Acts 17

Paul at Thessalonica

1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to 1Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
2 And 2according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three 3Sabbaths reasoned with them from 4the Scriptures,
3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ 5had to suffer and 6rise again from the dead, and saying, "7This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."
4 8And some of them were persuaded and joined 9Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the 10God-fearing 11Greeks and a number * of the 12leading women.
5 But 13the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of 14Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people.
6 When they did not find them, they began 15dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have upset 16the world have come here also;
7 and Jason 17has welcomed them, and they all act 18contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus."
8 They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things.
9 And when they had received a pledge from 19Jason and the others, they released them.

Paul at Berea

10 20The brethren immediately sent 21Paul and Silas away by night to 22Berea, and when they arrived, they went into 23the synagogue of the Jews.
11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in 24Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily * to see whether these things were so.
12 Therefore 25many of them believed, along with a number * of 26prominent Greek 27women and men.
13 But when the Jews of 28Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in 29Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds.
14 Then immediately 30the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and 31Silas and 32Timothy remained there.
15 Now 33those who escorted Paul brought him as far as 34Athens; and receiving a command for 35Silas and Timothy to 36come to him as soon as possible, they left.

Paul at Athens

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at 37Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.
17 So he was reasoning 38in the synagogue with the Jews and 39the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.
18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would 40this idle babbler wish to say?" Others *, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-because he was preaching 41Jesus and the resurrection.
19 And they 42took him and brought him to the 43Areopagus, saying, "May we know what 44this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?
20 "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean *."
21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers 45visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

Sermon on Mars Hill

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of 46Athens, I observe that you are very 47religious in all respects.
23 "For while I was passing through and examining the 48objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what 49you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
24 "50The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is 51Lord of heaven and earth, does not 52dwell in temples made with hands;
25 nor is He served by human hands, 53as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
26 and 54He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having 55determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, 56though * He is not far from each one of us;
28 for 57in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'
29 "Being then the children of God, we 58ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
30 "Therefore having 59overlooked 60the times of ignorance, God is 61now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
31 because He has fixed 62a day in which 63He will judge 64the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has 65appointed, having furnished proof to all men by 66raising Him from the dead."
32 Now when they heard of 67the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again * concerning this."
33 So Paul went out of their midst.
34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the 68Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Acts 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Paul at Thessalonica. (1-9) The noble conduct of the Bereans. (10-15) Paul at Athens. (16-21) He preaches there. (22-31) The scornful conduct of the Athenians. (32-34)

Verses 1-9 The drift and scope of Paul's preaching and arguing, was to prove that Jesus is the Christ. He must needs suffer for us, because he could not otherwise purchase our redemption for us; and he must needs have risen again, because he could not otherwise apply the redemption to us. We are to preach concerning Jesus that he is Christ; therefore we may hope to be saved by him, and are bound to be ruled by him. The unbelieving Jews were angry, because the apostles preached to the Gentiles, that they might be saved. How strange it is, that men should grudge others the privileges they will not themselves accept! Neither rulers nor people need be troubled at the increase of real Christians, even though turbulent spirits should make religion the pretext for evil designs. Of such let us beware, from such let us withdraw, that we may show a desire to act aright in society, while we claim our right to worship God according to our consciences.

Verses 10-15 The Jews in Berea applied seriously to the study of the word preached unto them. They not only heard Paul preach on the sabbath, but daily searched the Scriptures, and compared what they read with the facts related to them. The doctrine of Christ does not fear inquiry; advocates for his cause desire no more than that people will fully and fairly examine whether things are so or not. Those are truly noble, and likely to be more and more so, who make the Scriptures their rule, and consult them accordingly. May all the hearers of the gospel become like those of Berea, receiving the word with readiness of mind, and searching the Scriptures daily, whether the things preached to them are so.

Verses 16-21 Athens was then famed for polite learning, philosophy, and the fine arts; but none are more childish and superstitious, more impious, or more credulous, than some persons, deemed eminent for learning and ability. It was wholly given to idolatry. The zealous advocate for the cause of Christ will be ready to plead for it in all companies, as occasion offers. Most of these learned men took no notice of Paul; but some, whose principles were the most directly contrary to Christianity, made remarks upon him. The apostle ever dwelt upon two points, which are indeed the principal doctrines of Christianity, Christ and a future state; Christ our way, and heaven our end. They looked on this as very different from the knowledge for many ages taught and professed at Athens; they desire to know more of it, but only because it was new and strange. They led him to the place where judges sat who inquired into such matters. They asked about Paul's doctrine, not because it was good, but because it was new. Great talkers are always busy-bodies. They spend their time in nothing else, and a very uncomfortable account they have to give of their time who thus spend it. Time is precious, and we are concerned to employ it well, because eternity depends upon it, but much is wasted in unprofitable conversation.

Verses 22-31 Here we have a sermon to heathens, who worshipped false gods, and were without the true God in the world; and to them the scope of the discourse was different from what the apostle preached to the Jews. In the latter case, his business was to lead his hearers by prophecies and miracles to the knowledge of the Redeemer, and faith in him; in the former, it was to lead them, by the common works of providence, to know the Creator, and worship Him. The apostle spoke of an altar he had seen, with the inscription, "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." This fact is stated by many writers. After multiplying their idols to the utmost, some at Athens thought there was another god of whom they had no knowledge. And are there not many now called Christians, who are zealous in their devotions, yet the great object of their worship is to them an unknown God? Observe what glorious things Paul here says of that God whom he served, and would have them to serve. The Lord had long borne with idolatry, but the times of this ignorance were now ending, and by his servants he now commanded all men every where to repent of their idolatry. Each sect of the learned men would feel themselves powerfully affected by the apostle's discourse, which tended to show the emptiness or falsity of their doctrines.

Verses 32-34 The apostle was treated with more outward civility at Athens than in some other places; but none more despised his doctrine, or treated it with more indifference. Of all subjects, that which deserves the most attention gains the least. But those who scorn, will have to bear the consequences, and the word will never be useless. Some will be found, who cleave to the Lord, and listen to his faithful servants. Considering the judgement to come, and Christ as our Judge, should urge all to repent of sin, and turn to Him. Whatever matter is used, all discourses must lead to Him, and show his authority; our salvation, and resurrection, come from and by Him.

Cross References 68

  • 1. Acts 17:11, 13; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Philippians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Timothy 4:10
  • 2. Acts 9:20; Acts 17:10, 17
  • 3. Acts 13:14
  • 4. Acts 8:35
  • 5. Acts 3:18
  • 6. John 20:9
  • 7. Acts 9:22; Acts 18:5, 28
  • 8. Acts 14:4
  • 9. Acts 15:22, 40; Acts 17:10, 14
  • 10. Acts 13:43; Acts 17:17
  • 11. John 7:35
  • 12. Acts 13:50
  • 13. Acts 17:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14f
  • 14. Acts 17:6, 7, 9; Romans 16:21
  • 15. Acts 16:19
  • 16. Matthew 24:14; Acts 17:31
  • 17. Luke 10:38; James 2:25
  • 18. Luke 23:2
  • 19. Acts 17:5
  • 20. Acts 1:15; Acts 17:6, 14
  • 21. Acts 17:4
  • 22. Acts 17:13; Acts 20:4
  • 23. Acts 17:1
  • 24. Acts 17:1
  • 25. Acts 2:47
  • 26. Mark 15:43
  • 27. Acts 13:50
  • 28. Acts 17:1
  • 29. Acts 17:10; Acts 20:4
  • 30. Acts 1:15; Acts 17:6, 10
  • 31. Acts 15:22; Acts 17:4, 10
  • 32. Acts 16:1
  • 33. Acts 15:3
  • 34. Acts 17:16, 21; Acts 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:1
  • 35. Acts 17:14
  • 36. Acts 18:5
  • 37. Acts 17:15, 21; Acts 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:1
  • 38. Acts 9:20; Acts 17:2
  • 39. Acts 17:4
  • 40. 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 4:10
  • 41. Acts 4:2; Acts 17:31
  • 42. Acts 23:19
  • 43. Acts 17:22
  • 44. Mark 1:27
  • 45. Acts 2:10
  • 46. Acts 17:15
  • 47. Acts 25:19
  • 48. 2 Thessalonians 2:4
  • 49. John 4:22
  • 50. Isaiah 42:5; Acts 14:15
  • 51. Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 115:16; Matthew 11:25
  • 52. 1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48
  • 53. Job 22:2; Psalms 50:10-12
  • 54. Malachi 2:10
  • 55. Deuteronomy 32:8; Job 12:23
  • 56. Deuteronomy 4:7; Jeremiah 23:23; Acts 14:17
  • 57. Job 12:10; Daniel 5:23
  • 58. Isaiah 40:18f; Romans 1:23
  • 59. Acts 14:16; Romans 3:25
  • 60. Acts 17:23
  • 61. Luke 24:47; Acts 26:20; Titus 2:11
  • 62. Matthew 10:15
  • 63. Psalms 9:8; Psalms 96:13; Psalms 98:9; John 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42
  • 64. Matthew 24:14; Acts 17:6
  • 65. Luke 22:22
  • 66. Acts 2:24
  • 67. Acts 17:18, 31
  • 68. Acts 17:19, 22

Footnotes 24

Acts 17 Commentaries

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