. One has only to recall how superstitious cults today flourish in the atmosphere of Boston and Los Angeles to understand conditions in Athens. Pausanias says that Athens had more images than all the rest of Greece put together. Pliny states that in the time of Nero Athens had over 30,000 public statues besides countless private ones in the homes. Petronius sneers that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens. Every gateway or porch had its protecting god. They lined the street from the Piraeus and caught the eye at every place of prominence on wall or in the agora.

Verse 17

So he reasoned (διελεγετο μεν ουν). Accordingly therefore, with his spirit stirred by the proof of idolatry. Imperfect middle of διαλεγω, same verb used in verse Acts 17:2 which see. First he reasoned in the synagogue at the services to the Jews and the God-fearers, then daily in the agora or marketplace (southwest of the Acropolis, between it and the Areopagus and the Pnyx) to the chance-comers, "them that met him" (προς τους παρατυγχανοντας). Simultaneously with the synagogue preaching at other hours Paul took his stand like Socrates before him and engaged in conversation with (προς) those who happened by. This old verb, παρατυγχανω, occurs here alone in the N.T. and accurately pictures the life in the agora. The listeners to Paul in the agora would be more casual than those who stop for street preaching, a Salvation Army meeting, a harangue from a box in Hyde Park. It was a slim chance either in synagogue or in agora, but Paul could not remain still with all the reeking idolatry around him. The boundaries of the agora varied, but there was always the Ποικιλη Στοα (the Painted Porch), over against the Acropolis on the west. In this Στοα (Porch) Zeno and other philosophers and rhetoricians held forth from time to time. Paul may have stood near this spot.

Verse 18

And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him (τινες δε κα των Επικουριων κα Στωικων φιλοσοφων συνεβαλλον αυτω). Imperfect active of συνβαλλω, old verb, in the N.T. only by Luke, to bring or put together in one's mind (Luke 2:19), to meet together (Acts 20:14), to bring together aid (Acts 18:27), to confer or converse or dispute as here and already Acts 4:15 which see. These professional philosophers were always ready for an argument and so they frequented the agora for that purpose. Luke uses one article and so groups the two sects together in their attitude toward Paul, but they were very different in fact. Both sects were eager for argument and both had disdain for Paul, but they were the two rival practical philosophies of the day, succeeding the more abstruse theories of Plato and Aristotle. Socrates had turned men's thought inward (Γνωθ Σεαυτον, Know Thyself) away from the mere study of physics. Plato followed with a profound development of the inner self (metaphysics). Aristotle with his cyclopaedic grasp sought to unify and relate both physics and metaphysics. Both Zeno and Epicurus (340-272 B.C.) took a more practical turn in all this intellectual turmoil and raised the issues of everyday life. Zeno (360-260 B.C.) taught in the Στοα (Porch) and so his teaching was called Stoicism. He advanced many noble ideas that found their chief illustration in the Roman philosophers (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius). He taught self-mastery and hardness with an austerity that ministered to pride or suicide in case of failure, a distinctly selfish and unloving view of life and with a pantheistic philosophy. Epicurus considered practical atheism the true view of the universe and denied a future life and claimed pleasure as the chief thing to be gotten out of life. He did not deny the existence of gods, but regarded them as unconcerned with the life of men. The Stoics called Epicurus an atheist. Lucretius and Horace give the Epicurean view of life in their great poems. This low view of life led to sensualism and does today, for both Stoicism and Epicureanism are widely influential with people now. "Eat and drink for tomorrow we die," they preached. Paul had doubtless become acquainted with both of these philosophies for they were widely prevalent over the world. Here he confronts them in their very home. He is challenged by past-masters in the art of appealing to the senses, men as skilled in their dialectic as the Pharisaic rabbis with whom Paul had been trained and whose subtleties he had learned how to expose. But, so far as we know, this is a new experience for Paul to have a public dispute with these philosophical experts who had a natural contempt for all Jews and for rabbis in particular, though they found Paul a new type at any rate and so with some interest in him. "In Epicureanism, it was man's sensual nature which arrayed itself against the claims of the gospel; in Stoicism it was his self-righteousness and pride of intellect" (Hackett). Knowling calls the Stoic the Pharisee of philosophy and the Epicurean the Sadducee of philosophy. Socrates in this very agora used to try to interest the passers-by in some desire for better things. That was 450 years before Paul is challenged by these superficial sophistical Epicureans and Stoics. It is doubtful if Paul had ever met a more difficult situation.

What would this babbler say? (Τ αν θελο ο σπερμολογος ουτος λεγειν?). The word for "babbler" means "seed-picker" or picker up of seeds (σπερμα, seed, λεγω, to collect) like a bird in the agora hopping about after chance seeds. Plutarch applies the word to crows that pick up grain in the fields. Demosthenes called Aeschines a σπερμολογος. Eustathius uses it of a man hanging around in the markets picking up scraps of food that fell from the carts and so also of mere rhetoricians and plagiarists who picked up scraps of wisdom from others. Ramsay considers it here a piece of Athenian slang used to describe the picture of Paul seen by these philosophers who use it, for not all of them had it ("some," τινες). Note the use of αν and the present active optative θελο, conclusion of a fourth-class condition in a rhetorical question (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). It means, What would this picker up of seeds wish to say, if he should get off an idea? It is a contemptuous tone of supreme ridicule and doubtless Paul heard this comment. Probably the Epicureans made this sneer that Paul was a charlatan or quack.

Other some (ο δε). But others, in contrast with the "some" just before. Perhaps the Stoics take this more serious view of Paul.

He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods (ζενων δαιμονιων δοκε καταγγελευς εινα). This view is put cautiously by δοκε (seems). Καταγγελευς does not occur in the old Greek, though in ecclesiastical writers, but Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 99) gives an example of the word "on a marble stele recording a decree of the Mitylenaens in honour of the Emperor Augustus," where it is the herald of the games. Here alone in the N.T. Δαιμονιον is used in the old Greek sense of deity or divinity whether good or bad, not in the N.T. sense of demons. Both this word and καταγγελευς are used from the Athenian standpoint. Ξενος is an old word for a guest-friend (Latin hospes) and then host (Romans 16:23), then for foreigner or stranger (Matthew 25:31; Acts 17:21), new and so strange as here and Hebrews 13:9; 1 Peter 4:12, and then aliens (Ephesians 2:12). This view of Paul is the first count against Socrates: Socrates does wrong, introducing new deities (αδικε Σωκρατησ, καινα δαιμονια εισφερων, Xen. Mem. I). On this charge the Athenians voted the hemlock for their greatest citizen. What will they do to Paul? This Athens was more sceptical and more tolerant than the old Athens. But Roman law did not allow the introduction of a new religion (religio illicita). Paul was walking on thin ice though he was the real master philosopher and these Epicureans and Stoics were quacks. Paul had the only true philosophy of the universe and life with Jesus Christ as the centre (Colossians 1:12-20), the greatest of all philosophers as Ramsay justly terms him. But these men are mocking him.

Because he preached Jesus and the resurrection (οτ τον Ιησουν κα την αναστασιν ευηγγελιζατο). Reason for the view just stated. Imperfect middle indicative of ευαγγελιζω, to "gospelize." Apparently these critics considered αναστασις (Resurrection) another deity on a par with Jesus. The Athenians worshipped all sorts of abstract truths and virtues and they misunderstood Paul on this subject. They will leave him as soon as he mentions the resurrection (verse Acts 17:32). It is objected that Luke would not use the word in this sense here for his readers would not under stand him. But Luke is describing the misapprehension of this group of philosophers and this interpretation fits in precisely.

Verse 19

And they took hold of him (επιλαβομενο δε αυτου). Second aorist middle participle of επιλαμβανω, old verb, but in the N.T. only in the middle, here with the genitive αυτου to lay hold of, but with no necessary sense of violence (Acts 9:27; Acts 23:27; Mark 8:23), unless the idea is that Paul was to be tried before the Court of Areopagus for the crime of bringing in strange gods. But the day for that had passed in Athens. Even so it is not clear whether " unto the Areopagus (επ τον Αρειον Παγον") means the Hill of Mars (west of the Acropolis, north of the agora and reached by a flight of steps in the rock) or the court itself which met elsewhere as well as on the hills, usually in fact in the Stoa Basilica opening on the agora and near to the place where the dispute had gone on. Raphael's cartoon with Paul standing on Mars Hill has made us all familiar with the common view, but it is quite uncertain if it is true. There was not room on the summit for a large gathering. If Paul was brought before the Court of Areopagus (commonly called the Areopagus as here), it was not for trial as a criminal, but simply for examination concerning his new teaching in this university city whether it was strictly legal or not. Paul was really engaged in proselytism to turn the Athenians away from their old gods to Jesus Christ. But "the court of refined and polished Athenians was very different from the rough provincial magistrates of Philippi, and the philosophers who presented Paul to their cognizance very different from the mob of Thessalonians" (Rackham). It was all very polite.

May we know? (Δυναμεθα γνωνα). Can we come to know (ingressive second aorist active infinitive).

This new teaching (η καινη αυτη διδαχη). On the position of αυτη see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 700f. The question was prompted by courtesy, sarcasm, or irony. Evidently no definite charge was laid against Paul.

Verse 20

For thou bringest certain strange things (ξενιζοντα γαρ τινα εισφερεις). The very verb used by Xenophon (Mem. I) about Socrates. Ξενιζοντα is present active neuter plural participle of ξενιζω and from ξενος (verse Acts 17:18), "things surprising or shocking us."

We would know therefore (βουλομεθα ουν γνωνα). Very polite still, we wish or desire, and repeating γνωνα (the essential point).

Verse 21

Spent their time (ηυκαιρουν). Imperfect active of ευκαιρεω. A late word to have opportunity (ευ, καιρος) from Polybius on. In the N.T. only here and Mark 6:31. They had time for,.etc. This verse is an explanatory parenthesis by Luke.

Some new thing (τ καινοτερον). Literally "something newer" or "fresher" than the new, the very latest, the comparative of καινος. Demosthenes (Philipp. 1. 43) pictures the Athenians "in the agora inquiring if anything newer is said" (πυνθανομενο κατα την αγοραν ε τ λεγετα νεωτερον). The new soon became stale with these itching and frivolous Athenians.

Verse 22

Stood in the midst of the Areopagus (σταθεις εν μεσω του Αρειου Παγου). First aorist passive of ιστημ used of Peter in Acts 2:14. Majestic figure whether on Mars Hill or in the Stoa Basilica before the Areopagus Court. There would be a crowd of spectators and philosophers in either case and Paul seized the opportunity to preach Christ to this strange audience as he did in Caesarea before Herod Agrippa and the crowd of prominent people gathered by Festus for the entertainment. Paul does not speak as a man on trial, but as one trying to get a hearing for the gospel of Christ.

Somewhat superstitious (ως δεισιδαιμονεστερους). The Authorized Version has "too superstitious," the American Standard "very religious." Δεισιδαιμων is a neutral word (from δειδω, to fear, and δαιμων, deity). The Greeks used it either in the good sense of pious or religious or the bad sense of superstitious. Thayer suggests that Paul uses it "with kindly ambiguity." Page thinks that Luke uses the word to represent the religious feeling of the Athenians (religiosus) which bordered on superstition. The Vulgate has superstitiosiores. In Acts 25:19 Festus uses the term δεισιδαιμονια for "religion." It seems unlikely that Paul should give this audience a slap in the face at the very start. The way one takes this adjective here colours Paul's whole speech before the Council of Areopagus. The comparative here as in verse Acts 17:21 means more religions than usual (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 664f.), the object of the comparison not being expressed. The Athenians had a tremendous reputation for their devotion to religion, "full of idols" (verse Acts 17:16).

Verse 23

For (γαρ). Paul gives an illustration of their religiousness from his own experiences in their city.

The objects of your worship (τα σεβασματα υμων). Late word from σεβαζομα, to worship. In N T. only here and 2 Thessalonians 2:4. The use of this word for temples, altars, statues, shows the conciliatory tone in the use of δεισιδαιμονεστερους in verse Acts 17:22.

An altar (βωμον). Old word, only here in the N.T. and the only mention of a heathen altar in the N.T

With this inscription (εν ω επεγεγραπτο). On which had been written (stood written), past perfect passive indicative of επιγραφω, old and common verb for writing on inscriptions (επιγραφη, Luke 23:38).

To an Unknown God (ΑΓΝΟΣΤΟ ΤHΕΟ). Dative case, dedicated to. Pausanias (I. 1, 4) says that in Athens there are "altars to gods unknown" (βωμο θεων αγνωστων). Epimenides in a pestilence advised the sacrifice of a sheep to the befitting god whoever he might be. If an altar was dedicated to the wrong deity, the Athenians feared the anger of the other gods. The only use in the N.T. of αγνωστος, old and common adjective (from α privative and γνωστος verbal of γινωσκω, to know). Our word agnostic comes from it. Here it has an ambiguous meaning, but Paul uses it though to a stern Christian philosopher it may be the "confession at once of a bastard philosophy and of a bastard religion" (Hort, Hulsean Lectures, p. 64). Paul was quick to use this confession on the part of the Athenians of a higher power than yet known to them. So he gets his theme from this evidence of a deeper religious sense in them and makes a most clever use of it with consummate skill.

In ignorance (αγνοουντες). Present active participle of αγνοεω, old verb from same root as αγνωστος to which Paul refers by using it.

This set I forth unto you (τουτο εγο καταγγελλω υμιν). He is a καταγγελευς (verse Acts 17:18) as they suspected of a God, both old and new, old in that they already worship him, new in that Paul knows who he is. By this master stroke he has brushed to one side any notion of violation of Roman law or suspicion of heresy and claims their endorsement of his new gospel, a shrewd and consummate turn. He has their attention now and proceeds to describe this God left out of their list as the one true and Supreme God. The later MSS. here read ον--τουτον (whom--this one) rather than ο--τουτο (what--this), but the late text is plainly an effort to introduce too soon the personal nature of God which comes out clearly in verse Acts 17:24.

Verse 24

The God that made the world (Hο θεος ο ποιησας τον κοσμον). Not a god for this and a god for that like the 30,000 gods of the Athenians, but the one God who made the Universe (κοσμος on the old Greek sense of orderly arrangement of the whole universe).

And all things therein (κα παντα τα εν αυτω). All the details in the universe were created by this one God. Paul is using the words of Isaiah 42:5. The Epicureans held that matter was eternal. Paul sets them aside. This one God was not to be confounded with any of their numerous gods save with this "Unknown God."

Being Lord of heaven and earth (ουρανου κα γης υπαρχων κυριος). Κυριος here owner, absolute possessor of both heaven and earth (Isaiah 45:7), not of just parts.

Dwelleth not in temples made with hands (ουκεν χειροποιητοις ναοις κατοικε). The old adjective χειροποιητος (χειρ, ποιεω) already in Stephen's speech (Acts 7:48). No doubt Paul pointed to the wonderful Parthenon, supposed to be the home of Athene as Stephen denied that God dwelt alone in the temple in Jerusalem.

Verse 25

As though he needed anything (προσδεομενος τινος). Present middle participle of προσδεομα, to want besides, old verb, but here only in the N.T. This was strange doctrine for the people thought that the gods needed their offerings for full happiness. This self-sufficiency of God was taught by Philo and Lucretius, but Paul shows that the Epicurean missed it by putting God, if existing at all, outside the universe.

Seeing he himself giveth to all (αυτος διδους πασιν). This Supreme Personal God is the source of life, breath, and everything. Paul here rises above all Greek philosophers.

Verse 26

And he made of one (εποιησεν τε εξ ενος). The word αιματος (blood) is absent from Aleph A B and is a later explanatory addition. What Paul affirms is the unity of the human race with a common origin and with God as the Creator. This view runs counter to Greek exclusiveness which treated other races as barbarians and to Jewish pride which treated other nations as heathen or pagan (the Jews were λαος, the Gentiles εθνη). The cosmopolitanism of Paul here rises above Jew and Greek and claims the one God as the Creator of the one race of men. The Athenians themselves claimed to be αντοχθονους (indigenous) and a special creation. Zeno and Seneca did teach a kind of cosmopolitanism (really pantheism) far different from the personal God of Paul. It was Rome, not Greece, that carried out the moral ideas of Zeno. Man is part of the universe (verse Acts 17:24) and God created (εποιησεν) man as he created (ποιησας) the all.

For to dwell (κατοικειν). Infinitive (present active) of purpose, so as to dwell.

Having determined (ορισας). First aorist active participle of οριζω, old verb to make a horizon as already in Acts 19:42 which see. Paul here touches God's Providence. God has revealed himself in history as in creation. His hand appears in the history of all men as well as in that of the Chosen People of Israel.

Appointed seasons (προστεταγμενους καιρους). Not the weather as in Acts 14:17, but "the times of the Gentiles" (καιρο εθνων) of which Jesus spoke (Luke 21:24). The perfect passive participle of προστασσω, old verb to enjoin, emphasizes God's control of human history without any denial of human free agency as was involved in the Stoic Fate (Hειρμαρμενη).

Bounds (οροθεσιας). Limits? Same idea in Job 12:23. Nations rise and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is an interplay between God's will and man's activities, difficult as it is for us to see with our shortened vision.

Verse 27

That they should seek God (Ζητειν τον θεον). Infinitive (present active) of purpose again. Seek him, not turn away from him as the nations had done (Romans 1:18-32).

If haply they might feel after him (ε αρα γε ψηλαφησειαν αυτον). First aorist active (Aeolic form) optative of ψηλαφαω, old verb from ψαω, to touch. So used by the Risen Jesus in his challenge to the disciples (Luke 24:39), by the Apostle John of his personal contact with Jesus (1 John 1:1), of the contact with Mount Sinai (Hebrews 12:18). Here it pictures the blind groping of the darkened heathen mind after God to "find him" (ευροιεν, second aorist active optative) whom they had lost. One knows what it is in a darkened room to feel along the walls for the door (Deuteronomy 28:29; Job 5:14; Job 12:25; Isaiah 59:10). Helen Keller, when told of God, said that she knew of him already, groping in the dark after him. The optative here with ε is due to the condition of the fourth class (undetermined, but with vague hope of being determined) with aim also present (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). Note also αρα γε the inferential particle αρα with the delicate intensive particle γε.

Though he is not far from each one of us (κα γε ου μακραν απο ενος εκαστου ημων υπαρχοντα). More exactly with B L (κα γε instead of καιτο or καιτο γε), "and yet being not far from each one of us," a direct statement rather than a concessive one. The participle υπαρχοντα agrees with αυτον and the negative ου rather than the usual με with the participle makes an emphatic negative. Note also the intensive particle γε.

Verse 28

For in him (εν αυτω γαρ). Proof of God's nearness, not stoic pantheism, but real immanence in God as God dwells in us. The three verbs (ζωμεν, κινουμεθα, εσμεν) form an ascending scale and reach a climax in God (life, movement, existence). Κινουμεθα is either direct middle present indicative (we move ourselves) or passive (we are moved).

As certain even of your own poets (ως κα τινες των καθ' υμας ποιητων). "As also some of the poets among you." Aratus of Soli in Cilicia (ab. B.C. 270) has these very words in his Ta Phainomena and Cleanthes, Stoic philosopher (300-220 B.C.) in his Hymn to Zeus has Εκ σου γαρ γενος εσμεν. In 1 Corinthians 15:32 Paul quotes from Menander and in Titus 1:12 from Epimenides. J. Rendel Harris claims that he finds allusions in Paul's Epistles to Pindar, Aristophanes, and other Greek writers. There is no reason in the world why Paul should not have acquaintance with Greek literature, though one need not strain a point to prove it. Paul, of course, knew that the words were written of Zeus (Jupiter), not of Jehovah, but he applies the idea in them to his point just made that all men are the offspring of God.

Verse 29

We ought not to think (ουκ οφειλομεν νομιζειν). It is a logical conclusion (ουν, therefore) from the very language of Aratus and Cleanthes.

That the Godhead is like (το θειον εινα ομοιον). Infinitive with accusative of general reference in indirect discourse. Το θειον is strictly "the divine" nature like θειοτης (Romans 1:20) rather than like θεοτης (Colossians 2:9). Paul may have used το θειον here to get back behind all their notions of various gods to the real nature of God. The Athenians may even have used the term themselves. After ομοιος (like) the associative instrumental case is used as with χρυσωι, αργυρωι, λιθω.

Graven by art and device of man (χαραγματ τεχνης κα ενθυμησεως ανθρωπου). Apposition with preceding and so χαραγματ in associative instrumental case. Literally, graven work or sculpture from χαρασσω, to engrave, old word, but here alone in N.T. outside of Revelation (the mark of the beast). Graven work of art (τεχνης) or external craft, and of thought or device (ενθυμησεως) or internal conception of man.

Verse 30

The times of ignorance (τους χρονους της αγνοιας). The times before full knowledge of God came in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the very word for their ignorance (αγνοουντες) employed in verse Acts 17:23.

Overlooked (υπεριδων). Second aorist active participle of υπεροραω or υπερειδω, old verb to see beyond, not to see, to overlook, not "to wink at" of the Authorized Version with the notion of condoning. Here only in the N.T. It occurs in the LXX in the sense of overlooking or neglecting (Psalms 18:62; Psalms 55:1). But it has here only a negative force. God has all the time objected to the polytheism of the heathen, and now he has made it plain. In Wisdom 11:23 we have these words: "Thou overlookest the sins of men to the end they may repent."

But now (τα νυν). Accusative of general reference, "as to the now things or situation." All is changed now that Christ has come with the full knowledge of God. See also Acts 27:22.

All everywhere (παντας πανταχου). No exceptions anywhere.

Repent (μετανοειν). Present active infinitive of μετανοεω in indirect command, a permanent command of perpetual force. See on μετανοεω Acts 2:38 and the Synoptic Gospels. This word was the message of the Baptist, of Jesus, of Peter, of Paul, this radical change of attitude and life.

Verse 31

Inasmuch as (καθοτ). According as (κατα, οτ). Old causal conjunction, but in N.T. only used in Luke's writings (Luke 1:7; Luke 19:9; Acts 2:45; Acts 4:35; Acts 17:31).

Hath appointed a day (εστησεν ημεραν) First aorist active indicative of ιστημ, to place, set. God did set the day in his counsel and he will fulfil it in his own time.

Will judge (μελλε κρινειν). Rather, is going to judge, μελλω and the present active infinitive of κρινω. Paul here quotes Psalms 9:8 where κρινε occurs.

By the man whom he hath ordained (εν ανδρ ω ωρισεν). Here he adds to the Psalm the place and function of Jesus Christ, a passage in harmony with Christ's own words in Acts 17:25. (whom) is attracted from the accusative, object of ωρισεν (first aorist active indicative of οριζω) to the case of the antecedent ανδρ. It has been said that Paul left the simple gospel in this address to the council of the Areopagus for philosophy. But did he? He skilfully caught their attention by reference to an altar to an Unknown God whom he interprets to be the Creator of all things and all men who overrules the whole world and who now commands repentance of all and has revealed his will about a day of reckoning when Jesus Christ will be Judge. He has preached the unity of God, the one and only God, has proclaimed repentance, a judgment day, Jesus as the Judge as shown by his Resurrection, great fundamental doctrines, and doubtless had much more to say when they interrupted his address. There is no room here for such a charge against Paul. He rose to a great occasion and made a masterful exposition of God's place and power in human history.

Whereof he hath given assurance (πιστιν παρασχων). Second aorist active participle of παρεχω, old verb to furnish, used regularly by Demosthenes for bringing forward evidence. Note this old use of πιστις as conviction or ground of confidence (Hebrews 11:1) like a note or title-deed, a conviction resting on solid basis of fact. All the other uses of πιστις grow out of this one from πειθω, to persuade.

In that he hath raised him from the dead (αναστησας αυτον εκ νεκρων). First aorist active participle of ανιστημ, causal participle, but literally, "having raised him from the dead." This Paul knew to be a fact because he himself had seen the Risen Christ. Paul has here come to the heart of his message and could now throw light on their misapprehension about "Jesus and the Resurrection" (verse Acts 17:18). Here Paul has given the proof of all his claims in the address that seemed new and strange to them.

Verse 32

The resurrection of the dead (αναστασιν νεκρων). Rather, "a resurrection of dead men." No article with either word. The Greeks believed that the souls of men lived on, but they had no conception of resurrection of the body. They had listened with respect till Paul spoke of the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead as a fact, when they did not care to hear more.

Some mocked (ο μεν εχλευαζον). Imperfect active of χλευαζω, a common verb (from χλευη, jesting, mockery). Only here in the N.T. though late MSS. have it in Acts 2:13 (best MSS. διαχλευαζω). Probably inchoative here, began to mock. In contempt at Paul's statement they declined to listen further to "this babbler" (verse Acts 17:18) who had now lost what he had gained with this group of hearers (probably the light and flippant Epicureans).

But others (ο δε). A more polite group like those who had invited him to speak (verse Acts 17:19). They were unconvinced, but had better manners and so were in favour of an adjournment. This was done, though it is not clear whether it was a serious postponement or a courteous refusal to hear Paul further (probably this). It was a virtual dismissal of the matter. " It is a sad story--the noblest of ancient cities and the noblest man of history--and he never cared to look on it again" (Furneaux).

Verse 33

Thus Paul went out from among them (ουτως ο Παυλος εξηλθεν εκ μεσου αυτων). No further questions, no effort to arrest him, no further ridicule. He walked out never to return to Athens. Had he failed?

Verse 34

Clave unto him and believed (κολληθεντες αυτω επιστευσαν). First aorist passive of this strong word κολλαω, to glue to, common in Acts (Acts 5:13; Acts 8:29; Acts 9:26; Acts 10:28) No sermon is a failure which leads a group of men (ανδρες) to believe (ingressive aorist of πιστευω) in Jesus Christ. Many so-called great or grand sermons reap no such harvest.

Dionysius the Areopagite (Διονυσιος ο Αρεοπαγιτης). One of the judges of the Court of the Areopagus. That of itself was no small victory. He was one of this college of twelve judges who had helped to make Athens famous. Eusebius says that he became afterwards bishop of the Church at Athens and died a martyr.

A woman named Damaris (γυνη ονοματ Δαμαρις). A woman by name Damaris. Not the wife of Dionysius as some have thought, but an aristocratic woman, not necessarily an educated courtezan as Furneaux holds. And there were "others" (ετερο) with them, a group strong enough to keep the fire burning in Athens. It is common to say that Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 alludes to his failure with philosophy in Athens when he failed to preach Christ crucified and he determined never to make that mistake again. On the other hand Paul determined to stick to the Cross of Christ in spite of the fact that the intellectual pride and superficial culture of Athens had prevented the largest success. As he faced Corinth with its veneer of culture and imitation of philosophy and sudden wealth he would go on with the same gospel of the Cross, the only gospel that Paul knew or preached. And it was a great thing to give the world a sermon like that preached in Athens.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-17.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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