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which were there, spent their time in nothing not commence his discourse by denouncing them, else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.) or suppose that they would be convinced by mere
dogmatical assertion. No happier instance can For all the Athenians - This was their general
be found, of cool, collected argumentation, than character. And strangers which were there.
is furnished in this discourse. 1 perceive.--He Athens was greatly distinguished for the cele perceived this by his observations of their forms brity of its schools of philosophy. It was at
of worship, in passing through their city, ver. 23. that time at the head of the literary world. Its
In all things.- In respect to all events. Ye are arts and its learning were celebrated in all lands.
too superstitious, OrloidaTMOVEOTépovç.- This is It is known, therefore, that it was the favourite
a most unhappy translation. We use the word resort of men of other nations, who came there
"superstitious" always in a bad sense, to denote to become acquainted with its institutions, and being over-scrupulous and rigid in religious obto listen to its sages. Spent their time in nothing
servances, particularly in smaller matters; or to else.— The learned and subtle Athenians gave
a zealous devotion to rites and observances which themselves much to speculation, and employed
are not commanded. But the word here is de themselves in examining the various new sys
signed to convey no such idea. It properly tems of philosophy that were proposed. Strangers
means reverence for the gods or demons. It is and foreigners who were there, having much used in the classic writers in a good sense, to leisure, would also give themselves to the same
denote piety towards the gods, or suitable fear inquiries. But either to tell or to hear some new
and reverence for them; and also in a bad sense, thing.--Greek, “something newer.” Katvorepov.
to denote improper fear or excessive dread of The latest news; or the latest subject of inquiry
their anger; and in this sense it accords with proposed. This is well known to have been the
our word superstitious. But it is altogether imcharacter of the people of Athens at all times.
probable that Paul should have used it in a bad “ Many of the ancient writers bear witness to
writers bear witness to sense. For, (1.) It was not his custom peedthe garrulity, and curiosity, and intemperate de
| lessly to blame or offend his auditors. (2.) It is sire of novelty among the Athenians, by which not probable that he would commence his discourse they inquired respecting all things, even those in
even those in in a manner that would only excite their prewhich they had no interest, whether of a public | judice and opposition. (3.) In the thing which or private nature.”_Kuinoel. Thus Thucyd. | he specifies, (ver. 23,) as proof on the subject, he (iii. 38) says of them, “ You excel in suffer- | does not introduce it as a matter of blame, but ing yourselves to be deceived with novelty of rather as a proof of their devotedness to the speech.” On which the old Scholiast makes this cause of religion, and of their regard for God. remark, almost in the words of Luke: “He (4.) The whole speech is calm, dignified, and (Thucydides) here blames the Athenians, who
| argumentative-such as became such a place, care for nothing else but to tell or to hear some
such a speaker, and such an audience. The thing new.” Thus Æliau (v. 13) says of the
meaning of the expression is, therefore, "I per. Athenians, that they are versatile in novelties.
ceive that you are greatly devoted to reverence Thus Demosthenes represents the Athenians
for religion; that it is a characteristic of the “as inquiring in the place of public resort if
people to honour the gods, to rear altars to them. there were any news?” Ti viótepov. Meursius
and to recognise the divine agency in times of has shown, also, that there were more than three
trial.” The proof of this was the altar reared to hundred public places in Athens of public resort,
the unknown God; its bearing on his purpose where the principal youth and reputable citizens
was, that such a state of public sentiment must were accustomed to meet for the purpose of con
be favourable to an inquiry into the truth of versation and inquiry.
what he was about to state.
VER. 22. Then Paul stood in the midst of |
Ver. 23. For as I passed by, and beheld your © Mars' Hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I
devotions, I found an altar with this inscripperceive that in all things ye are too super
tion, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therestitious.d
fore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I
unto you. c or, the court of the Areopagiteg. d Jer. 1. 38.
e or, gods that ye worship. Gal. iv. 8. Then Paul.-This commences Paul's explanation of the doctrines which he had stated. It is For as I passed by.-Greek, “ For I, coming evident that Luke has recorded but a mere sum- through, and seeing," &c. And beheld.-Dimary or outline of the discourse; but it is such ligently contemplated ; attentively considered as to enable us to see clearly his course of thought, (ávajewpūv). The worship of an idolatrous and the manner in which he met the two principal people will be an object of intense and painful sects of their philosophers. In the midst of Mars' interest to a Christian. Your devotions, tà gehill.-Greek, Areopagus. This should have been | Báouara.–Our word “devotions” refers to the retained in the translation. Ye men of Athens.- act of worship-to prayers, praises, &c. The This language was perfectly respectful, notwith Greek word here used means properly any sacred standing his heart had been deeply affected by thing; any object which is worshipped, or which their idolatry. Every thing about this discourse is connected with the place or rites of worship. is calm, grave, cool, and argumentative. Paul Thus it is applied either to the gods themselves, understood the character of his auditors, and did | or to temples, altars, shrines, sacrifices, statues,
&c., connected with the worship of the gods. for him by rearing to him an altar. Him declare i This is its meaning here. It does not denote I unto you.--I make known to you his name,
that Paul saw them engaged in the act of worship, attributes, &c. There is remarkable address and bat that he was struck with the numerous temples, tact in Paul's seizing on this circumstance; and altars, statues, &c., which were reared to the gods, yet it was perfectly fair and honest. God only and which indicated the state of the people. Syriac, could deliver in the time of the pestilence. This " the temple of your gods.” Vulgate, “your altar had, therefore, been really reared to him, images." Margin, “ gods that ye worship.” I found though his name was unknown. The same un altar,- An altar usually denotes a place for sa Being who had interposed at that time, and crifice. Here, however, it does not appear that whose interposition was recorded by the buildany sacrifice was offered ; but it was probably a ing of this altar, was he who had made the monument of stone, reared to commemorate a heavens; who ruled over all; and whom Paul certain event, and dedicated to the unknown God. was now about to make known to them. There To the unknown God, 'Ayvúrty Oeq.- Where is another feature of skill in the allusion to this this altar was reared, or on what occasion, has altar. In other circumstances it might seem to been a subject of much debate with expositors. be presumptuous for an unknown Jew to attempt
That there was such an altar in Athens, though to instruct the sages of Athens. But here they I it may not have been specifically mentioned by had confessed and proclaimed their ignorance.
the Greek writers, is rendered probable by the By rearing this altar they acknowledged their ' following circumstances. (1.) It was customary need of instruction. The way was, therefore, to rear such altars. Minutius Felix says of the fairly open for Paul to address even these philoRomans, " they build altars to unknown divi- sophers, and to discourse to them on a point on nities." (2.) The term “unknown God” was which they acknowledged their ignorance. used in relation to the worship of the Athenians. Lucian, in his Philopatris, uses this form of
| Ver. 24. God that made the world and all an oath: “I swear by the unknown God at Athens," the very expression used by the apostle. things therein, seeing that he is 8 Lord of And again, he says, (ch. xxix. 180,) “We have heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples found out the unknown God at Athens, and
made with hands; Forshipped him with our hands stretched up to heaven," &c. (3.) There were altars at Athens
✓ Chap. xiv. 15. 9 Matt. xi. 25. n Chap. vii. 48. inscribed to the unknown gods." Philostratus says, (in Vita Apollo, vi. 3,) “ And this at God that made the world,—The main object of Aihens, where there are even altars to the un- this discourse of Paul is, to convince them of known gods.” Thus, Pausanias (in Attic. ch. i.) the foily of idolatry, (ver. 29,) and thus to lead says, that “at Athens there are altars of gods them to repentance. For this purpose he comwhich are called the UNKNOWN ones.” Jerome, mences with a statement of the true doctrine rein his commentary, (Epistle to Titus i. 12,) says specting God as the Creator of all things. We
that the whole inscription was “to the gods of may observe here, (1.) That he speaks here of ✓ Asia, Europe, and Africa; to the unknown and God as the Creator of the world—thus opposing | strange gods." (4.) There was a remarkable indirectly their opinions that there were many | altar reared in Athens in a time of pestilence, in gods. (2.) He speaks of him as the Creator of I bonour of the unknown god which had granted the world, and thus opposes the opinion that
them deliverance. Diogenes Laertius says that matter was eternal; that all things were conEpimenides restrained the pestilence in the fol trolled by fate; and that he could be confined to bwing manner : “ Taking white and black sheep, temples.' The Epicureans held that matter was I he led them to the Areopagus, and there per eternal, and that the world was formed by a mitted them to go where they would, command- fortuitous concourse of atoms. To this opinion ing those who followed them to sacrifice (To Paul opposed the doctrine that all things were
porncovri Sao) to the god to whom these | made by one God. Comp. ch. xiv. 15. Seeing things pertained, (or who had the power of avert that, &c.-Gr. “He being Lord of heaven and ing the plague, whoever he might be, without earth.” Lord of heaven and earth. - Proprietor adding the name, and thus to allay the pestilence. and Ruler of heaven and earth. It is highly From which it has arisen, that at this day, through absurd, therefore, to suppose that he who is prethe villages of the Athenians, altars are found sent in heaven and in earth at the same time, without any name.” (Diog. Laer. b. i. $ 10.) and who rules over all, should be confined to a This took place about 600 years before Christ, temple of an earthly structure, or dependent on and it is not improbable that one or more of man for any thing. Dwelleth not, &c.-See those altars remained until the time of Paul. It | Note, ch. vii. 48. should be added, that the natural inscription on those altars would be, "to the unknown god.”
VER. 25. Neither is worshipped with men's ne of the gods to whom they usually sacriSeed could deliver them from the pestilence.
hands, as though he i needed any thing ; seeThey, therefore, reared them to some unknown ing he i giveth to all life, and breath, and all Belug, who had the power to free them from things; the plague. Whom therefore.— The true God,
mbo bad really delivered them from the plague. 1 i Ps. 1. 8. j Job xii. 10. Zech. xii. 1. £ Rom. xi. 36. ! He ignorantly worship.-Orworship without know
ing his name. You have expressed your homage Neither is worshipped with men's hands. The
word here rendered “worshipped" (Seoa TEVE- | mon parent. The word “ blood" is often used tai) denotes to serve ; to wait upon; and then to denote race, stock, kindred. This passage to render religious service or homage. There completely proves that all the human family are is reference here, undoubtedly, to a notion pre descended from the same ancestor ; and that, valent among the heathen, that the gods were consequently, all the variety of complexion, &c., fed or nourished by the offerings made to them. is to be traced to some other cause than that The idea is prevalent among the Hindoos, that there were originally different races created. the sacrifices which are made, and which are See Gen. i. Comp. Mal. ii. 10. The design of offered in the temples, are consumed by the gods the apostle in this affirmation was, probably, to themselves. Perbaps, also, Paul had reference convince the Greeks that he regarded them all to the fact that so many persons were employed as brethren; and that, although he was a Jew, in their temples in serving them with their yet he was not enslaved to any parrow notions hands; that is, in preparing sacrifices and feasts or prejudices in reference to other men. It in their honour. Paul affirms, that the great follows also from this, that no one nation, and Creator of all things cannot be thus dependent | no individual, can claim any pre-eminence over on his creatures for happiness; and consequently, others in virtue of birth or blood. All are in that that mode of worship must be highly ab- | this respect equal; and the whole human family, surd. The same idea occurs in Psa. I, 10 however they may differ in complexion, customs, 12:
and laws, are to be regarded and treated as
brethren. It follows, also, that no one part of For every beast of the forest is mine:
the race has a right to enslave or oppress any And the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountain;
other part, on account of difference of complexion And the wild beasts of the field are mine.
Nor has man a right, because
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not coloured like his own; and having power Seeing he giveth.--Gr. He having given to all, T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause (to] &c. Life. He is the source of life; and there Doom and devote him as his lawful prey. fore he cannot be dependent on that life which he has himself imparted. And breath.-The
For to dwell, &c.—To cultivate and till the earth, power of breathing, by which life is sustained.
This was the original command, (Gen. i. 28;) ;; He not only originally gave life, but he gives | and God, by his providence, has so ordered it! it at each moment; he gives the power of draw
that the descendants of one family have found ing each breath by which life is supported. It their way to all lands, and have become adapted to: is possible, that the phrase, “life and breath,”
the climate where he has placed them. And hath may be the figure hendyades, by which one thing
determined.-Gr. opisac. Having fixed, or marked is expressed by two words. And it is highly
out a boundary. Note, Rom. i. 4. The word is , probable that Paul here had reference to Gen. ii. usually applied to a field, which is designated by 7: “And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils
a boundary. It means here that God hath! the breath of life.” The same idea occurs in
marked out, or designated in his purpose, their Job xii. 10:
future abodes. The times before appointed. This is
evidently refers to the dispersion and migration In whose hand is the life (margin) of every living thing; of nations. And it means that God had, in his ! And the breath of all mankind.
plan, fixed the times when each country should 1
be settled; the time of the location, the rise, the And all things.---All things necessary to sustain
prosperity, and the fall of each nation. It im :) lite. We may see here how dependent man is
plies, (1.) That these "times” bad been before on God. There can be no more absolute de
appointed ; and, (2.) That it was done in wisdom. pendence than that for every breath. How easy it was his plan; and the different continents and it would be for God to suspend our breathing! Lislands had not, therefore, been settled by chance, il How incessant the care, how unceasing the pro
but by a wise rule, and in accordance with his vidence by which, whether we sleep or wake
arrangement and design. And the bounds of their whether we remember or forget him, he heaves
habitation.-- Their limits and boundaries as a our chest ; fill our lungs; restores the vitality of
people. He has designated the black man to our blood; and infuses vigour into our frame !
Africa ; the white man to northern regions; the Comp. note, Rom. xi. 36.
American savage be fixed in the wilds of the
western continent, &c. By customs, laws, inVer. 26. And hath made of one 'blood all na clinations, and habits, he fixed the boundaries of tions of men for to dwell on all the face of the
their habitations, and disposed them to dwell
there. We may learn, (1.) That the revolutions earth, and hath determined the times » before
and changes of nations are under the direction of appointed, and the bounds * of their habita infinite wisdom ; (2.) That men should not be
restless, and dissatisfied with the place where
God has located them ; (3.) That God has given 1 Mal. ii. 10. m Psa. xxxi. 15. n Isa. xlv. 21. I sufficient limits to all, so that it is not needful to
invade others; and, (4.) That wars of conquest And hath made of one blood.- All the families are evil. God has given to men their places of of men are descended from one origin, or stock. | abode, and we have no right to disturb those However different their complexion, features, abodes, or to attempt to displace them in a language, &c., yet they are derived from a com- | violent manner. This strain of remark by the
apostle was also opposed to all the notions of the VER. 28. For in p him we live, and move, and Epicurean philosophers, and yet so obviously
hare our being; as 9 certain also of your true and just, that they could not gainsay or resist it.
own poets have said, For we are also his
offspring VER. 27. That they should seek the Lord, if
p Col. i. 17. q Tit. i. 12. haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us :
For in him we live. The expression “in him”
evidently means by him ; by his originally formChap. xiv. 17.
ing us, and continually sustaining us. No words
can better express our constant dependence on That they should seek the Lord.-Greek, To him. He is the original fountain of life; and he seek the Lord. The design of thus placing them upholds us each moment. A similar sentiment on the earth-of giving them their habitation is found in Plautus, (v. 4, 14 :) “O Jupiter, who among his works-was, that they should contem- | dost cherish and nourish the race of man; by plate his wisdom in his works, and thus come to | whom we live, and with whom is the hope of the a knowledge of his existence and character. All life of all men.”—Kuinoel. It does not appear, hownations, though living in different regions and ever, that Paul intended this as a quotation ; yet he climates, have thus the opportunity of becoming doubtless intended to state a sentiment with which acquainted with God. (Rom. i. 19, 20.) The they were familiar, and with which they would fact, that the nations did not thus learn the cha- agree. And move, Kivotuefa.- Doddridge transracter of the true God, shows their great stupid-lates this, “ And are moved.” It may however ity and wickedness. The design of Paul in this be in the middle voice, and be correctly rendered pas, doubtless, to reprove the idolatry of the as in our version. It means that we derive Athenians. The argument is this : “God has strength to move from him; an expression degiven to each nation its proper opportunity to noting constant and absolute dependence. There
learn his character. Idolatry, therefore, is folly is no idea of dependence more striking than that | and wickedness ; since it is possible to find out we owe to him the ability to perform the slight¡ the existence of the one God from his works." est motion. And have our being.–Kai tousy, and
Ij kaply, či äpaye.-If perhaps, implying that are.” This denotes that our continued existit was possible to find God, though it might be ence is owing to him. That we live at all is | attended with some difficulty. God has placed his gift; that we have power to move is his gift; us here that we may make the trial; and has and our continued and prolonged existence is his inade it possible thus to find him. They might gift also. Thus Paul traces our dependence on Jal after him.-The word used here (unaon- Him from the lowest pulsation of life to the Ottav) means properly to touch, to handle, (Luke highest powers of action and of continued existxxiv. 39; Heb. xii. 18,) and then to ascertain the ence. It would be impossible to express in more
qualities of an object by the sense of touch. And emphatic language our entire dependence on i as the sense of touch is regarded as a certain way God. As certain also.- As some. The senti
of ascertaining the existence and qualities of an ment which he quotes was found substantially in 1 cbject, the word means to search diligently, that several Greek poets. Of your own poets.--He
we may know distinctly and certainly. The does not refer particularly here to poets of Ford has this sense here. It means to search | Athens, but to Greek poets-poets who had writ
diligently and accurately for God, to learn his ten in their language. For we are also his off| existence and perfections. The Syriac renders | spring. This precise expression is found in Ara
it, that they may seek for God, and find him tus (Phænom. v. 5,) and in Cleanthus, in a hymn from his creatures.” And find him.- Find the to Jupiter. Substantially the same sentiment proofs of his existence. Become acquainted with is found in several other Greek poets. Aratus his perfections and laws. Though he be not far, was a Greek poet of Cilicia, the native place of &c.--This seems to be stated by the apostle to Paul, and flourished about 277 years before show that it was possible to find him; and that Christ. As Paul was a native of the same couneven those who were without a revelation need try, it is highly probable he was acquainted with Dot despair of becoming acquainted with his ex- | his writings. Aratus passed much of his time Istence and perfections. He is near to us, (1.) at the court of Antigonus Gonatas, king of MaBcause the proofs of his existence and power cedonia. His principal work was the “Phænoare round about us every where. (Psa. xix. 1 mena," which is here quoted, and was so highly 6.) (2.) Because he fills all things in heaven esteemed in Greece that many learned men and earth by his essential presence. (Psa. wrote commentaries on it. The sentiment here CXXXix, 7--10. Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. Amos ix. quoted was directly at variance with the views of 2 . 1 Kings viii. 27.) We should learn then, the Epicureans; and it is proof of Paul's address (1.) To be afraid to sin. God is present with us, and skill, as well as his acquaintance with his and sees all. (2.) He can protect the righteous. auditors, and with the Greek poets, that he was He is ever with them. (3.) He can detect and able to adduce a sentiment so directly in point, panish the wicked. He sees all their plans and and that had the concurrent testimony of so many thr ghts, and records all their doings. (4.) We of the Greeks themselves. It is one instance $50uld seek himn continually. It is the design among thousands where an acquaintance with 10 which he has made us; and he has given us profane learning may be of use to a minister of afruddant opportunities to learn his existence and the gospel. priections.
VER. 29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring 'commands all men to repent, we may observe, of God, we ought not to think that the God.; (1.) That it is their duty to do it. There is no
higher obligation than to obey the command of head is like anto gold, or silver, or stone, gra
God. (2.) It can be done. God would not ven by art and man's device.
command an impossibility. (3.) It is binding on Isa. xl. 18, &c.
ail. The rich, the learned, the great, the gay,
are as much bound as the beggar and the slave. Forasmuch then.-Admitting or assuming this There is no distinction made. It pertains to all to be true. The argument which follows is people, in all lands. (4.) It must be done, or the drawn from the concessions of their own writers. soul lost. It is not wise, and it is not safe, to We ought not to think.- It is absurd to suppose.
Deglect a plain law of God. It will not be well The argument of the apostle is this: “ Since we to die reflecting that we have all our life neglectare formed by God; since we are like him, lire ed and despised his plain commands. (5.) We ing and intelligent beings; since we are more ex. | should send the gospel to the heathen. God calls cellent in our nature than the most precious and on the nations to repent, and to be saved. It is ingenious works of art : it is absurd to suppose the duty of Christians to make known to them that the original source of our existence can be the command, and to invite them to the blessings like gold, and silver, and stone. Man himself is
of pardon and heavez. far more excellent than an image of wood and stone ; how much more excellent still must be
VER. 31. Because he bath appointed * a day, in the great Fountain and Source of all our wisdom
the which he will judge the world in righteand intelligence." See this thought pursued at length in Isa. xl. 18-23. The Godhead.- The
ousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; divinity, (7Oriov.) the divine nature, or essence. xhereof he hath given assurance » unto all
The word used here is an adjective employed as men, in that he hath raised him from the i a noun, and does not occur elsewhere in the New
dead. | Testament. Is like unto gold, &c.- All these things were used in making images, or statues of
u Rom. ii. 16. or, offered faith. the gods. It is absurd to think that the source of all life and intelligence resembles a lifeless Because he hath appointed a day.—This is block of wood or stone. Even degraded heathen, given as a reason why God commands men to one would think, might see the force of an argu repent. They must be judged ; and if they are ment like this. Gracen.-Sculptured: wrought not penitent and pardoned, they must be coninto an image.
demned. See Note, Rom. ii. 16. Judge the world.
- The whole world-Jews and Gentiles. In VER. 30. And the times of this ignorance God righteousness.- According to the principles of winked' at; but now ! commandeth all men strict justice. See Matt. xxv. Whom he hath
ordained.-Or whom he has constituted or apevery where to repent :
pointed as judge. See Note, chap. X. 42. John • Rom. iii. 23. Luke xxiv. 47. Tit. ii. 11, 12. v. 25. Hath giren assurance.-Has afforded eni
dence of this. That evidence consists, (1.) In And the times of this ignorance.— The long pe- || the fact that Jesus declared that he would judge riod when men were ignorant of the true God, the nations, (John v. 25, 26; Matt. xxv.;) and. and when they worshipped stocks and stones. (2.) God confirmed the truth of his declarations Paul here refers to the times preceding the gos- by raising him from the dead, or gave his sanepel. God winked at.-—'Y TEOLWV, overlooked, tion to what the Lord Jesus had said, for God connived at ; did not come forth to punish.” In / would not work a miracle in favour of an imchap. xiv. 16, it is expressed thus, “ Who in times
postor. past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” The sense is, he passed over those times VER. 32. And when they heard of the resurretwithout punishing them, as if he did not see tion of the dead, some mocked: and others them. For wise purposes he suffered them to
said, We will hear thee again of this matter. walk in ignorance, and to make the fair experiment to show what men would do; and how | w Chap. xxvi. 8. Luke xiv. 18. Chap. xxiv. 15. much necessity there was for a revelation to in: | struct them in the true knowledge of God. We Some mocked. Some of the philosophers de are not to suppose that God regarded idolatry as rided him. It was believed by none of the innocent, or the crimes and vices to which idol. | Greeks; it seemed incredible; and they regardatry led as of no importance; but their ignorance ed it as so absurd as not to admit of an argument. was a mitigating circumstance, and he suffered It has not been uncommon for even professed the nations to live without coming forth in direct philosophers to mock at the doctrines of religion, judgment against them. Comp. Notes on chap. and to meet the arguments of Christianity with jii. 17 ; xiv. 16. But now commandeth.-By the a sneer. The Epicureans particularly wonld be gospel. (Luke xxiv. 47.) All men.-- Not Jews likely to deride this, as they denied altogether only, who had been favoured with peculiar pri | any future state. It is not improbable that this vileges, but all nations. The barrier was broken derision by the Epicureans produced such a disdown, and the call to repentance was sent abroad turbance as to break off Paul's discourse, as that into all the earth. To repent.— To exercise sor- of Stephen had been by the clamour of the Jews row for their sins, and to forsake them. If God (Chap. vii. 54.) And others said.- Probably