Acts 17

The doctrine of Christ does not fear a scrutiny, but will be borne out fully by the light of all Scripture. Those who reason from the Scriptures concerning “Christ crucified” may expect not only that God will incline some to make use of the means of grace by searching the Scriptures for themselves, but that the enmity of the restless agents of Satan will be aroused. Nevertheless, by seeking to extinguish the divine fire, enemies will but spread it the farther a tad faster.

1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

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.

4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

5 ¶ But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

10 ¶ And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

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.

14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

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.

16 ¶ Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

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.

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.

19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

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.)

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.

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.

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

32 ¶ And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

33 So Paul departed from among them.

34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Acts 17:1-12 – ​Persecution Spreads the Truth

   Thessalonica. Slowly Paul made his way among the great cities of Greece. He was sowing seeds of which others would reap the harvest. His one theme was the risen Lord, whether amid the less or the more cultivated, Acts 17:3, 31. This is surely the true method of world evangelization—not to argue but to proclaim the glorious personality of our risen Lord. Notice the distinction in Acts 17:3 between the human name, Jesus, and the royal name, Christ. As Jesus, our Lord lived, ministered, and died; as Christ, He was raised from the dead, and as such He is the crowned King of men, Acts 17:7. However loyal we may be to the civil government, our first allegiance is to another king, Acts 17:7.
   Berea. True nobility consists in being open to any new truth that God may reveal to us from His Word. The one test of truth is Scripture as interpreted to the pure heart by the Holy Spirit; but we should examine the Scriptures daily as the Bereans did. It is not to be wondered at that many believed. If only our people would love the Bible, saturating their minds with it and teaching it to their children, what different results would follow the preaching of the gospel! —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 17:3—Christ must needs have suffered.

​   This is what our Lord was constantly insisting upon during the closing days of his earthly ministry. “Ought not Christ”, He asked, “to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26). The Jewish nation rejected Him because his conception of Messianic power was so foreign to theirs; but in doing so, doomed themselves to rejection from the purposes of God, at least during the present dispensation.
   It behoved Him, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest. How could He have sympathised with the anguish of human hearts, if He had not drunk deeply of the cup of sorrow? How could He have led his flock through the thorny brake, if he had not gone to and fro with his bare feet? In that He bath suffered, He is able to succor.
   It behoved Him, that He might be the sacrifice for sin. The conscience demands that forgiveness should be consistent with righteousness. It was necessary, therefore, if Jesus was to bring us forgiveness, that He should be prepared to make reparation and atonement for sin. He must shed his blood, that He may cleanse his people from their sins: He must be willing to be their scapegoat; He must offer Himself without spot to God, that He may cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.
   It behoved Him, that He might reign for evermore. It is a fundamental principle in God’s universe, that suffering, humbly and resignedly borne, leads to royalty and reigning. He who can stoop most profoundly can rise to reign most gloriously. As is the descent, so is the ascent. In proportion to the submission to take the form of a servant is the exaltation to the right hand of power. —Our Daily Homily

Acts 17:13-21 – ​Stirred by Idolatry

   From the first, the gospel was baptized in the fire of persecution. How unutterable the loneliness and sorrow of the Apostle as he reached Athens! Did doubt ever enter his mind as to whether he was on the appointed track? If it did, he at once dismissed it. His motto was to forget the things behind. When, in dependence upon God, you have once taken a path, dare to believe it is right, whatever appearances there are to the contrary.
   One purpose consumed the Apostle. One thing I do, was the thread on which the many beads of his experiences were strung. Persecuted and rejected today, he is at his favorite work tomorrow. How different this intense earnestness from the trifling of the so-called philosophers of Athens! The Epicurean made the pursuit of pleasure the main object of life. The Stoic, on the other hand, believed in the stern repression of nature. All Greece was absorbed in the cultivation of art, architecture, eloquence, and intellectual brilliance. But here, as everywhere, Paul had but one message—Jesus and the Resurrection. Oh, to be pressed in spirit, as he was, till our earnestness should compel our opponents to give us a serious hearing! —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 17:22-34 – ​The One Living and True God

   The gospel preacher must avail himself of any circumstance in his surroundings that will enable him to arrest the attention of his audience. He must meet them where they are and take them with him to realms of thought with which they are not familiar. Paul was wise to begin with that altar to the unknown god.
   Around them stood the most exquisite temples ever reared by human genius, but these were not the home of God. He seeks the lowly and contrite heart, not of the Jew alone, but wherever man is found, and on whatever intellectual plane. Men, the world over, are brothers—he “hath made of one blood all nations.” The arrangements of divine providence have been contrived to lead men to God. If they feel after Him with reverence and true desire, He will be found of them. All men are His offspring, but only those who receive the Son of God into their hearts become really sons. Repentance is the act of the will, and therefore it may be commanded. God can overlook much that is hurtful and evil, because He loves the world and deals with men according to their light; and we may rejoice therefore that He will judge mankind by “that man.” —Through the Bible Day by Day