Acts 17 Commentary

 

 

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Acts 17
COMMENTARY
Completely Revised
March 28, 2014

Acts 17:1

Paul's 1st Missionary Journey (begins in Acts 13:4)

Paul's 2nd Missionary Journey synopsis (begins Acts 15:35)

Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey Goto (Acts 18:23)

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
Thessalonica
Acts 20:4; 27:2; Philippians 4:16; 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2Thessalonians 1:1; 2Timothy 4:10
where
Acts 14:1; 15:21; 16:13

They - Who is they? For one thing, it appears Luke is now not with them (we changed to they) and also Timothy is not mentioned again until Acts 17:14, so he may have remained in Philippi. Clearly, however the believers at Thessalonica must have known him or about him (cf 1Thes 3:2-6).

Traveled through (diodeuo from dia = through + hodeuo = to travel from hodos = way) means literally to make one's way through, to go through or to travel through a place. They undoubtedly took the Roman "superhighway" of the day, the Via Egnatia (
Click for discussion and map of the Egnatian Way) which connected Philippi with Thessalonica.

They took the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads from Byzantium to Dyrrachium (over 500 miles long) on the Adriatic Sea, opposite Brundisium and so an extension of the Appian Way.

Amphipolis and Apollonia - Traveling SW from Philippi along the Egnatian Way Amphipolis was about 30 miles from Philippi, and Apollonia another 30 miles beyond. Forty miles beyond Apollonia was Thessalonica. Why Paul hurried through these two large cities (if he did) we do not know.

Following the famous Egnatian Way, Paul and Silas went 100 miles from Philippi to Thessalonica.

They came to Thessalonica (
See notes and pictures) - This city was the capital of the province of Macedonia and had a population of some 200,000 (but see Robertson below). It was a major seaport city and an important commercial center, rivaled only by Corinth in this area of the world. Thessalonica was located on several important trade routes, and it boasted an excellent harbor. The city was predominantly Greek, even though it was controlled by Rome. Thessalonica was a “free city,” which meant that it had an elected citizens’ assembly, it could mint its own coins, and it had no Roman garrison within its walls.

A T Robertson - There was a synagogue here in this great commercial city, still an important city called Saloniki, of 70,000 population. It was originally called Therma, at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. Cassander renamed it Thessalonica after his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great. It was the capital of the second of the four divisions of Macedonia and finally the capital of the whole province. It shared with Corinth and Ephesus the commerce of the Aegean. One synagogue shows that even in this commercial city the Jews were not very numerous. As a political centre it ranked with Antioch in Syria and Caesarea in Palestine. It was a strategic centre for the spread of the gospel as Paul later said for it sounded (echoed) forth from Thessalonica throughout Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:8). (Acts 17 - Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Barclay - The first verse of this chapter is an extraordinary example of economy of writing. It sounds like a pleasant stroll; but in point of fact Philippi was 33 Roman miles from Amphipolis; Amphipolis was 30 miles from Apollonia; and Apollonia was 37 miles from Thessalonica. A journey of over 100 miles is dismissed in a sentence. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Synagogue of the Jews (
See notes) - Paul established the custom of preaching to the Jews first (Ro 1:16-note) whenever he entered a new city (he went to the synagogues in Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:14,42; in Iconium Acts 14:1; in Thessalonica Acts 17:1, in Berea Acts 17:10, in Athens Acts 17:17; in Corinth Acts 18:4, in Ephesus Acts 18:19, 19:8) because he had an open door, as a Jew, to speak from the Scriptures and introduce the gospel of the Messiah. Furthermore, if he had preached to Gentiles first, the Jews would never have listened to him, their distaste for the Gentiles being so great.

Synagogue - see comments below on Acts 17:17

Wiersbe comments on the strategic importance of Thessalonica noting that...

Not only was it the capital of Macedonia, but it was also a center for business, rivaled only by Corinth. It was located on several important trade routes, and it boasted an excellent harbor. The city was predominantly Greek, even though it was controlled by Rome. Thessalonica was a ?free city,? which meant that it had an elected citizens? assembly, it could mint its own coins, and it had no Roman garrison within its walls.

Acts 17:2

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
as
Luke 4:16; John 18:20
went
Acts 17:10,17; 9:20; 13:5; 14:1; 18:4; 19:8
reasoned
Acts 24:25; 28:23; 1Samuel 12:7; Isaiah 1:18; Hebrews 7:1-10

According to Paul's custom - Paul established the custom of preaching to the Jews first whenever he entered a new city (see above for cities he went first to the synagogue)

A T Robertson - three sabbath days - Probably the reference is to the first three Sabbaths when Paul had a free hand in the synagogue as at first in Antioch in Pisidia. Luke does not say that Paul was in Thessalonica only three weeks. He may have spoken there also during the week, though the Sabbath was the great day. Paul makes it plain, as Furneaux shows, that he was in Thessalonica a much longer period than three weeks. The rest of the time he spoke, of course, outside of the synagogue. Paul implies an extended stay by his language in 1 Thessalonians 1:8. The church consisted mainly of Gentile converts (2 Thessalonians 3:4, 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:8) and seems to have been well organized (1 Thessalonians 5:12). He received help while there several times from Philippi (Philemon 4:16) and even so worked night and day to support himself (1 Thessalonians 2:9). His preaching was misunderstood there in spite of careful instruction concerning the second coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).(Acts 17 - Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Reasoned (
1256) (dialegomai from diá = denoting transition or separation + légo = speak; English = dialogue; noun derived = dialektos = speaking a specific language of a country) means to engage in an interchange of speech. It means to think different things with oneself, to mingle thought with thought and so to ponder or revolve in one's mind. To reason as one might do using thoughtful arguments to persuade another. To carry on a reasoned discussion as Paul did with the Jews (interestingly each time in the synagogue) here in Thessalonica, in Athens (Acts 17:17), In Corinth (Acts 18:4) and in Ephesus (Acts 18:19). Some sources even consider dialegomai to be a technical term for Paul's teaching in the synagogues. It is used of speaking to someone in order to convince them (by reasoning) (Heb 12:5). The use in Mk 9:34 conveys the sense of a discussion which was also a dispute.

Dialegomai was used by classic Greek poets in a neutral sense (to hold a conversation, to chat), but Greek philosophers used dialegomai to mean conversation with teaching as its end

 It describes speaking to someone in order to convince but not in the sense of a formal sermon but in a discussion format. It meant to engage in speech interchange (being able to answer questions about one's faith - see 1Pe 3:15-note) and in context referred to a reasoned discussion as when one instructs someone about something.

A T Robertson - dialegomai is old verb in the active to select, distinguish, then to revolve in the mind, to converse (interchange of ideas), then to teach in the Socratic (“dialectic”) method of question and answer (cf. dielegeto in Acts 16:17), then simply to discourse, but always with the idea of intellectual stimulus. With these Jews and God-fearers Paul appealed to the Scriptures as text and basis (apo) of his ideas. (Acts 17 - Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Cleon Rogers on dialegomai - to reason, to argue, to dispute, to revolve in the mind, to teach w. the method of question and answer, to give a discourse, but always w. the idea of intellectual stimulus; to contend, to dispute, to discuss, to conduct a discussion. The prep. in the compound recalls the two parties in a conversation  (New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament)

Dialogue (Webster) - A conversation or conference between two or more persons; particularly, a formal conversation in theatrical performances; also, an exercise in colleges and schools, in which two or more person carry on a discourse.

TDNT - dialegomai. From the basic sense "to converse," we go to a. "to negotiate," b. "to address," c. "to speak." The LXX uses the word for a. "to speak" (Is. 63:1), and b. "to treat with" (Ex. 6:27) of even "contend with" (Jdg. 8:1). In Josephus dialegomai means a. "to discuss," b. "to make a statement," and c. "to treat of something." In Philo it refers either to conversation or to divine or human speech. Discussion is not at issue in the NT, where 1. Heb. 12:25 has in view God's address, 2. Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19 the public lectures Paul gave, and 3. Mt. 9:34 and Jude 1:9 disputing in the former case that of the disciples among themselves, in the latter the dispute between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses.

Liddell-Scott -  to pick out one from another, to pick out, to converse with, hold converse with, to discuss a question with another,  to argue with one against doing, to discourse, argue, to use a dialect or language

Dialegomai is describes  Paul reasoning with the Jews

Dialegomai - 13x in 13v - NAS Usage: addressed(1), argued(1), carrying on a discussion(1), discussed(1), discussing(1), reasoned(2), reasoning(4), talking(2). There are only 4 uses in the Septuagint - Ex 6:27; Jdg 8:1; Esther 5:2; Isa 63:1;

Mark 9:34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.


Acts 17:2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

 

Comment: The idea of dialegomai is not a formal sermon but a discussion ("give and take"), during which one fields questions from the hearers. Beloved, an effective witness includes the ability to be able to give an answer to questions about what we believe. Do you feel confident in this "job description?" (cf 1Pe 3:15-note).


Acts 18:4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

19 They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.


Acts 19:8  And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

 

Comment: The idea of dialegomai is not merely lecturing but of responding to one's questions and challenges.


Acts 20:7  On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
9 And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.


Acts 24:12 "Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot.
25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you."


Hebrews 12:5-note and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

 

Comment - The utterance of Scripture is treated as the voice of God conversing with men.


Jude 1:9-note But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

Moulton and Milligan have this example - "you know how I conversed with you about the sesame"...These instances will suffice to show that has in the vernacular the use seen in Mk 9:34. Elsewhere in the NT, as Bp E. L. Hicks points out in CR i. p. 45, "it always is used of addressing, preaching, lecturing," a use which he shows to be predominant in inscriptions.

Reasoning with them from the Scriptures - This is more than just reading or quoting Messianic prophecies. Reasoning requires logical argumentation, graciously presented, based on thorough study of the Word of Truth, a firm persuasion in the divine authority of the Scriptures on the part of both speakers and hearers, and a full filling with your Paraclete, your Helper, the Holy Spirit, Who alone can enable natural men to carry out such supernatural work for the glory of the King.

Three Sabbaths - We do not know exactly how long Paul remained in Thessalonica, but it was long enough to receive financial help twice from the church in Philippi (Php 4:15, 16-note). 1Thess 1:1-10 describes how God blessed Paul’s apparently brief ministry and how the message spread from Thessalonica to other places. It was not a long ministry, but it was an effective one.

During the week Paul apparently labored as tentmaker ("by trade they were tent-makers" Acts 18:3) for in his first letter to the Thessalonians he reminded them...

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (1Th 2:9-note, cf ; 2Thes 3:7, 8, 9, 10)

We do not know how long Paul remained in Thessalonica, but it was long enough to receive financial help twice from the church in Philippi

And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. (Phil 4:15, 16-note).

In summary Paul approached the Jews in the following manner...

1) Reasoned with them - dialogued with them from the Scriptures

2) Explained (from the Scriptures)

3) Gave evidence (from the Scriptures) - he was laying down alongside, setting before them one OT Messianic prophecy after another to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.

4) Proclaimed Jesus is the Messiah

Paul was careful to give evidence of the Messiah's suffering and resurrection which is the heart of the gospel (see 1Cor 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Note that in the sermons in Acts, you will find an emphasis on the Resurrection.

John Stott wrote that....

Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion...The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.

Acts 17:3

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.
Opening
Acts 2:16-36; 3:22-26; 13:26-39
Christ
Luke 24:26,27,32,44,46; 1Corinthians 15:3,4; 1Thessalonians 1:5,6
this
Acts 2:36; 9:22; 18:28; Galatians 3:1
whom I preach
Acts 1:4

Explaining (1272) (dianoigo from  from dia = intensive + anoigo = open up, remove that which obstructs) means to open up wide or completely like folding door (both sides, dia, two), or as when Stephen in his last moments before martyrdom saw "the heavens opened up" (Acts 7:56). The idea is to open thoroughly what had been closed as the firstborn opens the womb (Luke 2:23) Most of the uses are by Luke often have a figurative meaning of opening the eyes, ears, heart or mind enabling the person to perceive or understand (Lk 24:45, Acts 16:14) or opening up truth that has previously been obscure or hidden and so explaining or interpreting (Lk 24:32, Acts 17:3.

The KJV translates dianoigo as "opening," which is more literally correct. The present tense pictures Paul as continuing opening the truths of the OT Scriptures to them. Dear pastor, Paul's practice necessitates that first of all we preach and teach the Scriptures with the mindset of the Reformers - "Sola Scriptura!" As we work through verse by verse, our "Enabler," the Holy Spirit, will teach us as we teach others, opening individual passages and words as to their meaning and their practical application.

Thayer says dianoigo is "occasionally in secular authors from Plato...down; to open by dividing or drawing asunder (dia), to open thoroughly (what had been closed)." Liddell-Scott adds "to open and explain."

Roy B Zuck - This word (dianoigo), which means “to open,” was the word used by our Lord when He healed a deaf man’s ears (Mk 7:34). In a more figurative sense, this verb is used of the opening of one’s eyes, mind, and heart so the person may understand spiritual truths. This stresses the divine element essential in Bible teaching. Only Christ could open the eyes of the Emmaus disciples so they would know that He was the One with them (Lk 24:31). Only Christ could open the Scriptures to them so they would appreciate them and know their meaning (Lk 24:32). Only Christ could open the minds of His disciples so they could understand the Scriptures (Lk 24:45). Only God could open the heart of Lydia, that is, “rouse in (her) the faculty of understanding or the desire of learning.”  Every teacher of spiritual truth must recognize that whereas he may apply the Word of God to others and seek to help them apply it to their lives, only God Himself can make the pupils’ hearts open or receptive to the truth. (Greek Words for Teach - Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 122, 1965, page 159)

A T Robertson - Opening the Scriptures, Luke means, as made plain by the mission and message of Jesus, the same word (dianoigō) used by him of the interpretation of the Scriptures by Jesus (Luke 24:32) and of the opening of the mind of the disciples also by Jesus (Luke 24:45) and of the opening of Lydia‘s heart by the Lord (Acts 16:14). One cannot refrain from saying that such exposition of the Scriptures as Jesus and Paul gave would lead to more opening of mind and heart. (Acts 17 - Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Jesus had thoroughly, totally opened the minds of the two on the road to Emmaus by ''dividing'' their mind that was was previously closed and the Word that was previously closed and causing them to understand spiritual truths otherwise hidden to the natural mind (Lk 24:32) and He did the same for His disciples (Lk 24:45 ) and for Lydia's heart Acts 16:14. Paul speaking but it was the power of Acts 1:8.

Dianoigo - 8x in 8v - NAS Usage: explaining(2), opened(5), opens(1).

Mark 7:34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him (to the one who had difficulty hearing and speaking - Mk 7:32-33), "Ehphatha!" that is, "Be opened!" (aorist imperative)


Luke 2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD "),

 

Comment: Dianoigo is used somewhat literally because the uterus has to "open" (the cervix has to dilate) in order to allow passage through the birth canal for the newborn male, specifically the firstborn male.


Luke 24:31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
 

Acts 7:56 and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

 

Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
 

Acts 17:3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."

Every teacher of spiritual truth must recognize that whereas he may teach the Word of God to others and seek to help them apply it to their lives, only God Himself can open the pupils’ spiritual eyes (the "pupils" of the pupil, so to speak) and thus receptive to the truth.

Giving evidence (KJV = "alleging") (3908)(paratithemi from para = beside + tithemi = place) means to place or lay down alongside, to prove by presenting the evidence. The food for example would be set beside the guest, since the tables were at their side! Here Paul is setting beside his audience a veritable banquet of truth from the Scriptures which were the Old Testament! The apostle was setting before them one Old Testament proof after another (present tense) that Jesus is the Messiah (Jn 20:31). The present tense pictures this as Paul's continuing practice.

Robertson - Paul was not only “expounding” the Scriptures, he was also “propounding” (the old meaning of “allege”) his doctrine or setting forth alongside the Scriptures (pararatithemenos), quoting the Scripture to prove his contention which was made in much conflict (1Thessalonians 2:2), probably in the midst of heated discussion by the opposing rabbis who were anything but convinced by Paul‘s powerful arguments, for the Cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews (1Corinthians 1:23). (Acts 17 - Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Christ had to suffer - The prevalent Jewish view of the Messiah pictured a conquering King who would restore Jewish fortunes, defeat Jewish enemies, and usher in His kingdom on earth. But the thought that the Messiah would come to suffer and die at the hands of His own people (cf 1 Thes 2:15) was incomprehensible to most Jews. To counter this false belief Paul resorted to the OT Scriptures that spoke of Messiah's suffering (Isaiah 53, Psalm 16, Psalm 22, Daniel 9:24, 25, 26, 27-
note, etc)

Suffer (3958)(pascho) means essentially what happens to a person experience. It means to undergo something; to experience a sensation, to experience an impression from an outside source, to undergo an experience (usually difficult) and normally with the implication of physical or psychological suffering. Pascho can refer to experiencing something pleasant, but in the present context (and most NT contexts) it refers to experiencing something trying, distressing or painful.

Robertson says (Christ's suffering) "is Paul‘s major premise in his argument from the Scriptures about the Messiah, the necessity of his sufferings according to the Scriptures, the very argument made by the Risen Jesus to the two on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:25-27). The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was a passage in point that the rabbis had overlooked. Peter made the same point in Acts 3:18 and Paul again in Acts 26:23. The minor premise is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. (Acts 17 - Word Pictures in the New Testament)

The Jews (and the Gentile God fearers) in the synagogue already had a general belief in the Old Testament Scriptures, a truth which Paul proceeded to take advantage of in order to prove the promised Messiah must die and rise again, and that Jesus was the promised Messiah . Not only did Paul use the OT predictive prophecy but also his personal witness of the historical fulfillment of Jesus' bodily resurrection. Paul's approach is an excellent pattern for leading to Christ if they already believe in the God of creation and accept the Bible as His inspired word. For those who are skeptical a different approach is seen when Paul preached to pagan Greeks in Athens (Acts 17:15-34).

Robertson - Paul's major premise in his argument from the Scriptures about the Messiah, the necessity of his sufferings according to the Scriptures, the very argument made by the Risen Jesus to the two on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:25, 26, 27). The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was a passage in point that the rabbis had overlooked. Peter made the same point in Acts 3:18 and Paul again in Acts 26:23.

Rise again (450)(anistemi from ana = up, again + histemi = stand, to cause to stand) means literally to get up,  to stand up, to stand again, to cause to rise (thus "to raise"), to stand or be erect (Acts 9:41).  To rise from a lying or reclined position. To stand straight up from a prostrate position (Acts 14:10). Most uses of anistemi denote the act of getting up from a seated or reclined position.

Robertson - The actual resurrection of Jesus was also a necessity as Paul says he preached to them (1Thessalonians 4:14) and argued always from Scripture (1Corinthians 15:3-4) and from his own experience (Acts 9:22; Acts 22:7; Acts 26:8, Acts 26:14; 1Corinthians 15:8).

See Discussion of Question - Is Resurrection Found in the Old Testament?

Proclaiming  (2605)(kataggello from kata = an intensifier, down + aggelos = messenger and aggello = to declare, report) literally means to "declare down". It means to announce, with focus upon the extent to which the announcement or proclamation extends and so to proclaim throughout. It means to declare plainly, openly and loudly! It was used of solemn religious messages and to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah was the most solemn message one could preach!.

Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ - This is the Messiah! "This is the conclusion of Paul‘s line of argument and it is logical and overwhelming. It is his method everywhere as in Damascus, in Antioch in Pisidia, here, in Corinth. He spoke as an eye-witness." (Robertson)

Acts 17:4

And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.
some
Acts 17:34; 2:41,42,44; 4:23; 5:12-14; 14:1,4; 28:24; Proverbs 9:6; 13:20; Song of Solomon 1:7,8; Song of Solomon 6:1; Zechariah 2:11; 8:20-23; 2Corinthians 6:17,18
consorted
2Corinthians 8:5
Silas
15:22,27,32,40
the devout
Acts 17:17; 13:43; 16:3; 18:4; 19:10; 21:28
and of the chief
Acts 17:12; 13:50

Some - Who are these Jews? Robertson proposes - That is of the Jews who were evidently largely afraid of the rabbis.

Some were persuaded  (3982)(peitho -means literally to persuade or induce by words to believe (Acts 19:26, Mt 27:20, Ro 14:14). In short, some believed. The preacher is not responsible for the fruit, only for the sowing of the seed of the Word. Are you sowing the pure Word? If not why do you wonder why you see no conversions, no transformed marriages, no personal revivals, no new baptisms? They were persuaded particularly by kind words (Ro 2:4-note) or motives. Some were persuaded to receive a belief--They were convinced, ultimately the job of the Holy Spirit (1Pe 1:2-note; 2Th 2:13, John 16:7-11)

God-fearing Greeks - "These “God-fearers” among the Gentiles were less under the control of the jealous rabbis and so responded more readily to Paul‘s appeal. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul expressly says that they had “turned to God from idols,” proof that this church was mainly Gentile (cf. also 1 Thessalonians 2:14)." (Robertson)

Joined (proskleroo) means to give or assign by lot, such as one's destiny. They ''threw in their lot'' with Paul and Silas -- they "won the lottery" so to speak! Eternal life in Christ!

Vincent on leading woman - The position of women in Macedonia seems to have been exceptional. Popular prejudice, and the verdict of Grecian wisdom in its best age, asserted her natural inferiority. The Athenian law provided that everything which a man might do by the counsel or request of a woman should be null in law. She was little better than a slave. To educate her was to advertise her as a harlot. Her companions were principally children and slaves. In Macedonia, however, monuments were erected to women by public bodies; and records of male proper names are found, in Macedonian inscriptions, formed on the mother's name instead of on the father's. Macedonian women were permitted to hold property, and were treated as mistresses of the house. These facts are borne out by the account of Paul's labors in Macedonia. In Thessalonica, Beroea, and Philippi we note additions of women of rank to the church; and their prominence in church affairs is indicated by Paul's special appeal to two ladies in the church at Philippi to reconcile their differences, which had caused disturbance in the church, and by his commending them to his colleagues as women who had labored with him in the Lord (Philemon 4:2, Philemon 4:3).(Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Robertson on leading women - Literally, “And of women the first not a few.” That is, a large number of women of the very first rank in the city, probably devout women also like the men just before and like those in Acts 13:50 in Antioch in Pisidia who along with “the first men of the city” were stirred up against Paul. Here these women were openly friendly to Paul‘s message, whether proselytes or Gentiles or Jewish wives of Gentiles as Hort holds. It is noteworthy that here, as in Philippi, leading women take a bold stand for Christ. In Macedonia women had more freedom than elsewhere. It is not to be inferred that all those converted belonged to the higher classes, for the industrial element was clearly large (1 Thessalonians 4:11). In 2 Corinthians 8:2 Paul speaks of the deep poverty of the Macedonian churches, but with Philippi mainly in mind. Ramsay thinks that Paul won many of the heathen not affiliated at all with the synagogue. Certain it is that we must allow a considerable interval of time between Acts 17:4, Acts 17:5 to understand what Paul says in his Thessalonian Epistles. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Acts 17:5

But the 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 Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people.
moved
Acts 17:13; 7:9; 13:45; 14:2,19; 18:12; Proverbs 14:30; Isaiah 26:11; Matthew 27:18; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:21,26; James 4:5
took
Judges 9:4; Job 30:1-10; Psalms 35:15; 69:12
and set
Acts 19:24-34,40
Jason
Acts 17:7; Romans 16:21

But - Always pause and ponder this term of contrast, asking how is the writer "changing direction."

Jealous (zeloo from zeo = boil) means to be heated or boil with envy, hatred, anger and reflects an attitude of misplaced zeal.

Jealous (2206)( zeloo from zelos [word study] = zeal in turn from zeo = boil; source of our English word "zeal") means to be fervent, to "boil" with envy, to be jealous. It can be used commendably to refer to a striving for something or showing zeal.

As happened in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:45, 50), Iconium (Acts 14:2, 5), and Lystra (Acts 14:19) on the first missionary journey, here also Paul is opposed by a mob incited by jealous Jews.

As Paul explained in Romans his hope was that the salvation of Gentiles would provoke the Jews into studying the Scriptures and discovering their promised Messiah...

But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. (see notes Romans 11:13; 11:14)

Unfortunately, in this case, the conversions provoked them to the "wrong kind" of jealously, the kind that resulted in persecution.

Robertson -  Both our English words, zeal and jealousy, are from the Greek zelos In Acts 13:45 the Jews (rabbis) “were filled with jealousy” (eplēsthēsan zēlou). That is another way of saying the same thing as here. The success of Paul was entirely too great in both places to please the rabbis. So here is jealousy of Jewish preachers towards Christian preachers. It is always between men or women of the same profession or group. In 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10 Paul hints at some of the slanders spread against him by these rabbis (deceivers, using words of flattery as men-pleasers, after vain-glory, greed of gain, etc.).  (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Barclay - As usual Paul began his work in the synagogue. His great success was not so much among the Jews as among the Gentiles attached to the synagogue. This infuriated the Jews for they looked on these Gentiles as their natural preserves and here was Paul stealing them before their very eyes. The Jews stooped to the lowest methods to hinder Paul. First they stirred up the rabble. Then, when they had dragged Jason and his friends before the magistrates, they charged the Christian missionaries with preaching political insurrection. They knew their charge to be a lie and yet it is couched in very suggestive terms. "Those," they said, "who are upsetting the civilized world have arrived here." (King James Version: "these men who have turned the world upside down"). The Jews had not the slightest doubt that Christianity was a supremely effective thing. T. R. Glover quoted with delight the saying of the child who remarked that the New Testament ended with Revolutions. When Christianity really goes into action it must cause a revolution both in the life of the individual and in the life of society. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

John MacArthur one of the best modern expositors of the Word (and one who has experienced the conflict) writes...

Those who courageously proclaim the right message and win converts will face conflict. Success will be accompanied by opposition. Paul and his companions were no exception. The unbelieving Jews at Thessalonica were enraged by the success of the gospel. They "loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). "Becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar" ironically, the very thing they accused the missionaries of doing (Acts 17:6).

Some wicked men from the marketplace - "The agora or market-place was the natural resort for those with nothing to do (Matthew 20:4) like the court-house square today or various parks in our cities where bench-warmers flock. Plato (Protagoras 347 C) calls these αγοραιοι — agoraioi (common word, but in N.T. only here and Acts 19:38) idlers or good-for-nothing fellows. They are in every city and such “bums” are ready for any job. The church in Thessalonica caught some of these peripatetic idlers (2 Thessalonians 3:10.) “doing nothing but doing about.” So the Jewish preachers gather to themselves a choice collection of these market-loungers or loafers or wharf-rats. The Romans called them subrostrani (hangers round the rostrum or subbasilicari). Gathering a crowd (ochlopoiēsantes). Literally, making or getting (poieō) a crowd (ochlos), a word not found elsewhere. Probably right in the agora itself where the rabbis could tell men their duties and pay them in advance. Instance Hyde Park in London (See Speakers' Corner) with all the curious gatherings every day, Sunday afternoons in particular." (Robertson)

Attacking the house of Jason - "ephistēmi = taking a stand against, rushing at, because he was Paul‘s host." (Robertson)

Bring them out - Paul and Silas - an old-time "lynching party!" (Reminds me of Acts 20:24-note where Paul said "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."

Acts 17:6

When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also;
they drew
Acts 6:12,13; 16:19,20; 18:12,13
These
Acts 121:28-31; 22:22,23; 24:5; 28:22; 1Kings 18:17,18; Exodus 3:8,9; Jeremiah 38:2-4; Amos 7:10; Luke 23:5

Robertson on "began dragging" -  imperfect active, vivid picture, they were dragging (literally). See Note on Acts 8:3 (Ed: What "goes around, comes around!"); and Note on Acts 16:19. If they could not find Paul, they could drag Jason his host and some other Christians whom we do not know.

Shouting (994)(boao) means crying for help or crying out in a tumultuous way with a high, strong voice.

City authorities (politarches from pólis = city + árcho = rule) describes magistrate who formed part of a town or city council and so a city official.

At this point the historicity of Acts has been attacked on the ground that the city authorities at Thessalonica were not called "politarchs." However, an inscription on the Arch of Galerius over the Egnatian Way corroborates the usage of this title in Thessalonica and clearly refutes the arguments of the skeptics.

Vincent - Another illustration of Luke's accuracy. Note that the magistrates are called by a different name from those at Philippi. Thessalonica was not a colony, but a free city (see on colony, Acts 16:12), and was governed by its own rulers, whose titles accordingly did not follow those of Roman magistrates. The word occurs only here and Acts 17:8, and has been found in an inscription on an arch at Thessalonica, where the names of the seven politarchs are mentioned. The arch is thought by antiquarians to have been standing in Paul's time. (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

These men who have upset the world - KJV has a vivid picture "these that have turned the world upset down"

Robertson - The use of oikoumenēn (supply genō or chōran the inhabited earth, present passive participle of oikeō) means the Roman Empire, since it is a political charge, a natural hyperbole in their excitement, but the phrase occurs for the Roman Empire in Luke 2:1. It is possible that news had come to Thessalonica of the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius (note). There is truth in the accusation, for Christianity is revolutionary, but on this particular occasion the uproar (Acts 17:5) was created by the rabbis and the hired loafers. The verb turned upside down anastatoō (here first aorist active participle) does not occur in the ancient writers, but is in Lxx  and in Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38; Galatians 5:12. It occurs also in Harpocration (a.d. 4th cent.) and about 100 b.c. exanastatoō is found in a fragment of papyrus (Tebtunis no. 2) and in a Paris Magical Papyrus l. 2243f. But in an Egyptian letter of Aug. 4, 41 a.d. (Oxyrhynchus Pap. no. 119, 10) “the bad boy” uses it = “he upsets me” or “ he drives me out of my senses” (anastatoi me). It is not a “Biblical word” at all, but belongs to the current Koiné. It is a vigorous and graphic term. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

McGee - Now don’t put that down as an oratorical gesture or hyperbole. When they said that these men were turning the world upside down, that is exactly what they meant. When Christianity penetrated that old Roman Empire it was a revolution. It had a tremendous effect. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary)

Guzik  - God willing and blessing, people would say such things about the effectiveness of Christians today!. Jesus did not come only to be our teacher, but to turn our world upside-down. The powerful and the eminent of this world are at the top of the power pyramid and look down on the weak and insignificant; but Jesus comes and turns that pyramid around and says, If you want to come to Me, you have to come like a little child. As Paul says, God has chosen the foolish and weak things of the world to confound the wise (1Corinthians 1:27), and so God turns the world's power-pyramid upside down. Jesus gave a great example of this upside-down thinking when He spoke of a rich man who amassed great wealth, and all he could think about was building bigger barns to store all his wealth. We would make the man a civic leader or recognized him as a prominent man; Jesus turned it all upside down and called the man a fool, because he had done nothing to get his life right with God. (Luke 12:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) Actually, God was working through Paul and Silas to turn the world right side-up again. But when you yourself are upside-down, the other direction appears to be upside-down!

Acts 17:7

and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
and these
Acts 16:21; 25:8-11; Ezra 4:12-15; Daniel 3:12; 6:13; Luke 23:2; John 19:12; 1Peter 2:15

Act contrary to the decrees of Caesar - A charge of treason.

Saying there is another king Jesus (Basilea heteron legontes einai Iēsoun) - To acknowledge any other king but Caesar was one of the most serious crimes in the Roman Empire. It was for allegedly claiming to be a rival earthly ruler to Caesar that the Romans crucified Jesus (cf. John 19:12). Failure to worship Caesar surely led to Paul's execution. The fact that the Jews were "zealous" to safeguard the government of Caesar shows how much they hated the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for they clearly had little or no love for the Roman Empire.

Robertson - (Basilea heteron legontes einai Iēsoun) Note the very order of the words in the Greek indirect discourse with the accusative and infinitive after legontes Basilea heteron comes first, a different king, another emperor than Caesar. This was the very charge that the smart student of the Pharisees and Herodians had tried to catch Jesus on (Mark 12:14). The Sanhedrin made it anyhow against Jesus to Pilate (Luke 23:2) and Pilate had to notice it. “Although the emperors never ventured to assume the title rex (king) at Rome, in the Eastern provinces they were regularly termed basileus (king)” (Page). The Jews here, as before Pilate (John 19:15), renounce their dearest hope of a Messianic King. It is plain that Paul had preached about Jesus as the Messiah, King of the Kingdom of God over against the Roman Empire, a spiritual kingdom, to be sure, but the Jews here turn his language to his hurt as they did with Jesus. As a matter of fact Paul‘s preaching about the kingdom and the Second Coming of Christ was gravely misunderstood by the Christians at Thessalonica after his departure (1Thessalonians 4:13-5:4-note; 2Thessalonians 2). The Jews were quick to seize upon his language about Jesus Christ to his own injury. Clearly here in Thessalonica Paul had faced the power of the Roman Empire in a new way and pictured over against it the grandeur of the reign of Christ. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Vincent - The charge at Philippi was that of introducing new customs; but as Thessalonica was not a colony, that charge could have no force there. The accusation substituted is that of treason against the emperor; that of which Jesus was accused before Pilate. “The law of treason, by which the ancient legislators of the republic had sought to protect popular liberty from the encroachments of tyranny, … was gradually concentrated upon the emperor alone, the sole impersonation of the sovereign people. The definition of the crime itself was loose and elastic, such as equally became the jealousy of a licentious republic or of a despotic usurper” (Merivale, “History of the Romans under the Empire”). (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Regarding another king Wiersbe remarks that...

The Greek word translated “another” means “another of a different kind,” that is, a king unlike Caesar. When you read Paul’s two Thessalonian letters, you see the strong emphasis he gave in Thessalonica on the kingship of Christ and the promise of His return. Of course, our Lord’s kingdom is neither political nor “of this world” (John 18:36-37), but we cannot expect unsaved pagans to understand this. The kingship of Jesus Christ is unlike that of the rulers of this world. He conquers with ambassadors, not armies; and His weapons are truth and love. He brings men peace by upsetting the peace and turning things upside down! He conquers through His cross where He died for a world of lost sinners. He even died for His enemies! (Ro 5:6, 7,8, 9, 10-see notes Romans 5:6; 5:7; 5:8; 5:9; 5:10)

Guzik - Even the unfounded accusation of political revolution had a compliment hidden inside. Even the evil men from the marketplace understood that Christians taught that Jesus was a king, that He had the right to rule over His people. Why is it that all too many churchgoers miss this message today?

Acts 17:8

And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
Matthew 2:3; John 11:48

Stirred (5015)(tarasso) literally means shake, stir up or agitate. To trouble by movement of the parts to and fro and so to shake or agitate like water in a glass sharply jarred. Most of the NT uses of tarasso are figurative and describe the state of one's mind as stirred up, agitated or experiencing inward commotion. The passive voice is always used in the NT with a negative meaning, conveying the sense of emotional disturbance or inner turmoil, so that one is unsettled, thrown into confusion, or disturbed by various emotions, including excitement, perplexity, fear or trepidation.

Robertson -  tarassō old verb to agitate. The excitement of the multitude “agitated” the politarchs still more. To the people it meant a revolution, to the politarchs a charge of complicity in treason if they let it pass. They had no way to disprove the charge of treason and Paul and Silas were not present. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Crowd (ochlos) is generally a multitude or a throng of people milling around or closely pressed together,

Acts 17:9

And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.

Pledge (2425)(hikanos) is strictly that which reaches or arrives at a certain standard in this context refers to a pledge, bail or bond representing an amount of money needed for release from custody and which would be forfeited by Jason should Paul and his companions cause more trouble. As a result, they had no choice but to leave Thessalonica.

Robertson - When they had taken security (labontes to hikanon). A Greek idiom = Latin satis accipere, to receive the sufficient (bond), usually money for the fulfilment of the judgment. Probably the demand was made of Jason that he see to it that Paul and Silas leave the city not to return. In 1Thessalonians 2:17-note. Paul may refer to this in mentioning his inability to visit these Thessalonians again. The idiom lambanein to hikanon now is found in two inscriptions of the second century a.d. (O. G. I. S. 484, 50 and 629, 101). In Vol. III Oxyrhynchus Papyri no. 294 a.d. 22 the corresponding phrase dounai heikanon (“to give security”) appears. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Released
(630)(apoluo from apó = marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association, separation + luo = loose) is used often of sending a person or a group away from someone (Mt 14:15, 22, 23, 32, etc).

Apoluo frequently has the sense of to let loose from or to release (as from under arrest or from another's custody), as it is used here in Acts 17:9. To let go free or set  at liberty. Apoluo is used in all four Gospels describing the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus (Jn 18:39, Mt 27:15, 17, 21, etc, cf  Acts 16:35)

Apoluo frequently is means to divorce (let go free or release a wife Mt 5:31, 32; 19:3; and a husband in Mk 10:12). Apoluo is never used in the marriage context with the meaning of just to separate (as the term is commonly used today) or to break an engagement, but always means full fledged divorce.

Apoluo was used in secular Greco-Roman writings of discharge from the military, of release from jail or of setting a debtor free (these latter meanings also commonly found in the NT writings).

To dismiss (as innocent) - As legal term, to grant acquittal, set free, release, pardon.

Apoluo in Luke 6:37 is used with the sense of forgive. Thus most versions like NET, NIV, KJV, ESV translate it as "forgive" =  "forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Figuratively of setting someone "free" of illness (Luke 13:12  "Woman, you are freed from your sickness.")

To let loose from, to loose or unbind a person or thing.

To free from, relieve from, with the gen. of sickness Lk 13:12

To forgive a debt and thus release from the obligation to pay it off - Mt 18:27

To release persons accused or imprisoned Mt 27:15; Mk15:6; Lk 22:68; Jn 19:10; Ac 4:21; 26:32; 28:18

Summary of apoluo...

1. Dismiss, let go away (Mt 14:15);
2. Send, cause another to depart (Ac 15:30)
3. Set free, release (Lk 23:22)
4. Divorce (Mt 1:19)
5. Forgive, grant clemency, pardon (Lk 6:37)
6. Go away, leave (Ac 28:25)

NAS translates apoluo as - dismissed(1), divorce(3), divorced(2), divorces(5), freed(1), leaving(1), let...go(2), pardon(1), pardoned(1), release(20), released(8), releasing...to depart(1), send...away(9), sending...away(1), sending away(1), sends...away(1), sent...away(6), sent away(2), set free(1).

Friberg (summary) - (1) of a prisoner or debtor set free, release, pardon (MT 27.15); (2) of divorce send away, dismiss, let go (MT 1.19; 19.3); (3) of a crowd or assembly dismiss, send away (MT 14.15); (4) middle go away, depart (AC 28.25); (5) euphemistically, for death let die, let depart (LU 2.29)

BDAG (summary) -

1. As legal term, to grant acquittal, set free, release, pardon someone, a prisoner (Mt 27:15-26; cp. Mk 15:6-15; Lk 23:16-25; J 18:39; 19:10, 12; Ac 3:13; 5:40; 16:35f; 26:32; 28:18. 2. to release from a painful condition, free, pass. be freed (2Mac 12:45; Lk 13:12.

3. to permit or cause someone to leave a particular location let go, send away, dismiss; of a crowd Mt 14:15, 22; 15:32, 39; Mk 6:36, 45; 8:9; dismiss the assembly Ac 19:40. Also of individuals Mt 15:23; Lk 8:38; 14:4; Lk 22:68  (send them away) to their homes Mk 8:3. let (them) go into the building Passive - be dismissed, take leave, depart, of a cavalryman’s discharge (on the desire for departure.

4. to grant a request and so be rid of a person, Mt 15:23

5. to dissolve a marriage relationship, to divorce one’s wife, or betrothed (Dt 24:1ff; Mt 1:19; 5:31f, 19:3, 7-9; Mk 10:2, 4, 11; Lk 16:18. Of the woman divorce her husband Mk 10:12. This is in accord not w. Jewish but w. Gr-Rom. custom

6. middle voice to make a departure from a locality, go away - Ex 33:11;Ac 28:25;

Apoluo - 66x in 61v (only 4x in Septuagint - Ge 15:2, Ex 33:11, Nu 20:29, Ps 34:1) -

Matthew 1:19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.


Matthew 5:31 "It was said, 'WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE';
32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Matthew 14:15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."
22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.
23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
Matthew 15:23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us."
32 And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way."
39 And sending away the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan.
 

Matthew 18:27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.


Matthew 19:3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"

7 They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?"
8 He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."


Matthew 27:15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted.
17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"
21 But the governor said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas."
26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.


Mark 6:36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away.
Mark 8:3 "If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance."
9 About four thousand were there; and He sent them away.


Mark 10:2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.
4 They said, "Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY."
11 And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;
12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."


Mark 15:6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested.
9 Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?"
11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead.
15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.


Luke 2:29 "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;

 

NET Note - Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord's slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2Sa 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2Kgs 10:10); all these men were "servants (or slaves) of the Lord."

 

Comment: Simeon's life had been devoted (as the Lord's slave) to the expectant appearance of the Messiah and His salvation, but now that the expectation had been fulfilled, his task had come to an end. The implication is that Simeon's "release" from life was drawing near. Oh, to finish my life with such a sense of having accomplished my Master's will for my short life!


Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.


Luke 8:38 But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying,


Luke 9:12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, "Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place."


Luke 13:12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness."


Luke 14:4 But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away.


Luke 16:18 "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.


Luke 23:16 "Therefore I will punish Him and release Him."
18 But they cried out all together, saying, "Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!"
20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again,
22 And he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him."
25 And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.


John 18:39 "But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?"


John 19:10 So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?"
12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar."


Acts 3:13 "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.


Acts 4:21 When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened;

23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.


Acts 5:40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.


Acts 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.


Acts 15:30 So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter.
33 After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brethren in peace to those who had sent them out.


Acts 16:35 Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, "Release those men."
36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace."


Acts 17:9 And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.


Acts 19:40 "For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today's events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering." 41 After saying this he dismissed the assembly.


Acts 23:22 So the commander let the young man go, instructing him, "Tell no one that you have notified me of these things."


Acts 26:32 And Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."


Acts 28:18 "And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.

25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,


Hebrews 13:23 Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you.

G. Campbell Morgan rightly declared that "the measure of our triumph in work for God is always the measure of our travail. No propagative work is done save at cost; and every genuine triumph of the Cross brings after it the travail of some new affliction, and some new sorrow. So we share the travail that makes the Kingdom come." (The Acts of the Apostles).

Acts 17:10

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
the brethren
Acts 17:14; 9:25; 23:23,24; Joshua 2:15,16; 1 Samuel 19:12-17; 20:42
Berea
Acts 17:13; 20:4
went
Acts 17:2; 14:6,7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2

Immediately by night (eutheōs dia nuktos). Paul‘s work had not been in vain in Thessalonica (1Thessalonians 1:7-note.; 1Thessalonians 2:13-note, 1Thessalonians 2:20-note). Paul loved the church here. Two of them, Aristarchus and Secundus, will accompany him to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4) and Aristarchus will go on with him to Rome (Acts 27:2). Plainly Paul and Silas had been in hiding in Thessalonica and in real danger. After his departure severe persecution came to the Christians in Thessalonica (1Thessalonians 2:14-note; 1Thessalonians 3:1-5-note; 2Thessalonians 1:6). It is possible that there was an escort of Gentile converts with Paul and Silas on this night journey to Beroea which was about fifty miles southwest from Thessalonica near Pella in another district of Macedonia (Emathia). There is a modern town there of some 6,000 people.  (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

To Berea (See note)- about 45 miles away. Timothy is not mentioned and presumably must have been behind at Philippi (he is not mentioned at Thessalonica although Paul did later send him to them 1 Thes 3:2ff).

Acts 17:11

Acts 17:11 Now these (the Berean Jews) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.  

Greek: houtoi de esan (3PIAI) eugenesteroi ton en Thessalonike, hoitines  edecanto (3PAMI) ton logon meta pases prothumias, kath' hemeran anakrinontes (PAPMPN) tas graphas ei echoi (3SPAO) tauta houtos

Amplified:  Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

NET: These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.

Phillips: The Jews proved more generous-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they accepted the message most eagerly and studied the scriptures every day to see if what they were now being told were true.

Cross References - (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9; Jeremiah 2:21; John 1:45, 46, 47, 48, 49) (Acts 2:41; 10:33; 11:1; Job 23:12; Proverbs 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 8:10; Matthew 13:23; 1Thessalonians 1:6; 2:13; 2Thessalonians 2:10; Jas 1:21; 1Pe 2:2) (Ps 1:2,3; 119:97,100,148; Isa 8:20; 34:16; Luke 16:29; 24:44; John 3:21; John 5:39; 2Timothy 3:15, 16, 17; 1Pe 1:10, 11, 12; 2Pe 1:19, 20, 21; 1John 4:5,6)

See offsite resource: ON THE CHARACTER OF THE BEREANS from Thomas Reade's book SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF THE HEART or CHRISTIAN RETIREMENT

Now these (Berean Jews) were more noble minded - Paul had been overjoyed and filled with gratitude to God at the way the people in Thessalonica had received the Word (1Th 2:13-note), so these “noble Bereans” must have really encouraged his heart. What noble minded means is reflected in their handling of the word of God (1) received the word with great eagerness (2) Examining the Scriptures daily. Would Paul describe you as "noble minded"?

Noble minded (2104) (eugenes from eu = well +  genos = family, race) means literally of high or noble birth, but in this context is used figuratively to describe men and women possessing that type of attitude ordinarily associated with well-bred persons.

Eugenes is the source of the English word "eugenics"  (from Greek eugenes - well-born, from eu- + genes = born) which is the study of methods of improving the quality of the human race, especially by selective breeding!

Noble (Webster) = possessing outstanding qualities; of high birth or exalted rank; possessing superiority of mind or character or morals or ideals

Friberg (summary) - (1) as having a high status, especially socially well-born, noble, important (Lk 19.12); substantivally nobleman, important person (1Cor 1.26); (2) as a commendable attitude open-minded, without prejudice;

BDAG (summary) 1. pertaining to being of high status, well-born, high-born = 1 Cor 1:26.  a certain nobleman Lk 19:12. 2. pertaining to having the type of attitude ordinarily associated with well-bred persons, noble-minded, open-minded = these were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica Ac 17:11

Liddell-Scott - well-born, of noble race, of high descent, Lat. generosus, is a mark of nobility, 2. noble-minded, generous, 3. of animals, high-bred, noble, 4. of outward form, noble, nobly, bravely

Eugenes is used not only for noble birth but also for noble sentiments, character, morals. The implication is that the Berean Jews were more noble in character than those in Thessalonica in their welcome and cordial treatment of the apostles.

Eugenes is used only 3 times in the NT and is translated in the NAS as more noble-minded(1), noble(1), nobleman*(1). There is one use in Job 1:3 and the rest in the apocryphal Septuagint - 2 Macc 10:13; 4 Macc 6:5; 9:13, 24, 27; 10:3, 15; Job 1:3; Luke 19:12; Acts 17:11; 1 Cor 1:26

Luke 19:12 So He said, "A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

1 Corinthians 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;

Job 1:3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest (Lxx = eugenes; most noble) of all the men of the east.

They received (1209) (dechomai) means to to receive something offered or transmitted by another (Luke 2:28). To take something into one's hand and so to grasp (Luke 22:17). To be receptive to someone (Mt 10:14, 40). To take a favorable attitude toward something (Mt 11:14).

Jesus used dechomai to describe the way that humble, childlike believers (Matt. 18:5), faithful preachers of the gospel (Matt. 10:14), and the gospel itself (Luke 8:13; cf. Acts 8:14; 17:11) should be received.

Dechomai means to accept deliberately and readily, receive kindly and so to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another. It means to welcome as a teacher, a friend, or a guest into one's house.  The word describes accepting persons with open arms, minds, and hearts, even going beyond normally expected gracious hospitality. The term was often used of welcoming honored guests and meeting their needs with special attention and kindness.

The Bereans deliberately and readily accepted THE WORD (ton lógos = "the specific Word"...not just ''any'' word! The specific Word in context represents the Gospel - see the effect of their reception in the next verse). The Bereans took the precious word to themselves, welcoming it as what it was, the word of life (this same phrase is found in Php 2:16- (see note), and in 1Jn 1:1 refers to Jesus Himself cf Deut 32:47), as one would welcome a guest or friend or wise counselor to their house ("...they will receive [dechomai] me into their homes." Lk 16:4) Rahab the harlot welcomed (dechomai) the spies in [He 11:31-note]. They had the right kind of soil as Jesus described in Luke 8...

And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. (Lk 8:15, compare to Lydia who heard [was listening] in Acts 16:14)

With (3326) (meta) means in the midst of or in the company with prothumia, a good attitude to manifest when the "guest" is the Living Word!

Great eagerness (4288) (prothumia from prothumos = predisposed, ready, willing, eager, prompt, referring to one's spirit in Mt 26:41 "the spirit is willing" or prothumos) conveys the idea of ready and willing, of readiness for action, or of having the will or purpose to act. This word describes one's exceptional interest in being of service. It is a determined disposition of one's mind.

Readiness. Forwardness. Willingness. Inclination. Enthusiasm. Goodwill. Eagerness. Eagerness is a state marked by enthusiastic desire or interest and implies ardor and enthusiasm.

In ancient Greece, prothumia was a word commonly used in eulogies. The idea of voluntariness is also present in the Qumran writings. A willing and cheerful treading of the divine path is denoted.

Robertson commenting on the use of prothumia in Acts 17:11 writes that...

In Thessalonica many of the Jews out of pride and prejudice refused to listen. Here the Jews joyfully welcomed the two Jewish visitors.

The NT uses are listed below and it is notable that 4 of the 5 uses are in the 2 most comprehensive chapters on Christian giving! (Interesting!)

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

2 Corinthians 8:11 But now finish doing it also; that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability...12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.

2 Corinthians 8:19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness,

2 Corinthians 9:2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.

Prothumia indicates a positive disposition, goodwill in the heightened sense of eagerness and ardor and is a compliment that honors its subject.

These Bereans were predisposed, ready, willing, and thus their attitude was one of eagerness. Prothumia includes the idea of ''rushing forward''...and thus the Bereans were like children in a candy store...like a man who found a pearl and recognized its incredible worth (Mt 13:45, 46).

Examining (350) (anakrino from aná = again + kríno = sift, judge, distinguish, separate out so as to investigate) (present tense = continually) means to sift up and down, to examine accurately or carefully (re-examine), to make careful and exact research as in legal processes.

To interrogate. To cross-examine. To put through a course of questioning as when one is questioned and examined by a judge in a court of law. It was often used in secular Greek of the interrogation of a prisoner. It was also used of a judicial examination before the final verdict was rendered.

It is used in the general sense to describe the process of evaluation (in sense of to judge, to estimate or to determine the excellence or defects of any person or thing) in Acts 17:11, 1Corinthians 2:14, 15, 10:25, 27. The idea here is primarily to distinguish so as to investigate and form an opinion. Such a process is impossible in regard to spiritual things, without the Divinely imparted spiritual faculties.

In a judicial or legal sense anakrino means to question in order to pass a judicial sentence (cf Lk 23:14, Acts 4:9, 12:19, 24:8, 28:18, 1Cor 4:3, 4)

Vincent has the following note on anakrino...

Originally implying a through examination; ana, up, from bottom to top. Technically, of a legal examination.

The fundamental idea of anakrino is examination, scrutiny, following up (ana) a series of objects or particulars in order to distinguish (krino). This is its almost universal meaning in classical Greek. At Athens it was used technically in two senses: to examine magistrates with a view to proving their qualifications; and to examine persons concerned in a suit, so as to prepare the matter for trial, as a grand jury. The meaning judged is, at best, inferential, and the Revised Version inserts examined in the margin, Bishop Lightfoot says: “anakrinein is neither to judge nor to discern; but to examine, investigate, inquire into, question, as it is rightly translated, 1 Cor. 9:3; 10:25, 27. The apostle condemns all these impatient human praejudicia which anticipate the final judgment, reserving his case for the great tribunal, where at length all the evidence will be forthcoming and a satisfactory verdict can be given. Meanwhile the process of gathering evidence has begun; an anakrisis investigation is indeed being held, not, however, by these self-appointed magistrates, but by one who alone has the authority to institute the inquiry, and the ability to sift the facts” (“On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament”).

Anakrino is used 16 times in the NT...

Luke 23:14 and said to them, "You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him.

Acts 4:9 if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,

Acts 12:19 And when Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there.

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

Acts 24:8 ordering his accusers to come before you. And by examining him yourself concerning all these matters, you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him."

Acts 28:18 "And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.

1 Corinthians 4:3 But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.

1 Corinthians 9:3 My defense to those who examine me is this:

1 Corinthians 10:25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions (e.g., Jews were only allowed to buy meat from Gentiles if it could be established that it was not meat offered to idols) for conscience sake...27 If one of the unbelievers invites you, and you wish to go, eat anything that is set before you, without asking questions (i.e., not raising the question as to whether the meat is the residue from an idolatrous sacrifice) for conscience sake.

1 Corinthians 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all

In Athens anakrino was used of the magistrates, who would examine persons concerned in a suit, so as to prepare the matter for trial. The idea is to scrutinize, investigate, interrogate and thus to examine accurately or carefully.

The opposite picture is 1Cor 2:14 (1Co 2:15: he who is spiritual appraises all things) which uses 2 of the same verbs Luke uses to describe the Bereans (anakrino and dechomai) but in this context to describe the ''natural man''.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not (ou = absolute negation!) accept (dechomai) the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness (moria from moros [denotes deficiency] - considered foolish, intellectually weak, or irrational)  to him, and he cannot (dunamia - inherent capacity - natural men lack this continually = present tense) understand them, because (explains why they have no ability to understand God's Word) they are spiritually appraised (anakrino).

In contrast to the natural man these discerning men and women would sift the words of other men up and down, constantly making careful and exacting search as one would in preparing for a lawsuit! The words of Paul were on trial, being actively investigated to see if indeed they lined up with what God's Word in the OT said. Every word was weighed as to it's significance. Ultimately the purpose of the Bereans examining and questioning was in order to pass a judicial sentence...pure words or straw words (see Jer 23:28,29,32 and "the ancient paths" in Jer 6:16,17). They tested the spirits 1 Jn 4:1. How? Drop the plumbline on every teaching no matter how wonderful it sounds...the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? We need God's Spirit of Truth guiding us into all the Truth.

Anakrino is word used by Pilate to describe his examination of Jesus...

(Pilate) said to them, "You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. (Luke 23:14)

Anakrino clearly is a very legal term, implying extreme attention to the Truth!

In Scotland people have the Bible open on the preacher as he expounds the passage, a fine habit worth imitating. (anakrino means to sift up and down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes as in Acts 4:9; 12:19 etc.) the Scriptures for themselves.

The more time you spend in observation, the less time you will spend in interpretation, and the more accurate will be your results. The less time you spend in observation, the more time you will spend in interpretation, and the less accurate will be your results.

The Scriptures (1124) (graphe [word study ]  from grapho = to write; English = graphite - the lead in a pencil!) means first  a writing or thing written, a document. The majority of the NT uses refer to the Old Testament writings, in a general sense of the whole collection when the plural (Scriptures) is used and other times of a particular passage when the singular is used (the Scripture) and is used in such a way that quoting Scripture is understood to be the same as quoting God! The Bereans did not run to their favorite commentary to check out Paul but to God's OT writings.

Daily - The implication is that Paul must have expounded the Scriptures daily...he was a man on a mission...souls to save...a Kingdom to be built.

Robertson - The Bereans were eagerly interested in the new message of Paul and Silas but they wanted to see it for themselves. What a noble attitude. Paul‘s preaching made Bible students of them. The duty of private interpretation is thus made plain (Hovey).

Guzik comments that...

When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews: In Berea, they follow their familiar strategy, and found that their audience was more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica. Two things earned this compliment for the Bereans: first, they received the word with all readiness. Second, they searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

The Bereans were taught by the most famous apostle and theologian of the early church, and the human author of at least 13 New Testament books. Yet, they searched the Scriptures when Paul taught, to see if his teaching was truly Biblical! They would not accept Paul's word at face value, but wanted to know if these things were so. When they heard Paul teach, their settled reaction wasn't "My, he's a fine speaker." It wasn't "I don't like the way he talks." It wasn't "What a funny preacher!" Instead, the Bereans wanted to know, "Are these things . . . so? Is this man teaching us the truth? Let's search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things are so."

Their research was not casual. They searched the Scriptures. It was worth it to them to work hard at it, and investigate what the Word of God said, and how Paul's teaching matched up with it. They also searched the Scriptures daily to find out. It wasn't a one time, quick look. They made it a point of diligent, extended study. Also, they searched the Scriptures daily to find out. They believed they could understand and find out truth from the Bible. For them, the Bible was not just a pretty book of poetry or mystery or nice spiritual inspiration for thoughts-for-the-day. It was a book of truth, and that truth was there to find out.

But with all their diligent searching and concern for the truth, the Bereans did not become skeptics. They received the word with all readiness. When Paul preached, they had open hearts, but clear heads. Many people have clear heads, but closed hearts, and never receive the word with all readiness. It was both of these things that made the Bereans more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica.

We should be more fair-minded than the Bereans. We should receive the word with all readiness, with open hearts. But we must also have clear heads, and when we hear a preacher, be those who search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [are] so. If the great apostle Paul was worthy of this kind of close examination, how much more should teachers and preachers today be carefully compared with the Scriptures!

Therefore many of them believed: Paul had nothing to fear by the diligent searching of the Scriptures by the Bereans. If they were really seeking God and His Word, they would find out that what Paul was preaching was true. This is exactly what happened among the Bereans, and therefore many of them believed. (Ref)

Billy Graham was once asked

If you had to live your life over again, what would you do differently?” Graham replied, “One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups, when I should have been studying and preparing.

Whether these things were so - Literally, "if these things had it thus." The Bereans were eagerly interested in the new message of Paul and Silas but they wanted to see it for themselves. What a noble attitude. Paul's preaching made Bible students of them and not simply hearers who relied on the expositions of a dynamic pastor or erudite Bible teacher. In fact the more eloquent or entertaining the sermon, in some cases the greater the danger that one might be deceived into believing that the sermon was all they needed to be "fed" [unless of course those sermons stimulated and encouraged the sheep to pursue personal study and meditation on God's word].

Another description related to examining the Scriptures is found in Jesus' declaration in John...

You (Jews) search (ereunao = attempt to learn something by careful investigation or searching) the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me" (Jn 5:39)

Unfortunately most of the Jews failed to manifest the heart attitude of the Bereans for Jesus went on to say...

and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. (John 5:40)

Commenting on the phrase you search the Scriptures, C H Spurgeon has this to say...

The Greek word here rendered search (ereunao) signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest after game.

We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word. Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men.

The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, yea, upon every title of Scripture.

Tertullian exclaims, “I adore the fulness of the Scriptures.” No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure. The door of the word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures claim searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur— who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should leave our Bibles to become swift witnesses against us in the great day of account. The word of God will repay searching. God does not bid us sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed corn—we have but to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendour of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. No merchandise like the merchandise of Scripture truth. Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: “They are they which testify of me.” No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Saviour. (Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, June 9)

Acts 17:12

Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
many
Acts 17:2-4; 13:46; 14:1; Psalms 25:8,9; John 1:45-49; 7:17; Ephesians 5:14; James 1:21
honorable
Acts 13:50; 1Corinthians 1:26; James 1:10

Therefore many of them - Therefore is a term of conclusion. What the conclusion? Why or how did this conclusion come about? What had Paul done? What had the Bereans done? What was the result?

Believed (4100)(pisteuo from pistispistos; related studies the faith, the obedience of faith) means  to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust.  To accept as true, genuine, or real. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something or someone. To consider to be true. To accept the word or evidence of. Vincent writes that pisteuo "means to persuade, to cause belief, to induce one to do something by persuading, and so runs into the meaning of to obey, properly as the result of persuasion."

This passage is a beautiful illustration of the principle Jesus declared in John 5...

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. (Jn 5:46)

Believing the OT, many of the Bereans believed the Gospel of Christ, for in fact the Gospel is found in the OT. In Galatians Paul declares...

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU." (Gal 3:8)

Regarding the phrase many of them therefore believed John MacArthur has an interesting comment...

A similar rich harvest was reaped in Berea, where many of the Jews, eager to understand, believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. The Thessalonians had to be persuaded (Acts 17:2, 3); the Bereans were ready and believed. Their hearts were more open to the truth, as evidenced by their eager searching of the Scriptures. The Thessalonians and Bereans typify two kinds of people encountered in evangelism. The Word of God can persuade the closed and the open; the obstinate and the pliant; because of those who seek the truth, and those who do not. (Acts)

Acts 17:13

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.
the Jews
Acts 17:5; Matthew 23:13; 1Thessalonians 2:14-16
stirred
Acts 6:12; 14:2; 21:27; 1Kings 21:25; Proverbs 15:18; 28:25; Luke 12:51

This phrase the Word of God is found numerous times in Acts - Acts 4:31, 6:2, 6:7, 8:14, 11:1, 13:5, 13:7, 13:44, 13:46, 17:13,18:11 and makes for a edifying, practical study. Set aside some time and go through these passages interrogating with the 5W/H questions.  Without question this phrase is most often another way of referring to the Gospel.

See related resource - The Power of God's Word

Jews of Thessalonica - not those in Berea for they were more noble minded.

They came there likewise agitating and stirring up the crowds - The principle is playing out in Paul's ministry and will in your ministry likewise beloved - the principle is "Preach the Word of God and duck!"

Robertson - (They were) Shaking the crowds like an earthquake (Acts 4:31) and disturbing like a tornado (Acts 17:8). Success at Thessalonica gave the rabbis confidence and courage. The attack was sharp and swift. The Jews from Antioch in Pisidia had likewise pursued Paul to Iconium and Lystra. How long Paul had been in Berea Luke does not say. But a church was established here which gave a good account of itself later and sent a messenger (Acts 20:4) with their part of the collection to Jerusalem. This quiet and noble town was in a whirl of excitement over the attacks of the Jewish emissaries from Thessalonica who probably made the same charge of treason against Paul and Silas. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Agitating (4100) (saleuo from salos = wave) means to cause to move to and fro, cause to waver or totter, make to rock. To shake or agitate as by winds or storms. It refers to unexpected and disastrous shaking, of what would be thought to be stable, e.g. earth or sky shake. In Acts 4:31 the prayer meeting was literally shaken by the power of God!

In Acts 16, saleuo is used literally of an earthquake (Acts 16:26). Saleuo described a ship at anchor slipping its mooring in the midst of a heavy wind.

In an ancient letter we read "you sent me letters which would have shaken (saleuo) a stone, so much did your words move me".

Figuratively saleuo means stirring up a crowd which is incited or agitated. In another figurative use saleuo describes an agitated state of mind (great anxiety) as if the source of agitation "dislodges" or drives the mind away from more sober senses (2Th 2:2). Their confidence is shaken! In Acts 17:13 saleuo is used figuratively of the agitating or inciting a crowd.

In the Septuagint (Lxx) translation of the Psalms saleuo is used frequently to describe not being shaken (Ps 10:6, 15:5, 16:8, 17:5 [slipped translated with saleuo], Ps 21:7, 30:6, 46:5, 62:2, 93:1, 94:18, 112:6, 125:1) - Suggestion: Study these uses of saleuo in Psalms and observe what what keeps one from being shaken (mentally speaking). Interesting!

Friberg (summary) Saleuo - (1) literally, as the unexpected and disastrous shaking of what would be thought to be stable, e.g. earth or sky shake, cause to move to and fro, cause to waver or totter, make to rock (Acts 16.26); (2) figuratively; (a) of stirring up a crowd incite, move, agitate (Acts 17.13); (b) mentally, of an individual agitate; passive be distressed, be upset, be shaken (2Thes 2.2)

Saleuo - 15x in 12 verses. NASB Usage: agitating(1), shake(1), shaken(11), shaken together(1), shook(1).

Matthew 11:7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?


Matthew 24:29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.


Mark 13:25 AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.


Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.


Luke 7:24 When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?


Luke 21:26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

 

Comment: The Cosmic shaking brings about men shaking for fear of imminent judgment. It's as if the Cosmos, the Creation, signals the Creator's just judgment.


Acts 2:25 "For David says of Him, 'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.


Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.


Acts 16:26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.


Acts 17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds.


2 Thessalonians 2:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.


Hebrews 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." 27 This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Saleuo - 59v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Jdg 5:5; 2Sa 22:37; 2 Kgs 17:20; 21:8; 1 Chr 16:30; 2Chr 33:8; Job 9:6; 41:23; Ps 10:6; 13:4; 15:5; 16:8; 17:5; 18:7; 21:7; 30:6; 33:8; 36:11; 38:16; 46:5f; 48:5; 60:2; 62:2; 73:2; 77:18; 82:5; 93:1; 94:18; 96:9ff; 97:4; 98:7; 99:1; 107:27; 109:10, 25; 112:6; 114:7; 125:1; Prov 3:26; Eccl 12:3; Isa 7:2; 40:20; Jer 23:9; 51:7; Lam 4:14f; Dan 4:14; Amos 8:12; 9:5; Mic 1:4; Nah 1:5; 3:12; Hab 3:6; Zech 12:2;

Jdg 5:5 “The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.

Job 9:6 Who shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble (Lxx = saleuo);

Proverbs 96:9 Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Ps 99:1 The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!

Acts 17:14

And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
then
Acts 17:10; 9:25,30; Matthew 10:23
as it
Acts 20:3; Joshua 2:16
but
Acts 19:22; 1Timothy 1:3; Titus 1:5

Silas and Timothy remained there - Paul again is forced to leave a place of rich ministry and break away from people he had come to love. It appears that Silas and Timothy later joined Paul in Athens, but that because of his concern for following up the Thessalonians, he is compelled to send Timothy to strengthen and encourage them in their faith (1Th 3:1, 2-note)., Silas apparently was also sent on a special mission somewhere in Macedonia because later both men return to Paul after he has moved on to Corinth (Acts 18:1-5). It was upon this return that Timothy brought good news of the Thessalonians faith and love (1Thes 3:6-note) and this occasion prompted Paul to write the letter to the Thessalonians to encourage them (especially 1 Thes 1-3) and to instruct and exhort them (especially 1 Thes 4-5).

Acts 17:15

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.
Athens
Acts 18:1; 1Thessalonians 3:1
receiving
Acts 18:5; 2Timothy 4:10,11,20,21; Titus 3:12

Receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible - As discussed in Acts 17:14 notation, it appears that they did come to him but that he soon decided to send them on special follow-up missions, especially Timothy (1 Thes 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-note).

Acts 17:16

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.
Circa A.M. 4058. A.D. 54.
his spirit.
Exodus 32:19,20; Numbers 25:6-11; 1Kings 19:10,14; Job 32:2,3,18-20; Psalms 69:9; Psalms 119:136,158; Jeremiah 20:9; Micah 3:8; Mark 3:5; John 2:13; 2Peter 2:7
wholly given to idolatry
or, full of idols.

Waiting (1551) (ekdechomai from ek = from + dechomai = receive kindly, accept deliberately and readily) (see related verb prosdechomai) means literally to receive or accept from some source. The preposition ek in this compound may have a perfective idea indicating that one is read and prepared to deal with the situation when it arrives. It means to remain in a place or state and await an event or the arrival of someone. The idea is to look or tarry for, to watch for, expect, be about to receive from any quarter. In regard to of future events it means to wait for them expecting them to happen.

Robertson - We know that Timothy did come to Paul in Athens (1Thessalonians 3:1-note, 1Thessalonians 3:6-note) from Thessalonica and was sent back to them from Athens. If Silas also came to Athens, he was also sent away, possibly to Philippi, for that church was deeply interested in Paul. At any rate both Timothy and Silas came from Macedonia to Corinth with messages and relief for Paul (Acts 18:5; 2Corinthians 11:8.). Before they came and after they left, Paul felt lonely in Athens (1Thessalonians 3:1), the first time on this tour or the first that he has been completely without fellow workers. Athens had been captured by Sulla b.c. 86. After various changes Achaia, of which Corinth is the capital, is a separate province from Macedonia and a.d. 44 was restored by Claudius to the Senate with the Proconsul at Corinth. Paul is probably here about a.d. 50. Politically Athens is no longer of importance when Paul comes though it is still the university seat of the world with all its rich environment and traditions. Rackham grows eloquent over Paul the Jew of Tarsus being in the city of Pericles and Demosthenes, Socrates and Plato and Aristotle, Sophocles and Euripides. In its Agora Socrates had taught, here was the Academy of Plato, the Lyceum of Aristotle, the Porch of Zeno, the Garden of Epicurus. Here men still talked about philosophy, poetry, politics, religion, anything and everything. It was the art centre of the world. The Parthenon, the most beautiful of temples, crowned the Acropolis. Was Paul insensible to all this cultural environment? It is hard to think so for he was a university man of Tarsus and he makes a number of allusions to Greek writers. Probably it had not been in Paul‘s original plan to evangelize Athens, difficult as all university seats are, but he cannot be idle though here apparently by chance because driven out of Macedonia. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament )

Athens (Athens-Wikipedia) - At this time in world history, Athens was in a period of decline, though it was still recognized as a center of culture and education. However, the glory of politics and commerce of Athens had faded. Athens still maintained a famous university and numerous beautiful buildings, but it lacked the influence it once enjoyed. Athens was a city populated by "cultured pagans" who fed off of the worship of idols, novel ideas and philosophy.

Corynbeare in his book Life and Epistles of St Paul wrote that...

The Greek religion was a mere deification of human attributes and the powers of nature. It was a religion which ministered to art and amusement, and was entirely destitute of moral power.

Greek mythology dealt with so called gods and goddesses that were whimsical and acted more like human beings than divinity. One person has quipped that in Athens it was easier to find a god than a man and Paul was pricked in his heart over this plethora of vain dead, lifeless idols. How interesting that in our day we admire Greek sculpture and architecture as works of art, but in Paul's day, these works were associated with their idolatrous religion.

Paul knew that idolatry was demonic (1Co 10:14-23) and that the many gods of the Greeks were only characters in stories who were unable to change men's lives (1Co 8:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). With all of their culture and wisdom, the Greeks did not know the true God (1Cor 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25).

The city was also devoted to philosophy. When you think of Greece, you automatically think of Socrates and Aristotle and a host of other thinkers whose works are still read and studied today.

Newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams once defined philosophy as

unintelligible answers to insoluble problems

The Greeks would not have agreed with him. They would have followed Aristotle who called philosophy

the science which considers truth.

Being provoked (3947)(paroxuno from pará = at point of, implying movement toward a certain point + oxúno = sharpen, incite, irritate) literally means to sharpen but both NT uses are figurative. Figuratively paroxuno means to be stimulated, excited or aroused. To  cause to be upset. To be aroused to anger. "To cause a state of inward arousal, urge on, stimulate, esp. provoke to wrath, irritate" (BDAG)

Liddell-Scott - to urge, prick or spur on, stimulate, Xen., Dem. 2. to anger, provoke, irritate, exasperate; passive - to be provoked,

Paroxuno gives us our English word paroxysm, which describes a convulsion or sudden outburst of emotion or action. Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. Love is not (paroxuno), not easily provoked ("not touchy") (1Co 13:5-note). Woe! Are all you husbands out there as convicted as I am? I doubt if any of you are "touchy" or "easily provoked" by your helper, your better half!

The imperfect tense pictures this provocation as occurring over and over again. Every time he saw one of the lifeless idols, he was provoked anew.

The only other NT use of paroxuno is - 1Cor 13:5-note does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Paroxuno is used in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - The Septuagint meaning to scorn, despise; to provoke, make angry, Dt. 9:18; Ps 106:29; Isa. 65:3; to exasperate, Dt. 9:7,22, etc.; to burn with anger, Hos. 8:5; Zech. 10:3.

There are 45 uses paroxuno in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx) (Observing these using makes a very interesting and convicting study -- Just a quick review of the OT uses of paroxuno convicted me and prompted me to ask "How do I provoke God?") - Nu 14:11, 23; 15:30; 16:30; 20:24; Dt 1:34; 9:7-8, 18-19, 22; 31:20; 32:16, 19, 41; 2 Sam 12:14; Ezra 9:14; Ps 10:3, 13; 74:10, 18; 78:41; 106:29; 107:11; Pr 6:3; 14:31; 17:5; 20:2; 27:17; Isa 5:24f; 14:16; 23:11; 37:23; 47:6; 60:14; 63:10; 65:3; Jer 22:15; 50:34; Lam 2:6; Dan 11:10; Hos 8:5; Zech 10:3; Mal 2:17;

Beholding (2334)( theoreo from theoros = a spectator - one who looks at things with interest and purpose and with careful observation of details) means to observe with sustained attention (as would a spectator). The present tense pictures this as Paul's continual action (for apparently he was continually confronted with idols!).

Wiersbe comments that...

Paul arrived in the great city of Athens, not as a sightseer, but as a soul-winner. The late Noel O. Lyons, for many years director of the Greater Europe Mission, used to say, "Europe is looked over by millions of visitors and is overlooked by millions of Christians." Europe needs the Gospel today just as it did in Paul's day, and we dare not miss our opportunities. Like Paul, we must have open eyes and broken hearts.......As for novelty, it was the chief pursuit of both the citizens and the visitors (Acts 17:21). Their leisure time was spent telling or hearing "some new thing." Eric Hoffer wrote that "the fear of becoming a has been keeps some people from becoming anything." The person who chases the new and ignores the old soon discovers that he has no deep roots to nourish his life. He also discovers that nothing is really new; it's just that our memories are poor.

Solomon tragically understood the vanity and abysmal emptiness of the novel and wrote...

All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, "See this, it is new"? Already it has existed for ages Which were before us. There is no remembrance of earlier things; And also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance Among those who will come later still. I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. (Eccl 1:8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

Full of idols (2712) (kateidolos) - Vincent -  The word, which occurs only here in the New Testament, and nowhere in classical Greek, means full of idols. It applies to the city, not to the inhabitants. “We learn from Pliny that at the time of Nero, Athens contained over three thousand public statues, besides a countless number of lesser images within the walls of private houses. Of this number the great majority were statues of gods, demi-gods, or heroes. In one street there stood before every house a square pillar carrying upon it a bust of the god Hermes. Another street, named the Street of the Tripods, was lined with tripods, dedicated by winners in the Greek national games, and carrying each one an inscription to a deity. Every gateway and porch carried its protecting god. Every street, every square, nay, every purlieu, had its sanctuaries, and a Roman poet bitterly remarked that it was easier in Athens to find gods than men” (G. S. Davies, “St. Paul in Greece”).

Barclay - It was said that there were more statues of the gods in Athens than in all the rest of Greece put together.

Robertson - Paul, like any stranger was looking at the sights as he walked around. This adjective  kateidōlon (perfective use of eidolon (idol)...These statues were beautiful, but Paul was not deceived by the mere art for art‘s sake. The idolatry and sensualism of it all glared at him (Romans 1:18-32). Ernest Renan ridicules Paul‘s ignorance in taking these statues for idols, but Paul knew paganism better than Renan. The superstition of this centre of Greek culture was depressing to Paul. One has only to recall how superstitious cults today flourish in the atmosphere of Boston and Los Angeles to understand conditions in Athens. Pausanias says that Athens had more images than all the rest of Greece put together. Pliny states that in the time of Nero Athens had over 30,000 public statues besides countless private ones in the homes. Petronius sneers that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens. Every gateway or porch had its protecting god. They lined the street from the Piraeus and caught the eye at every place of prominence on wall or in the agora. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Disciples Study Bible - People in biblical times had many ideas about gods. There was no shortage of belief in gods in that time. The problem was to help people see that there is truly only one God. In modern times, our problem may be just the opposite: helping people who live without any idea of God come to believe in the one true God. The point is exactly the same: there is one true God.

Acts 17:17

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.
disputed
Acts 17:2-4; 14:1-4
devout
Acts 8:2; 10:2; 13:16
daily
Proverbs 1:20-22; 8:1-4,34; Jeremiah 6:11; Matthew 5:1,2; Mark 16:15; Luke 12:3; 2Timothy 3:2,5

Reasoning (dialegomai) (see note on Acts 17:2 where same word is used).

Robertson - Accordingly therefore, with his spirit stirred by the proof of idolatry. Imperfect middle of dialego (dialegomai) same verb used in Acts 17:2. First he reasoned in the synagogue at the services to the Jews and the God-fearers, then daily in the agora or marketplace (southwest of the Acropolis, between it and the Areopagus and the Pnyx) to the chance-comers, “them that met him”. Simultaneously with the synagogue preaching at other hours Paul took his stand like Socrates before him and engaged in conversation with (pros =expresses direction - toward, on the side of, in the direction of. It can serve as a marker of closeness of relation or proximity) those who happened by. This old verb, paratugchanō occurs here alone in the NT and accurately pictures the life in the agora. The listeners to Paul in the agora would be more casual than those who stop for street preaching, a Salvation Army meeting, a harangue from a box in Hyde Park. It was a slim chance either in synagogue or in agora, but Paul could not remain still with all the reeking idolatry around him. The boundaries of the agora varied, but there was always the Poikile Stoa (see Painted Porch), over against the Acropolis on the west. In this Stoa (Porch) Zeno and other philosophers and rhetoricians held forth from time to time. Paul may have stood near this spot. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Market place (58) (
agora) is the town-square where the people assembled in public. It can also refer to a market or thoroughfare or a broad street. Here it refers to a forum or a market place where things were exposed for sale and where assemblies and public trials were held (See similar use in Mk 7:4; Acts 16:19; 17:17) (see use in Acts 16:19)

MacArthur - The agora (market place) was the central public square. It functioned not only as a marketplace, but also "as the social center of the city. Here the unemployed waited for suitable work, the sick were healed, and the magistrates judged court cases. In those days, a plaintiff could drag a defendant into court and ask the judge to pass a verdict (James 2:6). The owners of the slave girl were acting according to Roman law when they laid their hands on Paul and Silas and put their grievance before the city authorities. (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Acts [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990], 595)"

NIDNTT - Originally any place of public assembly, the agora became identified in classical times with the market-place, a centre of community life which was regularly used for political meetings, judicial hearings, and especially for trade. The derived adj. agoraios (lit. belonging to the agora) is occasionally found in a good sense to describe those who do their business in the market-place (especially advocates in law-suits), but it is applied much more frequently to loafers who hang around the agora looking for excitement or trouble. Agorazo, the verb (lit., frequent the agora), came to mean “buy in the market-place”, and thence “buy” in general. In Hellenistic times it was also in common use as a term for buying slaves, which is significant for its NT usage, although the practice of sacral manumission is not clearly linked with agorazō. The intensive form exagorazo could be applied to the redeeming of slaves.

BDAG summarized - market place as a place for children to play Mt 11:16; Lk 7:32. Place for people seeking work and for idlers Mt 20:3; cp. 23:7; Mk 12:38; Lk 11:43; 20:46. Scene of public events, incl. the healings of Jesus Mk 6:56. Scene of a lawsuit (so as early as Hom.; cp. Demosth. 43, 36 ) against Paul Acts 16:19, 35 D. Of the Agora in Athens (in the Ceramicus), the center of public life Acts 17:17

Liddell-Scott summarized -  agora,  Assembly of the People, opp. to the Council of Chiefs, Hom.:- to hold an assembly,  II. the place of Assembly, Hom.; used not only for debating, trials, and other public purposes, but also as a market-place, like the Roman Forum, Att.; but to lounge in the market was held to be disreputable, III. the business of the agora = public speaking, gift of speaking, mostly in pl., Hom. IV. things sold in the agora = the market,  to hold a market, Thuc. V. as a mark of time, the forenoon, when the market-place was full, Hdt.; opp. the time just after mid-day, when they went home, Id.

See dictionary articles on - Market (Agora)

See Wikipedia article -  Agora (Compare the Roman counterpart = Forum)

Agora - 11x in 11v and always translated market place(5) or market places(6).

Matthew 11:16  "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children,


Matthew 20:3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place;


Matthew 23:7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men

.
Mark 6:56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.


Mark 7:4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)


Mark 12:38  In His teaching He was saying: "Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places,


Luke 7:32 "They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.'


Luke 11:43 "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.


Luke 20:46 "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,


Acts 16:19  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities,


Acts 17:17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

Agora - 8v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Eccl 12:4-5 Song 3:2; Ezek 27:12, 14, 16, 19, 22. Agora is used to describe the trading activity of Tyre (Ezek 27:12, 14, 16, 19, 22), to describe the place where a girl seeks her lover (Song 3:2); and the “shut doors of the agora” figuratively descibe deafness in Eccl. 12:4.

Happened (paratugchano from pará = near + tugcháno = happen to be, chance upon) means to chance near, and so to meet with, to fall in with someone, to happen near.

Synagogue (04864)(sunagoge from sunágo = lead together, assemble or bring together) refers to a group of people “going with one another” (sunago) literally describes a bringing together or congregating in one place. Eventually, sunagoge came to mean the place where they congregated together. The word was used to designate the buildings other than the central Jewish temple where the Jews congregated for worship. Historically, the Synagogues originated in the Babylonian captivity after the 586 BC destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and served as places of worship and instruction. Sunagoge was the name of a group "Synagogue of the Freedmen" (Acts 6:9).

Synagogues should have been (and frequently were) a place of teaching and proclamation of the Gospel (Mt 4:23, 9:35, 12:9, 13:54, Mk 6:2, Lk 4:15, 16, Lk 4:44, 6:6, 13:10, Jn 6:59, 18:20, Acts 9:20 = Paul immediately "began to proclaim Jesus," Acts 13:5 = Paul proclaimed "the word of God," Acts 14:1 = place Paul, et al, spoke and where "a large number of people believed," Acts 17:17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8  = Paul, et al  reasoned with various audiences in synagogues).

In James 2:3 the synagogue seems to describe an assembly-place for Judeo-Christians.

Sadly many synagogues became hotbeds of hypocrisy (Mt 6:2), assemblies for arrogant display (a form of hypocrisy) (Mt 6:5, Mk 12:39, Lk 11:43, 20:46).

Synagogue is used in the Septuagint of Ps 21:16 to describe a group of persons who banded together with hostile intent.

Synagogues also were used as places where court was held and punishment inflicted = they became places of false accusation (Lk 12:11) and of scourging, flogging, etc of true disciples (Mt 10:17, Mk 13:9, Lk 21:12, Acts 22:19 = imprisoned,  Acts 26:11 = Paul's punishment of believers, ), and places of violent reaction to unpopular teaching (Lk 4:28).

See Multiple Dictionary Articles - Synagogue

In the time of Jesus and the apostles every town, not only in Palestine but also among the Gentiles if it contained a considerable number of Jewish inhabitants, had at least one synagogue, the larger towns several or even many. That the Jews held trials and even inflicted punishments in them, is evident from such passages (Mt 10:17, 23:34), a haunt of demon possessed (Mk 1:23).

Liddell-Scott has some additional secular uses of synagoge = I.1.  a bringing together, uniting, Plat. 2. a place of assembly, synagogue, a levying of war, Thuc. 2. a gathering in of harvest, Polyb. 3. a drawing together, contracting,  a forming an army in column, Plat.; a pursing up or wrinkling of the face, Isocr. 4. a collection of writings, Arist. III. a conclusion, inference, Id.

TDNT describes the secular and Septuagint uses of synagoge...

A. Secular Greek.
1. The General Meaning. The basic sense of synagoge is that of bringing together or assembling (cf. a gathering of people, a collection of books or letters, the ingathering of harvest, the mustering of troops, the knitting of brows, the drawing in of a sail, and in logic the deduction or demonstration).
2. Societies. Relative to societies, the term usually denotes the periodic meeting. Only rarely is synagoge the place of meeting. Often a festal assembly (cultic or otherwise) is denoted, e.g., a feast or even a picnic. Unlike ekklesia (the assembly of free citizens), synagoge is not a constitutional term. Conversely ekklesia plays no part in guild life.
B. The LXX.
1. Occurrence
. synagoge occurs some 200 times in the LXX. It usually translates either ‘eda or qahal. The former is the term for the national, legal, and cultic community of Israel, preferred in Exodus and Leviticus, used exclusively in Numbers, but replaced by qahal (which has essentially the same meaning) in Deuteronomy, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles.
2. ekklesia and synagoge. Like the Hebrew terms, these two words have essentially the same sense. Individual translators seem to prefer either the one or the other. If synagoge is mostly found in the Pentateuch, this is perhaps because the translators find here the charter of their synagogal communities. They almost always use it for ‘eÒdÑaÖ.
3. Gathering. The term synagoge may have such normal senses as the collecting of taxes, the ingathering of harvest, the heaping up of stones, the gathering of a crowd, the mustering of troops, the swarming of bees, and a great number of people.
4. Assembly. When “assembly” is the point, there is little difference from the secular use. At times the stress may be on assembling for common action, but this is not always the case.
5. The Whole Congregation. synagoge is often a term for the congregation, i.e., the whole people of Israel, sometimes with pasa or Israel. The people is not as such a religious entity, but often the reference is to the people as it assembles for legal or cultic purposes. The synagoge is thus the cultic community engaged in sacred acts or the legal community engaged in judgment. The term bears a strong historical character as the desert community, the community that sees God's wonders and inherits the promises, yet also the eschatological community that is to be gathered from the dispersion.
6. The Individual Congregation. In the Apocrypha the term comes to be used for the local congregation, and the plural is now used for Israel as a whole.

Synagoge - 56x in 56v - NAS Usage: assembly(1), synagogue(31), synagogues(24).

Matthew 4:23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.


Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.


Matthew 9:35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.


Matthew 10:17 "But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;

 

Comment: Could there be any association between Mt 9:35 and Mt 10:17? Teach the Word and duck!


Matthew 12:9 Departing from there, He went into their synagogue.


Matthew 13:54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?


Matthew 23:6 "They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,
34 "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,


Mark 1:21 They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.
23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
29 And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.


Mark 3:1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered.


Mark 6:2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?


Mark 12:39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,


Mark 13:9 "But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.


Luke 4:15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
28 And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things;
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,
38 Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's home. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her.
44 So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.


Luke 6:6 On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.

 

Luke 7:5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue."


Luke 8:41 And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house;


Luke 11:43 "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.


Luke 12:11 "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;


Luke 13:10 And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.


Luke 20:46 "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,

 

Luke 21:12 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake.


John 6:59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.


John 18:20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.


Acts 6:9 But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.

 

Acts 9:2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."


Acts 13:5 When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.
14 But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
43 Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.

 

Acts 14:1 In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.


Acts 15:21 "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath."


Acts 17:1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.


Acts 18:4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.
19 They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.


Acts 19:8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.


Acts 22:19 "And I said, 'Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You.


Acts 24:12 "Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot.


Acts 26:11 "And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.


James 2:2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,


Revelation 2:9 'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.


Revelation 3:9 'Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie-- I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.

Synagoge - 186 verses (some 200 actual uses) in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 1:9; 28:3; 35:11; 48:4; Ex 12:3, 6, 19, 47; 16:1ff, 6, 9f, 22; 17:1; 23:16; 34:22, 31; 35:1, 4, 20; 38:1, 25; Lev 4:13ff, 21; 8:3ff; 9:5; 10:3, 6, 17; 11:36; 16:5, 17, 33; 19:2; 22:18; 24:14, 16; Num 1:2, 16, 18; 8:9, 20; 10:2f, 7; 13:26; 14:1f, 5, 7, 10, 27, 35f; 15:14, 24ff, 33, 35f; 16:2f, 5f, 9, 11, 16, 19, 21f, 24, 26, 33, 42, 45, 47; 19:9, 20; 20:1f, 4, 6, 8, 10ff, 22, 25, 27, 29; 22:4; 25:6f; 26:2, 9f; 27:2f, 14, 16f, 19, 21f; 31:13, 16, 26f, 43; 32:2, 15; 35:12, 24f; Deut 5:22; 33:4; Josh 9:15, 18f, 21, 27; 18:1; 20:3, 9; 22:16f, 20, 30; Judg 14:8; 20:1; 21:10, 13, 16; 1 Kgs 12:20f; 2 Chr 5:6; Esther 10:3; Job 8:17; Ps 7:7; 16:4; 22:16; 40:10; 62:8; 68:30; 74:2; 82:1; 86:14; 106:17f; 111:1; Pr 5:14; 21:16; Isa 19:6; 22:6; 37:25; 56:8; Jer 6:11; 26:17; 31:4, 13; 44:15; 50:9; Ezek 26:7; 27:27, 34; 32:22; 37:10; 38:4, 7, 13, 15; Dan 8:25; 11:10ff; Obad 1:13; Zeph 3:8; Zech 9:12

First use in OT - (Gen 1:9) Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.

In the Lxx synagoge was used to mean a collection of something (Gen 1:9) or a company of individual (Ge 28:3, 35:11, 46:4), a gang (Ps 21:17), a congregation (Ex 12:3), a multitude (Ezek 38:4), swarm of bees (Jdg 14:8, crowd of bulls (Ps 68:30)

Acts 17:18

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.
philosophers
Romans 1:22; 1Corinthians 1:20,21; Colossians 2:8
encountered
Acts 6:9; Mark 9:14; Luke 11:53
babbler
or, base fellow.
Proverbs 23:9; 26:12; 1 Corinthians 3:18
Jesus
Acts 17:31; 26:23; Romans 14:9,10; 1Corinthians 15:3,4

Philosophers (philosophos from philos = friend/lover + sophia = wisdom; see philosophia) is literally a friend or lover of wisdom often from a particular worldview (especially non-Christian). One who is fond of wise things. Those who professed the study of wisdom were, among the ancient Greeks, called sophoí (4680), wise men; but Pythagoras introduced the more modest name of philosophos, a lover of wisdom, and called himself by this title.

Wiersbe - Newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams once defined philosophy as "unintelligible answers to insoluble problems," but the Greeks would not have agreed with him. They would have followed Aristotle who called philosophy the science which considers truth.

Thayer writes philosophos refers to a "philosopher, one given to the pursuit of wisdom or learning (Xenophon, Plato, others); in a narrower sense, one who investigates and discusses the causes of things and the highest good: This is one of the only two specific references in the Bible to "philosophy," the other being Colossians 2:8-note. Both have strongly negative emphases, warning against philosophy--the love of human wisdom."

Henry Morris - Like all other Greek and Roman philosophies of the day, Epicureanism and Stoicism were based on an evolutionary world view. The Epicureans were essentially atheists, like modern Darwinists, whereas the Stoics were pantheists, much like modern New Age evolutionists. Both believed in an infinitely old space/time/ matter universe, and both rejected the concept of an omnipotent transcendent Creator. On the popular level, both were expressed in terms of polytheism, astrology and spiritism, with the many gods and goddesses essentially being personifications of natural forces and systems. Both would naturally be strongly opposed to Biblical Creationist Christianity.

BarclayEpicureans (i) They believed that everything happened by chance. (ii) They believed that death was the end of all. (iii) They believed that the gods were remote from the world and did not care. (iv) They believed that pleasure was the chief end of man. They did not mean fleshly and material pleasure; for the highest pleasure was that which brought no pain in its train. Stoics. (i) They believed that everything was God. God was fiery spirit. That spirit grew dull in matter but it was in everything. What gave men life was that a little spark of that spirit dwelt in them and when they died it returned to God. (ii) They believed that everything that happened was the will of God and therefore must be accepted without resentment. (iii) They believed that every so often the world disintegrated in a conflagration and started all over again on the same cycle of events. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Epicurean (Epicureanism - Wikipedia) - followers of Epicurus (341-270BC) believed that while God existed but that He had no interest in humankind, and the main purpose of life was pleasure. Sounds very modern, doesn't it? In fact the word has lost its original sense and so Epicurean describes the pursuit of fine food.

Epicurus, a contemporary of Zeno, considered practical atheism the true view of reality. Denying a future life entirely, he claimed pleasure as the ruling principle of life. He allowed for the existence of gods but considered them distant and unconcerned with the lives of men. Both these systems, with their doctrines of self-discipline on the one hand and fruitful earthly life on the other, differed sharply from the Christian resurrection hope for life in eternity. This should have generated a desire for the gospel in true philosophers, i.e., those serious-minded, truth-seeking men.

Epicurus was an existentialist in that he sought truth by means of personal experience and not through reasoning. The Epicureans were materialists and atheists, and their goal in life was pleasure.

The Stoic said "Endure Life" while the Epicureans said "Enjoy Life"!

Vincent - Epicureans = Disciples of Epicurus, and atheists. They acknowledged God in words, but denied his providence and superintendence over the world. According to them, the soul was material and annihilated at death. Pleasure was their chief good; and whatever higher sense their founder might have attached to this doctrine, his followers, in the apostle's day, were given to gross sensualism. Stoics = Pantheists. God was the soul of the world, or the world was God. Everything was governed by fate, to which God himself was subject. They denied the universal and perpetual immortality of the soul; some supposing that it was swallowed up in deity; others, that it survived only till the final conflagration; others, that immortality was restricted to the wise and good. Virtue was its own reward, and vice its own punishment. Pleasure was no good, and pain no evil. The name Stoic was derived from stoaa porch. Zeno, the founder of the Stoic sect, held his school in the Stoa Poecile, or painted portico, so called because adorned with pictures by the best masters. (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Stoics (Stoicism - Wikipedia) - This group believed God was the world's soul, and life's goal was to rise above all things, showing no emotional response to either pain or pleasure.

The Stoics were pantheists, much like modern New Age evolutionists. They rejected the idolatry of pagan worship and taught that there was one World God. The Stoics emphasized personal discipline and self-control and their goal in life was to follow one's reason and be self-sufficient, unmoved by inner feelings or outward circumstances. It telling that the first two leaders of the Stoics committed suicide

Zeno of Citium (c. 334 – c. 262 BC) taught in the Stoa (Porch), and his teaching accordingly was called Stoicism. He advanced many noble ideas, such as self-mastery, but occasionally he or his followers would adhere to the ideas with such strictness that their austerity led to immense pride, and suicide became the solution for failure. Thus, many followers were distinctly selfish and unloving, frequently espousing a pantheistic world view (Modern day New Age Movement). Pantheism says that god is the all, and therefore all that exists is god. God is almost always an impersonal god in any pantheistic system.

The doctrine of the Stoics taught that human beings should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submissive to natural law, calmly accepting all things as the result of divine will.

Stoicism was one of the most influential Greek schools of philosophy in the NT period. It took its name from the Stoa Poikile, the painted “portico” (stoa) in Athens where the founder Zeno of Citium (about 280 b.c.) taught. Zeno was followed by Cleanthes (about 260 b.c.), Cleanthes by Chrysippus (about 240 b.c.), who was regarded as the intellectual founder of the Stoic system. Stoicism soon found an entrance at Rome, and under the empire Stoicism was not unnaturally connected with republican virtue.

The Stoics believed that people are part of the universe, which itself is dominated by reason. God is identified with the world-soul and so inhabits everything. Therefore, one’s goal is to identify oneself with this universal reason that determines destiny, to find one’s proper place in the natural order of things. Since people cannot change this grand design, it is best for them to cooperate and to take their part in the world order. Moreover, they must live above any emotional involvement with life, exemplifying a detached virtue in serving others. Above all, they must be self-sufficient, living life with dignity and pride. Individual Stoics, including the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, set a high standard of personal conduct.

The ethical system of the Stoics has been commonly supposed to have a close connection with Christian morality. But the morality of Stoicism is essentially based on pride, that of Christianity on humility; the one upholds individual independence, the other absolute faith in another; the one looks for consolation in the issue of fate, the other in Providence; the one is limited by periods of cosmical ruin, the other is consummated in a personal resurrection.

In Stoicism God was not a personal Being but a spiritual force or soul-power immanent in men and things. He was given many names—Logos or Reason, Nature, Providence, divine Spirit et al. His substance was the whole world and the heavens. An elaborate pantheon was developed to agree with God’s total immanence. The highest good was to follow reason or virtue, suppress the emotions, and conduct oneself according to what nature wills. In the end there was reabsorption into the world Soul, but no individual immortality. The "greatness" of Stoicism was found in its high ethical concepts and doctrine of human brotherhood.

Idle babbler (4691)(spermologos from sperma = seed + lego = collect or gather) was used originally of birds picking up seed. It came to be applied in Athenian slang to one who gains a hand to mouth living in the markets by picking up anything that falls from the loads of merchandise which was carried about. Hence spermologos passed into the meaning of one who gathers bits of information and spouts them off second hand without any real knowledge of their meaning. A babbler is one who talks idly with no definite purpose. Moffatt translates it "fellow with scraps of learning". Goodspeed has "rag picker". One who maintains himself by picking up bits of scraps, so perhaps scavenger would be a better translation (Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible).

It is said that the Athenians applied this name to those who made their living by collecting and selling refuse they found in the market places. Therefore, they were men of no account, low and contemptible persons.

Clearly this was intended to mock Paul's ministry and message. Beloved, has your message (His message through you) been mocked? Then you are in good company. Most of God's best men have at some time in their ministry been mocked, scandalized, blasphemed, etc. Jesus has a word for you -

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, (both verbs in red = present imperative = make this your habitual practice when persecuted for Jesus) for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:10-12-note)

Babble (Free Dictionary) -  To utter a meaningless confusion of words or sounds: Babies babble before they can talk. 2. To talk foolishly or idly; chatter: "In 1977 [he] was thought of as crazy because he was babbling about supply side" (Newt Gingrich). 3. To make a continuous low, murmuring sound, as flowing water. Verb transitive = 1. To utter rapidly and indistinctly. 2. To blurt out impulsively; disclose without careful consideration. Noun = 1. Inarticulate or meaningless talk or sounds. 2. Idle or foolish talk; chatter. 3. A continuous low, murmuring sound, as of flowing water.

John Polhill writes that spermologos "evoked images of a bird pecking indiscriminately at seeds in a barnyard. It referred to a dilettante, someone who picked up scraps of ideas here and there and passed them off as profundity with no depth of understanding at all." (New American Commentary - Acts).

A T Robertson - The word for “babbler” means “seed-picker” or picker up of seeds (sperma seed, legō to collect) like a bird in the agora hopping about after chance seeds. Plutarch applies the word to crows that pick up grain in the fields. Demosthenes called Aeschines a spermologos. Eustathius uses it of a man hanging around in the markets picking up scraps of food that fell from the carts and so also of mere rhetoricians and plagiarists who picked up scraps of wisdom from others. Ramsay considers it here a piece of Athenian slang used to describe the picture of Paul seen by these philosophers who use it, for not all of them had it. Note the use of "an" and the present active optative theloi conclusion of a fourth-class condition in a rhetorical question (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). It means, What would this picker up of seeds wish to say, if he should get off an idea? It is a contemptuous tone of supreme ridicule and doubtless Paul heard this comment. Probably the Epicureans made this sneer that Paul was a charlatan or quack. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities -- This view is put cautiously by dokei (seems). Kataggeleus does not occur in the old Greek, though in ecclesiastical writers, but Deissmann gives an example of the word “on a marble stele recording a decree of the Mitylenaens in honour of the Emperor Augustus,” where it is the herald of the games. Here alone in the NT. Daimonion is used in the old Greek sense of deity or divinity whether good or bad, not in the NT sense of demons. Both this word and kataggeleus are used from the Athenian standpoint. Xenos is an old word for a guest-friend (Latin hospes) and then host (Ro 16:23), then for foreigner or stranger (Mt 25:31; Acts 17:21), new and so strange as here and Heb 13:9; 1Pe 4:12, and then aliens (Eph 2:12). This view of Paul is the first count against Socrates does wrong, introducing new deities (kaina daimonia eispherōn Xen. Mem. I). On this charge the Athenians voted the hemlock for their greatest citizen. What will they do to Paul? This Athens was more skeptical and more tolerant than the old Athens. But Roman law did not allow the introduction of a new religion (religio illicita). Paul was walking on thin ice though he was the real master philosopher and these Epicureans and Stoics were quacks. Paul had the only true philosophy of the universe and life with Jesus Christ as the centre (Colossians 1:12-20), the greatest of all philosophers as Ramsay justly terms him. But these men are mocking him. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Because - Gives the reason for something preceding. Always pause to ponder and query this strategic
term of explanation. As Robertson says because gives us the "Reason for the view just stated."

Preaching ("gospelizing", giving the only good news)(2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo from eu = good, well + aggéllo = proclaim, tell; English = evangelize) means to announce good news concerning something. Euaggelizo was often used in the Septuagint for preaching a glad or joyful message (cf. 1Sam. 31:9; 2Sa 1:20; 4:10). Euaggelizo in its original sense could be used to refer to a declaration of any kind of good news, but in the NT it (with 2 exceptions) refers especially to the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God and of salvation obtained through Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Most of NT uses of euaggelizo are translated "preach" or "preach the gospel," whichever fits more smoothly into the context. The imperfect tense pictures Paul as preaching this good news over and over and over! A good pattern for all God's ambassadors!

Because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection - The central truth of the Gospel was always at the forefront of Paul's mind and it should likewise be at the forefront of our presentation.

Robertson has an interesting note - Apparently these critics considered anastasis (Resurrection) another deity on a par with Jesus. The Athenians worshipped all sorts of abstract truths and virtues and they misunderstood Paul on this subject. They will leave him as soon as he mentions the resurrection (Acts 17:32). It is objected that Luke would not use the word in this sense here for his readers would not under stand him. But Luke is describing the misapprehension of this group of philosophers and this interpretation fits in precisely. (Acts 17)

Deities (1140)(
daimonion from daímon = demon) most often describes demons or evil spirits who have supernatural powers and are neither human nor divine (Mt 7:22). Acts 17:18 refers specifically to to heathen gods. In the context of a Jewish use it more often refers to a demon, evil spirit, devil, or one who is subject to Satan.

Daimonion was used in pagan Greek writings to refer to an inferior race of divine beings, lower than the Greek gods, but more powerful than men.

Vine - not a diminutive of daimon, but the neuter of the adjective daimonios, pertaining to a demon, is also mistranslated "devil," "devils." In Acts 17:18 , it denotes an inferior pagan deity. "Demons" are the spiritual agents acting in all idolatry. The idol itself is nothing, but every idol has a "demon" associated with it who induces idolatry, with its worship and sacrifices, 1Corinthians 10:20,21 ; Revelation 9:20 ; cp. Deuteronomy 32:17 ; Isaiah 13:21 ; 34:14 ; 65:3,11 . They disseminate errors among men, and seek to seduce believers, 1Ti 4:1 . As seducing spirits they deceive men into the supposition that through mediums (those who have "familiar spirits," Leviticus 20:6,27 , e.g.) they can converse with deceased human beings. Hence the destructive deception of spiritism, forbidden in Scripture, Leviticus 19:31 ; Deuteronomy 18:11 ; Isaiah 8:19 . "Demons" tremble before God, James 2:19 ; they recognized Christ as Lord and as their future Judge, Matthew 8:29 ; Luke 4:41 . Christ cast them out of human beings by His own power. His disciples did so in His name, and by exercising faith, e.g., Matthew 17:20. Acting under Satan (cp. Revelation 16:13,14 ), "demons" are permitted to afflict with bodily disease, Luke 13:16 . Being unclean they tempt human beings with unclean thoughts, Matthew 10:1 ; Mark 5:2 ; 7:25 ; Luke 8:27-29 ; Revelation 16:13 ; 18:2 , e.g. They differ in degrees of wickedness, Matthew 12:45 . They will instigate the rulers of the nations at the end of this age to make war against God and His Christ, Revelation 16:14 . (Demon, Demoniac - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

NIDNTT - (In classic literature) daimōn is derived from daiomai, divide, apportion. It may be connected with the idea of the god of the dead as the divider of corpses. It denotes superhuman power, god, goddess, destiny, and demon. In Gk. popular belief the world was full of demons, beings between gods and men which could be appeased or controlled by magic, spells and incantations. They were first of all spirits of the dead, especially the unburied (an animistic concept), then ghosts which could appear in varying forms especially at night. There is no essential difference between → gods and demons. The latter lived in the air near the earth. The work of demons could be seen in the disasters and miseries of human fate. Through natural catastrophes they shook the cosmos. Above all they made men sick or mad. Gk. philosophy was not able to free itself completely from this belief. The world was not a system of abstract forces, but was filled with demons. Offensive myths about the gods were explained away or opposed by using the idea of demon. The problem of divine providence was also approached from this standpoint. In Homer’s Il., daimōn is still sometimes used for the gods, but in the Od., this was avoided so as not to place them on the same level as lower spirits. In Hesiod during the golden age men became demons after death. As Zeus’ representatives they watched over human behaviour, apportioning rewards and punishments at his command. For Empedocles the daimōn was a separate spiritual being, not the psychē which accompanied a man from birth. Socrates’ daimonion, his “good spirit”, had the same characteristics. It dissuaded, but never advised him (Plato, Apology, 31c, 8 ff.). daimōn was even equated with the hēgemonikon (the authoritative part of the soul, the reason) of the Stoics. In later systems (Neoplatonism, Porphyry) whole hierarchies and courses of demons were drawn up. The demons were mediators between gods and men. Sometimes they supervised men. They could also be considered as one of the stages leading from deity to matter. daimonion is the adj. of daimōn, and is used as a noun as the “divine”. It expresses that which lies outside “human capacity and is thus to be attributed to the intervention of higher powers” (W. Foerster, TDNT II 8). In popular belief daimonion was used as a diminutive of daimōn. Philo and Josephus stood entirely in the Gk. tradition. Philo considered that → angels and demons were of the same nature, but angels kept their distance from the earth and were used by God as messengers. Josephus used daimonia especially for evil spirits. (New international dictionary of New Testament theology)

Nineteen times (only in the synoptic Gospels, but not in John) daimonion is combined with ekballo = cast out demons.

See Dictionary Articles:

Demon - ISBE
Demon - Baker's Evangelical

Demon Possession - Holman
Demon - Wikipedia

Demon - Multiple Questions about Angels and Demons

Thayer (summary) - 1. the divine Power, deity, divinity; so sometimes in secular authors as Josephus, Acts 17:18 2. a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men (Lk 4:33) to have a demon, be possessed by a demon, is said of those who either suffer from some exceptionally severe disease, Luke 4:33; 8:27 or act and speak as though they were mad, Matt. 11:18; Luke 7:33; Jn 7:20; 8:48-49,52; 10:20. According to a Jewish opinion which passed over to the Christians, the demons are the "gods" of the Gentiles and the authors of idolatry (Ps. 96:5, and Dt. 32:17; Ps 106:37) , the prince of the demons, or the devil: Matt. 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15; they are said to enter into (the body of) one to vex him with diseases: Luke 8:30,32f; when they are forced to come out of one to restore him to health: Mt. 9:33; 17:18; Mark 7:29, 30; Lk 4:35,41; 8:2,33,35. to have a demon, be possessed by a demon, is said of those who either suffer from some exceptionally severe disease, Luke 4:33; 8:27; or act and speak as though they were mad, Mt. 11:18; Lk 7:33; Jn 7:20; 8:48f,52; 10:20. The apostle Paul, though teaching that the gods of the Gentiles are a fiction (1Cor. 8:4; 10:19), thinks that the conception of them has been put into the minds of men by demons, who appropriate to their own use and honor the sacrifices offered to idols. 1Cor 10:20 (from the Septuagint of Deut. 32:17, cf. Baruch 4:7), and those who frequent the sacrificial feasts of the Gentiles come into fellowship with demons, 1Cor 10:20f. Pernicious errors are disseminated by demons even among Christians, seducing them from the truth, 1Ti 4:1. Josephus, also makes mention of daimonia taking possession of men, Antiquities 6, 11, 2f; 6, 8, 2; 8, 2, 5; but he sees in them, not as the NT writers do, bad angels, but the spirits of wicked men deceased.

Daimonion - 63x in 55v - Usage: deities(1), demon(19), demons(43).

Matthew 7:22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'


Matthew 9:33 After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." 34 But the Pharisees were saying, "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons."


Matthew 10:8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.


Matthew 11:18 "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!'


Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
27 "If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges.
28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.


Mark 1:34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.
39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.


Mark 3:15 and to have authority to cast out the demons.
22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons."


Mark 6:13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.


Mark 7:26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
29 And He said to her, "Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter."
30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.


Mark 9:38 John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us."


Mark 16:9 Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.
17 "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;


Luke 4:33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,
35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.
41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.


Luke 7:33 "For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon!'


Luke 8:2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
27 And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs.
29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.
30 And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him.
33 And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
35 The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened.
38 But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying,


Luke 9:1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.
42 While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
49 John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us."


Luke 10:17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."


Luke 11:14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed.
15 But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons."
18 "If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.
19 "And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges.
20 "But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.


Luke 13:32 And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.'


John 7:20 The crowd answered, "You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?"


John 8:48 The Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"
49 Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
52 The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.'


John 10:20 Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?"
21 Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?"


Acts 17:18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 10:20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.


1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,


James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.


Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;


Revelation 16:14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.


Revelation 18:2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.

 

There are only 7 uses of daimonion in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Dt 32:17; Ps 91:6; 96:5; 106:37; Isa 13:21; 34:14; 65:3

 

Deuteronomy 32:17 "They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.


Psalm 91:6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction (Lxx =
daimonion) that lays waste at noon.


Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols (Lxx =
daimonion), But the LORD made the heavens.
 

Psalm 106:37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
 

Isaiah 13:21 But desert creatures will lie down there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats will frolic there.


Isaiah 34:14 The desert creatures will meet with the wolves, The hairy goat also will cry to its kind; Yes, the night monster will settle there And will find herself a resting place.


Isaiah 65:3 A people who continually provoke Me to My face, Offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks;

Acts 17:19

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?
Areopagus or, Mars'-hill.
Acts 17:22; "It was the highest court in Athens."
May
Acts 17:20; 24:24; 25:22; 26:1; Matthew 10:18
new
Mark 1:27; John 13:34; 1John 2:7,8

The venerable council that had charge of religious and educational matters in Athens in Paul's time. It possibly met on the Hill of Ares W of the Acropolis, the hill also being known as the Areopagus, though some think it met in a building in the agora (marketplace).

Areopagus (Greek for Mars' Hill). It was the name both of the hill and the court that met on it. The court was very select, perhaps only thirty members. It dealt with cases of homicide and had the oversight of public morals. There, in the most learned city in the world and before the most exclusive of courts, Paul had to state his faith. It might have daunted anyone else; but Paul was never ashamed of the gospel of Christ. To him this was another God-given opportunity to witness for Christ. (Barclay)

They took hold of him - "to lay hold of, but with no necessary sense of violence (Acts 9:27; Acts 23:27; Mk 8:23), unless the idea is that Paul was to be tried before the Court of Areopagus for the crime of bringing in strange gods. But the day for that had passed in Athens. Even so it is not clear whether “unto the Areopagus (epi ton Areion Pagon ”) means the Hill of Mars (Areopagus = Romanized to “Mars’ hill") (west of the Acropolis, north of the agora and reached by a flight of steps in the rock) or the court itself which met elsewhere as well as on the hills, usually in fact in the Stoa Basilica opening on the agora and near to the place where the dispute had gone on. Raphael‘s cartoon with Paul standing on Mars Hill has made us all familiar with the common view, but it is quite uncertain if it is true. There was not room on the summit for a large gathering. If Paul was brought before the Court of Areopagus (commonly called the Areopagus as here), it was not for trial as a criminal, but simply for examination concerning his new teaching in this university city whether it was strictly legal or not. Paul was really engaged in proselytism to turn the Athenians away from their old gods to Jesus Christ. But “the court of refined and polished Athenians was very different from the rough provincial magistrates of Philippi, and the philosophers who presented Paul to their cognizance very different from the mob of Thessalonians” (Rackham). It was all very polite." (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament )

MacArthur writes - Paul created enough of a stir that finally they took him and brought him to the Areopagus. The Areopagus was a court, so named for the hill on which it had once met. The power of that tribunal had fluctuated over the centuries but in Roman times was considerable. (Athens was a free city in the Roman Empire, with the right of self-government.) Paul was not formally tried before this court (which several centuries earlier had condemned Socrates), but he was informally required to give an account of his teaching. (Acts 1-12;  Acts 13-28 Moody Press)

Vincent - Areopagus = The Hill of Mars: the seat of the ancient and venerable Athenian court which decided the most solemn questions connected with religion. Socrates was arraigned and condemned here on the charge of innovating on the state religion. It received its name from the legend of the trial of Mars for the murder of the son of Neptune. The judges sat in the open air upon seats hewn out in the rock, on a platform ascended by a flight of stone steps immediately from the market-place. A temple of Mars was on the brow of the edifice, and the sanctuary of the Furies was in a broken cleft of the rock immediately below the judges' seats. The Acropolis rose above it, with the Parthenon and the colossal statue of Athene. “It was a scene with which the dread recollections of centuries were associated. Those who withdrew to the Areopagus from the Agora, came, as it were, into the presence of a higher power. No place in Athens was so suitable for a discourse upon the mysteries of religion” (Conybeare and Hewson). (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Areopagus (Areopagus - Wikipedia) - AREOPAGUS - ar-e-op'-a-gus (Areios pagos; Acts 17:19,22. Mars' Hill, 17:22 the King James Version): A sort of spur jutting out from the western end of the Acropolis and separated from it by a very short saddle. Traces of old steps cut in the rock are still to be seen. Underneath are deep grottoes, once the home of the Eumenides (Furies). On the flat surface of the summit are signs still visible of a smoothing of the stone for seats. Directly below to the North was the old Athenian agora, or market-place. To the East, on the descent from the Acropolis, could be seen in antiquity a small semicircular platform--the orchestra--from which rose the precipitous rock of the citadel. Here the booksellers kept their stalls; here the work of Anaxagoras could be bought for a drachma; from here his physical philosophy was disseminated, then, through Euripides, the poetic associate of Socrates and the sophists, leavened the drama, and finally reached the people of Athens. Then came the Stoics and Epicureans who taught philosophy and religion as a system, not as a faith, and spent their time in searching out some new thing in creed and dogma and opinion. Five centuries earlier Socrates was brought to this very Areopagus to face the charges of his accusers. To this same spot the apostle Paul came almost five hundred years after 399 BC, when the Attic martyr was executed, with the same earnestness, the same deep-rooted convictions, and with even greater ardor, to meet the philosophers of fashion. The Athenian guides will show you the exact place where the apostle stood, and in what direction he faced when he addressed his audience. No city has ever seen such a forest of statues as studded the market-place, the streets and the sides and summit of the Acropolis of Athens. A large part of this wealth of art was in full view of the speaker, and the apostle naturally made this extraordinary display of votive statues and offerings the starting-point of his address. He finds the Athenians extremely religious. He had found an altar to a god unknown. Then he develops theme of the great and only God, not from the Hebrew, but from the Greek, the Stoic point of view. His audiences consisted, on the one hand, of the advocates of prudence as the means, and pleasure as the end (the Epicureans); on the other, of the advocates of duty, of living in harmony with the intelligence which rules the world for good. He frankly expresses his sympathy with the nobler principles of the Stoic doctrine. But neither Stoic nor Epicurean could believe the declarations of the apostle: the latter believed death to be the end of all things, the former thought that the soul at death was absorbed again into that from which it sprang. Both understood Paul as proclaiming to them in Jesus and Anastasis ("resurrection") some new deities. When they finally ascertained that Jesus was ordained by God to judge the world, and that Anastasis was merely the resurrection of the dead, they were disappointed. Some scoffed, others departed, doubtless with the feeling that they had already given audience too long to such a fanatic. The Areopagus, or Hill of Ares, was the ancient seat of the court of the same name, the establishment of which leads us far back into the mythical period long before the dawn of history. This court exercised the right of capital punishment. In 594 BC the jurisdiction in criminal cases was given to the archons who had discharged the duties of their office well and honorably, consequently to the noblest, richest and most distinguished citizens of Athens. The Areopagus saw that the laws in force were observed and executed by the properly constituted authorities; it could bring officials to trial for their acts while in office, even raise objections to all resolutions of the Council and of the General Assembly, if the court perceived a danger to the state, or subversion of the constitution. The Areopagus also protected the worship of the gods, the sanctuaries and sacred festivals, and the olive trees of Athens; and it supervised the religious sentiments of the people, the moral conduct of the citizens, as well as the education of the youth. Without waiting for a formal accusation the Areopagus could summon any citizen to court, examine, convict and punish him. Under unusual circumstances full powers could be granted by the people to this body for the conduct of various affairs of state; when the safety of the city was menaced, the court acted even without waiting for full power to be conferred upon it. The tenure of office was for life, and the number of members without restriction. The court sat at night at the end of each month and for three nights in succession. The place of meeting was a simple house, built of clay, which was still to be seen in the time of Vitruvius. The Areopagus, hallowed by the sacred traditions of the past, a dignified and august body, was independent of and uninfluenced by the wavering discordant multitude, and was not affected by the ever-changing public opinion. Conservative almost to a fault, it did the state good service by holding in check the too rash and radical younger spirits. When the democratic party came to power, after Cimon's banishment, one of its first acts was to limit the powers of the Areopagus. By the law of Ephialtes in 460 the court lost practically all jurisdiction. The supervision of the government was transferred to the nomophulakes (law-guardians). At the end of the Peloponnesian war, however, in 403 its old rights were restored. The court remained in existence down to the time of the emperors. From Acts 17:19,22 we learn that it existed in the time of Claudius. One of its members was converted to the Christian faith (17:34). It was probably abolished by Vespasian. -- J. E. Harry (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

Acts 17:20

For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.
strange
Hosea 8:12; Matthew 19:23-25; Mark 10:24-26; John 6:60; 7:35,36; 1Corinthians 1:18,23; 1Corinthians 2:14; Hebrews 5:11; 1Peter 4:4
what
Acts 17:2:12; 10:17; Mark 9:10

Bringing some strange things -  The very verb used by Xenophon (Mem. I) about Socrates - “things surprising or shocking us.”

Acts 17:21

(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.)
spent
Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5; 2Thessalonians 3:11,12; 1Timothy 5:13; 2Timothy 2:16,17

This proclivity of ancient intellectual philosophers is still characteristic of modern evolutionists, especially those espousing New Age concepts. (Henry Morris)

"The new soon became stale with these itching and frivolous Athenians." (Robertson)

Vincent on something new - Literally newer: newer than that which was then passing current as new. The comparative was regularly used by the Greeks in the question what news? They contrasted what was new with what had been new up to the time of asking. The idiom vividly characterizes the state of the Athenian mind. Bengel aptly says, “New things at once became of no account; newer things were being sought for.” Their own orators and poets lashed them for this peculiarity. Aristophanes styles Athens the city of the gapers (“Knights,” 1262). Demades said that the crest of Athens ought to be a great tongue. Demosthenes asks them, “Is it all your care to go about up and down the market, asking each other, 'Is there any news?'” In the speech of Cleon to the Athenians, given by Thucydides (iii., 38), he says: “No men are better dupes, sooner deceived by novel notions, or slower to follow approved advice. You despise what is familiar, while you are worshippers of every new extravagance. You are always hankering after an ideal state, but you do not give your minds even to what is straight before you. In a word, you are at the mercy of your own ears.” (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Acts 17:22

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.
Mars'-hill or, the court of the Areopagites.
I perceive
Acts 17:16; 19:35; 25:19; Jeremiah 10:2,3; 50:38

"Ares" (of Areopagus) was the Greek god of war, corresponding to "Mars" in Rome.

Robertson on Paul stood - First aorist passive of histēmi used of Peter in Acts 2:14. Majestic figure whether on Mars Hill or in the Stoa Basilica before the Areopagus Court. There would be a crowd of spectators and philosophers in either case and Paul seized the opportunity to preach Christ to this strange audience as he did in Caesarea before Herod Agrippa and the crowd of prominent people gathered by Festus for the entertainment. Paul does not speak as a man on trial, but as one trying to get a hearing for the gospel of Christ. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Criswell - Paul did not accuse his Athenian hearers of something wrong, such as superstition but rather he complimented them, a wise approach for a public speaker in the opening remarks to his audience. The religious character of his hearers provided common ground as a basis for communicating the specific revelation of the gospel. The logic of this statement appears forcefully as Paul adds v. 23 in the next breath.

Vincent on superstitious - This rendering and that of the Rev., somewhat superstitious, are both unfortunate. The word is compounded of deido = to fear, and daimon = a deity. It signifies either a religious or a superstitious sentiment, according to the context. Paul would have been unlikely to begin his address with a charge which would have awakened the anger of his audience. What he means to say is, "You are more divinity-fearing than the rest of the Greeks." This propensity to reverence the higher powers is a good thing in itself, only, as he shows them, it is misdirected, not rightly conscious of its object and aim. Paul proposes to guide the sentiment rightly by revealing him whom they ignorantly worship. The American revisers insist on very religious. The kindred word deisidaimonia occurs Acts 25:19, and in the sense of religion, though rendered in A. V. superstition. Festus would not call the Jewish religion a superstition before Agrippa, who was himself a Jew. There is the testimony of the Ephesian town-clerk, that Paul, during his three years' residence at Ephesus, did not rudely and coarsely attack the worship of the Ephesian Diana. “Nor yet blasphemers of your goddess” (Acts 19:37). (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Robertson adds - Deisidaimōn is a neutral word (from deido = to fear + daimōn = deity). The Greeks used it either in the good sense of pious or religious or the bad sense of superstitious. Thayer suggests that Paul uses it “with kindly ambiguity.” Page thinks that Luke uses the word to represent the religious feeling of the Athenians (religiosus) which bordered on superstition. The Vulgate has superstitiosiores. In Acts 25:19 Festus uses the term deisidaimonia for “religion.” It seems unlikely that Paul should give this audience a slap in the face at the very start. The way one takes this adjective here colors Paul‘s whole speech before the Council of Areopagus. The comparative here as in Acts 17:21 means more religions than usual (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 664f.), the object of the comparison not being expressed. The Athenians had a tremendous reputation for their devotion to religion, “full of idols” (Acts 17:16). (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Acts 17:23

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.
devotions or, gods that ye worship.
Romans 1:23-25; 1Corinthians 8:5; 2Thessalonians 2:4
TO
Psalms 147:20; John 17:3,25; Romans 1:20-22,28; 1Corinthians 1:21; 2Corinthians 4:4-6; Galatians 4:8,9; Ephesians 2:12; 1Timothy 1:17; 1John 5:20
ignorantly
Acts 17:30; Psalms 50:21; Matthew 15:9; John 4:22; 8:54

For - Always pause and ponder and query this small but strategic word, a term of explanation. Robertson says "Paul gives an illustration of their religiousness from his own experiences in their city."

To an unknown god (Agnosto Theo) - More substantiation (as if it was needed) that the Bible is God's fully inspired, inerrant, eternal, omnipotent Word...

Picture of Altar dedicated 'To The Unknown God' Apostle Paul used to lead people to Jesus

The altar (click picture to enlarge) is located on Palatine Hill, Rome, where once stood the palaces of the Caesars. It dates from about 100 B.C. and has the same inscription Paul encountered at Athens ´To the unknown God.´

Unknown god (or unknowable god which is less preferable)

Robertson - Pausanias says that in Athens there are “altars to gods unknown”. Epimenides in a pestilence advised the sacrifice of a sheep to the befitting god whoever he might be. If an altar was dedicated to the wrong deity, the Athenians feared the anger of the other gods. The only use in the NT of agnōstos old and common adjective (from a privative and gnōstos verbal of ginōsko to know). Our word agnostic comes from it....Paul was quick to use this confession on the part of the Athenians of a higher power than yet known to them. So he gets his theme from this evidence of a deeper religious sense in them and makes a most clever use of it with consummate skill. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Unknown (57)(agnostos from a = not + gnostos = known) in classic Greek meant not knowable, withdrawing oneself from being known, unrecognizable. In Acts 17:23, agnostos is used with a passive meaning, the unknown god, or the god who did not make himself known to man. In the pantheon of Athenian gods, there were those who the Greeks thought did not reveal themselves to man. The altars were to these unknown deities and not to the true God. The Apostle Paul revealed to them the true God Whom, likewise, they did not know, but Who did desire to make Himself known to all men!

Agnostos gives us our English Agnostic meaning "a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god." (Webster) (See Agnosticism)

Vincent - to an unknown God. The origin of these altars, of which there were several in Athens, is a matter of conjecture. Hackett's remarks on this point are sensible, and are borne out by the following words: “whom therefore,” etc. “The most rational explanation is unquestionably that of those who suppose these altars to have had their origin in the feeling of uncertainty, inherent, after all, in the minds of the heathen, whether their acknowledgment of the superior powers was sufficiently full and comprehensive; in their distinct consciousness of the limitation and imperfection of their religious views, and their consequent desire to avoid the anger of any still unacknowledged god who might be unknown to them. That no deity might punish them for neglecting his worship, or remain uninvoked in asking for blessings, they not only erected altars to all the gods named or known among them, but, distrustful still lest they might not comprehend fully the extent of their subjection and dependence, they erected them also to any other god or power that might exist, although as yet unrevealed to them … .Under these circumstances an allusion to one of these altars by the apostle would be equivalent to his saying to the Athenians thus: 'You are correct in acknowledging a divine existence beyond any which the ordinary rites of your worship recognize; there is such an existence. You are correct in confessing that this Being is unknown to you; you have no just conceptions of his nature and perfections.'” (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Calvin said it is better to have knowledge of God than to worship without knowing Him, for God cannot be worshiped reverently unless He first becomes known. What irony -- Athenians the bastion of "learning" does not know the "god" and yet worships him. In so doing, they are in effect acknowledging that such a deity exists, but they have no knowledge of Him. Their worship is deficient because their knowledge is deficient. Worship is related to the word "worthy." If you do not know something, it is ludicrous to ascribe it worth! It is into this "spiritual (deity) vacuum" that Paul introduces the Worthy One, the Only God worthy of our worship! Paul proceeds to explain that this God is not only their Creator and Giver of breath (Acts 17:25), the Determiner of the length of their life ("having determined their appointed times" - Acts 17:26) but He will one day be their Righteous Judge! (Acts 17:31)

A. W. Pink has the following note regarding knowing God - God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that 'the world by wisdom knew not God' (1Cor 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is "the unknown God' (Acts 17:23). But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know Him in a real, personal, vital way. This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks. An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernatural (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. 'God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2Cor 4:6). The one who has been favored with this supernatural experience has learned that only 'in thy light shall we see light' (Ps 36:9-note).

Proclaim  (2605)(kataggello from kata = an intensifier, down + aggelos = messenger and aggello = to declare, report) literally means to "declare down". It means to announce, with focus upon the extent to which the announcement or proclamation extends and so to proclaim throughout. It means to declare plainly, openly and loudly! It was used of solemn religious messages. Webster adds that our English "proclaim" (from pro = before + clamare = to cry out) means to "declare publicly, typically insistently... in either speech or writing... and implies declaring clearly, forcefully, and authoritatively." (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary)

Robertson - He is a kataggeleus (Acts 17:18) as they suspected of a God, both old and new, old in that they already worship him, new in that Paul knows who he is. By this master stroke he has brushed to one side any notion of violation of Roman law or suspicion of heresy and claims their endorsement of his new gospel, a shrewd and consummate turn. He has their attention now and proceeds to describe this God left out of their list as the one true and Supreme God.

Barclay - There were many altars to unknown gods in Athens. Six hundred years before this a terrible pestilence had fallen on the city which nothing could halt. A Cretan poet, Epimenides, had come forward with a plan. A flock of black and white sheep were let loose throughout the city from the Areopagus. Wherever each lay down it was sacrificed to the nearest god; and if a sheep lay down near the shrine of no known god it was sacrificed to "The Unknown God." From this situation Paul takes his starting point. There are a series of steps in his sermon. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Acts 17:24

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
that made
Acts 17:26-28; 4:24; 14:15; Psalms 146:5; Isaiah 40:12,28; 45:18; Jeremiah 10:11; 32:17; Zechariah 12:1; John 1:1; Hebrews 1:2; 3:4
seeing
Genesis 14:19,22; 2Kings 19:15; Psalms 24:1; 115:16; 148:13; Jeremiah 23:24; Daniel 4:35; Matthew 5:34; 11:25; Luke 10:21; Revelation 20:11
dwelleth
Acts 7:48; 1Kings 8:27; 2Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Isaiah 66:1; John 4:22,23

God Who made the world (2889 - kosmos) - God is the Creator of all. This teaching flatly contradicted both the Epicureans, who believed matter was eternal and therefore had no creator, and the Stoics, who as pantheists believed God was part of everything and could not have created Himself. Paul’s teaching finds its support throughout Scripture.

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God; Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; (Psalm 146:5-6-note)

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance, And the hills in a pair of scales? (Isa 40:12) (Comment: The entire universe is on a miniature scale when compared to God the mighty Creator.)

Robertson - Not a god for this and a god for that like the 30,000 gods of the Athenians, but the one God who made the Universe (kosmos on the old Greek sense of orderly arrangement of the whole universe). All the details in the universe were created by this one God. Paul is using the words of Isaiah 42:5. The Epicureans held that matter was eternal. Paul sets them aside. This one God was not to be confounded with any of their numerous gods save with this “Unknown God.”

Barclay - God is not the made but the maker; and he who made all things cannot be worshipped by anything made by the hands of man. It is all too true that men often worship what their hands have made. If a man's God be that to which he gives all his time, thought and energy, many are clearly engaged in worshipping man-made things. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Vincent on world (kosmos) - Originally, order, and hence the order of the world; the ordered universe. So in classical Greek. In the Septuagint, never the world, but the ordered total of the heavenly bodies; the host of heaven (17:3; Isaiah 24:21; 40:26). Compare, also, Proverbs 17:6, and see note on James 3:6. In the apocryphal books, of the universe, and mainly in the relation between God and it arising out of the creation. Thus, the king of the world (2Maccabees 7:9); the creator or founder of the world (2 Maccabees 12:15). In the New Testament: 1. In the classical and physical sense, the universe (John 17:5; John 21:25.; Romans 1:20; Ephesians 1:4, etc.). 2. As the order of things of which man is the centre (Matthew 13:38; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:25; John 16:21; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Timothy 6:7). 3. Humanity as it manifests itself in and through this order (Matthew 18:7; 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:6; Romans 3:19). Then, as sin has entered and disturbed the order of things, and made a breach between the heavenly and the earthly order, which are one in the divine ideal - 4. The order of things which is alienated from God, as manifested in and by the human race: humanity as alienated from God, and acting in opposition to him (John 1:10; John 12:31; John 15:18, John 15:19; 1Corinthians 1:21; 1John 2:15, etc.). The word is used here in the classical sense of the visible creation, which would appeal to the Athenians. Stanley, speaking of the name by which the Deity is known in the patriarchal age, the plural Elohim, notes that Abraham, in perceiving that all the Elohim worshipped by the numerous clans of his race meant one God, anticipated the declaration of Paul in this passage (“Jewish Church,” i., 25). Paul's statement strikes at the belief of the Epicureans, that the world was made by “a fortuitous concourse of atoms,” and of the Stoics, who denied the creation of the world by God, holding either that God animated the world, or that the world itself was God.  (Acts 17 - Vincent's Word Studies)

David testifies "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2)

Paul amplifies this truth writing "18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." (See notes Ro 1:18;   19; 20; 21; 22; 23)

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios) ascribes to God His due - He is owner, absolute possessor of both heaven and earth (Isaiah 45:7), not of just parts.

Temples made with hands - "No doubt Paul pointed to the wonderful Parthenon, supposed to be the home of Athena as Stephen denied that God dwelt alone in the temple in Jerusalem." (Robertson)

Acts 17:25

nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
is
Job 22:2; 35:6,7; Psalms 16:2; 50:8-13; Jeremiah 7:20-23; Amos 5:21-23; Matthew 9:13
seeing
Acts 17:28; 14:17; Genesis 2:7; Numbers 16:22; 27:16; Job 12:10; 27:3; 33:4; 34:14; Psalms 104:27-30; Isaiah 42:5; 57:16; Zechariah 12:1; Matthew 5:45; Romans 11:35; 1Timothy 6:17

Nor is He served by human hands - Men may pride themselves in serving God, but it is God who serves man. If God is God, then He is self-sufficient and needs nothing that man can supply. Not only do the temples not contain God, but the services in the temples add nothing to God! In two brief statements, Paul completely wiped out the entire religious system of Greece!

It is God who gives to us what we need: “life, and breath, and all things.” God is the source of every good and perfect gift (Jas 1:17-note). He gave us life and He sustains that life by His goodness (Mt 5:45-note). It is the goodness of God that should lead men to repentance (Ro 2:4-note). But instead of worshiping the Creator and glorifying Him, men worship His creation and glorify themselves (see notes Romans 1:18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25).

He needed (4326)(prosdeomai from prós = beside, in addition to + déomai = want, need, or make a request. To want or need something more. Robertson adds "prosdeomai = to want besides, old verb, but here only in the N.T. This was strange doctrine for the people thought that the gods needed their offerings for full happiness. This self-sufficiency of God was taught by Philo and Lucretius, but Paul shows that the Epicurean missed it by putting God, if existing at all, outside the universe." (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Breath - This is the only occurrence of "breath" in the New Testament. The Greek word pnoe occurs elsewhere only in Acts 2:2, speaking of the Holy Spirit coming as a "rushing mighty wind."

This was strange doctrine for the people thought that the gods needed their offerings for full happiness. This self-sufficiency of God was taught by Philo and Lucretius, but Paul shows that the Epicurean missed it by putting God, if existing at all, outside the universe. This Supreme Personal God is the source of life, breath, and everything. Paul here rises above all Greek philosophers. Paul brushes aside the necessity, let alone appropriateness, of idolatrous worship servicing the divine nature by affirming that, conversely, it is God who gives all men life and breath and everything else (Ge 1:29; 2:7; 9:3; Isa 42:5; Acts 14:17).

What good news Paul had for the Epicureans and Stoics living as they did under impersonal chance or inexorable fate! Behind or within reality stands neither of these but rather a gracious, personal Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of all. For modern scientific humanity, living as it does within an impersonal universe that has evolved quite by “chance” from the big bang to the last whimper of a dark and frigid night without starfire, Paul’s message is also very good news. And for postmodern humanity this gracious, personal God breaks the bonds of pantheistic “karma.”

Acts 17:26

and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
Genesis 3:20; 9:19; Malachi 2:10; Romans 5:12-19; 1Corinthians 15:22,47
hath determined
Acts 15:18; Deuteronomy 32:7,8; Job 14:5; Psalms 31:15; Isaiah 14:31; 45:21; Daniel 11:27,35; Hebrews 2:3

He made from one man every nation of mankind - The concept of "race" has no basis in Scripture for all men are descended from Adam, through Noah, and thus all are members of only one race--the human race. The term "race," as ordinarily used, is strictly an evolutionary concept, with "race" understood as a sub-species in the process of evolving into a new species. There is no observational scientific evidence for such evolutionary transformations, among either men or animals.

Robertson -  What Paul affirms is the unity of the human race with a common origin and with God as the Creator. This view runs counter to Greek exclusiveness which treated other races as barbarians and to Jewish pride which treated other nations as heathen or pagan (the Jews were — laos the Gentiles — ethnē). The cosmopolitanism of Paul here rises above Jew and Greek and claims the one God as the Creator of the one race of men. The Athenians themselves claimed to be antochthonous (indigenous) and a special creation. Zeno and Seneca did teach a kind of cosmopolitanism (really pantheism) far different from the personal God of Paul. It was Rome, not Greece, that carried out the moral ideas of Zeno. Man is part of the universe (Acts 17:24) and God created (epoiēsen) man as he created (poiēsas) the all (Heb 11:3-note).  (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Having determined their appointed times - In ways unknown, yet real, God raises nations up and puts them down, as He will in accordance with their faithfulness to His respective purposes for them (Deuteronomy 32:7, 8, 9; Daniel 2:20,21). "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" (Psalm 33:12-note). "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17-note). Deut 32:8; Job 12:23; Dan 4:35)

Barclay - God has guided history. He was behind the rise and fall of nations in the days gone by; his hand is on the helm of things now. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Determined (fix, predetermine) (3724)(horizo from horos = boundary, limit; English "horizon" which is "the apparent line that divides the earth and the sky" which leads to the thought that Jesus is the "line" that divides all time into BC/AD!) means strictly speaking “to limit” and then figuratively “to fix,” “to appoint.” Time as well as space can be limited. Horizo means to mark out, to bound ("horizon") and figuratively to appoint, decree or specify. It means to mark out definitely. The boundary set can be (1) of time (fix, appoint - cf Heb 4:7) or (2) of space (fix, determine - Acts 17:26-27). Horizo referring to persons means to appoint or designate (Acts 17:31). In Lk 22:22 horizo refers to the making of a definite plan (decide, determine, cp Acts 2:23, 10:42, 11:29). BDAG adds that from the basic meaning., ‘to separate entities and so establish a boundary’, derives the sense ‘to define ideas or concepts’: set limits to, define, explain.

Robertson - Paul here touches God‘s Providence (See The Providence of God). God has revealed himself in history as in creation. His hand appears in the history of all men as well as in that of the Chosen People of Israel.

Appointed times - "The perfect passive participle of prostassō old verb to enjoin, emphasizes God‘s control of human history without any denial of human free agency as was involved in the Stoic Fate." (Robertson)

The boundaries - "Same idea in Job 12:23 (He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.). Nations rise and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is an interplay between God‘s will and man‘s activities, difficult as it is for us to see with our shortened vision." (Robertson)

Acts 17:27

that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
they

Acts 15:17; Psalms 19:1-6; Romans 1:20; 2:4
he be
Acts 14:17; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalms 139:1-13; Jeremiah 23:23,24

That they would seek God - Seek him, not turn away from him as the nations had done (Romans 1:18-32-note).(Robertson)

Barclay - God has made man in such a way that instinctively he longs for God and gropes after him in the darkness. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Grope (5584) (pselaphao from psáo = to rub or touch lightly, cp psallo = to play a stringed instrument) means to handle, to touch or to feel for or after an object, groping as would a blind person (Here in Acts 17:27 the ones groping are "spiritually blind!"). To touch lightly, especially touching the surface of something (contrast haptomai, Strong's 680 = to handle an object in such a way as to exert a modifying influence upon it as in 1Jn 5:18). To touch by feeling and handling. Pselaphao means to make an effort, despite difficulties, to come to know something when chances of success are not particularly great. To manipulate, verify by contact as when Isaac tried to feel for his son Esau  (Ge 27:21,22) and was deceived by Jacob having put on the " skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck." (Ge 27:16). To grope about expressing motion of hands over someone as when Jesus told His doubting disciples to " touch Me and see." (Lk 24:39). A related word is psocho derived from psao and used of rubbing the heads of grain in order to loosen some kernels to eat (Lk 6:1)

Pselaphao is used by the Greek writers to mean the "blind feeling around" (cp similar use in the Lxx translation of Dt 28:29)

Luke uses pselaphao here in Acts 17:27 in the optative mood within a conditional clause, which would point to the possibility (but not certainty) of men finding God through general revelation (but even then, they would need the special revelation of the Gospel for salvation - Ro 1:16-note). This picture reminds me of the popular telephone ad of past years "Reach out and touch someone." (in this case God!) However, on the other hand the idea of groping is more of a negative picture, like a blind person walking down a hall, feeling the wall or like someone stumbling in the dark. Indeed, men in their natural state are in the dark, but God in His great mercy has provided general revelation and specific revelation (the Gospel), for He desires that none perish eternally, but that all come to genuine eternal life giving repentance (2Pe 3:9-note). The Dictionary of Paul and His Letter (IVP) adds that "It seems safe to conclude that while the speaker believes that knowledge of God is theoretically possible from nature, yet in practical terms there is little or no hope that this hypothetical possibility will be or has been translated into an acceptable relationship with God. It is hard to imagine a stronger contrast between the God Who is in control of all (Acts 17:24-26) and the ironic pathetic state of the human predicament as here described (Acts 17:27): blindly and unsuccessfully groping for someone who stands so close and desires to be found."

Grope (Webster) - feel about or search blindly or uncertainly with the hands; to search for something by reaching or touching usually with your fingers in an awkward way; to move forward carefully by putting your hands in front of you so that you can feel anything that blocks you

Pselaphao - 4x in 4v - NAS Usage: grope(1), touch(1), touched(2).

Luke 24:39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me (in order to prove the existence of Jesus' resurrection body) and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Heb 12:18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,

1John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life

Pselaphao - 13 uses in the Lxx - some are relatively well known and very interesting...

Genesis 27:12 "Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing."
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not."
22 So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau."

Deuteronomy 28:29 and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.

Judges 16:26 Then Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, "Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them."

Job 5:14 "By day they meet with darkness, And grope at noon as in the night.

Job 12:25 "They grope in darkness with no light, And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

Psalm 115:7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.

Psalm 135:17 They have ears, but they do not hear, Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths.

Isaiah 59:10 We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.

The other uses in Lxx = Nahum 3:1  Zechariah 3:9 Zechariah 9:13

Acts 17:28

for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
in him
1Samuel 25:29; Job 12:10; Psalms 36:9; 66:9; Luke 20:38; John 5:26; 11:25; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3
as
Titus 1:12
we are
Luke 3:38; Hebrews 12:9

Robertson notes that Paul's "three verbs (live...move...exist) form an ascending scale and reach a climax in God (life, movement, existence).

As even some of your own poets - “As also some of the poets among you.” Aratus of Soli in Cilicia (ab. b.c. 270) has these very words in his Ta Phainomena and Cleanthes, Stoic philosopher (300-220 b.c.) in his Hymn to Zeus has Ek sou gar genos esōmen In 1Corinthians 15:32 Paul quotes from Menander and in Titus 1:12 from Epimenides. J. Rendel Harris claims that he finds allusions in Paul‘s Epistles to Pindar, Aristophanes, and other Greek writers. There is no reason in the world why Paul should not have acquaintance with Greek literature, though one need not strain a point to prove it. Paul, of course, knew that the words were written of Zeus (Jupiter), not of Jehovah, but he applies the idea in them to his point just made that all men are the offspring of God. (Robertson)

Acts 17:29

Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
we ought
Psalms 94:7-9; 106:20; 115:4-8; Isaiah 40:12-18; 44:9-20; Habakkuk 2:19,20; Romans 1:20-23
graven
Exodus 20:4; 32:4; Isaiah 46:5,6; Jeremiah 10:4-10

An image formed by the art and thought of man - Graven work of art or external craft, and of thought or device or internal conception of man.

Acts 17:30

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent
the times
Acts 14:16; Psalms 50:21; Romans 1:28; 3:23,25
but
Acts 3:19; 11:18; 20:21; 26:17-20; Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 6:12; Luke 13:5; 15:10; Luke 24:47; Romans 2:4; 2Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:6-8; Titus 2:11,12; 1Peter 1:14,15; 4:3

Therefore - Always take note of this strategic term of conclusion and ask at least one question "What is the writer concluding?"

Overlooked (5237)(hupereido 2d aorist of huperoráo from hupér = over + eídon = to see, perceive) means to overlook, act as if one did not see, wink at, bear with. Robertson adds that hupereido is an "old verb to see beyond, not to see, to overlook, not “to wink at” of the Authorized Version with the notion of condoning. Here only in the NT. It occurs in the Lxx in the sense of overlooking or neglecting (Ps 55:1-note). But it has here only a negative force. God has all the time objected to the polytheism of the heathen, and now he has made it plain.

The times of ignorance - The times before full knowledge of God came in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the very word for their ignorance (agnoountes) employed in Acts 17:23.

Though people are under His wrath (Ro 1:18-note) and are without excuse because of natural revelation (Ro 1:19, 20-see notes Ro 1:19; 20), God “in His forbearance (anoche ­holding back, delay - Ro 2:4-note) left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Ro 3:25-note). This parallels Acts 14:16, All through time the Gentiles were responsible for the general revelation given to them; now with the worldwide proclamation of the gospel, the Gentiles (WHO HEAR IT) are also responsible to special revelation. That response is to obey God’s command to repent of their sins. Even the Gentiles who do not hear the gospel are still under God's wrath. In short, Acts 17:30 says nothing about the guilt or innocence of pagans as some misinterpret, but deals only with God's delaying punishment on those who reject Him.

God is now declaring - "All is changed now that Christ has come with the full knowledge of God. See also Acts 27:22." (Robertson)

Everywhere - No exceptions anywhere!

Repent (3340)(metanoeo from meta = with, among + noeo = to think, exercise the mind <>  from nous = mind - see study = metanoia) means to have another mind.  Metanoeo means to change one's mind in respect to sin, God, and self. To turn to God and from sin (Luke 15:7 = "one sinner who repents", 10, cf 1Th 1:9-note). It is not an intellectual decision but a change of mind that issues in a change of behavior. This change of mind may, especially in the case of Christians who have fallen into sin, be preceded by sorrow (2Cor 7:8, 9, 10, 11); but sorrow for sin, though it may cause repentance, is not repentance. Darrell Bock writes "the point is that repentance involves a reorientation of perspective, a fresh point of view. When dealing with God's plan, it means to see that plan in a new way and to orient oneself to it. Luke demonstrates the fruit of repentance expresses itself concretely (Lk 3:10-14). Repentance expresses itself in life, especially in how one treats others." (Gulp!) There can be no genuine conversion without genuine repentance.

"This word (repent) was the message of the Baptist, of Jesus, of Peter, of Paul, this radical change of attitude and life." (Robertson)

God uses at least four factors to prompt repentance = (1) The knowledge of God's Truth should prompt repentance (Mt 11:21-24 - where Chorazin, et al refused to repent at the Truth; cp Lk 16:30-31 which also illustrates the sufficiency of the Truth to prompt repentance.) Note the deadly deception - one can have Truth (as well as #2 sorrow) without true repentance! Beware! (2) Sorrow for sin can lead to repentance (2Cor 7:9-10), but the sorrow per se should NOT be confused with true repentance. E.g., Judas felt sorrow for betraying Jesus but did not repent. (3) God's kindness prompts (leads to) repentance (Ro 2:4). (4) Fear of final judgment (as discussed here in Acts 17:30-31) can motivate one to true repentance. Indeed, realization that there is no other way of escape but through Jesus, should cause any "rational" person to repent.

Repentance is not an act separate from faith, but saving faith includes and implies the true change of mind which is called repentance. As noted in the use of the present imperative (see uses below), to repent is not just an event at the time of conversion, but represents an ongoing lifestyle -- we sin daily, and sometimes we get caught in a "rut" (habit) of sin, and so we are daily in desperate need of God's gracious gift of repentance. In the parable of the two sons, our Lord Jesus Christ gives a beautiful illustration of what true repentance looks like (Read Mt 21:28-31 = notice second son changed his mind and his behavior!). As Albert Barnes wisely said "False repentance dreads the consequences of sin; true repentance dreads sin itself."

Zodhiates writing on the verb metamelomai (used in 2Cor 7:8) notes that it is "Contrasted with metanoeo (3340), to repent, (because) it expresses the mere desire that what is done may be undone, accompanied with regrets or even remorse, but with no effective change of heart. Metaméleia (which does not occur in the NT) is an ineffective repentance for which the forgiveness of sins is not promised (as it is for metanoia [3341], repentance, see Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38). Metamélomai, on the part of man, means little or nothing more than a selfish dread of the consequence of what one has done, whereas metanoeo means regret and forsaking the evil by a change of heart brought about by God’s Spirit. On the part of God in Heb. 7:21, metamélomai means His plan of salvation for man can have no improvement; He made no mistake. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament)

In Acts 26:20 we see the role of repentance which is integral to genuine salvation = "repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance."

Clearly repentance is not optional to salvation, but is integral to it for Jesus made it clear that "unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3, 5)

It is important to remember that true repentance is a glorious gift of God - read Acts 5:31, 11:18, Ro 2:4-note, 2Ti 2:25-note.

See discussion of similar word - epistrepho (often used of "returning to God" = Lk 1:16-17, Acts 9:35, 11:21, 14:15, 15:19, 26:18, 20, 2Cor 3:16, 1Thes 1:9-note, 1Pe 2:25-note

See Multiple Dictionary Articles - Repentance

Repent (Webster) - (1) to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, (2) (This is the more Biblically sound definition) to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better.

It is notable (and probably no coincidence) that the most "concentrated" use of metanoeo (10/34x) is found in the Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3 (which is intriguing since John the human author of The Revelation, is the only Gospel that does not use metanoeo). This begs the question - Does the modern church need to be reminded of its continual need to repent? I recall years ago hearing that the new believers behind the (then) "Iron Curtain" called themselves "Repenters" rather than believers! How wonderful would it be to be part of a local body of Christ full of habitual repenters!

Kenneth Wuest - Repent is the translation of metanoeō which in classical Greek meant “to change one’s mind or purpose, to change one’s opinion.” The noun metanoia meant “a change of mind on reflection.” These two words used in classical Greek signified a change of mind regarding anything, but when brought over into the New Testament, their usage is limited to a change of mind in the religious sphere. They refer there to a change of moral thought and reflection which follows moral delinquency. This includes not only the act of changing one’s attitude towards and opinion of sin but also that of forsaking it. Sorrow and contrition with respect to sin, are included in the Bible idea of repentance, but these follow and are consequent upon the sinner’s change of mind with respect to it. The word metamelomai is used in Mt. 21:29, 32, 27:3; 2Cor. 7:8; Heb. 7:21, where it is translated “repent.” Metanoeō is the fuller and nobler term, expressive of moral action and issues. It is the word used by NT, writers to express the foregoing meaning. In the case of Judas, metamelomai means “remorse.” In the case of Heb. 7:21 it means only to change one’s mind. The act of repentance is based first of all and primarily upon an intellectual apprehension of the character of sin, man’s guilt with respect to it, and man’s duty to turn away from it. The emotional and volitional aspects of the act of repentance follow, and are the result of this intellectual process of a change of mind with respect to it. This means that the correct approach of the Christian worker to a sinner whom he wishes to lead to the Lord is that of clearly explaining the issues involved. When the unsaved person is made to clearly understand the significance of sin, the intellectual process of changing his mind with respect to it can follow, with the result that sorrow, contrition, and turning away from it will also follow. A mere emotional appeal to the sinner is not the correct one. The Greek word metanoeō tells us that the intellectual appeal must come first, since the act of repenting is basically a mental one at the start.  (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader)

Metanoeo - 34x in 32v - Translated (NAS) = repent(26), repented(5), repents(3).

Matthew 3:2 "Repent, (present imperative = calls for this to be one's lifestyle = a believer is a "repenter"!) for (term of explanation = explains why repentance is necessary)  the kingdom of heaven is at hand (come near, drawing near)."

 

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent (present imperative) for (term of explanation = explains why repentance is necessary) the kingdom of heaven is at hand."


Matthew 11:20  Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.


Matthew 12:41 "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.


Mark 1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent (present imperative = calls for this to be one's lifestyle = a believer is a "repenter"!) and believe (present imperative = calls for this to be one's lifestyle) in the gospel."

 

William Barclay - There is the word repent. Now repentance is not so easy as sometimes we think . The Greek word metanoeo literally means to change one's mind. We are very apt to confuse two things--sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin. Many a man is desperately sorry because of the mess that sin has got him into, but he very well knows that, if he could be reasonably sure that he could escape the consequences, he would do the same thing again. It is not the sin that he hates; it is its consequences. Real repentance means that a man has come, not only to be sorry for the consequences of his sin, but to hate sin itself. Long ago that wise old writer, Montaigne, wrote in his autobiography, "Children should be taught to hate vice for its own texture, so that they will not only avoid it in action, but abominate it in their hearts--that the very thought of it may disgust them whatever form it takes." Repentance means that the man who was in love with sin comes to hate sin because of its exceeding sinfulness. (Mark 1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)


Mark 6:12 They went out and preached that men should repent.

 

Comment: They preached the Gospel.


Luke 10:13 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.


Luke 11:32 "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.


Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
5 "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."


Luke 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."


Luke 16:30 "But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'


Luke 17:3 "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."


Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "
Repent, (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!) and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Acts 3:19 "Therefore repent, (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!) and return, so that (
introduces clauses of purpose and/or result) your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;


Acts 8:22 "Therefore repent, (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!) of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.

 

Comment: While some might opt for the position that Simon was saved (Acts 8:13), the facts (truth) of his heart attitudes in Acts 8:23 is a better description of a lost person than one who is saved (cf Dt 29:18)


Acts 17:30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,


Acts 26:20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.


2 Corinthians 12:21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.


Revelation 2:5-note 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and
repent (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!) and do (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!) the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent.
16 'Therefore
repent (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!); or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
21 'I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.
22 'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.

 

Comment: Properly speaking, metanoein is “to know after” as pronoein is “to know before”; metanoia is “afterknowledge” . . . The next step that metanoia signifies is the change of mind that results from this after knowledge. Thus Tertullian wrote: “In the Greek language the word for repentance is not derived from the admission of a fault but from a change of mind.” . . . Last of all metanoia signifies a resulting change of conduct. . . . Only in Scripture and in the works of those who were dependent on Scripture does metanoia predominantly refer to a change of mind, to taking a wiser view of the past, to “the soul’s perception of the wicked things it has done.” (Trench) Repentance includes a recognition of wrong-doing together with a decision to move in a different direction: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). (A Testimony of Jesus Christ)


Revelation 3:3-note 'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent (present imperative). Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
19 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay!).


Revelation 9:20-note  The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.


Revelation 16:9-note Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.


Revelation 16:11-note and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.

 

Metanoeo - 18v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx) - 1Sa 15:29; Pr 20:25; 24:32; 30:1; Isa 46:8; Jer 4:28; 8:6; 18:8, 10; 31:19; Joel 2:13f; Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:9f; 4:2; Zech 8:14. Many of the OT passages use metanoeo in the context of God "relenting" from something.


Gerald Cowen - Repentance: metanoeo, metanoia - While preaching in Galilee, Jesus addressed the question of whether or not a group of Galileans who were murdered by Pilate were greater sinners than anyone else be-cause they suffered such a fate. He said, "I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-3). Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached, "Re-pent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Just what did Jesus mean when He said, "Repent"? The Greek word He used is metanoeo, which is a combination of the words meta (after) and noeo (to understand or perceive). So, literally, the noun form metanoia (repentance) means an "afterthought" or "change of mind." The most important question, however, is, does repentance consist entirely of a mental exercise or does it imply more than that? On one hand, there are those who insist that repentance cannot involve anything more than a change of mind or attitude toward God; otherwise, they contend it would negate the doctrine of salvation by grace. It cannot be under-stood as a condition of salvation unless it is concluded that repentance is only a "synonym for faith."3 Obviously, when people move from unbelief to faith in Christ, they have changed their minds, which constitutes repentance. It is argued that "repentance does not mean to turn from sin, nor a change in one's conduct."4 It does not mean to change one's life because that would constitute works. On the other hand, many others believe that repentance involves more. W. E. Vine says, "In the New Testament the subject chiefly has reference to repentance from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God." Thayer, in his lexicon, defines metanoia as "esp. the change of mind of those who have be-gun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have deter-mined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it." Moulton and Milligan in their work on Greek vocabulary conclude concerning metanoeo: "Its meaning deepens with Christianity, and in the New Testament it is more than 're-pent,' and indicates a complete change of attitude, spiritual and moral, towards God." Trench says that metonoia is "the expression of the nobler repentance." He lists four ideas that are included in the meaning of repentance: (1) it means to know (perceive) afterwards; (2) it signifies the change of mind that comes as a result of this knowledge; (3) it involves regret for the course pursued (displeasure at one's own self); and (4) it signifies a change of conduct for the future based on this change of mind. In addition to these, Kenneth Wuest explains that metanoia includes not only the act of changing one's attitude to-wards and opinion of sin but also that of forsaking it. Sorrow and contrition with respect to sin, are included in the Bible idea of repentance.... The emotional and volitional aspects of the act of repentance follow, and are the result of this intellectual process of a change of mind with respect to it. Those who believe that repentance includes forsaking of sin are accused by those who do not accept that view of teaching a "works salvation," a denial of the doctrine of grace. On the other hand, those who teach that repentance is simply a "change of mind about who Christ is" are charged with teaching an "easy believism." About this view John MacArthur says, "It is utterly devoid of any recognition of personal guilt, any intent to obey God, or any desire for true righteousness."5 In order to determine who is right, there are several questions that should be explored. First, does repentance necessarily involve sorrow for sin? Second Corinthians 7:10 says, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." Strictly speaking, sorrow and repentance are different entities, because people may have sorrow without repentance. However, can people have repentance without sorrow? "Godly sorrow leads to repentance." Would persons desire to be saved without first realizing they are sinners and lost? Before realizing that fact they may be quite happy in their sin. After being convicted by the Holy Spirit that they are sinners and as a result lost, can they desire to be saved (go to heaven), put their faith and trust in Christ for eternal life, and still be happy about their life of sin? Can people be repentant toward God and unrepentant toward sin and self? The answer is, people could if God would let them. But the same Holy Spirit who causes persons to see the error of their ways and desire to come to Christ is the One who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. If the Spirit truly convicts people of sin, it would be impossible for them not to have a changed attitude toward their sin, a sense of sorrow at having sinned against God. That change is called repentance. Another question that should be asked is, What does repentance toward God involve? Does it involve receiving Jesus as Savior only, or must one acknowledge Him as Lord also? It is argued by some that it is necessary to receive Jesus as Savior only in order to be saved. However, several Scriptures seem to indicate that the two ideas go together. Acts 16:31 says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Romans 10:9 says, "That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved." Peter declared at Pentecost "that God has made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Some argue that this use of the word "Lord" simply means to acknowledge that Jesus is God. Yet, if He be God, then He is certainly Lord. Persons do not have to "make Jesus Lord" because He is Lord. What it does mean is that when individuals repent in their attitude toward Jesus, they are changing from unbelief to faith in two facts: (1) that Jesus is who He claims to be—Lord and God; and (2) that He in fact did what He said He would do—die for our sins on the cross and offer us forgiveness based on that sacrifice. The rest of the Christian life, then, is the struggle to practice daily what we have professed at the beginning. Since Jesus is Lord, believers are to allow Him to be Lord of their lives. The final question concerning the meaning of repentance is, What affect does it have on the will? Can people put their faith in Christ and never intend to make any change in the direction of their life? It is obvious that the changes in life-style are the fruits of repentance and come as a result, not a cause of salvation. However, what about intentions? One thing is sure: this decision is not a pre-salvation work that is required to set life in order so persons can be saved. Such an attempt at self-reformation is not true repentance. It involves trusting one's own works in-stead of Christ's. But can individuals trust Christ as Savior and never have any intention to change the direction of their lives? To put it another way, can people be true believers in Christ and not followers of Christ? There are three lines of evidence that indicate it is not possible to do so. First, there is the evidence from the ministry of Jesus. In His dealing with people who came to Him, He never offered anything less than a new way of life. One very clear example is that of the rich young ruler. He wanted to know what to do "to inherit eternal life" (Lk 18:18). Jesus answered, "One thing you lack. Sell all that you have, and distribute unto the poor, ... and come, follow me." The man refused to do so, but Jesus made no other offer to the man. The parable of the two sons demonstrates that it is not what people profess but what they actually do that counts. One son said he would obey his father, but did not. The other refused, but later repented and did the will of his father (Matt. 21:28-31). Another line of evidence is that found in 2Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are be-come new." The point is, people cannot be saved without being changed from the inside out. They do not change themselves; it is God who recreates persons. This work of God in believers' lives leads us to a third line of evidence, the fruit of repentance. If people have truly believed and been converted, there must be evidence of a new life. John the Baptist demanded fruits of repentance (Luke 3:8ff.). John also said that this is how we know that we know Christ, "if we keep His commandments" (1John 2:3). (See Gal. 5:21 and Jas 2:14ff. also.) Because of this, it must be concluded that repentance also involves the decision to make a radical change in the direction of our lives. It represents a new departure, the beginning point of a different attitude toward life. The new purpose is to become a follower of Jesus. The proof of repentance is people's deeds. There is no reason to think people have repented if there has been no change in their lives, because words alone do not save. (Salvation Word Studies)

Trench's Discussion of Repent...

 

metanoeo (3340) Repent; metamelomai (3338)

Reformation theologians frequently argued that metanoia (3341) and metameleia and their verbs metanoein and metamelesthai are quite distinct. On the one hand, metameliea and its verb express a desire that an action might be undone, express regrets or even remorse, but do not imply an effective change of heart. On the other hand, metanoia and its verb refer to a true change of heart toward God. According to Chillingworth:

To this purpose it is worth the observing, that when the Scripture speaks of that kind of repentance, which is only sorrow for something done, and wishing it undone, it constantly useth the word metameleia, to which forgiveness of sins is nowhere promised. So it is written of Judas the son of perdition (Matthew 27:3), metameletheis apetrepse, he repented and went and hanged himself, and so constantly in other places. But that repentance to which remission of sins and salvation is promised, is perpetually expressed by the word metanoia, which signifieth a thorough change of the heart and soul, of the life and actions.

Before proceeding further, let me correct a slight inaccuracy in Chillingworth's statement. Metameleia does not occur in the New Testament and is found only once in the Septuagint (Hosea 11:8). Since this is a work on New Testament synonyms, the comparison and distinction can be made only between the verbs, though what is true of them also will be true of their nouns. But still another qualification needs to be made. Jeremy Taylor remarked:

The Greeks use two words to express this duty, metameleia and metanoia.Metameleia is from metameleisthai, post factum angi et crucian,"to be afflicted in mind," "to be troubled for our former folly"; it is dysarestesis epi pepragmenois, saith Favorinus, "a being displeased for what we have done," and it is generally used for all sorts of repentance; but more properly to signify either the beginning of a good, or the whole state of an ineffective, repentance. In the first sense we find it in Matthew, hymeis de idontes ou metamelethete hysteron tou pisteusai auto,"and ye, seeing, did not repent that ye might believe Him." Of the second sense we have an example in Judas, metameletheis apestrepse, he "repented" too, but the end of it was he died with anguish and despair.... There is in this repentance a sorrow for what is done, a disliking of the thing with its consequences and effect, and so far also it is a change of mind. But it goes no further than so far to change the mind that it brings trouble and sorrow, and such things as are the natural events of it.... When there was a difference made, metanoia was the better word, which does not properly signify the sorrow for having done amiss, but something that is nobler than it, but brought in at the gate of sorrow. For he kata Theon lype,"a godly sorrow," that is metameleia, or the first beginning of repentance, metanoian katergazetai, "worketh this better repentance," metanoian ametameleton [278] and eis soterian (4991).

Later Taylor admitted that "however the grammarians may distinguish them, yet the words are used promiscuously" and that it is not possible to distinguish them in a rigid fashion. Although this is partially true, it is possible to show that each word has a predominant use. There was a well-known conflict between the early Reformers and the Roman Catholic theologians over whether paenitentia (repentance), as the Catholics held, or resipiscentia (reformation), as Beza and others affirmed, was the better Latin translation of metanoia. There was much to be said on both sides. Had metameleia and not metanoia been the disputed word, the Catholics would have had a more favorable position. Augustine stated: "Paenitentia is a certain defense of one grieving, always punishing himself for having committed what pained him."

Properly speaking, metanoein is "to know after" as pronoein (4306) is "to know before"; metanoia is "after knowledge," as pronoia (4307) is "foreknowledge." As Clement of Alexandria said:

If he perceived afterwards [metenoesen] what he had done wrong, if he has understood where he had made a mistake and has had a change of heart, that very thing isafter he has realized these thingsmetanoia or late knowledge.

And Stobaeus stated: "The wise man must not know after [metanoein] but know before [pronoein]." The next step that metanoia signifies is the change of mind that results from this afterknowledge. Thus Tertullian wrote: "In the Greek language the word for repentance is not derived from the admission of a fault but from a change of mind." The third stage of metanoia results from this change of mind and consists of regret for the course of action that was pursued and of dysapestesis (displeasure) with oneself. Tertullian defined it as "a certain suffering of the mind which comes from a displeasure about a previous opinion," for this was all that the heathen understood by it. At this stage of its meaning, metanoia was associated with degmos, aischyne, and pothos.Last of all metanoia signifies a resulting change of conduct. This change of mind and consequent change of action, however, may be a change for the worse or a change for the better. The change signified by metanoia does not necessarily imply a resipiscentia (reformation) as well. That idea is a Christian addition to metanoia. Thus A. Gellius stated:

We are accustomed then to say we regret [paenitere] when the deeds which we ourselves have done, or have been done through our will and plan, begin to displease us and we change our opinion about them.

Similarly, Plutarch told of two murderers who spared a child but who afterwards "repented" (metenoesan) and sought to slay it. Plutarch used metameleia in the sense of repenting of something that is good, thus validating Tertullian's complaint:

What the pagans irrationally might include under the act of regret will be sufficiently clear from that fact alone that they apply it also to their good deeds: one regrets loyalty, love, sincerity, patience, mercy when any of these has fallen on the thankless.

The regret that is part of the meaning of metanoia may be (and often is) quite unconnected with any sense of wrongdoing, with any sense of violating a moral law. This type of regret may simply be what our fathers used to call "hadiwist." Sometimes, though rarely, metanoia has an ethical meaning, as is the case in two other passages in Plutarch. In the former passage, Plutarch's use of metanoia is in harmony with its use in Romans 2:4; in the latter passage, Plutarch used metameleia and metanoia interchangeably.

Only in Scripture and in the works of those who were dependent on Scripture does metanoia predominantly refer to a change of mind, to taking a wiser view of the past, to "the soul's perception of the wicked things it has done" (Favorinus), to a regret for the illdone in the past that results in a change of life for the better, to "a turning about of one's life." Or as Plato had already described it, metanoia refers to "a turning from shadows to light" and to "a turning about, a turning around of the soul." This meaning was neither an etymological component of the word nor its primary meaning but was imported into it. This usage did not occur frequently in the Septuagint or in the Apocrypha but is common in Philo, who related metanoia and beltiosis and who explained metanoia as a "change to the better." In the New Testament, metanoein and metanoia are always used in an ethical sense to refer to "a radical transformation in the lifestyle of people, accompanied by painful remorse" (Delitzsch).

The meanings of metanoein and metanoia gradually expanded until they came to express the mighty, Spirit-wrought change in mind, heart, and life known as repentance. A similar honor was partially bestowed on metameleia and metamelesthai. Plutarch called the first word "a saving demon," explained it as "the shame from pleasures which are contrary to law and uncontrollable," and associated it with barythymia, heaviness of heart. Metamelesthai is used five times in the New Testament, metameleia not at all. In one case, metamelesthai is used to refer to Judas Iscariot's sorrow (Matthew 27:3), which resulted in his death. On another occasion (Hebrews 7:21), metamelesthai does not refer to man's repentance but to God's change of mind.

Metanoia occurs twenty-five times in the New Testament and metanoein thirty-five times. Those who deny any discernible difference between these words (either in profane or in sacred Greek) point to passages in secular Greek where metameleia is used in all the senses claimed for metanoia and to other passages where the two are used interchangeably to refer to remorse.In sacred Greek they point to passages in the New Testament where metamelesthai implies all that metanoein would (Matthew 21:29; Matthew 21:32). Although all of that is true, there is a distinct preference in sacred and profane Greek to use metanoia as the word that best expresses the nobler form of repentance. This is in keeping with what we would have expected from the relative etymological force of the words. The one who has changed his mind about the past is on the road to changing everything, but the one who has an after care may have little more than a selfish dread of the consequences of his actions.

We may sum up the long dispute on the relation of these words by quoting from Bengel, who distinguishes them but who does not push the distinction too far.

From its origin metanoia is properly of the mind and metameleia is of the will, since the former would indicate a change of opinion and the latter a change in anxiety or in eagerness.... Either term therefore is used for a person who repents of an act or a planwhether the repentance is good or bad, whether for a good thing or a bad thing, whether it occurs with a change of deeds in the future or without it. However if you consider the use, metameleia generally is a middle term and refers usually to individual actions, while metanoia especially in the New Testament is used in a good sense, which denotes the reformation of the whole life and of ourselves in a measureor it is the entire happy reminiscence after error and sins, with our beloved ones joining in, which produces worthy fruits. Hence it happens that metanoein often occurs in the imperative mood, metameleisthai neverbut in other places where metanoia is read one may substitute metameleia, but not the reverse. (Repent - Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament)

Acts 17:31

because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.
he hath appointed
Acts 10:42; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:22,23; Romans 2:5,16; 14:9,10; 1Corinthians 4:5; 2Corinthians 5:10; 2Timothy 4:1; 2Peter 3:7; Jude 1:14,15
given assurance or, offered faith. in that.
Acts 17:18; 2:23,24,32; 3:15,16; 4:10; 5:30-32; 10:39-41; 13:30,31; Luke 24:46-48; 1Corinthians 15:3-8

He has fixed a day - "God did set the day in his counsel and he will fulfil it in his own time." (Robertson)

God, who created all men, must be the Judge of all men, and "the Judge of all the earth" will certainly "do right" (Ge 18:25). And since God both "created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph 3:9-note), and has also "made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself" (Col 1:20-note), it is appropriate that "He shall judge" all things by Christ (Jn 5:22,27 Mt 25:31).

Barclay - The days of groping and ignorance are past. So long as men had to search in the shadows they could not know God and he excused their follies and their mistakes; but now in Christ the full blaze of the knowledge of God has come and the day of excuses is past. The day of judgment is coming. Life is neither a progress to extinction, as it was to the Epicureans, nor a pathway to absorption to God, as it was to the Stoics; it is a journey to the judgment seat of God where Jesus Christ is Judge. The proof of the preeminence of Christ is the resurrection. It is no unknown God but a Risen Christ with whom we have to deal. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Through a Man whom He has appointed (horizo) - Here he adds to the Psalm the place and function of Jesus Christ, a passage in harmony with Christ‘s own words in Matthew 25....It has been said that Paul left the simple gospel in this address to the council of the Areopagus for philosophy. But did he? He skillfully caught their attention by reference to an altar to an Unknown God whom he interprets to be the Creator of all things and all men who overrules the whole world and who now commands repentance of all and has revealed his will about a day of reckoning when Jesus Christ will be Judge. He has preached the unity of God, the one and only God, has proclaimed repentance, a judgment day, Jesus as the Judge as shown by his Resurrection, great fundamental doctrines, and doubtless had much more to say when they interrupted his address. There is no room here for such a charge against Paul. He rose to a great occasion and made a masterful exposition of God‘s place and power in human history. (Acts 17 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Furnished - parechō old verb to furnish, used regularly by Demosthenes for bringing forward evidence.

Proof (4102)(pistis) is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things. Here Paul uses "pistis as conviction or ground of confidence (Hebrews 11:1-note) like a note or title-deed, a conviction resting on solid basis of fact." (Robertson)

Furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead - Death has always been man's greatest, and finally victorious, enemy (1Cor 15:26), and only the Creator of life, the Judge who imposed the sentence of death because of sin (Ge 3:17, 18, 19, 20), can conquer death. The founders and leaders of all other religions and philosophies eventually die, but Jesus Christ is alive! His tomb is empty, and He has ascended in His resurrection body to the Father in heaven. His bodily resurrection, which is the best-proved fact of biblical history, is the certain assurance that He is the Creator and Judge of all. And it is also the greatest assurance that we too will be raised bodily to walk in newness of life in His very presence some day (soon) - see 1Cor 15:20-22.

Robertson - This Paul knew to be a fact because he himself had seen the Risen Christ (Acts 9:3-16). Paul has here come to the heart of his message and could now throw light on their misapprehension about “Jesus and the Resurrection” (Acts 17:18). Here Paul has given the proof of all his claims in the address that seemed new and strange to them.

Acts 17:32

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
some
Acts 17:18; 2:13; 13:41; 25:19; 26:8,24,25; Genesis 19:14; 2Chronicles 30:9-11; 36:16; Luke 22:63; 23:11,36; 1Corinthians 1:23; 4:10; Hebrews 11:36; 13:13
We will
Acts 24:25; Luke 14:18; 2Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7,8

Robertson -  The Greeks believed that the souls of men lived on, but they had no conception of resurrection of the body. They had listened with respect till Paul spoke of the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead as a fact, when they did not care to hear more.

Resurrection (386)(anastasis from ana = up, again + histemi = to cause to stand) literally means “to stand again" or "to cause to stand again" and most NT uses refer to a physical body rising from the dead or coming back to life after having once died. The resurrection is distinguished from belief in reincarnation, which usually involves a series of rebirths from which the soul may seek release. Resurrection has primary reference to the body. The resurrection is the central, defining doctrine and claim of the gospel for as Paul wrote "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain." (1Cor 15:14)

Sneer (5512) (chleuazo from chleúe = joke, jest related to cheilos = a lip) means to throw out the lip and thus to mock, scoff, deride or sneer. To sneer stresses insulting another by contemptuous facial expression, phrasing, or tone of voice. To scoff stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision. It means to make fun of someone by joking or jesting.

NET Acts 17:32 Now when they heard about the resurrection from the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, "We will hear you again about this."

BDAG - (1) to engage in mockery, mock, sneer, scoff ; (2) to make fun of maliciously, mock, scoff at, sneer at

Vincent on chleuazo - Only here in New Testament (3x in the apocryphal Septuagint - 2Macc 7:27; 4Macc 5:22; Wisdom 11:14) , though a compound, diachleuazo, mock, occurs, according to the best texts, at Acts 2:13. The force of the imperfect, began to mock, should be given here in the translation, as marking the outbreak of derision.

The response is not surprising for whenever one preaches or witnesses of the creation and resurrection to unbelievers, especially to modern day  Stoics (atheists) or Epicureans (pantheists, New Agers), many ridicule, some defer judgment, and some believe.

Robertson -  In contempt at Paul‘s statement they declined to listen further to “this babbler” (Acts 17:18) who had now lost what he had gained with this group of hearers (probably the light and flippant Epicureans).

Others - A more polite group like those who had invited him to speak (Acts 17:19). They were unconvinced, but had better manners and so were in favor of an adjournment. This was done, though it is not clear whether it was a serious postponement or a courteous refusal to hear Paul further (probably this). It was a virtual dismissal of the matter. “ It is a sad story--the noblest of ancient cities and the noblest man of history--and he never cared to look on it again” (Furneaux) (Robertson).

Vincent - In this remarkable speech of Paul are to be noted: his prudence and tact in not needlessly offending his hearers; his courtesy and spirit of conciliation in recognizing their piety toward their gods; his wisdom and readiness in the use of the inscription “to the unknown God,” and in citing their own poets; his meeting the radical errors of every class of his hearers, while seeming to dwell only on points of agreement; his lofty views of the nature of God and the great principle of the unity of the human race; his boldness in proclaiming Jesus and the resurrection among those to whom these truths were foolishness; the wonderful terseness and condensation of the whole, and the rapid but powerful and assured movement of the thought.

Acts 17:33

So Paul went out of their midst.

Robertson -  No further questions, no effort to arrest him, no further ridicule. He walked out never to return to Athens. Had he failed?

Acts 17:34

But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
certain
Acts 17:4; 13:48; Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 20:16; Romans 11:5,6
the Areopagite
Acts 17:19; John 7:48-52; 19:38-42; Philippians 4:22

Masses did not accept Christ, but the power of the gospel did work among Athen's intellectual elite. God calls us to be salt, to be light, not to make believers. Only God can open a closed heart and blind eyes and deaf ears. It is however notable that there is no specific record of a church in Athens. Paul does call certain Corinthians the first converts on mainland Greece (1Co 16:15). 

Joined (2853)(kollao from kolla = glue) means literally to glue, cement, join or fasten together and thus to unite (someone with or to someone or some thing). To fasten firmly together. Kollao can mean to attach oneself to a master in a job means to hire oneself out as a servant ("the prodigal son" in Lk 15:15).

Robertson - No sermon is a failure which leads a group of men (andres) to believe (ingressive aorist of pisteuo - word study) in Jesus Christ. Many so-called great or grand sermons reap no such harvest.

Dionysius the Areopagite was one of the members of the upper echelons of the Athens Council, whose members all had once held some high office of state and were more than 60 years of age. Tradition (Eusebius) maintains that Dionysius was the first bishop of Athens and that he died the death of a martyr. Vincent adds Areopagite refers to "One of the judges of the court of Areopagus. Of this court Curtius remarks: “Here, instead of a single judge, a college of twelve men of proved integrity conducted the trial. If the accused had an equal number of votes for and against him, he was acquitted. The Court on the hill of Ares is one of the most ancient institutions of Athens, and none achieved for the city an earlier or more widely spread recognition. The Areopagitic penal code was adopted as a norm by all subsequent legislators” (“History of Greece,” i., 307)."

Robertson adds this note on Dionysius - One of the judges of the Court of the Areopagus. That of itself was no small victory. He was one of this college of twelve judges who had helped to make Athens famous. Eusebius says that he became afterwards bishop of the Church at Athens and died a martyr.

A woman named Damaris - A woman by name Damaris. Not the wife of Dionysius as some have thought, but an aristocratic woman, not necessarily an educated courtezan as Furneaux holds. And there were “others” (heteroi) with them, a group strong enough to keep the fire burning in Athens. It is common to say that Paul in 1Corinthians 2:1-5 alludes to his failure with philosophy in Athens when he failed to preach Christ crucified and he determined never to make that mistake again. On the other hand Paul determined to stick to the Cross of Christ in spite of the fact that the intellectual pride and superficial culture of Athens had prevented the largest success. As he faced Corinth with its veneer of culture and imitation of philosophy and sudden wealth he would go on with the same Gospel of the Cross (1Cor 1:23), the only Gospel that Paul knew or preached. And it was a great thing to give the world a sermon like that preached in Athens.

Barclay - It would seem on the whole that Paul had less success in Athens than anywhere else. It was typical of the Athenians that all they wanted was to talk. They did not want action; they did not even particularly want conclusions. They wanted simply mental acrobatics and the stimulus of a mental hike. There were three main reactions. (i) Some mocked. They were amused by the passionate earnestness of this strange Jew. It is possible to make a jest of life; but those who do so will find that what began as comedy must end in tragedy. (ii) Some put off their decision. The most dangerous of all days is when a man discovers how easy it is to talk about tomorrow. (iii) Some believed. The wise man knows that only the fool will reject God's offer.Two converts are named. There is Dionysius the Areopagite. As already said, the Areopagus was composed of perhaps not more than thirty people; so that Dionysius must have been one of the intellectual aristocracy of Athens. There was Damaris. The position of women in Athens was very restricted. It is unlikely that any respectable woman would have been in the market square at all. The likelihood is that she turned from a way of shame to a way of life. Once again we see the gospel making its appeal to all classes and conditions of men and women. (Acts 17 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)


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