Acts 17:16

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.

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 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.
18 He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: "What an airhead!" But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: "That's a new slant on the gods. Tell us more."
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.