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  • ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
    & BIBLE COMMENTARY - ACTS 17

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    17:1 {When they had passed through} (diodeusantes). First aorist active participle of diodeuw, common verb in the _Koin‚_ (Polybius, Plutarch, LXX, etc.), but in the N.T. only here and #Lu 8:1. It means literally to make one's way (hodos) through (dia). They took the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads from Byzantium to Dyrrachium (over 500 miles long) on the Adriatic Sea, opposite Brundisium and so an extension of the Appian Way. {Amphipolis} (ten amfipolin). So called because the Strymon flowed almost around (amfi) it, the metropolis of Macedonia Prima, a free city, about 32 miles from Philippi, about three miles from the sea. Paul and Silas may have spent only a night here or longer. {Apollonia} (ten apollwnian). Not the famous Apollonia in Illyria, but 32 miles from Amphipolis on the Egnatian Way. So here again a night was spent if no more. Why Paul hurried through these two large cities, if he did, we do not know. There are many gaps in Luke's narrative that we have no way of filling up. There may have been no synagogues for one thing. {To Thessalonica} (eis qessaloniken). There was a synagogue here in this great commercial city, still an important city called Saloniki, of 70,000 population. It was originally called Therma, at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. Cassander renamed it Thessalonica after his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great. It was the capital of the second of the four divisions of Macedonia and finally the capital of the whole province. It shared with Corinth and Ephesus the commerce of the Aegean. One synagogue shows that even in this commercial city the Jews were not very numerous. As a political center it ranked with Antioch in Syria and Caesarea in Palestine. It was a strategic center for the spread of the gospel as Paul later said for it sounded (echoed) forth from Thessalonica throughout Macedonia and Achaia (#1Th 1:8).

    17:2 {As his custom was} (kata to ei"thos t"i Paul"i). The same construction in #Lu 4:16 about Jesus in Nazareth (kata to eiwqos autwi) with the second perfect active participle neuter singular from eqw. Paul's habit was to go to the Jewish synagogue to use the Jews and the God-fearers as a springboard for his work among the Gentiles. {For three Sabbaths} (epi sabbata tria). Probably the reference is to the first three Sabbaths when Paul had a free hand in the synagogue as at first in Antioch in Pisidia. Luke does not say that Paul was in Thessalonica only three weeks. He may have spoken there also during the week, though the Sabbath was the great day. Paul makes it plain, as Furneaux shows, that he was in Thessalonica a much longer period than three weeks. The rest of the time he spoke, of course, outside of the synagogue. Paul implies an extended stay by his language in #1Th 1:8. The church consisted mainly of Gentile converts (#2Th 3:4,7,8) and seems to have been well organized (#1Th 5:12). He received help while there several times from Philippi (#Php 4:16) and even so worked night and day to support himself (#1Th 2:9). His preaching was misunderstood there in spite of careful instruction concerning the second coming of Christ (#1Th 4:13-5:5; 2Th 2:1-12). {Reasoned} (dielexato). First aorist middle indicative of dialegomai, old verb in the active to select, distinguish, qen to revolve in the mind, to converse (interchange of ideas), qen to teach in the Socratic ("dialectic") method of question and answer (cf. dielegeto in verse #17), qen simply to discourse, but always with the idea of intellectual stimulus. With these Jews and God-fearers Paul appealed to the Scriptures as text and basis (apo) of his ideas.

    17:3 {Opening and alleging} (dianoigwn kai paratiqemenos). Opening the Scriptures, Luke means, as made plain by the mission and message of Jesus, the same word (dianoigw) used by him of the interpretation of the Scriptures by Jesus (#Lu 24:32) and of the opening of the mind of the disciples also by Jesus (#Lu 24:45) and of the opening of Lydia's heart by the Lord (#16:14). One cannot refrain from saying that such exposition of the Scriptures as Jesus and Paul gave would lead to more opening of mind and heart. Paul was not only "expounding" the Scriptures, he was also "propounding" (the old meaning of "allege") his doctrine or setting forth alongside the Scriptures (para-tiqemenos), quoting the Scripture to prove his contention which was made in much conflict (#1Th 2:2), probably in the midst of heated discussion by the opposing rabbis who were anything but convinced by Paul's powerful arguments, for the Cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews (#1Co 1:23). {That it behoved the Christ to suffer} (hoti ton criston edei paqein). The second aorist active infinitive is the subject of edei with Ton criston, the accusative of general reference. this is Paul's major premise in his argument from the Scriptures about the Messiah, the necessity of his sufferings according to the Scriptures, the very argument made by the Risen Jesus to the two on the way to Emmaus (#Lu 24:25-27). The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was a passage in point that the rabbis had overlooked. Peter made the same point in #Ac 3:18 and Paul again in #Ac 26:23. The minor premise is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. {To rise again from the dead} (anastenai ek nekrwn). this second aorist active infinitive anastenai is also the subject of edei. The actual resurrection of Jesus was also a necessity as Paul says he preached to them (#1Th 4:14) and argued always from Scripture (#1Co 15:3-4) and from his own experience (#Ac 9:22; 22:7; 26:8,14; 1Co 15:8). { this Jesus is the Christ} (houtos estin ho cristos, ho iesous). More precisely, " this is the Messiah, viz., Jesus whom I am proclaiming unto you." this is the conclusion of Paul's line of argument and it is logical and overwhelming. It is his method everywhere as in Damascus, in Antioch in Pisidia, here, in Corinth. He spoke as an eye-witness.

    17:4 {Some of them} (tines ex autwn). That is of the Jews who were evidently largely afraid of the rabbis. Still "some" were persuaded (epeisqesan, effective first aorist passive indicative) and "consorted with" (proseklerwqesan). this latter verb is also first aorist passive indicative of prosklerow, a common verb in late Greek (Plutarch, Lucian), but only here in the N.T., from pros and kleros, to assign by lot. So qen this small group of Jews were given Paul and Silas by God's grace. {And of the devout Greeks a great multitude} (twn te sebomenwn hellenwn pleqos polu). These "God-fearers" among the Gentiles were less under the control of the jealous rabbis and so responded more readily to Paul's appeal. In #1Th 1:9 Paul expressly says that they had "turned to God from idols," proof that this church was mainly Gentile (cf. also #1Th 2:14). {And of the chief women not a few} (gunaikwn te twn prwtwn ouk oligai). Literally, "And of women the first not a few." That is, a large number of women of the very first rank in the city, probably devout women also like the men just before and like those in #13:50 in Antioch in Pisidia who along with "the first men of the city" were stirred up against Paul. Here these women were openly friendly to Paul's message, whether convert or Gentiles or Jewish wives of Gentiles as Hort holds. It is noteworthy that here, as in Philippi, leading women take a bold stand for Christ. In Macedonia women had more freedom than elsewhere. It is not to be inferred that all those converted belonged to the higher classes, for the industrial element was clearly large (#1Th 4:11). In #2Co 8:2 Paul speaks of the deep poverty of the Macedonian churches, but with Philippi mainly in mind. Ramsay thinks that Paul won many of the heathen not affiliated at all with the synagogue. Certain it is that we must allow a considerable interval of time between verses #4,5 to understand what Paul says in his Thessalonian Epistles.

    17:5 {Moved with jealousy} (zelwsantes). Both our English words, {zeal} and {jealousy}, are from the Greek zelos. In #13:45 the Jews (rabbis) "were filled with jealousy" (eplesqesan zelou). That is another way of saying the same thing as here. The success of Paul was entirely too great in both places to please the rabbis. So here is jealousy of Jewish preachers towards Christian preachers. It is always between men or women of the same profession or group. In #1Th 2:3-10 Paul hints at some of the slanders spread against him by these rabbis (deceivers, using words of flattery as men-pleasers, after vain-glory, greed of gain, etc.). {Took unto them} (proslabomenoi). Second aorist middle (indirect, to themselves) participle of proslambanw, old and common verb. {Certain vile fellows of the rabble} (twn agoraiwn andras tinas ponerous). The agora or market-place was the natural resort for those with nothing to do (#Mt 20:4) like the court-house square today or various parks in our cities where bench-warmers flock. Plato (_Protagoras_ 347 C) calls these agoraioi (common word, but in N.T. only here and #19:38) idlers or good-for-nothing fellows. They are in every city and such "bums" are ready for any job. The church in Thessalonica caught some of these peripatetic idlers (#2Th 3:10f.) "doing nothing but doing about." So the Jewish preachers gather to themselves a choice collection of these market-loungers or loafers or wharf-rats. The Romans called them _subrostrani_ (hangers round the rostrum or _subbasilicari_). {Gathering a crowd} (oclopoiesantes). Literally, making or getting (poiew) a crowd (oclos), a word not found elsewhere. Probably right in the agora itself where the rabbis could tell men their duties and pay them in advance. Instance Hyde Park in London with all the curious gatherings every day, Sunday afternoons in particular. {Set the city on an uproar} (eqoruboun). Imperfect active of qorubew, from qorubos (tumult), old verb, but in the N.T. only here and #20:10; Mt 9:23; Mr 4:39. They kept up the din, this combination of rabbis and rabble. {Assaulting the house of Jason} (epistantes tei oikiai iasonos). Second aorist (ingressive) active of efistemi, taking a stand against, rushing at, because he was Paul's host. He may have been a Gentile (Jason the name of an ancient king of Thessaly), but the Jews often used it for Joshua or Jesus (II Macc. 1:7). {They sought} (ezetoun). Imperfect active. They burst into the house and searched up and down. {Them} (autous). Paul and Silas. They were getting ready to have a lynching party.

    17:6 {When they found them not} (me heurontes). Usual negative me with the participle in the _Koin‚_, second aorist (effective) active participle, complete failure with all the noise and "bums." {They dragged} (esuron). Imperfect active, vivid picture, they were dragging (literally). See already #8:3; 16:19. If they could not find Paul, they could drag Jason his host and some other Christians whom we do not know. {Before the rulers of the city} (epi tous politarcas). this word does not occur in Greek literature and used to be cited as an example of Luke's blunders. But now it is found in an inscription on an arch in the modern city preserved in the British Museum. It is also found in seventeen inscriptions (five from Thessalonica) where the word or the verb politarcew occurs. It is a fine illustration of the historical accuracy of Luke in matters of detail. this title for city officers in Thessalonica, a free city, is correct. They were burgomasters or "rulers of the city." {Crying} (bowntes). Yelling as if the house was on fire like the mob in Jerusalem (#21:28). {These that have turned the world upside down} (hoi ten oikoumenen anastatwsantes). The use of oikoumenen (supply gen or ch"ran, the inhabited earth, present passive participle of oikew) means the Roman Empire, since it is a political charge, a natural hyperbole in their excitement, but the phrase occurs for the Roman Empire in #Lu 2:1. It is possible that news had come to Thessalonica of the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius. There is truth in the accusation, for Christianity is revolutionary, but on this particular occasion the uproar (verse #5) was created by the rabbis and the hired loafers. The verb anastatow (here first aorist active participle) does not occur in the ancient writers, but is in LXX and in #Ac 17:6; 21:38; Ga 5:12. It occurs also in Harpocration (A.D. 4th cent.) and about 100 B.C. exanastatow is found in a fragment of papyrus (Tebtunis no. 2) and in a Paris Magical Papyrus l. 2243f. But in an Egyptian letter of Aug. 4, 41 A.D. (Oxyrhynchus Pap. no. 119, 10) "the bad boy" uses it = "he upsets me" or " he drives me out of my senses" (anastatoi me). See Deissmann, _Light from the Ancient East_, pp. 84f. It is not a "Biblical word" at all, but belongs to the current _Koin‚_. It is a vigorous and graphic term.

    17:7 {Whom Jason hath received} (hous hupodedektai iaswn). Present perfect middle indicative of hupodecomai, to entertain, old verb, but in N.T. only in #Lu 10:38; 19:6; Ac 17:7; Jas 2:25. this is Jason's crime and he is the prisoner before the politarchs. {These all} (houtoi pantes). Jason, the "brethren" of verse #6, Paul and Silas, and all Christians everywhere. {Contrary} (apenanti). Late compound preposition (apo, en, anti) found in Polybius, LXX, here only in the N.T. {The decrees of Caesar} (twn dogmatwn kaisaros). this was a charge of treason and was a sure way to get a conviction. Probably the Julian _Leges Majestatis_ are in mind rather than the definite decree of Claudius about the Jews (#Ac 18:2). {Saying that there is another king, one Jesus} (basilea heteron legontes einai iesoun). Note the very order of the words in the Greek indirect discourse with the accusative and infinitive after legontes. basilea heteron comes first, a different king, another emperor than Caesar. this was the very charge that the smart student of the Pharisees and Herodians had tried to catch Jesus on (#Mr 12:14). The Sanhedrin made it anyhow against Jesus to Pilate (#Lu 23:2) and Pilate had to notice it. "Although the emperors never ventured to assume the title _rex_ at Rome, in the Eastern provinces they were regularly termed _basileus_" (Page). The Jews here, as before Pilate (#Joh 19:15), renounce their dearest hope of a Messianic king. It is plain that Paul had preached about Jesus as the Messiah, King of the Kingdom of God over against the Roman Empire, a spiritual kingdom, to be sure, but the Jews here turn his language to his hurt as they did with Jesus. As a matter of fact Paul's preaching about the kingdom and the second coming of Christ was gravely misunderstood by the Christians at Thessalonica after his departure (#1Th 4:13-5:4; 2Th 2). The Jews were quick to seize upon his language about Jesus Christ to his own injury. Clearly here in Thessalonica Paul had faced the power of the Roman Empire in a new way and pictured over against it the grandeur of the reign of Christ.

    17:8 {They troubled the multitude and the rulers} (etaraxan ton oclon kai tous politarcas). First aorist active of tarassw, old verb to agitate. The excitement of the multitude "agitated" the politarchs still more. To the people it meant a revolution, to the politarchs a charge of complicity in treason if they let it pass. They had no way to disprove the charge of treason and Paul and Silas were not present.

    17:9 {When they had taken security} (labontes to hikanon). A Greek idiom=Latin _satis accipere_, to receive the sufficient (bond), usually money for the fulfilment of the judgment. Probably the demand was made of Jason that he see to it that Paul and Silas leave the city not to return. In #1Th 2:17f. Paul may refer to this in mentioning his inability to visit these Thessalonians again. The idiom lambanein to hikanon now is found in two inscriptions of the second century A.D. (O. G. I. S. 484, 50 and 629, 101). In Vol. III Oxyrhynchus Papyri no. 294 A.D. 22 the corresponding phrase dounai heikanon ("to give security") appears. {They let them go} (apelusan autous). The charge was serious but the proof slim so that the politarchs were glad to be rid of the case.

    17:10 {Immediately by night} (euqews dia nuktos). Paul's work had not been in vain in Thessalonica (#1Th 1:7f.; 2:13,20). Paul loved the church here. Two of them, Aristarchus and Secundus, will accompany him to Jerusalem (#Ac 20:4) and Aristarchus will go on with him to Rome (#27:2). Plainly Paul and Silas had been in hiding in Thessalonica and in real danger. After his departure severe persecution came to the Christians in Thessalonica (#1Th 2:14; 3:1-5; 2Th 1:6). It is possible that there was an escort of Gentile converts with Paul and Silas on this night journey to Beroea which was about fifty miles southwest from Thessalonica near Pella in another district of Macedonia (Emathia). There is a modern town there of some 6,000 people. {Went} (apeiesan). Imperfect third plural active of apeimi, old verb to go away, here alone in the N.T. A literary, almost Atticistic, form instead of apelqon. {Into the synagogue of the Jews} (eis ten sunagwgen twn ioudaiwn). Paul's usual custom and he lost no time about it. Enough Jews here to have a synagogue.

    17:11 {More noble than those} (eugenesteroi twn). Comparative form of eugenes, old and common adjective, but in N.T. only here and #Lu 19:12; 1Co 1:26. Followed by ablative case twn as often after the comparative. {With all readiness of mind} (meta pases proqumias). Old word from proqumos (pro, qumos) and means eagerness, rushing forward. In the N.T. only here and #2Co 8:11-19; 9:2. In Thessalonica many of the Jews out of pride and prejudice refused to listen. Here the Jews joyfully welcomed the two Jewish visitors. {Examining the Scriptures daily} (kaq' hemeran anakrinontes tas grafas). Paul expounded the Scriptures daily as in Thessalonica, but the Beroeans, instead of resenting his new interpretation, examined (anakrinw means to sift up and down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes as in #Ac 4:9; 12:19, etc.) the Scriptures for themselves. In Scotland people have the Bible open on the preacher as he expounds the passage, a fine habit worth imitating. {Whether these things were so} (ei ecoi tauta houtws). Literally, "if these things had it thus." The present optative in the indirect question represents an original present indicative as in #Lu 1:29 (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 1043f.). this use of ei with the optative may be looked at as the condition of the fourth class (undetermined with less likelihood of determination) as in #Ac 17:27; 20:16; 24:19; 27:12 (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1021). The Beroeans were eagerly interested in the new message of Paul and Silas but they wanted to see it for themselves. What a noble attitude. Paul's preaching made Bible students of them. The duty of private interpretation is thus made plain (Hovey).

    17:12 {Many therefore} (polloi men oun). As a result of this Bible study. {Also of the Greek women of honorable estate}. The word hellenis means Greek woman, but the word gune is added. In particular women of rank (euscemonwn, from eu and ecw, graceful figure and the honorable standing) as in #13:50 (#Mr 15:43). Probably Luke means by implication that the "menw (andrwn) were also noble Greeks though he does not expressly say so. So qen the Jews were more open to the message, the convert or God-fearers followed suit, with "not a few" (ouk oligoi) real Greeks (both men and women) believing. It was quick and fine work.

    17:13 {Was proclaimed} (kateggele). Second aorist passive indicative of kataggellw, common late verb as in #Ac 16:21. {Of Paul} (hupo paulou). By Paul, of course. {Stirring up and troubling the multitudes} (saleuontes kai tarassontes tous oclous). Shaking the crowds like an earthquake (#4:31) and disturbing like a tornado (#17:8). Success at Thessalonica gave the rabbis confidence and courage. The attack was sharp and swift. The Jews from Antioch in Pisidia had likewise pursued Paul to Iconium and Lystra. How long Paul had been in Beroea Luke does not say. But a church was established here which gave a good account of itself later and sent a messenger (#Ac 20:4) with their part of the collection to Jerusalem. this quiet and noble town was in a whirl of excitement over the attacks of the Jewish emissaries from Thessalonica who probably made the same charge of treason against Paul and Silas.

    17:14 {And qen immediately} (euqews de tote). They acted swiftly as in Thessalonica. {Sent forth} (exapesteilan). Double compound (ex, apo, both out and away) common in late Greek. First aorist active indicative (exapostellw, liquid verb). Same form in #9:30. {As far as to the sea} (hews epi ten qalassan). It is not clear whether Paul went all the way to Athens by land or took ship at Dium or Pydna, some sixteen miles away, and sailed to Athens. Some even think that Paul gave the Jews the slip and went all the way by land when they expected him to go by sea. At any rate we know that Paul was grieved to cut short his work in Macedonia, probably not over six months in all, which had been so fruitful in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea. Silas and Timothy (note his presence) remained behind in Beroea and they would keep the work going. Paul no doubt hoped to return soon. Silas and Timothy in Beroea would also serve to screen his flight for the Jews wanted his blood, not theirs. The work in Macedonia spread widely (#1Th 1:7f.).

    17:15 {But they that conducted Paul} (hoi de kaqistanontes ton paulon). Articular present active participle of kaqistanw (late form in A B of kaqistemi or kathista"), an old verb with varied uses to put down, to constitute, to conduct, etc. this use here is in the LXX (#Jos 6:23) and old Greek also. {To Athens} (hews aqenwn). To make sure of his safe arrival. {That they should come to him with all speed} (hina hws tacista elqwsin pros auton). Note the neat Greek idiom hws tacista as quickly as possible (good Attic idiom). The indirect command and purpose (hina-elqwsin, second aorist active subjunctive) is also neat Greek (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1046). {Departed} (exeiesan). Imperfect active of exeimi, old Greek word, but rare in N.T. All in Acts (#13:42; 17:15; 20:7; 27:43)

    17:16 {Now while Paul waited for them in Athens} (en de tais aqenais ekdecomenou autous tou paulou). Genitive absolute with present middle participle of ekdecomai, old verb to receive, but only with the sense of looking out for, expecting found here and elsewhere in N.T We know that Timothy did come to Paul in Athens (#1Th 3:1,6) from Thessalonica and was sent back to them from Athens. If Silas also came to Athens, he was also sent away, possibly to Philippi, for that church was deeply interested in Paul. At any rate both Timothy and Silas came from Macedonia to Corinth with messages and relief for Paul (#Ac 18:5; 2Co 11:8f.). Before they came and after they left, Paul felt lonely in Athens (#1Th 3:1), the first time on this tour or the first that he has been completely without fellow workers. Athens had been captured by Sulla B.C. 86. After various changes Achaia, of which Corinth is the capital, is a separate province from Macedonia and A.D. 44 was restored by Claudius to the Senate with the Proconsul at Corinth. Paul is probably here about A.D. 50. Politically Athens is no longer of importance when Paul comes though it is still the university seat of the world with all its rich environment and traditions. Rackham grows eloquent over Paul the Jew of Tarsus being in the city of Pericles and Demosthenes, Socrates and Plato and Aristotle, Sophocles and Euripides. In its agora Socrates had taught, here was the Academy of Plato, the Lyceum of Aristotle, the Porch of Zeno, the Garden of Epicurus. Here men still talked about philosophy, poetry, politics, religion, anything and everything. It was the art center of the world. The Parthenon, the most beautiful of temples, crowned the Acropolis. Was Paul insensible to all this cultural environment? It is hard to think so for he was a university man of Tarsus and he makes a number of allusions to Greek writers. Probably it had not been in Paul's original plan to evangelize Athens, difficult as all university seats are, but he cannot be idle though here apparently by chance because driven out of Macedonia. {Was provoked} (parwxuneto). Imperfect passive of paroxunw, old verb to sharpen, to stimulate, to irritate (from para, oxus), from paroxusmos (#Ac 15:39), common in old Greek, but in N.T. only here and #1Co 13:5. It was a continual challenge to Paul's spirit when he beheld (qewrountos, genitive of present participle agreeing with autou (his), though late MSS. have locative qewrounti agreeing with en autwi). {The city full of idols} (kateidwlon ousan ten polin). Note the participle ousan not preserved in the English (either the city being full of idols or that the city was full of idols, sort of indirect discourse). Paul, like any stranger was looking at the sights as he walked around. this adjective kateidwlon (perfective use of kata and eidwlon is found nowhere else, but it is formed after the analogy of katampelos, katadendron), full of idols. Xenophon (_de Republ. Ath_.) calls the city holˆ bomos, holˆ thuma theois kai anaqema (all altar, all sacrifice and offering to the gods). These statues were beautiful, but Paul was not deceived by the mere art for art's sake. The idolatry and sensualism of it all glared at him (#Ro 1:18-32). Renan ridicules Paul's ignorance in taking these statues for idols, but Paul knew paganism better than Renan. The superstition of this center of Greek culture was depressing to Paul. One has only to recall how superstitious cults today flourish in the atmosphere of Boston and Los Angeles to understand conditions in Athens. Pausanias says that Athens had more images than all the rest of Greece put together. Pliny states that in the time of Nero Athens had over 30,000 public statues besides countless private ones in the homes. Petronius sneers that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens. Every gateway or porch had its protecting god. They lined the street from the Piraeus and caught the eye at every place of prominence on wall or in the agora.

    17:17 {So he reasoned} (dielegeto men oun). Accordingly therefore, with his spirit stirred by the proof of idolatry. Imperfect middle of dialegw, same verb used in verse #2 which see. First he reasoned in the synagogue at the services to the Jews and the God-fearers, qen daily in the agora or marketplace (southwest of the Acropolis, between it and the Areopagus and the Pnyx) to the chance-comers, "them that met him" (pros tous paratugcanontas). Simultaneously with the synagogue preaching at other hours Paul took his stand like Socrates before him and engaged in conversation with (pros) those who happened by. this old verb, paratugcanw, occurs here alone in the N.T. and accurately pictures the life in the agora. The listeners to Paul in the agora would be more casual than those who stop for street preaching, a Salvation Army meeting, a harangue from a box in Hyde Park. It was a slim chance either in synagogue or in agora, but Paul could not remain still with all the reeking idolatry around him. The boundaries of the agora varied, but there was always the poikile stoa (the Painted Porch), over against the Acropolis on the west. In this stoa (Porch) Zeno and other philosophers and rhetoricians held forth from time to time. Paul may have stood near this spot.

    17:18 {And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him} (tines de kai twn epikouriwn kai stwikwn filosofwn suneballon autwi). Imperfect active of sunballw, old verb, in the N.T. only by Luke, to bring or put together in one's mind (#Lu 2:19), to meet together (#Ac 20:14), to bring together aid (#18:27), to confer or converse or dispute as here and already #4:15 which see. These professional philosophers were always ready for an argument and so they frequented the agora for that purpose. Luke uses one article and so groups the two sects together in their attitude toward Paul, but they were very different in fact. Both sects were eager for argument and both had disdain for Paul, but they were the two rival practical philosophies of the day, succeeding the more abstruse theories of Plato and Aristotle. Socrates had turned men's thought inward (Gnwqi seauton, Know Thyself) away from the mere study of physics. Plato followed with a profound development of the inner self (metaphysics). Aristotle with his cyclopaedic grasp sought to unify and relate both physics and metaphysics. Both Zeno and Epicurus (340-272 B.C.) took a more practical turn in all this intellectual turmoil and raised the issues of everyday life. Zeno (360-260 B.C.) taught in the stoa (Porch) and so his teaching was called Stoicism. He advanced many noble ideas that found their chief illustration in the Roman philosophers (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius). He taught self-mastery and hardness with an austerity that ministered to pride or suicide in case of failure, a distinctly selfish and unloving view of life and with a pantheistic philosophy. Epicurus considered practical atheism the true view of the universe and denied a future life and claimed pleasure as the chief thing to be gotten out of life. He did not deny the existence of gods, but regarded them as unconcerned with the life of men. The Stoics called Epicurus an atheist. Lucretius and Horace give the Epicurean view of life in their great poems. this low view of life led to sensualism and does today, for both Stoicism and Epicureanism are widely influential with people now. "Eat and drink for tomorrow we die," they preached. Paul had doubtless become acquainted with both of these philosophies for they were widely prevalent over the world. Here he confronts them in their very home. He is challenged by past-masters in the art of appealing to the senses, men as skilled in their dialectic as the Pharisaic rabbis with whom Paul had been trained and whose subtleties he had learned how to expose. But, so far as we know, this is a new experience for Paul to have a public dispute with these philosophical experts who had a natural contempt for all Jews and for rabbis in particular, though they found Paul a new type at any rate and so with some interest in him. "In Epicureanism, it was man's sensual nature which arrayed itself against the claims of the gospel; in Stoicism it was his self-righteousness and pride of intellect" (Hackett). Knowling calls the Stoic the Pharisee of philosophy and the Epicurean the Sadducee of philosophy. Socrates in this very agora used to try to interest the passers-by in some desire for better things. That was 450 years before Paul is challenged by these superficial sophistical Epicureans and Stoics. It is doubtful if Paul had ever met a more difficult situation. {What would this babbler say?} (ti an qeloi ho spermologos houtos legein?). The word for "babbler" means "seed-picker" or picker up of seeds (sperma, seed, legw, to collect) like a bird in the agora hopping about after chance seeds. Plutarch applies the word to crows that pick up grain in the fields. Demosthenes called Aeschines a spermologos. Eustathius uses it of a man hanging around in the markets picking up scraps of food that fell from the carts and so also of mere rhetoricians and plagiarists who picked up scraps of wisdom from others. Ramsay considers it here a piece of Athenian slang used to describe the picture of Paul seen by these philosophers who use it, for not all of them had it ("some," tines). Note the use of an and the present active optative qeloi, conclusion of a fourth-class condition in a rhetorical question (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1021). It means, What would this picker up of seeds wish to say, if he should get off an idea? It is a contemptuous tone of supreme ridicule and doubtless Paul heard this comment. Probably the Epicureans made this sneer that Paul was a charlatan or quack. {Other some} (hoi de). But others, in contrast with the "some" just before. Perhaps the Stoics take this more serious view of Paul. {He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods} (zenwn daimoniwn dokei kataggeleus einai). this view is put cautiously by dokei (seems). kataggeleus does not occur in the old Greek, though in ecclesiastical writers, but Deissmann (_Light from the Ancient East_, p. 99) gives an example of the word "on a marble stele recording a decree of the Mitylenaens in honor of the Emperor Augustus," where it is the herald of the games. Here alone in the N.T. daimonion is used in the old Greek sense of deity or divinity whether good or bad, not in the N.T. sense of demons. Both this word and kataggeleus are used from the Athenian standpoint. xenos is an old word for a guest-friend (Latin _hospes_) and qen host (#Ro 16:23), qen for foreigner or stranger (#Mt 25:31; Ac 17:21), new and so strange as here and #Heb 13:9; 1Pe 4:12, and qen aliens (#Eph 2:12). this view of Paul is the first count against Socrates: Socrates does wrong, introducing new deities (adikei Swkrates, kaina daimonia eisferwn, Xen. _Mem_. I). On this charge the Athenians voted the hemlock for their greatest citizen. What will they do to Paul? this Athens was more sceptical and more tolerant than the old Athens. But Roman law did not allow the introduction of a new religion (_religio illicita_). Paul was walking on thin ice though he was the real master philosopher and these Epicureans and Stoics were quacks. Paul had the only true philosophy of the universe and life with Jesus Christ as the center (#Col 1:12-20), the greatest of all philosophers as Ramsay justly terms him. But these men are mocking him. {Because he preached Jesus and the resurrection} (hoti ton iesoun kai ten anastasin eueggelizato). Reason for the view just stated. Imperfect middle indicative of euaggelizw, to "gospelize." Apparently these critics considered anastasis (Resurrection) another deity on a par with Jesus. The Athenians worshipped all sorts of abstract truths and virtues and they misunderstood Paul on this subject. They will leave him as soon as he mentions the resurrection (verse #32). It is objected that Luke would not use the word in this sense here for his readers would not under stand him. But Luke is describing the misapprehension of this group of philosophers and this interpretation fits in precisely.

    17:19 {And they took hold of him} (epilabomenoi de autou). Second aorist middle participle of epilambanw, old verb, but in the N.T. only in the middle, here with the genitive autou to lay hold of, but with no necessary sense of violence (#Ac 9:27; 23:27; Mr 8:23), unless the idea is that Paul was to be tried before the Court of Areopagus for the crime of bringing in strange gods. But the day for that had passed in Athens. Even so it is not clear whether "{unto the Areopagus} (epi ton Areion Pagon") means the Hill of Mars (west of the Acropolis, north of the agora and reached by a flight of steps in the rock) or the court itself which met elsewhere as well as on the hills, usually in fact in the stoa Basilica opening on the agora and near to the place where the dispute had gone on. Raphael's cartoon with Paul standing on Mars Hill has made us all familiar with the common view, but it is quite uncertain if it is true. There was not room on the summit for a large gathering. If Paul was brought before the Court of Areopagus (commonly called the Areopagus as here), it was not for trial as a criminal, but simply for examination concerning his new teaching in this university city whether it was strictly legal or not. Paul was really engaged in proselytism to turn the Athenians away from their old gods to Jesus Christ. But "the court of refined and polished Athenians was very different from the rough provincial civil officers of Philippi, and the philosophers who presented Paul to their cognizance very different from the mob of Thessalonians" (Rackham). It was all very polite. {May we know?} (dunameqa gnwnai). Can we come to know (ingressive second aorist active infinitive). { this new teaching} (he kaine haute didace). On the position of haute see Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 700f. The question was prompted by courtesy, sarcasm, or irony. Evidently no definite charge was laid against Paul.

    17:20 {For thou bringest certain strange things} (xenizonta gar tina eisfereis). The very verb used by Xenophon (_Mem_. I) about Socrates. xenizonta is present active neuter plural participle of xenizw and from xenos (verse #18), "things surprising or shocking us." {We would know therefore} (boulomeqa oun gnwnai). Very polite still, we wish or desire, and repeating gnwnai (the essential point).

    17:21 {Spent their time} (eukairoun). Imperfect active of eukairew. A late word to have opportunity (eu, kairos) from Polybius on. In the N.T. only here and #Mr 6:31. They had time for,.etc. this verse is an explanatory parenthesis by Luke. {Some new thing} (ti kainoteron). Literally "something newer" or "fresher" than the new, the very latest, the comparative of kainos. Demosthenes (_Philipp_. 1. 43) pictures the Athenians "in the agora inquiring if anything newer is said" (punqanomenoi kata ten agoran ei ti legetai newteron). The new soon became stale with these itching and frivolous Athenians.

    17:22 {Stood in the midst of the Areopagus} (staqeis en meswi tou areiou pagou). First aorist passive of histemi used of Peter in #2:14. Majestic figure whether on Mars Hill or in the stoa Basilica before the Areopagus Court. There would be a crowd of spectators and philosophers in either case and Paul seized the opportunity to preach Christ to this strange audience as he did in Caesarea before Herod Agrippa and the crowd of prominent people gathered by Festus for the entertainment. Paul does not speak as a man on trial, but as one trying to get a hearing for the gospel of Christ. {Somewhat superstitious} (hws deisidaimonesterous). The Authorized Version has "too superstitious," the American Standard "very religious." deisidaimwn is a neutral word (from deidw, to fear, and daimwn, deity). The Greeks used it either in the good sense of pious or religious or the bad sense of superstitious. Thayer suggests that Paul uses it "with kindly ambiguity." Page thinks that Luke uses the word to represent the religious feeling of the Athenians (_religiosus_) which bordered on superstition. The Vulgate has _superstitiosiores_. In #25:19 Festus uses the term deisidaimonia for "religion." It seems unlikely that Paul should give this audience a slap in the face at the very start. The way one takes this adjective here colors Paul's whole speech before the Council of Areopagus. The comparative here as in verse #21 means more religions than usual (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 664f.), the object of the comparison not being expressed. The Athenians had a tremendous reputation for their devotion to religion, "full of idols" (verse #16).

    17:23 {For} (gar). Paul gives an illustration of their religiousness from his own experiences in their city. {The objects of your worship} (ta sebasmata humwn). Late word from sebazomai, to worship. In N T. only here and #2Th 2:4. The use of this word for temples, altars, statues, shows the conciliatory tone in the use of deisidaimonesterous in verse #22. {An altar} (bwmon). Old word, only here in the N.T. and the only mention of a heathen altar in the N.T {With this inscription} (en hwi epegegrapto). On which had been written (stood written), past perfect passive indicative of epigrafw, old and common verb for writing on inscriptions (epigrafe, #Lu 23:38). {To an Unknown God} (agnosto qeo). Dative case, dedicated to. Pausanias (I. 1, 4) says that in Athens there are "altars to gods unknown" (bwmoi qewn agnwstwn). Epimenides in a pestilence advised the sacrifice of a sheep to the befitting god whoever he might be. If an altar was dedicated to the wrong deity, the Athenians feared the anger of the other gods. The only use in the N.T. of agnwstos, old and common adjective (from a privative and gnwstos verbal of ginwskw, to know). Our word agnostic comes from it. Here it has an ambiguous meaning, but Paul uses it though to a stern Christian philosopher it may be the "confession at once of a bastard philosophy and of a bastard religion" (Hort, _Hulsean Lectures_, p. 64). Paul was quick to use this confession on the part of the Athenians of a higher power than yet known to them. So he gets his theme from this evidence of a deeper religious sense in them and makes a most clever use of it with consummate skill. {In ignorance} (agnoountes). Present active participle of agnoew, old verb from same root as agnwstos to which Paul refers by using it. { this set I forth unto you} (touto ego kataggellw humin). He is a kataggeleus (verse #18) as they suspected of a God, both old and new, old in that they already worship him, new in that Paul knows who he is. By this master stroke he has brushed to one side any notion of violation of Roman law or suspicion of heresy and claims their endorsement of his new gospel, a shrewd and consummate turn. He has their attention now and proceeds to describe this God left out of their list as the one true and Supreme God. The later MSS. here read hon--touton (whom-- this one) rather than ho--touto (what-- this ), but the late text is plainly an effort to introduce too soon the personal nature of God which comes out clearly in verse #24.

    17:24 {The God that made the world} (ho qeos ho poiesas ton kosmon). Not a god for this and a god for that like the 30,000 gods of the Athenians, but the one God who made the Universe (kosmos on the old Greek sense of orderly arrangement of the whole universe). {And all things therein} (kai panta ta en autwi). All the details in the universe were created by this one God. Paul is using the words of #Isa 42:5. The Epicureans held that matter was eternal. Paul sets them aside. this one God was not to be confounded with any of their numerous gods save with this "Unknown God." {Being Lord of heaven and earth} (ouranou kai ges huparcwn kurios). kurios here owner, absolute possessor of both heaven and earth (#Isa 45:7), not of just parts. {Dwelleth not in temples made with hands} (ouken ceiropoietois naois katoikei). The old adjective ceiropoietos (ceir, poiew) already in Stephen's speech (#7:48). No doubt Paul pointed to the wonderful Parthenon, supposed to be the home of Athene as Stephen denied that God dwelt alone in the temple in Jerusalem.

    17:25 {As though he needed anything} (prosdeomenos tinos). Present middle participle of prosdeomai, to want besides, old verb, but here only in the N.T. this was strange doctrine for the people thought that the gods needed their offerings for full happiness. this self-sufficiency of God was taught by Philo and Lucretius, but Paul shows that the Epicurean missed it by putting God, if existing at all, outside the universe. {Seeing he himself giveth to all} (autos didous pasin). this Supreme Personal God is the source of life, breath, and everything. Paul here rises above all Greek philosophers.

    17:26 {And he made of one} (epoiesen te ex henos). The word haimatos (blood) is absent from Aleph A B and is a later explanatory addition. What Paul affirms is the unity of the human race with a common origin and with God as the Creator. this view runs counter to Greek exclusiveness which treated other races as barbarians and to Jewish pride which treated other nations as heathen or pagan (the Jews were laos, the Gentiles ethnˆ). The cosmopolitanism of Paul here rises above Jew and Greek and claims the one God as the Creator of the one race of men. The Athenians themselves claimed to be antocqonous (indigenous) and a special creation. Zeno and Seneca did teach a kind of cosmopolitanism (really pantheism) far different from the personal God of Paul. It was Rome, not Greece, that carried out the moral ideas of Zeno. Man is part of the universe (verse #24) and God created (epoiesen) man as he created (poiesas) the all. {For to dwell} (katoikein). Infinitive (present active) of purpose, so as to dwell. {Having determined} (horisas). First aorist active participle of horizw, old verb to make a horizon as already in #19:42 which see. Paul here touches God's Providence. God has revealed himself in history as in creation. His hand appears in the history of all men as well as in that of the Chosen People of Israel. {Appointed seasons} (prostetagmenous kairous). Not the weather as in #14:17, but "the times of the Gentiles" (kairoi eqnwn) of which Jesus spoke (#Lu 21:24). The perfect passive participle of prostassw, old verb to enjoin, emphasizes God's control of human history without any denial of human free agency as was involved in the Stoic Fate (heirmarmene). {Bounds} (horoqesias). Limits? Same idea in #Job 12:23. Nations rise and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is an interplay between God's will and man's activities, difficult as it is for us to see with our shortened vision.

    17:27 {That they should seek God} (zetein ton qeon). Infinitive (present active) of purpose again. Seek him, not turn away from him as the nations had done (#Ro 1:18-32). {If haply they might feel after him} (ei ara ge yelafeseian auton). First aorist active (Aeolic form) optative of yelafaw, old verb from yaw, to touch. So used by the Risen Jesus in his challenge to the disciples (#Lu 24:39), by the Apostle John of his personal contact with Jesus (#1Jo 1:1), of the contact with Mount Sinai (#Heb 12:18). Here it pictures the blind groping of the darkened heathen mind after God to "find him" (heuroien, second aorist active optative) whom they had lost. One knows what it is in a darkened room to feel along the walls for the door (#De 28:29; Job 5:14; 12:25; Isa 59:10). Helen Keller, when told of God, said that she knew of him already, groping in the dark after him. The optative here with ei is due to the condition of the fourth class (undetermined, but with vague hope of being determined) with aim also present (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1021). Note also ara ge the inferential particle Ara with the delicate intensive particle ge. {Though he is not far from each one of us} (kai ge ou makran apo henos hekastou hemwn huparconta). More exactly with B L (kai ge instead of kaitoi or kaitoi ge), "and yet being not far from each one of us," a direct statement rather than a concessive one. The participle huparconta agrees with auton and the negative ou rather than the usual me with the participle makes an emphatic negative. Note also the intensive particle ge.

    17:28 {For in him} (en autwi gar). Proof of God's nearness, not stoic pantheism, but real immanence in God as God dwells in us. The three verbs (zwmen, kinoumeqa, esmen) form an ascending scale and reach a climax in God (life, movement, existence). kinoumeqa is either direct middle present indicative (we move ourselves) or passive (we are moved). {As certain even of your own poets} (hws kai tines twn kaq' humas poietwn). "As also some of the poets among you." Aratus of Soli in Cilicia (ab. B.C. 270) has these very words in his _Ta Phainomena_ and Cleanthes, Stoic philosopher (300-220 B.C.) in his _Hymn to Zeus_ has ek sou gar genos esmen. In #1Co 15:32 Paul quotes from Menander and in #Tit 1:12 from Epimenides. J. Rendel Harris claims that he finds allusions in Paul's Epistles to Pindar, Aristophanes, and other Greek writers. There is no reason in the world why Paul should not have acquaintance with Greek literature, though one need not strain a point to prove it. Paul, of course, knew that the words were written of Zeus (Jupiter), not of Jehovah, but he applies the idea in them to his point just made that all men are the offspring of God.

    17:29 {We ought not to think} (ouk ofeilomen nomizein). It is a logical conclusion (oun, therefore) from the very language of Aratus and Cleanthes. {That the Godhead is like} (to qeion einai homoion). Infinitive with accusative of general reference in indirect discourse. to qeion is strictly "the divine" nature like qeiotes (#Ro 1:20) rather than like qeotes (#Col 2:9). Paul may have used to qeion here to get back behind all their notions of various gods to the real nature of God. The Athenians may even have used the term themselves. After homoios (like) the associative instrumental case is used as with cruswi, argur"i, lith"i. {Graven by art and device of man} (caragmati tecnes kai enqumesews anqrwpou). Apposition with preceding and so caragmati in associative instrumental case. Literally, graven work or sculpture from carassw, to engrave, old word, but here alone in N.T. outside of Revelation (the mark of the beast). Graven work of art (tecnes) or external craft, and of thought or device (enqumesews) or internal conception of man.

    17:30 {The times of ignorance} (tous cronous tes agnoias). The times before full knowledge of God came in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the very word for their ignorance (agnoountes) employed in verse #23. {Overlooked} (huperidwn). Second aorist active participle of huperoraw or hupereidw, old verb to see beyond, not to see, to overlook, not "to wink at" of the Authorized Version with the notion of condoning. Here only in the N.T. It occurs in the LXX in the sense of overlooking or neglecting (#Ps 18:62; 55:1). But it has here only a negative force. God has all the time objected to the polytheism of the heathen, and now he has made it plain. In Wisdom 11:23 we have these words: "Thou overlookest the sins of men to the end they may repent." {But now} (ta nun). Accusative of general reference, "as to the now things or situation." All is changed now that Christ has come with the full knowledge of God. See also #27:22. {All everywhere} (pantas pantacou). No exceptions anywhere. {Repent} (metanoein). Present active infinitive of metanoew in indirect command, a permanent command of perpetual force. See on metanoew ¯Ac 2:38 and the Synoptic Gospels. this word was the message of the Baptist, of Jesus, of Peter, of Paul, this radical change of attitude and life.

    17:31 {Inasmuch as} (kaqoti). According as (kata, hoti). Old causal conjunction, but in N.T. only used in Luke's writings (#Lu 1:7; 19:9; Ac 2:45; 4:35; 17:31). {Hath appointed a day} (estesen hemeran) First aorist active indicative of histemi, to place, set. God did set the day in his counsel and he will fulfil it in his own time. {Will judge} (mellei krinein). Rather, is going to judge, mellw and the present active infinitive of krinw. Paul here quotes #Ps 9:8 where krinei occurs. {By the man whom he hath ordained} (en andri hwi hwrisen). Here he adds to the Psalm the place and function of Jesus Christ, a passage in harmony with Christ's own words in #Mt 25. hwi (whom) is attracted from the accusative, object of hwrisen (first aorist active indicative of horizw) to the case of the antecedent andri. It has been said that Paul left the simple gospel in this address to the council of the Areopagus for philosophy. But did he? He skilfully caught their attention by reference to an altar to an Unknown God whom he interprets to be the Creator of all things and all men who overrules the whole world and who now commands repentance of all and has revealed his will about a day of reckoning when Jesus Christ will be Judge. He has preached the unity of God, the one and only God, has proclaimed repentance, a judgment day, Jesus as the Judge as shown by his Resurrection, great fundamental doctrines, and doubtless had much more to say when they interrupted his address. There is no room here for such a charge against Paul. He rose to a great occasion and made a masterful exposition of God's place and power in human history. {Whereof he hath given assurance} (pistin parascwn). Second aorist active participle of parecw, old verb to furnish, used regularly by Demosthenes for bringing forward evidence. Note this old use of pistis as conviction or ground of confidence (#Heb 11:1) like a note or title-deed, a conviction resting on solid basis of fact. All the other uses of pistis grow out of this one from peiqw, to persuade. {In that he hath raised him from the dead} (anastesas auton ek nekrwn). First aorist active participle of anistemi, causal participle, but literally, "having raised him from the dead." this Paul knew to be a fact because he himself had seen the Risen Christ. Paul has here come to the heart of his message and could now throw light on their misapprehension about "Jesus and the Resurrection" (verse #18). Here Paul has given the proof of all his claims in the address that seemed new and strange to them.

    17:32 {The resurrection of the dead} (anastasin nekrwn). Rather, "a resurrection of dead men." No article with either word. The Greeks believed that the souls of men lived on, but they had no conception of resurrection of the body. They had listened with respect till Paul spoke of the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead as a fact, when they did not care to hear more. {Some mocked} (hoi men ecleuazon). Imperfect active of cleuazw, a common verb (from cleue, jesting, mockery). Only here in the N.T. though late MSS. have it in #2:13 (best MSS. diachleuaz"). Probably inchoative here, began to mock. In contempt at Paul's statement they declined to listen further to " this babbler" (verse #18) who had now lost what he had gained with this group of hearers (probably the light and flippant Epicureans). {But others} (hoi de). A more polite group like those who had invited him to speak (verse #19). They were unconvinced, but had better manners and so were in favor of an adjournment. this was done, though it is not clear whether it was a serious postponement or a courteous refusal to hear Paul further (probably this ). It was a virtual dismissal of the matter. " It is a sad story--the noblest of ancient cities and the noblest man of history--and he never cared to look on it again" (Furneaux).

    17:33 {Thus Paul went out from among them} (houtws ho paulos exelqen ek mesou autwn). No further questions, no effort to arrest him, no further ridicule. He walked out never to return to Athens. Had he failed?

    17:34 {Clave unto him and believed} (kolleqentes autwi episteusan). First aorist passive of this strong word kollaw, to glue to, common in Acts (#5:13; 8:29; 9:26; 10:28) No sermon is a failure which leads a group of men (andres) to believe (ingressive aorist of pisteuw) in Jesus Christ. Many so-called great or grand sermons reap no such harvest. {Dionysius the Areopagite} (dionusios ho areopagites). One of the judges of the Court of the Areopagus. That of itself was no small victory. He was one of this college of twelve judges who had helped to make Athens famous. Eusebius says that he became afterwards bishop of the Church at Athens and died a martyr. {A woman named Damaris} (gune onomati Damaris). A woman by name Damaris. Not the wife of Dionysius as some have thought, but an aristocratic woman, not necessarily an educated courtezan as Furneaux holds. And there were "others" (heteroi) with them, a group strong enough to keep the fire burning in Athens. It is common to say that Paul in #1Co 2:1-5 alludes to his failure with philosophy in Athens when he failed to preach Christ crucified and he determined never to make that mistake again. On the other hand Paul determined to stick to the Cross of Christ in spite of the fact that the intellectual pride and superficial culture of Athens had prevented the largest success. As he faced Corinth with its veneer of culture and imitation of philosophy and sudden wealth he would go on with the same gospel of the Cross, the only gospel that Paul knew or preached. And it was a great thing to give the world a sermon like that preached in Athens.

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