Acts Chapter Seventeen (NIV)
Acts Chapter Seventeen (NASB)
Verses 1-9: Paul preaches to the Thessalonians.
Verses 10-15: Paul preaches in Berea.
Verses 16-21: Paul reasons with the Athenians.
Verses 22-34: Paul addresses the Court of the Areopagus.
II. KEY PASSAGES
(A) Acts 17:2-3--"And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.'" This passage notes that it was Paul's custom to enter Jewish synagogues in order to demonstrate from the Jewish scriptures that Jesus had to die and rise from the dead.
(B) Acts 17:6-7--"And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, 'These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.'” Paul's preaching made things difficult not only for himself, but for the other Christians in Thessalonica as well.
(C) Acts 17:11--"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." It is a virtue in Christianity to carefully examine the evidence with an open mind.
(D) Acts 17:19--"And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, 'May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?'" The Areopagus wasn't merely a meeting place. It was a kind of court that could hand down rulings on religious and moral issues. Paul is on trial so that the court could make a decision as to whether his claims were harmful to the city.
(E) Acts 17:22-23--"So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, "To the unknown god." What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.'" Many cities in the ancient world had altars to unknown gods, showing that people were worried about not giving some unknown god the proper respect. Paul sees the altar as an acknowledgement that they didn't possess the full truth, and that they should therefore be open to his preaching.
(F) Acts 17:24-25--"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." From the Areopagus, there would have been a clear view of the Acropolis, with numerous temples and idols. Paul asserts that the true God doesn't need these things. (Note: This would have been extremely offensive to the Athenians.)
(G) Acts 17:27-28--"Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’" Paul quotes pagan poets to show that even the pagans had some understanding of a God who is the source of everything.
(H) Acts 17:29--"Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man." Since God created man, and man creates idols, we shouldn't think that God is somehow like our idols, which are less complex than we are.
(I) Acts 17:30-31--"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Paul refers to the time before the preaching of the Gospel as "times of ignorance" (certainly not the most seeker-friendly way to put things!). Paul also says that God has given proof of the Christian message by raising Jesus from the dead. Christianity, contrary to the claims of skeptics and even some Christians, isn't based on blind faith.