Acts 17:19

And they took hold of him (epilabomenoi de autou). Second aorist middle participle of epilambanw, old verb, but in the N.T. only in the middle, here with the genitive autou 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 (epi ton Areion Pagon") 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? (Dunameqa gnwnai). Can we come to know (ingressive second aorist active infinitive). This new teaching (h kainh auth didach). On the position of auth see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 700f. The question was prompted by courtesy, sarcasm, or irony. Evidently no definite charge was laid against Paul.