Amphipolis. This was the ancient capital of that division of Macedonia (Macedonia Prima); see Acts 16:12, note. It was situated on the Via Egnatia, thirty-four miles southwest from Philippi, and three miles from the AEgean Sea. It lay in a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Strymon, whence its name, Amphipolis; its modern name is Neokhoria, now a village. Its original name was ἐννέα ̔οδοί, The Nine Ways. Originally a Thracian city, it was conquered by the Athenians, then by the Lacedaemonians, then fell under the dominion of Philip of Macedon, and finally, with the rest of Macedonia, became part of the Roman empire. Apollonia; now probably Polina, thirty miles due west of Amphipolis, on the Via Egnatia. The modern track from Amphipolis to Thessalonica does not pass through Polina, but beneath it. Thessalonica; on the Via Egnatia, now the important seaport of Saloniki, on the Aegean Sea or Archipelago, thirty-eight miles from Apollonia, and con-raining about sixty thousand inhabitants. Its ancient name was Therma (whence the Thermean Bay), but it took the name of Thessalonica under the Macedonian kings. It continued to grow in importance under the Romans, and was the most populous city of the whole of Macedonia. It was the capital of Macedonia Secunda under the division by AEmilius Paulus (Acts 16:12, note), and in the time of Theodosius the Younger, when Macedonia consisted of two provinces, it was the capital of Macedonia Prima. But from its situation and great commercial importance it was virtually the capital of "Greece, Macedonia, and Illyricum" (Howson, in ' Dict. of Geog.'). Its trade attracted a great colony of Jews from before the time of St. Paul, and through the Roman and Greek and Turkish empires, down to the present day, when "one-half of the population is said to be of Israelitish race "(Lewin). £ Thessalonica had a terrible celebrity from the massacre of its inhabitants by order of the Emperor Theodosius, in revenge for the murder of Botheric, his general, which led to the famous penance imposed upon the emperor by St. Ambrose. It was also taken three times in the Middle Ages: by the Saracens, with fearful slaughter, A.D. 904; by the Normans, with scarcely less cruelty, A.D. 1185; and by the Turks, in 1430. Its ecclesiastical history under its archbishops is also of great interest (see 'Dict. of Greek and Roman Geog.'). Where was a synagogue. It is needless to point out the exact agreement of this brief statement with historical fact as pointed out above. There is said to have been twenty-two Jewish synagogues at Thessalonica after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the fifteenth century, and the number at the present time is stated to be thirty-six. The existence of a synagogue at this time was the reason of St. Paul's visit and sojourn there.
Custom for manner, A.V.; for three for three, A.V.; from for out of, A.V. Reasoned (see note on Acts 17:17).
It behooved the Christ to suffer, and to rise for Christ must needs have suffered, and risen, A.V.; whom, said he for whom, A.V.; proclaim for preach. A.V.; the Christ for Christ, A.V. The line of reasoning adopted by St. Paul in his preaching to the Thessalonian Jews was the same as that of our Lord to the disciples and apostles on the day of his resurrection, as recorded in Luke 24:26, Luke 24:27; 44-47, and that of St. Peter (Acts 2:22-36; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:11, etc.), and it is irresistible. The fulfillment of prophecies relating to the Messiah in the person of Jesus is like the fitting of a key to the intricate wards of the lock, which proves that it is the right key. The preacher of the gospel should carefully study and expound to the people the word of prophecy, and then show its counterpart in the sufferings and glory of Christ. This did St. Paul. Opening ( διανοίγων); as our Lord had done ( διήνοιγεν ἡμῖν τὰς γραφάς, Luke 24:32), the hidden meaning of the prophecies, and then alleging ( παρατιθέμενος), setting before them the propositions which had thus been established. The process is described in Luke 24:27 as interpreting ("expounded," A.V.). In this verse the opening was showing from the prophets that the Messiah was to die and rise again; the alleging was that Jesus was that very Christ.
Were persuaded for believed, A.V. ( ἐπείσθησαν). Consorted with; προσεκληρώθησαν a word only found here in the New Testament, but, like so many other words in St. Luke's vocabulary, found also in Pintarch, in the sense of being "associated with," or "attached to" any one; literally, to be assigned to any one by lot (comp. the use of the simple verb ἐκληρώθημεν, Ephesians 1:11). Of the devout Greeks. Observe the frequent proofs of the influence the synagogues had in bringing heathen to the knowledge of the true God (see verse 12; Acts 10:2; Acts 11:21; Acts 13:48; Acts 14:1, etc.). The chief women ( τῶν πρώτων). So in Acts 13:50 τοὺς πρώτους τῆς πολέως means "the chief men of the city." And Lake 19:49, οἱ πρῶτοι τοῦ λαοῦ are "the chief of the people" (" the principal men," R.V.) It has been already remarked that St. Lake especially notices the instances of female piety. In Acts 13:12 we have τῶν εὐσχημόνων in the same sense as the τῶν πρώτων in this verse.
Jews for Jews which believed not, A.V. and T.R.; being moved for moved, A.V.; jealousy for envy, A.V. (see Acts 13:45, note); vile fellows of the rabble for lewd fellows of the baser sort, A.V.; gathering a crowd, set for gathered a company and set, A.V.; the city for all the city, A.V.; assaulting … they for assaulted … and, A.V.; forth for out, A.V. The house of Jason; where it appears from Acts 17:7, as well as from this verse, Paul and Silas were lodging. If, as is very probable, the Jason here mentioned is the same person as the Jason of Romans 16:21, it would seem that he joined the apostle, either at this time or on his visit to Macedonia mentioned in Acts 20:3, and went with him to Corinth, where the Epistle to the Romans was written. He was a relation, συγγενής, of St. Paul's, and doubtless a Jew. Jason was a Romanized form of the name Jesus, or Joshua, as we see in the case of the high priest, the brother of Onias (Josephus, ' Ant. Jud.,' 12. 5.1). It was borne also by Jason of Cyrene, the Jewish historian (2 Macc. 2:23), and by another mentioned in 1 Macc. 8:17, etc. St. Luke seems to introduce Jason as a well-known person.
Dragged for drew, A.V.; before for unto, A.V. Certain brethren; some of the Thessalonian Christians who happened to be in the house of Jason. The rulers of the city ( τοὺς πολιτάρχας, and Acts 17:8). This is a remarkable instance of St. Luke's accuracy. The word is unknown in Greek literature. But an inscription on an ancient marble arch, still standing in Thessalonica, or Saloniki, records that Thessalonica was governed by seven politarchs. Thessalonica was a Greek city, governed by its own laws. Hence the mention of the δῆμος in verse 5. The politarchs also were Greek, not Roman, magistrates. Crying; βοῶντες, often followed by μεγάλῃ φωνῇ, but whether so followed or not, always meaning "a loud cry" or "shout" (Acts 21:34; Luke 3:4, etc.). Turned the world upside down; ἀναστατόω is used in the New Testament only by St. Luke and St. Paul (Acts 21:38; Galatians 5:12); to unsettle or disturb; i.e. to make people literally ἀναστάτους homeless, outcasts, from their former settlements, or, metaphorically, unsettled in their allegiance to their civil or spiritual rulers, is the meaning of the word. In the mouth of St. Paul's accusers it contains a distinct charge of sedition and disobedience to the Roman law. The world ( τὴν οἰκουμένην the Roman empire (Luke 2:1), viewed as coextensive with the habitable globe (see verse 31; Acts 19:20; Acts 11:28, note).
Act for do, A.V. Received; i.e. as the word ὑποδέχομαι always means "received as a guest" (Luke 10:38; Luke 19:6; James 2:25, etc.). Hence the substantive ὑποδοχή, an entertainment or reception. The insinuation is that, by harboring these seditious men, Jason had made himself a partner in their sedition. That there is another king, etc. (comp. John 19:12, John 19:15).
Multitude for people, A.V. ( τὸν ὔχλον, not δῆμον).
From for of, A.V.; the rest for of the other, A.V. The rest, or others, are of course the "certain brethren" of Acts 17:6.
Beraea for Berea, A.V.; when they were come for coming, A.V. Beraea. In the third division of Macedonia, about sixty miles from Thessalonica; its modern name is Verria. Went into the synagogue. No amount of ill usage from the Jews could weaken St. Paul's love for "his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:3); and no amount of danger or suffering could check his zeal in preaching the gospel of Christ.
Now these for these, A.V.; examining for and searched, A.V.; these for those, A.V. Note the immense advantage which the preachers and the hearers had in the previous knowledge of the Scriptures gained by the Beraeans in the synagogue. Note also the mutual light shed by the Old and New Testaments the one upon the other.
Many … therefore for therefore many, A.V.; the Greek women of honorable estate for honorable women which were Greeks, A.V. Honorable; εὐσχημόνων, as Acts 13:50, where it is coupled with τοὺς πρώτους τῆς πόλεως. Meyer thinks that it is meant that the men were Greeks too; but this is uncertain. The only Beraean convert whose name we know is Sopater (Acts 20:4), or Sosipater, who is probably the same (Romans 16:21). If so, he was apparently a Jew, whose Hebrew name may have been Abishua.
Proclaimed for preached, A.V.; Beraea also for Berea, A.V.; likewise for also, A.V.; stirring up and troubling the multitudes for and stirred up the people, A.V. and T.R.
Forth for away, A.V.; as far as for as it were ( ἕως for ὡς), A.V. and T.R.; and for but, A.V. and T.R.; Timothy for Timotheus, A.V. As far as to the sea. If the reading of the T.R. is right, ὡς merely indicates the direction. Literally, ὡς ἐπὶ κ. τ. λ, means "with the thought of going to the sea," but thence, by a common usage, it describes the action without reference to the thought. The English phrase, "they made for the sea," is nearly equivalent. The object of going to the sea, seventeen miles from Beraea, was to take ship for Athens. This he probably did either at Pydna or at Dium. Silas and Timothy. Whether Timothy left Philippi with St. Paul, or whether, as is not improbable, he joined him at Thessalonica, cannot be decided. Anyhow, Paul now left Silas and Timothy to watch over the Thessalonian converts.
But for and, A.V.; as far as for unto ( ἕως), A.V.; Timothy for Timotheus, A.V.; that they should come for for to come, A.V. They that conducted, etc. ( οἱ καθιστῶντες). The verb καθίστημι, in its primary sense, means to "place any one" in a given spot; and thence secondarily, to "conduct" or" escort" any one to a place, to "set him down" at such a place. So Homer ('Odyssey,' 13:294) uses the word of transporting any one by ship to this or that town (quoted by Meyer). There is fie indication in the word of St. Paul's defect of sight or infirmity. Receiving a commandment, etc. We learn here that St. Paul sent a message to Silas and Timothy to join him at Athens as quickly as possible, and at Acts 17:16 that he waited at Athens for them. From 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, we learn that he sent Timothy from Athens back to Thessalonica; and from 1 Thessalonians 3:6 we learn that Timothy came to St. Paul at Corinth (where the Epistle to the Thessalonians was written) from Thessalonica. We also learn from 1 Thessalonians 1:1 that Silas and Timothy were both with him at Corinth when he wrote the Epistle, and from Acts 18:5 that they had both come to Corinth from Macedonia, some weeks after Paul himself had been at Corinth (Acts 18:4, Acts 18:5). All these statements harmonize perfectly (as Paley has shown) on the supposition that Silas and Timothy did join St. Paul at Athens; that for the reasons given in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13., when he was unable to return to Thessalonica himself, as he much wished, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica, and Silas probably to Beraea; and that Silas and Timothy came together from Macedonia to Corinth, where St. Paul had gone alone; where it may be noted, as another undesigned coincidence, that whereas the First Epistle to the Thessalonians implies that Silas did not go to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2), Acts 18:5 does not say that Silas and Timothy came from Thessalonica, but from Macedonia. The inaccuracy supposed by Meyer (on this verse) is purely imaginary. Acts 18:5 does not say that Silas and Timothy "only joined Paul at Corinth," but merely relates some change in St. Paul's procedure consequent upon their joining him at Corinth. Alford (on this verse), in saying that Paul sent Timothy from Beraea, not from Athens, is guided by his own idea of what is probable, not by the letter of the narrative (see further note on Acts 18:5).
Provoked within for stirred in, A.V. ( παρωξύνετο: see Acts 15:29, note); as he beheld for when he saw, A.V.; full of idols for wholly given to idolatry, A.V. The Greek κατείδωλος occurs only here, either in the New Testament or elsewhere. But the analogy of ether words similarly compounded fixes the meaning "full of idols"—a description fully borne out by Pausanias and Xenophon and others (Steph., 'Thesaur.;' Meyer, etc.).
So he reasoned for therefore disputed he, A.V.; and the devout for and with the devout, A.V.; market-place every day for market daily, A.V. Reasoned ( διελέγετο, as in Acts 17:2; Acts 18:19 and Acts 24:12). "Disputed" gives the force of διαλέγεσθαι better than "reasoned," because the word in Plato, Thucydides, Xenophon, AElian, etc., is especially used of discussions and arguments in which two persons or more take part. διάλεκτος is "discussion;" ἡ διαλεκτίκη is the art of drawing answers from your opponent to prove your conclusion; διάλαγος is a "dialogue" (see, however, Acts 20:7). The market-place. "The celebrated ἀγορά, … not far from the Pnyx, the Acropolis, and the Amopagus,… rich in noble statues, the central seat of commercial, forensic, and philosophic intercourse, as well as of the busy idleness of the loungers" (Meyer, in loc.).
And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers for then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, A.V.; would for will, A.V.; preached for preached unto them, A.V. and T.R. The Epicureans (so called from Epicurus, their founder) and the Stoics (so called from the στοά, the colonnade or piazza where Zeno their founder taught) were the most numerous scots at Athens at this time; and their respective tenets were the most opposite to the doctrines of the gospel. Encountered him; σύνεβαλλον. In Acts 4:15 it is followed by πρός, and is properly rendered "conferred;" here it is followed by the dative, and may be understood to mean "disputed" ( συμβάλλειν λόγους). It may, however, not less properly be taken in the sense of a hostile encounter of words, as Luke 14:31, and frequently in classical Greek. This babbler ( σπερμολόγος); literally, a picker-up of seeds, applied to a crow. Plutarch too ('Demet.,' 28) has σπερμολόγοι ὅρνιθες, birds picking up seeds. Hence it is used of idle hangers-on in the markets, who get a livelihood by what they can pick up, and so generally of empty, worthless fellows. Hence it is further applied to those who pick up scraps of knowledge from one or another and "babble them indifferently in all companies" (Johnson's 'Dictionary,' under "Babble"). A setter forth of strange gods. There does not seem to be the least ground for Chrysostom's suggestion that they took Anastasis (the Resurrection) for the name of a goddess. But the preaching of Jesus the Son of God, himself risen from the dead (Luke 14:31), and hereafter to be the Judge of quick and dead at the general resurrection, was naturally, to both Stoics and Epicureans, a setting forth of strange gods. ξένα δαιμόνια are "foreign deities," or "daemons," inferior gods. The word καταγγελεύς, a setter forth, does not occur elsewhere. But the nearly identical word κατάγγελος is used by Plutarch.
Took held of for took, A.V.; the Areopagus for Areopagus, A.V.; teaching is for doctrine … is, A.V.; which is spoken by thee for whereof thou speakest, A.V. Took hold of him. The word ἐπιλάβεσθαι means simply to "take hold of" the hand, the hair, a garment, etc. The context alone decides whether this taking held is friendly or hostile. Here the sense is well expressed by Grotius (quoted by Meyer): "Taking him gently by the hand." The Areopagas. Mars' Hill, close to the Agora on the north, was so called from the legend that Mars was tried there before the gods for the murder of a son of Neptune. It is (says Lewin) a bare, rugged rock, approached at the south-eastern corner by steps, of which sixteen still remain perfect. Its area at the top measures sixty paces by twenty-four, within which a quadrangle, sixteen paces square, is excavated and leveled for the court. The judges seem to have sat on benches tier above tier on the rising rock on the north side of the quadrangle. There were also seats on the east and west sides, and on the south on either side of the stairs. The Areopagus (the upper court) was the most august of all the courts at Athens. Socrates was tried and condemned before it for impiety. On the present occasion, there is no appearance of judicial proceedings, but they seem to have adjourned to the Areopagus from the Agora, as to a convenient place for quiet discussion.
Strange things. ξενίζειν, in this use of it, means to act or play the foreigner, to imitate the manners and language and appearance of a foreigner ( ξένος), just as ἰουδαίζειν ἐλληνίζειν αττικίζειν, etc., mean to Judaize, Hellenize, Atticize, etc. Here, then, the Athenians say that St. Paul's doctrines have a foreign air, do not lock like native Athenian speculations.
Now for for, A.V.; the strangers sojourning there for strangers which were there, A.V. Spent their time. This gives the general sense, but the margin of the R.T., had leisure for nothing else, is much more accurate. εὐκαιρεῖν, which is not considered good Greek, is only used by Polybius, and in the sense either of "being wealthy" or of "having leisure" or "opportunity." In the New Testament it occurs in Mark 6:31 and 1 Corinthians 16:12. Some new thing. So Cleon (Thucyd., 3.38) rates the Athenians upon their being entirely guided by words, and constantly deceived by any novelty of speech ( καινότητος λόγου). And Demosthenes in his first 'Philippic', inveighs against them because, when they ought to be up and doing, they went about the Agora, asking one another, "Is there any news? ( λέγεταί τι καινόν;)." The comparative καινότερον ix a little stronger than καινόν: "the very last news" (Alford).
And for then, A.V.; the Areopagus for Mars' hill, A.V.; in all things I perceive that for I perceive that in all things, A.V.; somewhat for too, A.V. In the midst is simply a local description. He stood in the midst of the excavated quadrangle, while his hearers probably sat on the scats all round. Ye men of Athena. The Demosthenes of the Church uses the identical address— ἄνδρες ἀθηναῖοι—which the great orator used in his stirring political speeches to the Athenian people. Somewhat superstitious. There is a difference of opinion among commentators whether these words imply praise or blame. Chrysostom, followed by many others, takes it as said in the way of encomium, and understands the word δεισιδαιμονεστέρους as equivalent to εὐλαβεστέρους, very religious, more than commonly religious. And so Bishop Jacobson ('Speaker's Commentary'), who observes that the substantive δεισδαιμονία is used five times by Josephus, and always in the sense of "religion," or "piety." On the other hand, the Vulgate (superstitiosiores), the English Versions, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, etc., take the word in its most common classical sense of "superstitious;" and it weighs for something towards determining St. Luke's use of the word that Plutarch uses δεισιδαιμονία always in a bad sense, of superstition, as in his life of Alexander and elsewhere, and in his tract 'De Superstitione' ( δεισιδαιμονία). Perhaps the conclusion is that St. Paul, having his spirit stirred by seeing the city full of idols, determined to attack that spirit in the Athenian people which led to so much idolatry; which he did in the speech which follows. But, acting with his usual wisdom, he used an inoffensive term at the outset of his speech. He could not mean to praise them for that δεισιδαιμονία which it was the whole object of his sermon to condemn. Josephus ('Contr. Apion.,' 1.12) calls the Athenians τοὺς εὐσεβεστάτους τῶν ἐλλήνων, the most religious of all Greeks (Howson).
Passed along for passed by, A.V.; observed the objects of your worship for beheld your devotions, A.V. ( τὰ σεβάσματα υμῶν: see 2 Thessalonians 2:4); also an altar for an altar, A.V.; an for the, A.V.; what for whom, A.V. and T.R.; worship in ignorance for ignorantly worship, A.V.; this for him, A.V. and T.R.; set forth for declare, A.V. AN UNKNOWN GOD. There is no direct and explicit testimony in ancient writers to the existence of any one such altar at Athens, but Pausanias and others speak of altars to "unknown gods," as to be seen in Athens, which may well be understood of several such altars, each dedicated to an unknown god. One of these was seen by St. Paul, and, with inimitable tact, made the text of his sermon. He was not preaching a foreign god to them, but making known to them one whom they had already in-eluded in their devotions without knowing him.
The God for God, A.V. (surely a change for the worse); he being Lord for seeing that he is Lord, A.V. Made with hands ( χειροποιήτοις); see the same phrase in Mark 14:5, Mark 14:8; Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:11. St. Paul applies it, too, to the circumcision made with the knife, as distinguished from that wrought by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:11). It is frequent in the LXX. It is a striking instance of St. Paul's unflinching boldness and fidelity to the truth, that he should expose the hollowness of heathen worship, standing within a stone's throw of the Parthenon and the temple of Theseus and the countless other temples of gods and goddesses, which were the pride and glory of the Athenian people. Note how he begins his catechetical instruction to the Athenians with the first article of the Creed: "I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."
Is he served by for is worshipped with, A.V.; he himself for he, A.V. Served by men's hands. θεραπεύεται, is "waited upon," as a man is waited upon by his servant, who ministers to his wants; θεράπων and θεραπευτής are "an attendant." So in Hebrew: דבַעָ, to serve God; דבֵעָ, a servant of God; הדָוֹבעְ service as of the Levites in the temple, etc. Anything; or as some take it, as if he needed anybody's help or service. The argument, as Chrysostom suggests, is similar to that in Psalms 1:1-6. 8-12.
He made for hath made, A.V.; of one for of one blood, A.V. and T.R.; every nation for all nations, A.V.; having determined their appointed seasons for and hath determined the times before appointed, A.V. From the unity of God Paul deduces the unity of the human race, all created by God, all sprung from one ancestor, or one blood (whichever reading we take), and so not to have their several national gods, but all to be united in the worship of the one true and living God, the Father of them all. It may be remarked by the way that the languages of the earth, differing like the skins and the features of the different races, and corresponding to those various bounds assigned by God to their habitations, yet bear distinct and emphatic testimony to this unity. They are variations, more or less extended, of the speech of man. Bounds of their habitation; τὰς ὀροθεσίας κ. τ. λ.: the word only occurs here; elsewhere, though rarely, τὰ ὀροθέσια.
God for the Lord, A.V. and T.R. (Meyer does not accept this reading); is for be, A.V.; each for every, A.V. If haply they might feel after him. ψηλαφάω is "to touch, feel, or handle," as Luke 24:39; Hebrews 12:18; 1 John 1:1. But it is especially used of the action of the blind groping or feeling their way by their hands in default of sight. So Homer describes Polyphemus as χερσὶ ψηλαφόων, feeling his way to the mouth of the cave with his hands after he was blinded by Ulysses ('Odyssey,' 9.416). And in the LXX. of Deuteronomy 28:29 we read, ἔση ψηλαφῶν μεσημβρίας ὠς εἴ τις ψηλαφήσαι τυφλὸς ἐν τῷ σκότει, "Thou shall grope at noonday as the blind gropeth in darkness." The teaching, therefore, of the passage is that, though God was very near to every man, and had not left himself without abundant witness in his manifold gifts, yet, through the blindness of the heathen, they had to feel their way uncertainly toward God. In this fact lies the need of a revelation, as it follows Deuteronomy 28:30, etc. And hence part at least of the significance of such passages as, "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8); "Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9 ); "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" (2 Corinthians 4:6), and many more like passages.
Even for also, A.V. For in him, etc. This is the proof that we have not far to go to find God, Our very life and being, every movement we make as living persons, is a proof that God is near, nay, more than near, that he is with us and round about us, quickening us with his own life, upholding us by his own power, sustaining the being that we derive from him (comp. Psalms 139:7, etc.; Psalms 23:4). Certain even of your own poets; viz. Arstus of Tarsus, who has the exact words quoted by St. Paul, and Cleanthes of Asses, who has ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ γένος ἐσμέν. As he bad just defended himself from the imputation of introducing foreign gods by referring to an Athenian altar, so now, for the same purpose, he quotes one of their own Greek poets. (For the statement that man is the offspring of God, comp. Luke 3:38.)
Being then for forasmuch then as we are, A.V.; device of man for man's device, A.V. Graven by art, etc. In the Greek the substantive χαράγματα, graven images, things engraven, is in apposition with the gold, silver, and stone, and a further description of them. Art, τέχνη, is the manual skill, the device; ἐνθύμησις is the genius and mental power which plans the splendid temple, or exquisite sculpture, or the statue which is to receive the adoration of the idolater. Compare the withering sarcasm of Isaiah (Isaiah 44:9-17).
The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked for and the times of this ignorance God winked at, A.V.; he commandeth for commandeth, A.V.; men for all men, A.V.; that they should all everywhere repent for everywhere to repent, A.V. and T.R. The times of ignorance; perhaps with reference to Acts 17:23, and also implying that all the idolatry, of which he had spoken in Acts 17:29, arose from ignorance. God overlooked; or, as it is idiomatically expressed in the A.V., winked at; made as if he did not see it; "kept silence," as it is said in Psalms 1:1-6. 21; made no move to punish it. That they should all everywhere. The gospel is for the whole world- "Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Romans 10:18); "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Repent. The key-note of the gospel (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Acts 20:21).
Inasmuch as for because, A.V. and T.R.; the man for that man, A.V. He hath appointed a day. Hitherto the Athenians seem to have listened with interest while St. Paul was, with consummate skill, leading them onwards from the doctrines of natural religion, and while he was laying down speculative truths. But now they are brought to a stand. They might no longer go on asking, τι καινόν; A day fixed by God, they were told, was at hand, in which God would judge the world in righteousness, and in which they themselves would be judged also. And the certainty of this was made apparent by the fact that he who was ordained to be Judge was raised from the dead, and so ready to commence the judgment. The time for immediate action was come; God's revelation had reached them. The man ( ἀνδρί). So Acts 2:22, ἰησοῦν τὸν ναζωραῖον ἄνδρα ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀποδεδειγμένον κ. τ. λ. And so in John 5:27 our Lord himself says of himself that the Father gave him authority to execute judgment "because he is the Son of man;" and in Matthew 26:24, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power." (For the connection of the judgment with Christ's resurrection, see especially Acts 10:40-42.) So too the Creeds.
Now for and, A.V.; but for and, A.V.; concerning this yet again for again of this matter, A.V. Some mocked. Athenian skepticism could not accept so spiritual a truth as the resurrection of the dead; and Athenian levity of purpose deferred to another day the decisive step of accepting the salvation of the risen Savior, just as it had deferred resistance to Philip of Macedon till their liberties were gone and their country enslaved. (For "We will hear thee again," comp. Acts 24:25.)
Thus for so, A.V. and T.R.; went out for departed, A.V. The meaning is that he left the assembly in the Areopagus. At Acts 17:22 we were told that he stood ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ ἀρείου πάγου (where see note); now he went out ἐκ μέσου αὐτῶν, leaving them still sitting on their benches, while he walked down the steps to the city again from the place where he stood.
But for howbeit, A.V.; whom also for the which, A.V. Dionysius the Areopagite. The earliest notice we have of him in ecclesiastical writers is the well-known one of Eusebius, 'Eccl. Hist.,' 3. 4., in which he says, "We are told by an ancient writer, Dionysius the pastor of the diocese of Corinth, that his namesake Dionysius the Areopagite, of whom St. Luke says in the Acts that he was the first who embraced the faith after St. Paul's discourse in the Areopagus, became the first bishop of the Church in Athens." Eusebius repeats the statement in his long notice of Dionysius of Corinth, in 4. 23. Other uncertain traditions speak of him (Suidas) as one who rose to the height of Greek erudition, and as having suffered a cruel martyrdom (Niceph., 3.11). "The works which go by his name are undoubtedly spurious" (Alford). Damaris; "wholly unknown" (Meyer), but certainly not the wife of Dionysius, as Chrysostom (' De Sacerd.,' 4.7) and others have thought ('Dictionary of the Bible'). And others with them. These would seem to be but few from St. Luke's way of mentioning them, and from our hearing nothing more in the Acts about the Church at Athens. It is remarkable that this small number of converts coincides with the weakness of the synagogue at Athens—too weak to persecute, and too weak to make proselytes among the Greeks of Athens. It scorns clear that nowhere else had St. Paul won so few souls to Christ. And yet God's Word did not return to him wholly void. The seed fell on some good ground, to bring forth fruit unto eternal life.
The strange alliance.
Among the hindrances to the progress of the gospel in the world we have often to notice the combination of the most discordant elements for the purpose of obstruction. Pilate and Herod were made friends together when they united in crucifying the Lord of glory. When the chief priests and Pharisees, in their blind hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ, sought his death, they did not scruple to invoke the aid of the Roman power, the object of their bitterest hatred and continual resistance, and to profess an entire devotion to that detested rule. "We have no king but Caesar." So in politics, men of the most opposite principles often combine to crush the object of their common dislike. In religion, too, we see extreme parties joining hands to discomfit a third party to which they are equally opposed. In all such combinations there is want of uprightness and truth. There is a culpable indifference to the nature of the weapons which men use to compass their own end. There is a clear evidence that it is not the cause of righteousness and of God's truth that men are seeking to promote, but some end of their own. When these combinations take place to oppose the progress of Christian truth, though they may be formidable for a time, they carry with them the evidences that they are from beneath and will not prevail. The Church of God need not be afraid of them. The Jews of Thessalonica combined with the heathen rabble of their town, under a pretence of loyalty to Caesar, to silence Paul and Silas. When they fled they pursued them to Beraea, and drove them thence onwards to Athens and Corinth. But the breath intended to extinguish the flame did but make it blaze up from place to place. So will it be with every conspiracy to put out the light of Christ. Philosophy and sensuality, science and lawlessness, atheism and superstition, may join hands and combine to remove the candlestick of God's Church; it will but shed its light brighter and wider in the places where God wills it to shine, until at last the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God's glory, as the waters cover the sea.
The cross of Christ in the metropolis of art and philosophy.
There is a singular interest in this first encounter of the gospel with the art and philosophy of Athens, and it is instructive to note the attitude taken by the great preacher in the encounter. Whether St. Paul had artistic taste we have no means of knowing. But probably, as a devout Jew, seeing that sculpture was so largely employed in the images of the gods and the deified emperors, his eye would not have been trained to look with pleasure even upon the masterpieces of Grecian art. In like manner Greek architecture was mainly devoted to glorify the temples of the gods. The Parthenon at Athens, the temple of Diana at Ephesus, the temples of Apollo and Diana at Antioch, at Baalbec, in the many cities of Asia adorned by the Seleucidae, were indeed materially beautiful, but that material beauty was eclipsed by the moral deformity of their consecration to idolatry, to imposture, and to falsehood. The devout eye of the apostle would therefore be more shocked by the dishonor done to God, and the injury to the moral nature of man, than gratified by mere beauty of form, or architectural grandeur and grace. Hence, as far as we learn from the inspired narrative, the dominant effect upon his mind of the sight of the unrivalled statues and temples of Athens was grief and indignation at their homage to idolatry, rather than admiration of the artistic genius which produced them. In like manner he found himself face to face with philosophy. He was treading the courts of the academy where Plato had taught; he was in the city where Socrates had lived and died; there Aristotle had both learnt and taught; there the successors both of Zeno and Epicurus were still inculcating the tenets of their-respective schools. What was to be the attitude of an evangelist in the presence of these august representatives of human intellect? In what language was the apostle of Jesus Christ to address himself to them? In that of apology? In that of compromise? in that of conscious inferiority? or as if the possessors of so much wisdom had nothing to learn from him? Or, on the other hand, was he to speak the language of scorn and indignation—was he to shut his eyes to all that might be true and noble in the sentiments of those men, and to put them on a level with the vilest of mankind, because they were ignorant of the great truths of revelation? The actual conduct of St. Paul was as modest as it was wise, and as dauntless as it was modest. Looking around him at the altars of the gods, he seized upon the one favorable aspect of them—their witness to a worshipful spirit in the people towards the Unseen. Gathering from Greek literature a true description of the relation of man to the living God, he proceeded with wonderful simplicity and force to enunciate those truths of natural religion which an untainted reason perceives and approves. And then, rising to those higher truths which are the domain of revelation, he preached, as he had done before in the Agora, Jesus and the resurrection. He bid them repent of their sins done in ignorance; he told them of the coming of the day of judgment; he spoke to them of the awful Judge, and of his unerring righteousness. There was no faltering in his speech, no watering down of the severity of the gospel, no wincing at the subtle wits or the pretentious wisdom of those who heard him. He spoke as a man who knew that he had the truth of God, and that that truth would prevail. And such should ever be the attitude of the Christian teacher before the powers of the world. Humble, charitable, confident, and firm; owning all that is good and beautiful and true in the world around him, but always feeling, and acting as if he felt, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is better and truer and more beautiful than all; valuing true wisdom, and prizing the great gift of reason as the brightest jewel of our human nature; yet always remembering that in our fallen state reason could bring no remedy for sin nor cast a light upon the world to come; but that the only Name whereby we may be saved is the Name of Jesus, and that he alone has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON.
A fulfilled and an unfulfilled prophecy.
These verses would supply us with other material for thought. They present to us:
1. Christian workers patiently and conscientiously proceeding with their mission (Acts 17:1, Acts 17:2).
2. Christian advocates employing the weapon which was prepared for their use (Acts 17:3).
3. Christian laborers reaping a blessed spiritual harvest (Acts 17:4).
4. Faithful followers of the Lord partaking of his sufferings (Acts 17:5-9). But we rather find here—
I. A GREAT PROPHECY FULFILLLED. "Alleging that Christ must needs have suffered," etc. (Acts 17:3); i.e. must needs have so done in order that the Scriptures (Acts 17:2) might be fulfilled (see Luke 24:26, Luke 24:46). The death of the Messiah was the realization of
II. AN UNCONSCIOUS PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED. The language of the complainants (verse 6) was unintentionally prophetic. They indeed stated, hyperbolically, as something already accomplished, that which the ambassadors of Christ are engaged in doing. But they indicated, truly and graphically, what the gospel of his grace is doing—it is turning the world upside down. We may put the facts thus to our minds:
1. When Christ came evil was everywhere uppermost. The reigning forces of the world at the time of the Incarnation were "not of the Father, but of the world." Within the one favored and enlightened nation were hypocrisy, superficiality, bigotry and unbrotherliness, spiritual delusion; without that circle were superstition, ignorance, atheism, vice, cruelty—all the abominations into which a corrupt heathenism had sunk. Language will not tell the enormity of the world's condition. Nothing would be of any avail but a radical revolution, the overturning of all existing thoughts, habits, methods, institutions—turning the world upside down, bringing to the dust of humiliation everything that was on the throne of honor.
2. The gospel of Jesus Christ is destined to overturn it.
The duty of individual research.
This interesting and cheering episode teaches us one lesson in particular; but there are three suggestions we may gain preliminarily.
1. That the Christian pilgrim (and workman) may hope that shadow will soon be succeeded by sunshine; that the tumult of Thessalonica will soon be followed by the reverent inquiry of Beraea.
2. That he must expect sunshine to pass, before long, into shadow; the fruit-gathering of Beraea to yield to the flight to Athens (Acts 17:12-14).
3. That true nobility is in excellency of character: "These were more noble" (Acts 17:11). The word signifies (derivatively) those of noble birth, and it is here applied to those who had chosen the honorable course and were doing the estimable thing. This is the true, the real nobility. That which is adventitious, dependent on birth and blood, is only circumstantial, is liable to be dishonored by the chances and changes of time, is of no account with God. That which is based on character and born of wise choice, pure feeling, estimable action, is real, human, unalterable, of Divine origin, and enjoying the Divine approval. But the particular lesson of our text is—
THE DUTY OF INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH. The Beraeans are commended in the sacred narrative as "more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness," etc. (Acts 17:11). Their excellency was in their readiness to receive and investigate, to study and search for themselves whether the new teaching was or was not in accordance with the will of God. Whence we infer:
1. That blind opposition to all new doctrine is a sin as well as a mistake. It may be that men who propound views different from those that we have held come to us from God and offer us that which is in the Scriptures, though we have not yet discovered it there. There are more things in that living Word than the wisest man has ever seen yet. Unqualified resistance of doctrine which is different from "that which we have received to hold" may be the rejection of God's own truth; in that case it is both injurious and wrong.
2. That it is the duty of every Christian man to test all new doctrine by the teaching of the Divine Word. We are to search the Scriptures whether these things are so or not. There is no excuse for declining to do this; for
A saddening spectacle: a missionary sermon.
The spirit of Paul was "stirred in him" (Acts 17:16) by the statues which crowded the city of Athens. That which would yield intense gratification to any modern traveler plunged the apostle into deep melancholy and gloom. But there is a vast difference between then and now. Then idolatry was regnant; now it is dethroned. Then the worship of the living God had but one representative in that populous city; now there is not one idolater to be discovered there. To Paul those statues, meeting him at every turn and almost at every step, were abominable idols; to us they are interesting relics of a distant age.
I. THE SADNESS OF THIS SPECTACLE AS IT APPEARED TO PAUL. The aspect which Athens wore to the apostle is expressed by the sacred historian. It was a "city wholly given to idolatry," or filled with idols. He would have discovered on inquiry if he did not already know, that these statues were not worshipped as gods themselves by their devotees. Nevertheless, he would have called them "idols;" for they were distinctly condemned by the commandments of the Lord (Exodus 20:4, Exodus 20:5); they were prohibited by the Law of God as idolatrous. Though the intelligence of Athens saved its citizens from idolatry in its last and worst stage, the identification of the image with the deity, it had not saved it from the idolatry of an earlier stage, the association of the image with the deity it represented. Against this form of sin, so severely denounced in Scripture, so offensive to God, so dangerous and delusive to man, the spirit of Paul rose in strong rebellion. The sight of its outward manifestation filled him with inexpressible sadnes