Acts Chapter 17

TO THE JEW FIRST...AND ALSO THE GREEK:
PAUL'S SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY

The Scriptures, Running a Free Course, Having an Effect, Opposed By The Enemy and Enemies

(2 Thessalonians 3:1)
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

(1 Thessalonians 2:13-16)
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.


Chapter seventeen is about two different peoples, Jews and Gentiles, one Gospel, presented two different ways. One way is using the very own Scriptures of the people (the Jews) to whom they were given to bring them to Christ, and the other is other method is to bring the message of the Creation by a Creator God to people who did not believe in Creation at all (Gentiles), and so believed in the gods of their own making, gods of nature itself, for which they made statues (idols) to worship. Some believed, some did not, both Jews and Gentiles. Those who did not were envious of those who did and tried to stop the preaching by raising up local ire to have them removed. This happened in nearly every city.


(Acts 17:1)
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
  • Amphipolis and Apollonia were directly on "The Roman Road"  (sp. the "Ignatian Road") on the way to Thessalonica
  • Amphipolis means "both sides of the city" and Apollonia is simply named after the Greek god Apollo
  • it was built as a round city ,not square
  • Thessalonica is today a Macedonian city near Greece and on the coast, currently named Thessaloniki
  • It was also on "The Roman Road", thirty eight miles inland from Amphipolis, but the rivers made it a seaport
  • Cassander(one of Alexander's generals) named it
  • Thessalonica was a city that founded in 315 BC E by Alexander's general Cassandra, who also happened to be his brother-in-law, and it was named for his wife, Alexander's step-sister, "Thessaloniki".
  • Paul had not completely gone over to the Gentiles yet, so it is on to the synagogue there
  • It was a major political center, trading center and a city of wealth
  • This journey is westward
  • The logical place for entry by a Jewish apostle/evangelist to start out would be in a synagogue

(Acts 17:2)
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
  • Paul did this same thing in chapter 13, verses fourteen to the end
  • As he is in the synagogue, he has the Scriptures and can use them, since they are Jews with Jewish Scriptures
  • This is as opposed to the Gentiles, who were not given the oracles of God, and were evolutionists who did not believe in God, but false pagan deities, worshipped nature, etc.
  • The very key to this verse today is that, "Paul reasoned with them out of the scriptures"...there is no defense against the truth of the Scriptures, only rejection of truth, stopping ones ears, deriding, mocking, sneering, attacking, disdain, persecution, or indifference, or actual, careful, personal study of any doctrine proffered (like the Bereans), followed by actual belief of the Scriptures
  • These "three sabbath days" indicates very clearly who the Sabbath is for (Jews only) because Paul was in a Jewish synagogue, ministering to Jews only.
  • Also, because it say "on the Sabbath days", it is because that is only one days a week, and that this is less than a month in the city to get people saved, disciple them, and talk about the rapture and the return of Jesus Christ (see Thessalonians)

(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.
  • This is the Gospel, and the one given in First Corinthians chapter fifteen, quoted below
  • That same message was given by Peter and Paul in Acts every time they spoke, like a core doctrine that it indeed is
  • That same message was written in Galatians chapter one as well
  • Paul opened the Scriptures, and alleged (used evidence) to show that Jesus is their Messiah
  • This is Paul using their own Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9 to convince them of the truth of the suffering Messiah
  • "Must needs" means it had to happen for their ransom from the bondage to sin, so this is personal to us
  • The Jewish Messiah (Christ in Greek) they had in mind was a reigning King to rescue Israel from the Romans, not a sufferer, necessary to pay for their sin! Oh no, OUR sins, are you kidding me??

(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

(Galatians 1:1-4)
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 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.

THE SUFFERING MESSIAH

There is no doubt that Paul used their own Scriptures to convict them, as they would have been readily available in the synagogue, and he would know which ones dealt with the Messiah they "thought they sought"...

Psalm 22:1-21:

To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Isaiah 53:

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Daniel 9:24-26:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

(Acts 17:4)
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.

  • Some believed.....not all
  • To "consort" means to unite, agree as one and can also be used to denote marriage
  • This is the beginning of a local Jew and Gentile body of Christ, as one, the Church
  • "Chief" women in this context is dear, familiar, "first in affection" (Webster's)

(Galatians 3:28)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

(1 Corinthians 12:13)
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

(Colossians 3:11)
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

(Acts 17:5)
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.
  • Envy in this context and verse is not jealousy at all, but anger, uneasiness, discontent, hatred, malignity
  • This attitude of the heart is basically borne out by being "anti" or against
  • Webster's says that, "Envy springs from pride", which throughout Scripture is a universal problem of mankind, certainly one from Israel while Jesus was among them, particularly the Sadducees and Pharisees
  • The next step is to find somebody who has little moral fiber to do the dirty work, like henchmen-all to cause a riot get everyone against the disciples
  • This is the old, "Misery loves company", just this misery wanted company of the "baser sort"
  • On "baser", take your pick among the definitions of "base" below, from low, mean, vile, of mean spirit, disingenuous, illiberal, low, without dignity, etc.
  • These sorts are chosen often by leaders to do their work, so they can get an agenda through without getting their own hands dirty, or having to take the blame. Nothing has changed in 2,000 years!
  • In chapter sixteen, the devil-possessed damsel was exorcised from her devil, and lost her masters money, and the result was haling the disciples before magistrates there as well

(Acts 16:20)
And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

EN'VY, n.
  1. Pain, uneasiness, mortification or discontent excited by the sight of another's superiority or success, accompanied with some degree of hatred or malignity, and often or usually with a desire or an effort to depreciate the person, and with pleasure in seeing him depressed. Envy springs from pride, ambition or love, mortified that another has obtained what one has a strong desire to possess.
    Envy and admiration are the Scylla and Charybdis of authors. All human virtue, to its latest breath,
    Finds envy never conquered, but by death.
    Emulation differs from envy, in not being accompanied with hatred and a desire to depress a more fortunate person.
    Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave, Is emulation in the learn'd or brave.<
    br> It is followed by of or to. They did this in envy of Caesar, or in envy to his genius. The former seems to be preferable.
  2. Rivalry; competition. [Little used.]
  3. Malice; malignity.
    You turn the good we offer into envy.
  4. Public odium; ill repute; invidiousness.
    To discharge the king of the envy of that opinion.
BASE, a.
  1. Low in place. Obs.
  2. Mean; vile; worthless; that is, low in value or estimation; used of things.
  3. Of low station; of mean account; without rank, dignity or estimation among men; used of persons. The base shall behave proudly against the honorable. Isa 3.
  4. Of mean spirit; disingenuous; illiberal; low; without dignity of sentiment; as a base and abject multitude.
  5. Of little comparative value; applied to metals, and perhaps to all metals, except gold and silver.
  6. Deep; grave; applied to sounds; as the base sounds of a viol.
  7. Of illegitimate birth; born out of wedlock.
  8. Not held by honorable tenure. A base estate is an estate held by services not honorable,not in capite, or by villenage. Such a tenure is called base, or low, and the tenant, a base tenant. So writers on the laws of England use the terms, a base fee, a base court. Such a tenure is called base, or low, and the tenant, a base tenant. So writers on the laws of England use the terms, a base fee, a base court.
(Isaiah 3:5)
And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

(Acts 17:6)
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;
  • They went and sent into the streets, but the disciples were in fellowship in Jason's house-bummer
  • Now it as time to shout, "Let's get 'em, boys!"
  • It is with 100% certainty that the entire world then, and since, until today, has been turned upside down, in every place the Gospel has reached and been preached
  • When Christianity hit the Roman Empire, it revolutionized it, and ultimately brought it down

(Acts 17:7)
Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
  • It is almost like, "Yeah, that Jason! He took them into his HOUSE!"
  • The Roman rules also did not want any other ruler but themselves, in this case state matters, as opposed to the Jews, who did not want another ruler like Rome either, but a spiritual leader, a king, who would rule, reign on a throne and rescue them from Rome, like what the disciples asked Jesus about at the Ascension, not a suffering Messiah at all. This was now what they rejected, as opposed to the king they wanted with Saul.
  • Jesus was a threat to the empire, so now (for now), "The Empire Strikes Back"
  • Rome knew that Israel was expecting a ruling King to come and save them, so this idea that Jesus was a king was very useful, helpful, repeatedly fruitful for the Jews to stir up trouble with Rome against Christians
  • This line about another king was an easy out for them to eliminate and defuse the Christian message."It is bad for Rome", much like it is today for Rome, as in Catholicism.

(Acts 1:6)
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

(Acts 17:8)
And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
  • This was, to them, disturbing, threatening and troubling news
  • It was upsetting their apple cart. Both the citizenry and rulers were going to be affected by this Gospel being preached, and now accepted....they could not tolerate that

(Acts 17:9)
And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
  • Control is the goal, control is everything, and was the bottom line to them
  • When the threat is diffused and the "perpetrators" hog-tied, then life can go on as normal
  • Jason's crime was hosting Christians...imagine that
  • According to the letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians after this, persecution then broke out there

(1 Thessalonians 2:14)
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

(1 Thessalonians 3:4)
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

(2 Thessalonians 1:4)
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

(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.
  • Berea is further down the Roman road, but across the Aegean Sea as well , yet still is in Macedonia
  • Berea means, "heavy, weighty"
  • Apparently the deputies and sheriffs were still after them, trying to cuff them also
  • This apparently did nothing to stop them from the same activity in another place

(Acts 17:11)
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.
  • Living up to the meaning of their name and being "mighty", they were also noble
  • The only ways to receive the Word of God "with all readiness of mind" is that people prayed first for them, and God opened their hearts, due to tribulation or not
  • The Thessalonians also received the Word of God, but apparently the Bereans wanted to check out Paul and the disciples to see if their teachings lined up with Scripture

THE SCRIPTURES TO THE GREEKS

To quote someone who had studied this for decades,

"“They...searched the scriptures, which indicates they had some Scriptures to search. But the context of the verse says that they were in “THE SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS” (vs. 10), so the Jewish Scriptures there would be in Hebrew. The Greek women and men who “also” (vs. 12) believed, are set in distinction from the Jews in the synagogue who are “searching the Scripture.” Now, if there is any possibility that any of the Old Testament could have been translated properly into Greek before the time of Christ—and there is certainly an excellent possibility—it would have been done by Jewish scribes from the tribe of Levi who were in the synagogues of the dispersion. The tribe of Levi is perfectly traceable in this dispersion, and this is foolproof according to Acts 4:36, for Barnabas was a LEVITE. The Levites were the priest tribe entrusted with preserving the Old Testament canon (Deut. 31:25–26, 17:18), exactly as the Lockman Foundation and the New Scofield Board of Editors wishes God had entrusted them with something—which He did NOT.
-Ruckman, Dr. Peter S.. Acts Commentary (The Bible Believer's Commentary Series). BB Bookstore.

(1 Thessalonians 2:13)
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

(Acts 17:12)
Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
  • The chief women listed above (v.4) are seen as honourable and said to be "not a few" and now the men are "not a few"
  • Different place, different results, same preaching

(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.
  • Once again, here comes the opposition, same people, same motive, same actions
  • This is as the parable of the sower and the seed,
  • This is an actual occurrence of the sower and the seed parable Jesus spoke of

The Parable of the Sower and the Seed

(Matthew 13:3-9)
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

It's Meaning and Illustration

(Matthew 13:18)
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

(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.
  • This is a continuing pattern in Acts: preaching, persecution, taking a powder (escaping)
  • Paul had other ministry and, having discipled these two men, they could stay and build without him, for now
  • This was not what Paul wanted to do, just what God wanted him to do

(1 Thessalonians 3)
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

(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.
  • To say that they "conducted" means that they "guarded as they led", or, "To escort; to accompany and protect on the way." Paul to Athens
  • This was for his safety and protection, so God wanted them to help Paul to keep him safe.
  • This is not to mean that God needed them to do this, because God can protect anyone He chooses, but he uses us to help others
  • They (Silas and Timotheus) were told by God to go meet up with Paul

CONDUCT, n. [L., to lead. See Duke.]

  1. Literally, the act of leading; guidance; command. So Waller has used it.
    Conduct of armies is a princes art.
  2. The act of convoying, or guarding; guidance or bringing along under protection.
  3. Guard on the way; convoy; escort.
    [These senses are now unusual, though not improper.]
  4. In a general sense, personal behavior; course of actions; deportment; applicable equally to a good or a bad course of actions; as laudable conduct; detestable conduct. The word seems originally to have been followed with life, actions, affairs, or other term; as the conduct of life; the conduct of actions; that is, the leading along of life or actions. Young men in the conduct and manage of actions embrace more than they can hold.
    What in the conduct of our life appears.
    But by custom, conduct alone is now used to express the idea of behavior or course of life and manners.
  5. Exact behavior; regular life. [Unusual.]
  6. Management; mode of carrying on.
    Christianity has humanized the conduct of war.
  7. The title of two clergymen appointed to read prayers at Eton College in England.

CONDUCT, v.t.
  1. To lead; to bring along; to guide; to accompany and show the way.
    And Judah came to Gilgal--to conduct the king over Jordan. 2 Sam 19.
  2. To lead; to direct or point out the way.
    The precepts of Christ will conduct us to happiness.
  3. To lead; to usher in; to introduce; to attend in civility.
    Pray receive them nobly, and conduct them into our presence.
  4. To give a direction to; to manage; applied to things; as, the farmer conducts his affairs with prudence.
  5. To lead, as a commander; to direct; to govern; to command; as, to conduct an army or a division of troops.
  6. With the reciprocal pronoun, to conduct ones self, is to behave. Hence, by a customary omission of the pronoun, to conduct, in an intransitive sense, is to behave; to direct personal actions. [see the Noun.]
  7. To escort; to accompany and protect on the way.

(Acts 17:16)
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
  • "Wholly" given means that they went all in, with statues (idols) everywhere, which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other museums today, in Europe especially, and Greece, to their gods, some men and some fallen angels, like the ones we name our planets after(Mars, Neptune, Jupiter, Mercury, Pluto, Venus, Uranus, Saturn) or days of the week and our months of the year after
  • Athens was literally THE "world culture center" of the day
  • Today we call statues like this, "Art"
  • It is one thing to take photos of our loved ones; it is quite another to worship a sculpture, painting, image of anything
  • Paul saw the first two commandments being broken, which were given to Jews, not Gentiles, but would have been evident to open eyes and hearts to the Creator God
  • His spirit was being led by THE Holy Spirit, so sin would be plainly evident and disturbing

IDOLATRY: AGAINST THE LAW

(Exodus 20:2-6)
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

(Exodus 20:6)
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

(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.
  • With Jews having a synagogue in the same city, it becomes plan that they should have led the charge against this idolatry, and destroyed the statues, but they were silent, giving tacit approval, or were indifferent-or even participating!
  • This was the case throughout their history in Scripture, given over to idolatry, even from the time of Moses on, when he went to Mount Sinai and got the tables of stone

(Exodus 32:1-6)
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

(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.
  • The Epicureans belied in Hedonism, giving in to the flesh, debauchery, wanton lust, drunkenness, "doing it all"
  • The stoics were the opposite, and believed in bodily restraint
  • A custom in old Rome, old Greece was to have opinions about everything, and to share them
  • Some educated people, smart people, seemed to have a "better" opinion than others
  • This is the worship of the intellect, and negates actual wisdom from God, not to mention actual revelation from God and His Word
  • This is foolishness to the uttermost, and actually is against wisdom and true knowledge, and it is still practiced today
  • Having not known God the Creator Himself, Jesus would have been to them just another god, like their own pagan, false ones
  • What Paul is about to do is not the same as he did before Jews-proclaim the Creator God
  • Evangelism to the Jews was easy for Paul as he was one. They also believed in the Creator God, so all he had to do is tell them of the fulfilled prophecies of the Messiah they were waiting for and had missed, crucified. For the Gentiles who had no Old Testament Scriptures, it was important to remember first that they were evolutionists, so first tell them about the Creator, then give them the Creator's Gospel.
  • Paul was not impressed, had probably seen and met with many philosophers before and after, and this scene may have been in mind when he wrote Colossians 2:8

(Colossians 2:8)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Darwin Not First

  • One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that Charles Darwin is responsible for the theory of Evolution. This could be no farther from the truth.
  • With the rapid pace of archeological discoveries in the last 100 years, the historic record shows that evolutionary ideas have been around for thousands of years. It may someday soon be possible to trace it all the way back to Babylon and the confusion of tongues.
  • The idea of naturalistic origins did not necessarily take on the form of that the present day Evolutionist believes, but the concepts are all so common that they can only have originated from one source, the devil himself. There is too much coincidence in the fact that all pagans past and present have a common thread in their myths about origins. Whether they believed in the eternalness of matter, or the gods of polytheism, they all believed in Evolution.
  • The Israelites were the only people on earth who accepted a Creator God, a young universe, and the stories of Adam and Eve, the Flood, etc. as historical fact.
  • For the sake of importance, the older references to the religious idea of evolution will be brief, because although the early peoples had a concept, the worldwide acceptance of it, and especially the United States, has been recent. The more recent players in the game have been more involved with it.

The Greek Philosophers(B.C.): Thales, Anaximander, Democritus, Aristotle, and Naturalism, Evolutionism

  • I do not claim to be an expert on the philosophers, and my point here will be simply this: all you really need to do to witness to any philosopher is to go to the root of the matter-Evolution. it does not matter what philosopher they follow, you do not have to be an expert. if they are not following the Jesus of the Bible, then the root is Evolution-rest assured on it. However, if you know all about all of the great philosophers, you will still never get too far very easily without Biblical apologetics. Either you can use the account of Creation and the Flood from actual science. The reason? Because, to a philosopher, one religion is as good as another since that is the premise of all philosophies. Yours is right and yours is wrong, His is right and his is wrong, to the philosopher. There are no absolute truths to a philosopher, unless demonstrated conclusively.

Thales(600 B.C.)

  • Water was the first cause.
  • The earth sort of floated on it like a Frisbee.

Anaximander(570 B.C.)

  • He believed that the first cause was some unknown substance he called "apeiron".
  • This is believed by many to be some sort of sea slime (sound familiar?).
  • Or this may be some metaphysical idea.
  • From this apeiron, came heat and cold.
  • From this came water. Then came earth from the water. next came air after the earth. from this came the fire.
  • The living part of it went something like this: the sea slime evolved into a sort of crustacean, then it shed it's skin to make an insect, then it evolved into all of the rest of the terrestrial life. Very much like the modern theory of Evolution, minus the scientific jargon.

Democritus(400 B.C.)

  • Democritus was a materialist. He believed that atoms and space were all that existed. He even coined the word "atoms".
  • He rightly believed in the idea of cause and effect, later to be a scientific law.

Epicureans

The Epicureans were a people who had a a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, formed somewhere around 307 BC. Epicurus was an "atomic materialist", much like the evolutionists/materialists/naturalists of today. They followed in the footsteps steps of Democritus above. Stoicks

The Stoics had a type of Hellenistic philosophy, popular in the Roman and Greek empires until around the 3rd century AD. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal morals, behaviors, ethics coupled with a system of logic and its views on origins strictly from the natural world, much like materialism. Socrates(469-399 B.C.)

  • Socrates taught Plato, who became the teacher of Aristotle. also, the "great chain of being" was his philosophy and idea of naturalistic origin and Evolution.
  • Socrates left no writings, but his ideas lived on in Plato's.

Plato(422-347 B.C.)

  • Plato, Socrates and Aristotle were the three most influential Evolutionary philosophers of ancient Greece.
  • Plato believed that the universe was a living being, and that the heavenly bodies were dieties.
  • This is called pantheism.
  • His philosophy was very close to naturalistic Evolution of today. Gradual progression of life forms from simple to complex was the idea.
  • He believed in reincarnation.
  • He had a concept called the Great Chain of Being, much like Darwinism.
  • He believe that there are no absolutes.(with all areas of life)

Aristotle(384-322 B.C.)

  • Aristotle was a student of Plato.
  • He was a real naturalist and also a pantheist. He drew pictures of animals, and classified them, too.
  • His idea of Evolution was the same as the modern version, namely the "molecules to man" concept.
  • His works were very influential in his day and continued to be until the middle ages.
  • In those days, a philosopher like Aristotle wielded a lot of power.
  • To Aristotle, the universe was infinitely old, made by a god who wanted nothing to do with it.
  • He taught that the earth was the center of it. the Bible does not teach this.
  • He wrote Scala Naturae, which today is modified into the "Tree of Life" which adorns evolutionary biology textbooks.
  • Spontaneous generation was the method of life from non-life.
  • Aristotle's god was an impersonal intelligent being, but you could never know "it". so he was not really atheistic in his approach.
  • He also had an Evolutionary concept for life systems. from the water came the earth(condensed as mud), then animals and plants.
  • Finally, he had an idea for the origin of man. first came the sea, followed by the fish. the fish shed their skins to become human.
  • This is quite a detailed outline for so long ago.
  • Question: did the ancient Greek philosophers have a most modern concept of Evolution, one without the long scientific words? Henry Fairfield Osborn, of "Nebraska Man" fame:

    "When I began the search for the anticipations of the Evolutionary theory....i was led back to the greek natural philosophers and i was astonished to find how many of the and basic features of the Darwinian theory were anticipated even as far back as the seventh century B.C."
    H.F. Osborn, From The Greeks to Darwin,(New York, Scribner's, 1929, p.11).

    To quote Henry Morris in the Long War Against God, p. 217:

    "The theory of Evolution is not the epochal discovery of modern science that modern scientists like to proclaim it to be. it has been around a long, long time!"

True Wisdom Comes From God, and Fearing God

(Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Proverbs 1:29)
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

(Proverbs 2:5)
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

(Proverbs 8:13)
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

(Proverbs 9:10)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

(Proverbs 10:24)
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

(Proverbs 10:27)
The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

(Proverbs 14:26)
In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

(Proverbs 14:27)
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

(Proverbs 15:16)
Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

(Proverbs 15:33)
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

(Proverbs 16:6)
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

(Proverbs 19:23)
The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

(Proverbs 22:4)
By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

(Proverbs 23:17)
Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

(Acts 17:19)
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
  • Aeropagus Hill is the same as Mars Hill in Athens, and comes from "Ares" + "Rock"
  • it is the base for the Parthenon, the Acropolis, loaded with pagan statues of the gods of Rome
  • They used to try murderers there, as in a court trial
  • They knew actually nothing, and they thought they knew more than anybody else on earth
  • This is merely intellecualism, which led and leads today still to pride, arrogance, meanness, wickedness

(Acts 17:20)
For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
  • It is funny that they would say "many strange things" when all of their philosophies are actually weird in and of themselves
  • This would be because none would have included such things as:
    • No prophecies
    • No Messiah
    • Nothing Jewish
    • No Creation account or Flood account
    • No salvation by grace through faith alone
    • No ultimate sacrifice for sin, which was probably a foreign concept to them
    • No resurrection, heaven, hell, maybe just reincarnation
  • This also would explain their curiosity to hear what he had to say

(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.)
  • There actually is no new thing under the sun, so this was merely an idea that they had, that people could imagine a new thing, never thought of before
  • This is a colossal waste of all of their time and a life, discussing meaninglessness!
  • These are the hippies of the first century

(Ecclesiastes 1:9)
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

(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.
  • Not one to mince words, Paul simply states the obvious, plainly
  • Whichever definition of "superstition" one uses from below, they mostly fit
  • Christianity today is at exact odds, as then, of the world's philosophies
  • The "modern" "versions" change the word to "religious", which is of course corrupt, wrong, and actually complimentary, something Paul was not getting at here. he was being blunt, probably offensive even since, if cameras there would have captured the look on their faces, it would have revealed horror, shock, as no one probably or certainly had never said such tthings to them as he just did and wa about to say more
  • he is about to tell them that they have all of the wrong gods, entirely, and upsetting their apple cart completely, which is why people said they "turned the world upside down" (v.6)

SUPERSTI'TION, n. [L. superstitio, supersto; super and sto, to stand.]
  1. Excessive exactness or rigor in religious opinions or practice; extreme and unnecessary scruples in the observance of religious rites not commanded, or of points of minor importance; excess or extravagance in religion; the doing of things not required by God, or abstaining from things not forbidden; or the belief of what is absurd, or belief without evidence. Superstition has reference to god, to religion, or to beings superior to man.
  2. False religion; false worship.
  3. Rite or practice proceeding from excess of scruples in religion. In this sense, it admits of a plural.
    They the truth with superstitions and traditions taint.
  4. Excessive nicety; scrupulous exactness.
  5. Belief in the direct agency of superior powers in certain extraordinary or singular events, or in omens and prognostics.
(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.
  • What sort of devotions do pagans have? Obviously not the kind we have with the Scriptures, as they would not have really had any
  • What they intended was to be "all inclusive" with their gods with this one, a "catch-all god", an "all bases covered god", to make sure they did not miss any, knowing and acknowledging that they themselves did not know everything about every god
  • e again is blunt, saying they ignorantly worship at this altar "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD"...notice it is in all caps, probably how they etched it into the altar
  • All of their gods was not only false, but bound to their idea of a purely natural origin for everything (heaven and earth)

(Acts 17:24)
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;
  • BOOM! The total difference between Christianity and paganism was then as it is now, the Creation of it all by our God, supernaturally
  • Mankind makes a god like he wants his god to be like (character, attributes, behavior, etc.)

PAGANISM AND IDOLATRY

(Isaiah 44:9-20) They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.
The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint. The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it. Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.
They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

(Romans 1:23)
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

(Acts 17:25)
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
  • This is the difference between the True God, unseen, unheld, unchanging, untouchable, eternal-and the false gods which will perish
  • Their gods need regular cleaning, to be protected from the weather, repainted, regilded with gold and silver, rebuilt, cannot withstand earthquakes, lightning, vandals, thieves, pigeons, termites, fires, floods, etc.

(Acts 17:26)
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;
  • Tis is why mankind has no excuse for targeting other people groups for extinction, enslavement, etc.
  • God made mankind all from both one blood physically (Adam, Eve), and one blood spiritually in the Church, from THE Blood of the LORD Jesus Christ

(Acts 17:27)
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:
  • That seeking is in the heart, not in a journey to Mecca, a plane trip to Rome or Jerusalem,
  • The distance is in belief and asking, which is less than a quadrillionth of a nanometer....
  • The key is in the seeking in the first part of the verse
  • These people were, as described, groping in the dark. They were looking for something, but not the true God

(Acts 17:28)
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.
  • This affirms God again as the Creator, completely responsible for our very existence, vitality
  • Even atheists are created beings by God......they simply reject Him is all.

(Acts 17:29)
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.
  • These were in fact the materials that made up
  • The context here is one of God being our Creator, not that God is the father of all of mankind spiritually, else there would be no need to tell people about Him and His Son Jesus Christ, a thing Paul is doing here
  • There is a difference between a jeweler and the gold and silver that he molds into jewelry, a difference between a mason and the stone he dresses, or a carpenter and the wood he crafts into a house, furniture, or anything else

(Acts 17:30)
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
  • God is patient, God let pagans go on in their ignorance for decades, centuries, millennia, but no more
  • This is a different time for mankind, post-Cross, and the Word of God is to the pagan Gentiles
  • Having started at the Creation past, Paul moves forward to the judgment coming, something similar to Peter's letter on this exact thing.
  • The implication of this doctrine is simple: If God is the Creator, He is the future Judge. If he is not, then there is no future Judge

PETER: PAST CREATION, FUTURE FIRE

(2 Peter 3:3-10)
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

(Acts 17:31)
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.
  • Paul calls Jesus "that man" who will judge all, which is interesting, since they had men (Caesars) who they considered gods, and he is saying this man IS the One true God, Judge of us all
  • This Judge, Paul declares, will judge in righteousness, whereas their gods were gods of pleasure, such as Bacchus, Eros, etc.
  • Paul further tells them salvation is assured, not based upon works, not "iffy", tenuous
  • Lastly, this God-Man-Judge was resurrected from the dead by virtue of His sinless life, a foreign concept to people who had gods which would perish forever with the dusts of time

(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.
  • Because the concept of the Resurrection does not make sense to us as having finite, mortal, carnal minds, their reaction from lack of faith is expected
  • Some of the philosophers, perhaps some in the audience, would want more information about this, as they were only partially convinced
  • We have people like that in our own lives today who hear but want to know more before deciding on Jesus Christ

(Acts 17:33)
So Paul departed from among them.
  • The work of the traveling evangelist is both done and never done, in that he could then preach the Gospel to others, but would not need to preach to this crowd any longer

(Acts 17:34)
Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
  • This is some fruit
  • It is not known why these two are both the only two mentioned here and only mentioned here.
  • It is recorded that Dionysius the Areopagite worked as a judge and was a bishop afterwards
  • As was said earlier, Aeropagus Hill is the same as Mars Hill, and the name is derived from that hill.

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