Acts 17:15

15 The men who helped Paul escape got him as far as Athens and left him there. Paul sent word back with them to Silas and Timothy: "Come as quickly as you can!"

Acts 17:15 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 17:15

And they that conducted Paul
From Berea to the sea side:

brought him unto Athens;
a famous city in Attica, where both F17 Pliny and Ptolomy F18 place it, well known for the learning and wisdom of the ancient philosophers, who had their schools and universities in it; the former of these calls it a free city, and says, it needed no description nor commendation, its fame was so diffused everywhere. The account Jerom F19 gives of it is,

``Athens, a city in Achaia, dedicated to the studies of philosophy, which though but one, is always used to be called in the plural number; its haven, called the Piraeum, is described as fortified with seven walls.''

The city itself stood about two miles from the sea; it had its name either from the Greek word (hyonoh) , which signifies the mind of God, as boasting of its divine knowledge; or rather from the word (Nyta) , "Athen", which may be interpreted "strangers", it being originally inhabited by the Pelasgi, who were a set of people that moved from place to place F20; or because of the great multitude of strangers which flocked from all parts hither for learning, of whom mention is made in ( Acts 17:21 ) . The inhabitants of it have been called by different names; when under the Pelasgi, as Herodotus F21 observes, they were called Cranai; when under King Cecrops, they went by the name of Cecropidae; when Erechtheus had the government, they changed their name into Athenians; from Ion, the son of Xythus, their general, they were called Ionians. This city has gone through different fates: it was burnt by Xerxes, about 480 years before Christ; some years after that it was taken by Lysander; and after that restored to its ancient liberty by Demetrius; after this the Romans were possessed of it; and now it is in the hands of the Turks, and goes by the name of Setines. In Beza's ancient copy it follows, "but he passed through Thessalia, for he was forbidden to preach the word to them"; for as he came from Berea to Athens, he must come through Thessalia; but he made no stay here, but passed through, being forbid to preach the Gospel here, as he had been before to preach it in Asia and Bithynia, ( Acts 16:6 Acts 16:7 ) nor have we any account anywhere else of the Gospel being preached in Thessaly; and in the second century, we read of Heathenism prevailing there, and of many gross acts of idolatry, particularly at Pella in Thessaly, a man was sacrificed to the gods: though in the beginning of the fourth century there were bishops out of Thessalia at the synod of Nice; and so there were at the synod at Sardica, about the middle of the same century: in the sixth century, Dion, bishop of Thebes in Thessalia, was in the first synod at Ephesus; and Constantinus, bishop of Demetrias, and Vigilantius of Larissa, both cities in Thessalia, were in another at the same place F23.

And receiving a commandment;
or "a letter from him" as one copy and the Syriac version read; that is, the brethren from Paul:

unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed;
to Athens, where he now was: they departed; from Paul at Athens, and came back to Berea.


F17 Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 7.
F18 Nat. Hist. l. 3. c. 15.
F19 De locis Hebraicis, fol. 95. K.
F20 Vid. Hiller. Onomasticum Sacrum, p. 678, 755.
F21 Urania, c. 44.
F23 Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 2. c. 15. p. 193. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 5. & c. 9. p. 425. cent. 6. c. 10. p. 666.

Acts 17:15 In-Context

13 But it wasn't long before reports got back to the Thessalonian hard-line Jews that Paul was at it again, preaching the Word of God, this time in Berea. They lost no time responding, and created a mob scene there, too.
14 With the help of his friends, Paul gave them the slip - caught a boat and put out to sea. Silas and Timothy stayed behind.
15 The men who helped Paul escape got him as far as Athens and left him there. Paul sent word back with them to Silas and Timothy: "Come as quickly as you can!"
16 The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got - all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.
17 He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.