Acts 17:16

Paul in Athens

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was 1provoked within him as he saw that the city was 2full of idols.

Acts 17:16 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 17:16

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens.
&c.] That is, for Silas and Timotheus:

his spirit was stirred in him;
not only his soul was troubled and his heart was grieved, but he was exasperated and provoked to the last degree: he was in a paroxysm; his heart was hot within him; he had a burning fire in his bones, and was weary with forbearing, and could not stay; his zeal wanted vent, and he gave it:

when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry;
or "full of idols", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it. So Cicero says F24 that Athens was full of temples; and Xenophon F25 observes that they had double the feasts of other people; and Pausanias F26 affirms, that the Athenians far exceeded others in the worship of the gods, and care about religion; and he relates, that they had an altar for Mercy, another for Shame, another for Fame, and another for Desire, and expressed more religion to the gods than others did: they had an altar dedicated to twelve gods F1; and because they would be sure of all, they erected one to an unknown god; in short, they had so many of them, that one F2 jestingly said to them, our country is so full of deities, that one may more easily find a god than a man: so that with all their learning and wisdom they knew not God, ( 1 Corinthians 1:21 ) .


F24 De responsis Aruspicum.
F25 De Athen. Polit.
F26 Attica, p. 29, 42.
F1 Thucydides Bell. Peloponness. l. 6.
F2 Petronius.

Acts 17:16 In-Context

14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there.
15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"--because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

Cross References 2

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.