Acts Chapter Seventeen

 

Read Acts 17:1-4

 

v1.  “NOW WHEN THEY HAD PASSED THROUGH AMPHIPOLIS AND APOLLONIA, THEY CAME TO THESSALONICA, WHERE WAS A SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS:”

 

            When Paul and Silas leave the city of Philippi they move down the Macedonian seacoast, perhaps crossing over some of the mountain ridges on their journey as that would be the shorter road but harder travel. They pass through two cities that are probably not on the map in your Bible of Paul’s missionary journeys. Amphilolis, about 30 miles south of Philippi and named that because it is almost totally surrounded by the Strymon River and Apollonia, named for the Greek sun god Apollo which is about 40 miles north of Thessalonica.  Thessalonica was the capital city of the Roman province of Macedon.  Established over 2300 years ago; today Thessalonica is called Salonica and is still a fairly large city with a population of around ˝ million.

 

v2.  “AND PAUL, AS HIS MANNER WAS, WENT IN UNTO THEM, AND THREE SABBATH DAYS REASONED WITH THEM OUT OF THE SCRIPTURES.”

 

            This city has a synagogue.  In fact it apparently has a synagogue that is fairly large and Paul goes to their worship and reasons with them for three weeks or three Sabbath days.  He is teaching and preaching Jesus using the Old Testament scripture.  In doing so he goes to the Jews first, the pattern that God wished him to follow.

 

v3.  “OPENING AND ALLEGING, THAT CHRIST MUST NEEDS HAVE SUFFERED, AND RISEN AGAIN FROM THE DEAD; AND THAT THIS JESUS, WHOM I PREACH UNTO YOU, IS CHRIST.”

 

            Paul reasons with them out of the Old Testament.  Now they had probably heard about this Jesus, and perhaps had even formed an opinion that He was just another of the rebels that rose up, drew men after them and then came to nothing.  The Jews find hard to accept that the Messiah promised to the Patriarch Abraham and promised in prophecy for so many centuries would not rule the physical kingdom of David.  The concept of his dying in order to establish a kingdom is foreign to their thinking and probably to their teaching.  But Paul is

God’s witness isn’t he?  The apostles were told by Jesus that they would be witnesses of these things.

 

Luke 24:48  “AND YE ARE WITNESSES OF THESE THINGS.”

 

And Paul is setting before them the things that the prophets had told before him but some of them are like those that Jesus described in:

 

Luke 24:25-26  “THEN HE SAID UNTO THEM, O FOOLS, AND SLOW OF HEART TO BELIEVE ALL THAT THE PROPHETS HAVE SPOKEN: OUGHT NOT CHRIST TO HAVE SUFFERED THESE THINGS, AND TO ENTER INTO THIS GLORY?”

 

They’re like the Galatians to whom Paul wrote later, who did not wish to believe even after Jesus had been set before them in language and proof that no one could misunderstand:

 

Galatians 3:1  “O FOOLISH GALATIANS, WHO HATH BEWITCHED YOU, THAT YE SHOULD NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, BEFORE WHOSE EYES JESUS CHRIST HATH BEEN EVIDENTLY SET FORTH, CRUCIFIED AMONG YOU?”

 

v4. “AND SOME OF THEM BELIEVED, AND CONSORTED WITH PAUL AND SILAS; AND OF THE GREEKS A GREAT MULTITUDE, AND OF THE CHIEF WOMEN NOT A FEW.”

 

            So Paul is converting some of these Jews and they consorted with Paul and Silas.  What does that word mean?  They had fellowship.  There may have even been a division here within the synagogue between those that had fellowship with Paul and Silas and those who did not.  Also, a great many of the Greek proselytes or devout Greeks believed and many of the chief women.

 

Read Acts 17:5-9

 

v5.  “BUT THE JEWS WHICH BELIEVED NOT, MOVED WITH ENVY, TOOK UNTO THEM CERTAIN LEWD FELLOWS OF THE BASER SORT, AND GATHERED A COMPANY, AND SET ALL THE CITY ON AN UPROAR, AND ASSAULTED THE HOUSE OF JASON, AND SOUGHT TO BRING THEM OUT TO THE PEOPLE.”

 

            The unbelieving Jews have a problem, what is it?  Jealousy.  They were moved with envy, jealous of Paul and Silas and the success of their teaching.  So they do what we used to see in the old western movies, they hit the barrooms or wherever these lewd and baser people could be found and stir up a mob. Other translations call these men they round up “vile fellows of the rabble.”   They get the whole city in an uproar and march against the house of Jason.  Now we don’t know much about this Jason; except in Acts 17 we find him or another Jason mentioned only once:

 

Romans 16:21  “TIMOTHEUS MY WORKFELLOW, AND LUCIUS, AND JASON, AND SOSIPATER, MY KINSMEN, SALUTE YOU.”

 

But this Jason is one of the leaders in the synagogue and one who is converted.  This may be the same Jason that is with Paul when he writes the letter to the Roman church, we aren’t told.  So the mob goes to Jason’s house looking for Paul and Silas.

 

v6.  “AND WHEN THEY FOUND THEM NOT, THEY DREW JASON AND CERTAIN BRETHREN UNTO THE RULERS OF THE CITY, CRYING, THESE THAT HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN ARE COME THITHER ALSO;”

 

            They didn’t find Paul and Silas at Jason’s house so they took Jason and others of the brethren and bring them to the rulers of the city.  Since they can’t find who they want they’ll take their anger out on whoever they find.  Thessalonica is a free city, it is self-governing and not under a Roman garrison like some of the other cities where Paul preached.  There has been a major portion of their synagogue converted to Christ and the church has been planted but these men are exaggerating a little aren’t they.  These men that have turned the world upside down have come here as well.  Paul and Silas’s reputation has followed them and maybe even some of the Jews that troubled them in other places.

 

v7.  “WHOM JASON HATH RECEIVED: AND THESE ALL DO CONTRARY TO THE DECREE OF CAESAR, SAYING THAT THERE IS ANOTHER KING, one JESUS.”

 

            Jason has received these wild men, these men that are turning the world upside down; so he’s just as guilty as they are.  That’s the story these Jews want to be believed.  What do you do when you want someone to believe a lie?  You put enough truth into it that it sounds good and many people can’t tell or won’t take the time to learn the difference.  That’s how propaganda works, keep enough truth about it that it’s difficult to tell the difference.  That’s the way denominational doctrine works too isn’t it?  It’s also how our false teaching brethren work and the way the political spin doctors work as well.  We see the results of their efforts on the TV news every day.  Did Paul preach about a king?  Guilty.  But what kind of a king?  Did Paul speak about a king that would rival the Roman emperor Caesar?  No Paul taught about a spiritual king, Jesus that Son of the Most High God who by his own grace allows the Caesars of this world to exist and rule.

 

v8.  “AND THEY TROUBLED THE PEOPLE AND THE RULERS OF THE CITY, WHEN THEY HEARD THESE THINGS.”

 

            Why of course the city politicians found this troubling.  They’re told that these men are preaching treason, aren’t they?  They’re told that Paul and Silas are encouraging the people of this fair city to rebel and rise up against their old king Caesar and seek a new one.  This would especially trouble the rulers of this city.  As we noted before, this is a free city, it is allowed to manage its own affairs.  They want to keep it that way and the quickest way to lose it is to allow a rebellion to be planted and nurtured in their midst.  These rulers are really ignorant of the real facts but they have to do something.

 

v9.  “AND WHEN THEY HAD TAKEN SECURITY OF JASON, AND OF THE OTHER, THEY LET THEM GO.”

 

            They take “security” of Jason, what does that mean?  He gave his promise, or bond, or guarantee that they would not disturb the peace of Thessalonica.  So they were warned and let go.  They really couldn’t do much else could they?  These men are Thessalonians not the traveling Jews that the mob really wanted.

 

Read Acts 17:10-14

 

v10.  “AND THE BRETHREN IMMEDIATELY SENT AWAY PAUL AND SILAS BY NIGHT UNTO BEREA: WHO COMING thither WENT INTO THE SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS.”

 

            These brethren, knowing of the danger that Paul and Silas are in, send them on down the road to the next city, Berea.  But Paul isn’t going to let a little thing like this slow him down is he?  When they got to Berea what did they do?  They went to the synagogue and started all over again didn’t they?

 

v11.  “THESE WERE MORE NOBLE THAN THOSE IN THESSALONICA, IN THAT THEY RECEIVED THE WORD WITH ALL READINESS OF MIND, AND SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, WHETHER THOSE THINGS WERE SO.”

 

            In Isaiah chapter 34 Isaiah proclaims a curse from God upon all nations because of their unbelief and rebellion against Him.  The chapter begins this way:

 

Isaiah 34:1-2  “COME NEAR, YE NATIONS, TO HEAR; AND HEARKEN, YE PEOPLE: LET THE EARTH HEAR, AND ALL THAT IS THEREIN; THE WORLD, AND ALL THINGS THAT COME FORTH OF IT.  FOR THE INDIGNATION OF THE LORD is UPON ALL NATIONS, AND his FURY UPON ALL THEIR ARMIES: HE HATH UTTERLY DESTROYED THEM, HE HATH DELIVERED THEM TO THE SLAUGHTER.”

 

And he continues in this chapter to describe the awful things that will be visited upon them and then just before the end of the chapter he tells them this:

 

Isaiah 34:16  “SEEK YE OUT OF THE BOOK OF THE LORD, AND READ: NO ONE OF THESE SHALL FAIL, NONE SHALL WANT HER MATE: FOR MY MOUTH IT HATH COMMANDED, AND HIS SPIRIT IT HATH GATHERED THEM.”

 

            Seek ye out of the book of the Lord” the prophet says; to escape the curse that he has spoken in the prior 12 or13 verses.  We have another lesson given us by Jesus in Luke 16.  The rich man and Lazarus is an account very familiar to us.  The rich man dies and goes to the place reserved for those who do not obey God, who don’t follow the precepts of God’s word.  And he sees across a great gulf in the bosom of Abraham, a place of safety and comfort, this beggar who had once lain at his gate; the beggar who has now also died.  He wants Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his brothers not to come to this terrible place where he finds himself.  And what did Abraham tell him?

 

Luke 16:29  “ABRAHAM SAITH UNTO HIM, THEY HAVE MOSES AND THE PROPHETS; LET THEM HEAR THEM.”

 

            We have Moses and the prophets too, don’t we?  We also have Jesus and the scripture revealed by God to his apostles and disciples and recorded for us to read and learn.  Paul preached unto the people at Thessalonica for three Sabbath days and many of them, apparently the rulers of synagogue among them rejected his reasoning from the scriptures, the inspired Word of God.  But the people of Berea were different.  They searched the scriptures to make sure that what Paul was teaching was in harmony with the scriptures and to determine whether they should follow his teaching or not.  What would happen today if people did that earnestly and faithfully?  The denominations and our denominationally minded brethren would either become faithful to God or go out of business.  No wonder Paul wrote Timothy:

 

II Timothy 2:15  “STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD, A WORKMAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH.”

 

and then further a little further in this same letter.

 

II Timothy 4:2  “PREACH THE WORD; BE INSTANT IN SEASON, OUT OF SEASON; REPROVE, REBUKE, EXHORT WITH ALL LONGSUFFERING AND DOCTRINE.”

 

Why?  Because God gave us this book that in it we may find the very same thing that John tells us about in his first epistle:

 

I John 5:13  “THESE THINGS HAVE I WRITTEN UNTO YOU THAT BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD; THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, AND THAT YE MAY BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD.”

 

We can apply John’s instruction to much more than just his writings can’t we?  We can apply it to the entire canon of scripture.  What happened when these people searched the scriptures?

 

v12.  “THEREFORE MANY OF THEM BELIEVED; ALSO OF HONOURABLE WOMEN WHICH WERE GREEKS, AND OF MEN, NOT A FEW.”

 

            Therefore, because they searched the scriptures; many of them believed, Jews, Greek women and of men, more than a few.  But unfortunately; and as I firmly believe will always be true in the Lord’s Church; trouble is just up the road.

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v13.  “BUT WHEN THE JEWS OF THESSALONICA HAD KNOWLEDGE THAT THE WORD OF GOD WAS PREACHED OF PAUL AT BEREA, THEY CAME THITHER ALSO, AND STIRRED UP THE PEOPLE.”

 

            When they heard that the gospel was being preached and people were accepting it these Jews traveled fifty miles, on foot in one of the most mountainous regions on earth just to stir up trouble.  Should we ever doubt that Satan will go to extreme lengths to destroy us spiritually?  Even though he and his followers have no miraculous powers today, as we studied in the series “Satan - His Origin and His Mission”, many will make up for that in zeal; and trouble will always be with us.  One of our commentators says that they had the effect of “shaking the crowds like an earthquake, and troubled the multitude like a disturbing tornado.”

 

v14.  “AND THEN IMMEDIATELY THE BRETHREN SENT AWAY PAUL TO GO AS IT WERE TO THE SEA: BUT SILAS AND TIMOTHEUS ABODE THERE STILL.”

 

            So they sent Paul away, apparently he served as the chief spokesman and consequently became the target in all of these confrontations.  He travels as to go to the sea.  A bit of deception perhaps to keep his enemies from following him, which they probably would not do if he had caught a boat and left the country.  But Silas and Timothy are able to stay and continue the work, which they do.

 

Read Acts 17:15-21

 

v15.  “AND THEY THAT CONDUCTED PAUL BROUGHT HIM UNTO ATHENS: AND RECEIVING A COMMANDMENT UNTO SILAS AND TIMOTHEUS FOR TO COME TO HIM WITH ALL SPEED, THEY DEPARTED.”

 

            They take Paul down to Athens, out of the country of Macedonia into the country of Greece.  We don’t know how they traveled as it’s about 250 miles and the easiest way would be by ship.  They leave Paul in Athens and return to Berea with a commandment from Paul to Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible, “with all speed” is the phrase in the King James translation.

 

v16.  “NOW WHILE PAUL WAITED FOR THEM AT ATHENS, HIS SPIRIT WAS STIRRED IN HIM, WHEN HE SAW THE CITY WHOLLY GIVEN TO IDOLATRY.”

 

            Paul saw that this city of Athens was totally given over unto idolatry.  What is Athens famous for in the history of the world?  It was the center of art and philosophy.  What does the word philosophy mean?  It is a word that originated in the Greek language; that should be no surprise to anyone, and means the love of wisdom.  So philosophy is the love or study of wisdom and the Athenians numbered some of the greatest minds of the world, in the eyes of men, among their own number; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and others.

 

“Western philosophy, dating from c.600 B.C., when the Greeks established inquiry independent of theological creeds, is traditionally divided into five major branches. (1) METAPHYSICS inquires into the nature and ultimate significance of the universe, holding reality to subsist in thought (IDEALISM), in matter (MATERIALISM), or in both (DUALISM).  (2) LOGIC concerned with the laws of valid reasoning. (3) EPISTEMOLOGY which investigates the nature of knowledge and the process of knowing. (4) ETHICS deals with the problems of right conduct. (5) AESTHETICS which attempts to determine the nature of beauty and the criteria of artistic judgment.  Historically, philosophy falls into three major periods. Classical (Greek and Roman) philosophy emphasized a concern with the ultimate nature of reality and the problem of virtue in a political context; in fact, virtually all of the problems of philosophy were defined by the Greeks. SOCRATES, PLATO, and ARISTOTLE were the towering figures of classical philosophy”.[1]

            Please note that the philosophy of the Greeks was developed totally independent of theological creeds.  What kinds of problems might that cause?  In other words, the word of God, or religion of any kind, was never considered in their love and search for wisdom.  God’s wisdom was totally omitted from their thinking or learning.  What does James tell us about the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God?

 

James 3:13-17  “WHO is A WISE MAN AND ENDUED WITH KNOWLEDGE AMONG YOU?  LET HIM SHOW OUT OF A GOOD CONVERSATION HIS WORKS WITH MEEKNESS OF WISDOM.  BUT IF YE HAVE BITTER ENVYING AND STRIFE IN YOUR HEARTS, GLORY NOT, AND LIE NOT AGAINST THE TRUTH.  THIS WISDOM DESCENDETH NOT FROM ABOVE, BUT is EARTHLY, SENSUAL, DEVILISH.  FOR WHERE ENVYING AND STRIFE is, THERE is CONFUSION AND EVERY EVIL WORK.  BUT THE WISDOM THAT IS FROM ABOVE IS FIRST PURE, THEN PEACEABLE, GENTLE, and EASY TO BE ENTREATED, FULL OF MERCY AND GOOD FRUITS, WITHOUT PARTIALITY, AND WITHOUT HYPOCRISY.”

 

            So without God in their wisdom it is earthly, sensual and devilish.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

 

v17.  “THEREFORE DISPUTED HE IN THE SYNAGOGUE WITH THE JEWS, AND WITH THE DEVOUT PERSONS, AND IN THE MARKET DAILY WITH THEM THAT MET WITH HIM.”

 

            “THEREFORE” because this city was totally given over to idolatry and the philosophies of men Paul found many willing to dispute or debate, even among the synagogue of the Jews.  While waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him from Berea he continues his preaching, teaching and debating with the Jews about the meaning and application of the scriptures.  Where ever he could find people, in the synagogue, among devout persons of whatever religion, and even in the marketplace he preached Christ to them.  Most Bible scholars think that this marketplace is the same place where the sermon recorded a little further on was preached and that would be the “forum” or the same place where Socrates had taught in past years.

 

v18.  “THEN CERTAIN PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EPICUREANS, AND OF THE STOICKS, ENCOUNTERED HIM.  AND SOME SAID, WHAT WILL THIS BABBLER SAY?  OTHER SOME, HE SEEMETH TO BE A SETTER FORTH OF STRANGE GODS: BECAUSE HE PREACHED UNTO THEM JESUS, AND THE RESURRECTION.”

 

Certain of these philosophers who had come to Athens to learn, debate and teach encountered Paul in his teaching.  The Epicureans taught that that the end and purpose of living was pleasure.  They were the originators of the idea of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”  The enjoyment of the world’s pleasures is/was to them the highest possible accomplishment of the human existence.  Many people follow this same philosophy today. 

The Stoics taught that all things were ruled by fate, including God.  They denied the immortality of the soul.  They taught that virtue was its own reward, and vice its own punishment; that pleasure was no good and pain no evil.  These different schools of philosophy are opposites in their thinking but both want to know what this babbler from Jerusalem or Tarsus will have to say.  Of course, since he wasn’t from one of their scholastic circles he was looked down upon.  A babbler, we told, was a seed picker, someone who had just picked some of the smallest seeds or crumbs of knowledge.

 

v19.  “AND THEY TOOK HIM, AND BROUGHT HIM UNTO AREOPAGUS, SAYING, MAY WE KNOW WHAT THIS NEW DOCTRINE, WHEREOF THOU SPEAKEST, is?”

 

            This was as strange new teaching or doctrine to them.  They wanted to hear more about it, maybe this babbler had indeed found a few kernels of knowledge that they could add to their inventory.  My dictionary defines this location as the highest judicial and legislative council of Athens, the hill of Ares.

 

v20.  “FOR THOU BRINGEST CERTAIN STRANGE THINGS TO OUR EARS: WE WOULD KNOW THEREFORE WHAT THESE THINGS MEAN.”

 

            They’re asking Paul about this new teaching they’re hearing.  He is teaching something, that to them, has certain strange things about it and they simply want to hear what he has to say.

 

v21.  “(FOR ALL THE ATHENIANS AND STRANGERS WHICH WERE THERE SPENT THEIR TIME IN NOTHING ELSE, BUT EITHER TO TELL, OR TO HEAR SOME NEW THING.)”

 

            Luke here provides us with an explanation of why these philosophers wanted to hear Paul.  They spent all of their days at this marketplace seeking to hear some new or strange thing.  It seems that they had leisure time and spent that time in this fashion.

 

Read Acts 17:22-34

 

v22.  “THEN PAUL STOOD IN THE MIDST OF MARS’ HILL, AND SAID, Ye MEN OF ATHENS, I PERCEIVE THAT IN ALL THINGS YE ARE TOO SUPERSTITIOUS.”

 

            We can draw a mental picture of Paul.  Perhaps standing on a speaker’s platform, perhaps even behind a podium, commanding the attention of a crowd of scholars and philosophers; a crowd of spectators and Athenian philosophers ready and willing to listen.  So he accepts their invitation and takes advantage of the opportunity to teach Jesus Christ.  He recognizes that they are a very religious people, the KJV translates the Greek as superstitious but the original language can be used to indicate either religious or superstitious depending upon how the words are used.  The context of Paul’s sermon would probably indicate religious as the more accurate translation.

 

v23.  “FOR AS I PASSED BY, AND BEHELD YOUR DEVOTIONS, I FOUND AN ALTAR WITH THIS INSCRIPTION, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  WHOM THEREFORE YE IGNORANTLY WORSHIP, HIM DECLARE I UNTO YOU.”

 

            Paul, during his time in this city and traveling about within it has observed their worship and their many idols to the various gods of the Greek religion and perhaps even idols to these mythical gods under their Roman names as well.  Amongst all these places of worship he has seen an altar as he describes; “to the unknown God”.  Some scholars contend that while Paul equates this to the Jehovah God of Israel, that the altar was more like inscribed “to the unknown gods”.  This was the Athenians way of not leaving any god out.

            Paul uses this opportunity to introduce them to a God that they didn’t know; our Lord God and creator of the universe.

 

v24.  “GOD THAT MADE THE WORLD AND ALL THINGS THEREIN, SEEING THAT HE IS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, DWELLETH NOT IN TEMPLES MADE WITH HANDS.”

 

            Paul starts off his sermon with a declaration about God who made the heavens and the earth and things that are found therein.  He uses much the same language that he used at Lystra when the people tried to worship him and Barnabas.

 

Acts 14:15  “AND SAYING, SIRS, WHY DO YE THESE THINGS?  WE ALSO ARE MEN OF LIKE PASSIONS WITH YOU, AND PREACH UNTO YOU THAT YE SHOULD TURN FROM THESE VANITIES UNTO THE LIVING GOD, WHICH MADE HEAVEN, AND EARTH, AND THE SEA, AND ALL THINGS THAT ARE THEREIN:”

 

            He also in his speech identifies God and the Lord of all heaven and earth, much the same as Jesus did when he condemned the cities who refused to believe in him:

 

Matthew 11:25  AT THAT TIME JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID, I THANK THEE, O FATHER, LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, BECAUSE THOU HAST HID THESE THINGS FROM THE WISE AND PRUDENT, AND HAS REVEALED THEM UNTO BABES.”

 

            We also find similarities also between Paul’s words and those of Stephen just before he is stoned to death.

 

Acts 7:48-49  “HOWBEIT THE MOST HIGH DWELLETH NOT IN TEMPLES MADE WITH HANDS; AS SAITH THE PROPHET, HEAVEN is MY THRONE, AND EARTH is MY FOOTSTOOL: WHAT HOUSE WILL YE BUILD ME?  SAITH THE LORD: OR WHAT is THE PLACE OF MY REST?”

 

            So Paul declares Jehovah God, not one of their gods, not the world of chance or the world of fate as the Athenian philosophers taught; but The God, who made and rules the world.

 

v25.  “NEITHER IS WORSHIPPED WITH MEN’S HANDS, AS THOUGH HE NEEDED ANY THING, SEEING HE GIVETH TO ALL LIFE, AND BREATH, AND ALL THINGS;”

 

            God is not worshipped with the products of man’s hands.  He needs nothing of that nature from us.  In one of the Psalms of Asaph he records:

 

“IF I WERE HUNGRY, I WOULD NOT TELL THEE: FOR THE WORLD is MINE, AND THE FULNESS THEREOF.” Psalms 50:12 

 

            God has given this earth its shape, He has given everything in it the breath of life, He has created and stretched forth the heavens over us and spread out the earth beneath us.  He has no physical need.  Hear the prophets:

 

Job 12:10  “IN WHOSE HAND is THE SOUL OF EVERY LIVING THING, AND THE BREATH OF ALL MANKIND.”

 

Isaiah 42:5  “THUS SAITH GOD THE LORD, HE THAT CREATED THE HEAVENS, AND STRETCHED THEM OUT; HE THAT SPREAD FORTH THE EARTH, AND THAT WHICH COMETH OUT OF IT; HE THAT GIVETH BREATH UNTO THE PEOPLE UPON IT, AND SPIRIT TO THEM THAT WALK THEREIN:”

 

Zechariah 12:1  “THE BURDEN OF THE WORD OF THE LORD FOR ISRAEL, SAITH THE LORD, WHICH STRETCHETH FORTH THE HEAVENS, AND LAYETH THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND FORMETH THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM.”

 

            Yes, he even forms the spirit within us.  How can we not depend upon Him?  How can we not acknowledge Him as ruler of our spirits since he has given them to us?

 

v26.  “AND HATH MADE OF ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS OF MEN FOR TO DWELL ON ALL THE FACE OF THE EARTH, AND HATH DETERMINED THE TIMES BEFORE APPOINTED, AND THE BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATIONIS.”

 

            We have all descended from Adam and Eve, or Noah and his wife; if we seek a common point several hundred years later.  Therefore we are of one blood, one origin, regardless of color, race, or culture.  But these Greeks, like the Jews, also thought of themselves as being superior in race, character and destiny.  This is strange to their ears because they had a totally different concept of God and His relationship with mankind from what Paul is telling them.

            Paul also declares that God is the one who has set the seasons in place, determined the time of planting and harvest; limited us in the bounds of our habitations.  And mankind in their ignorance thinks that they will find life on another planet, or in another galaxy somewhere.  Sometimes I think we are dazzled by what man, by the grace of God, has been able accomplish and even half believe it sometimes don’t we?

 

v27.  “THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, IF HAPLY THEY MIGHT FEEL AFTER HIM, AND FIND HIM, THOUGH HE BE NOT FAR FROM EVERY ONE OF US:”

 

            All of these things, all that God has provided to us, should encourage us to seek after Him.  When we look out over this earth and all the things that God has provided for the needs of all mankind, how all of the wonders we see around fit so perfectly together, we should be as the Psalmist wrote:

.

“I WILL PRAISE THEE; FOR I AM FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY MADE: MARVELLOUS are THY WORKS; AND that MY SOUL KNOWETH RIGHT WELL.” Psalms 139:14 

 

Knowing that he is never far from everyone of us;

 

“FOR THE INVISIBLE THINGS OF HIM FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD ARE CLEARLY SEEN, BEING UNDERSTOOD BY THE THINGS THAT ARE MADE, even HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD; SO THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE.” Romans 1:20 

 

v28.  “FOR IN HIM WE LIVE, AND MOVE, AND HAVE OUR BEING; AS CERTAIN ALSO OF YOUR OWN POETS HAVE SAID, FOR WE ARE ALSO HIS OFFSPRING.”

 

            Paul said in his writing to Colossae:

 

Colossians 1:17  “AND HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, AND BY HIM ALL THINGS CONSIST.”

 

            In Him, in God we live and breath and have all of our being.  To Him we owe our life, our breath, our souls, and our material blessings.  And Him and to His Son Jesus Christ who the Hebrew writer describes:

 

 “WHO BEING THE BRIGHTNESS OF his GLORY, AND THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS PERSON, AND UPHOLDING ALL THINGS BY THE WORD OF HIS POWER, WHEN HE HAD BY HIMSELF PURGED OUR SINS, AND SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY ON HIGH;” Hebrews 1:3 

 

            Even some of the Greek poets and philosophers recognized the need and place in the universe for a supreme being such as God.  Paul quotes their own poets here; quotes that they should recognize.  Both Cleanthes a Stoic that lived between 300 and 220 BC and Aratus of Soli in the province of Cilicia, who was one of the Stoic philosophers that lived about 270 BC had used these same words in their teaching but had applied the concept to Zeus or Jupiter.

 

v29.  “FORASMUCH THEN AS WE ARE THE OFFSPRING OF GOD, WE OUGHT NOT TO THINK THAT THE GODHEAD IS LIKE UNTO GOLD, OR SILVER, OR STONE, GRAVEN BY ART AND MAN’S DEVICE.”

 

Read Isaiah 40:18-25

 

            To whom indeed would we liken God?  How would be picture his image?  We are his offspring; we are his children in the literal, earthly sense and in the spiritual sense as well.  Paul says that we should not think of God as someone we can represent in gold, silver or stone images created by the art of man and using man’s tools.

 

v30.  “AND THE TIMES OF THIS IGNORANCE GOD WINKED AT; BUT NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT;”

 

            Luke has recorded for us earlier, Paul’s words spoken at Lystra that God:

 

“WHO IN TIME PAST SUFFERED ALL NATIONS TO WALK IN THEIR OWN WAYS.” Acts 14:16 

 

            In the centuries past God has allowed many things that he did not like; divorce for any cause under the Mosaic Law, polygamy under the Patriarchs, etc.  He has now provided, through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, by reason of his grace and goodness, the forgiveness of sin.  Therefore the grace of God has now appeared unto all men and brought salvation to all of mankind who would choose to obey his commandments and live as He would have us live.  He will accept no less.

 

Titus 2:11-12  “FOR THE GRACE OF GOD THAT BRINGETH SALVATION HATH APPEARED TO ALL MEN, TEACHING US THAT, DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS, WE SHOULD LIVE SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, AND GODLY, IN THIS PRESENT WORLD;”

 

            Who through his Son has provided an offering for our sins, just as the blood offering under the patriarchs and the law given through Moses:

 

“WHOM GOD HATH SET FORTH to be A PROPITIATION THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, TO DECLARE HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS THAT ARE PAST, THROUGH THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD.” Romans 3:25 

 

            That we should conduct ourselves as obedient children, leaving, abandoning, turning away from the former lusts that we allowed to rule our lives in our ignorance of God, His Word and the manner after which he would have us live and conduct ourselves:

 

“AS OBEDIENT CHILDREN, NOT FASHIONING YOURSELVES ACCORDING TO THE FORMER LUSTS IN YOUR IGNORANCE.” I Peter 1:14 

 

            And because there will be consequences we will have to bear:

 

v31.  “BECAUSE HE HATH APPOINTED A DAY, IN THE WHICH HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS BY that MAN WHOM HE HATH ORDAINED; whereof HE HATH GIVEN ASSURANCE UNTO ALL men, IN THAT HE HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.”

 

            Yes, God has appointed a day, a day in which he will judge all men by the precepts and commandments of His Son Jesus Christ.  God has prepared for each of us at the end of our journey of life, a judgment, where He will weigh our deeds, our commitments, our way of living and every aspect of our lives with his commandments, his instruction in righteous living.

            Because of this, God has ordained that men through the “foolishness of preaching” (I Corinthians 1:21) are to convert men, teach them of his principles and persuade them to turn away from their worldly ways and earthly passions to serve Him as His children.  Because on that appointed day we will be judged by “That Man”, His Son whom he has appointed the judge of all men:

 

“AND HE COMMANDED US TO PREACH UNTO THE PEOPLE, AND TO TESTIFY THAT IT IS HE WHICH WAS ORDAINED OF GOD to be THE JUDGE OF QUICK AND DEAD.” Acts 10:42 

 

“IN THE DAY WHEN GOD SHALL JUDGE THE SECRETS OF MEN BY JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO MY GOSPEL.” Romans 2:16 

 

            And though we are commanded to “judge righteous judgment” as Jesus told the people in John 7:24:

 

“BUT WHY DOST THOU JUDGE THY BROTHER?  FOR WHY DOST THOU SET AT NOUGHT THY BROTHER?  FOR WE SHALL ALL STAND BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. 11For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:10-11 

 

            To seal this commitment, to guarantee this relationship between himself and mankind; God provided us with a proof so strong that it cannot be denied, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the first fruits to the resurrection to come.  Paul adds that this Jesus could never have been held to the bonds of physical death; he is much too powerful for that, just as we’re told in Acts 2:24.

 

v32.  “AND WHEN THEY HEARD OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, SOME MOCKED: AND OTHERS SAID, WE WILL HEAR THEE AGAIN OF THIS matter.”

 

            These people heard everything up the declaration of Jesus resurrection and then they stopped listening.  We’re not told if they stopped his speech or whether they just stopped their ears from hearing.  But when they heard about the resurrection it was something beyond their mental capability to understand as men.  It was something that only God could give.  But these men couldn’t comprehend this concept; they didn’t understand that there was a supreme being that could indeed raise people from the dead and restore them to day to day activity.  Some even mocked him, but others invited him back to speak again.

 

v33.  “SO PAUL DEPARTED FROM AMONG THEM.”

 

            A simple, straightforward declaration of Paul’s next action; he departed from among them.  He went about his business and, I’m sure, continued to teach and preach in that most famous city.

 

v34.  “HOWBEIT CERTAIN MEN CLAVE UNTO HIM, AND BELIEVED, AMONG THE WHICH was DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE, AND A WOMAN NAMED DAMARIUS, AND OTHERS WITH THEM.”

 

            In spite of the fact that most of the men that heard him turned away and refused to accept the teaching about Jesus Christ, others were converted and clave to him, (clung, hung on to).  Two of those are named, Dionysius who was probably a Justice of the Peace or some other official as he was called an Areopagite, or one who worked and made his living at the forum where Paul spoke.  There was also a woman named Damarius and some others, we’re told, with them.



[1]The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia is licensed from Columbia University Press. Copyright © 1995 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.