Acts 17:29-34

29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”

33 So Paul departed from among them.

34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

offspring (v.29) — If men are living, rational and moral, how can their gods be man-made idols?

art (v.29) — in Athens, especially, art reached its highest levels in statues and temples dedicated to their religion.

ignorance (v.30) — see Acts 14:14-16.

overlooked (v.30) — God didn’t excuse their idolatry, but He did not interfere to prevent them from practicing it. But the time is coming when He will.

but now (v.30) — Once men heard of Christ, they could no longer plead ignorance.

repent (v.30) = reconsider, think differently — to turn from idols to God

To hold that repentance has no place in the Pauline message is to misunderstand the nature of repentance, but on the other hand, to preach repentance, rather than grace, is to display ignorance of the message which the risen, ascended Lord committed to Paul and to us.

… Paul was answering the champions of idolatry. Quite naturally he would, in such a case, call upon them to repent and turn to the true God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9). And quite naturally he would confirm what Peter had said with respect to our Lord’s resurrection to “judge the world in righteousness.” — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, page 113.

in righteousness (v.31) — with justice — the guilty will not get off

ordained (v.31) — the same Greek words as that translated “determined” in verse 26.

given assurance (v.31) — Or ‘He hath furnished a guarantee.” The resurrection of our Lord is the guarantee alike that the risen One possesses the authority and power for His office as Judge (Romans 2:4; John 5:26-27), and that there will be a general resurrection of the dead followed by a righteous judgment (Revelation 20:11-13). — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 384.

Dionysius the Areopagite (v.34) — A member of the august court of the Areopagus (v.19). As such, he was a man of weight and seniority, and had probably filled the office of “archon” or chief magistrate.  We know nothing further of him for certain.

Damaris (v.34) — Supposed by some to be a variant of “Damalis” (heifer), a name common among Greeks. as it stands, however, it has a foreign sound, and it has been suggested that she was a foreigner of not very reputable character, since it was not the custom of Greek women of respectability to appear in a public meeting of this kind. — Walker, page 386.

Certain theologians have criticized Paul for failing to present the way of salvation in his speech at the Areopagus. It must be remembered, however, that he was brought to the Areopagus because he had been preaching “Jesus, and the resurrection” (v.18) and it is unthinkable that he would not have proclaimed salvation through Christ had he been permitted to finish his address.

His discourse before the philosophers at Athens was in fact a masterpiece of god-given wisdom and spiritual power. the dignity and sincerity of his manner, his skillful use of local circumstances, his rare combination of prudence and boldness, the powerful way in which he met human philosophy with divine revelation, the tactful, yet telling manner in which he exposed his hearers as ignorant idolaters, searching their consciences, warning them of judgment and calling upon them to repent and turn to God; the superb manner in which he appealed to the testimony of creation citing such of their poets as recognized any of the truths he proclaimed, and even using the inscription on their altar as his text, answering atheism, polytheism, pantheism, agnosticism, materialism and fatalism, all in the course of a few moments’ time — all this marks his interrupted discourse on Mars Hill. — Stam, page 115.

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