17:1Traveling across Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came into Thessalonica, where there was a Judean synagogue.17:2It was Paul’s habit to join them, and for three Sabbaths he debated the scriptures with them.17:3He showed conclusively that the Anointed had to suffer and then rise from the dead, and that “this Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”17:4Some of them were convinced and sided with Paul and Silas, including a great number of devout Greeks, a significant portion of which were prominent women.
17:5But this filled the Judeans with envy, so they collected some troublemakers and formed a mob to start a riot in the city. Then they prepared to attack Jason’s house and hunt down Paul and Silas so they could be taken to a public trial.17:6But they couldn’t find them, so they dragged Jason and some believers to the city officials and claimed, “These people who are turning the whole world upside down have now come here too,17:7and Jason took them into his home! They are defying the decrees of Caesar and saying there is another king called Jesus.”17:8When they heard these things, the crowd and the city officials were very upset.17:9So they made Jason and the rest post bail, then released them.
17:10The believers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night into Berea, where they went to the Judean synagogue.17:11But these people were of more noble character than the Thessalonians. They eagerly accepted the Word and studied the scriptures each day to make sure these things were so.17:12In fact, many of them came to faith, including respectable Greek women and a significant number of men.
17:13But when the Judeans in Thessalonica found out that Paul was now proclaiming the Word of God in Berea, they went there too, stirring up the crowd.17:14So again the believers immediately sent Paul all the way to the coast, while Silas and Timothy stayed behind.17:15Those who escorted Paul took him as far as Athens, and then they were instructed to tell Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible.
17:16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he became intrigued with the opportunity presented by this idol-saturated city.117:17He held debates with the Judeans in the synagogue, with devout people, and with whoever happened to show up in the markets each day.17:18But then some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers had discussions with him. Some said “What is this babbler trying to say?” while others said “He seems to be proclaiming foreign gods,” since he brought them the Gospel about Jesus and his resurrection.
17:19So they took him to the Areopagos2 and said, “Tell us more about this new teaching you’ve been talking about.17:20It sounds very strange to us, and we really want to know more about it.”17:21(The residents of Athens, both permanent and transitory, loved nothing more than to discuss new ideas.)
17:22So Paul stood in the center of the Areopagos and addressed them: “People of Athens! I couldn’t help but notice how very focused you are on all sorts of spiritual things.17:23As I passed through and considered your shrines, I found a particular one with this inscription: ‘To The Unknown God’. Allow me to introduce you to the One you venerate without knowing.
17:24“The God who made the world and all it contains is the Master of heaven and earth. So he does not live in temples made by human hands,17:25nor does he need help from human hands. The One who gives life and breath to all has no need of anything.17:26Further, from just one person3 he made every ethnic group there is, all over the world. He determined their appointed eras and boundaries17:27so that they might seek him out and find him— though certainly he is not far from any of us.17:28For it is due to him that we live and move and exist. Your own poets4 have said the same: ‘We too are his offspring’.
17:29“So then, being the offspring of God, we should not suppose that the divine is like gold, silver, or stone, or anything crafted by human design.17:30Now God did in fact grant a pass to such ignorance before, but now he requires everyone everywhere to change their minds.17:31For he has set a day in which he will fairly judge all the inhabitants of the world via the man he appointed. God vouched for him by raising him from the dead.”
17:32Now when they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some jeered but others said, “We would like to hear more about this again sometime.”17:33So Paul left,17:34but some folks joined him because they believed. Among them were Dionysius (a member of the Areopagos), a woman named Damaris, and various others.
- 1Paul was not sad or angry at the sight of all the idol shrines, but prompted to use them to his advantage.
- 2The Areopagos was the legal and financial city center, and its members functioned in a leading capacity.
- 3person is implied. Many translators use blood instead, but there is nothing in the context to indicate this much detail.
- 4The poets Paul references are Aratois and Keleanthes. He is using the Greeks’ own literature as a “hook” or point of familiarity, rather than promoting the equality of all gods.