|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:16-21 Athens was then famed for polite learning, philosophy, and the fine arts; but none are more childish and superstitious, more impious, or more credulous, than some persons, deemed eminent for learning and ability. It was wholly given to idolatry. The zealous advocate for the cause of Christ will be ready to plead for it in all companies, as occasion offers. Most of these learned men took no notice of Paul; but some, whose principles were the most directly contrary to Christianity, made remarks upon him. The apostle ever dwelt upon two points, which are indeed the principal doctrines of Christianity, Christ and a future state; Christ our way, and heaven our end. They looked on this as very different from the knowledge for many ages taught and professed at Athens; they desire to know more of it, but only because it was new and strange. They led him to the place where judges sat who inquired into such matters. They asked about Paul's doctrine, not because it was good, but because it was new. Great talkers are always busy-bodies. They spend their time in nothing else, and a very uncomfortable account they have to give of their time who thus spend it. Time is precious, and we are concerned to employ it well, because eternity depends upon it, but much is wasted in unprofitable conversation.
Verse 20. - Strange things. Χενίζειν, in this use of it, means to act or play the foreigner, to imitate the manners and language and appearance of a foreigner (ξένος), just as Ἰουδαίζειν Ἐλληνίζειν Αττικίζειν, etc., mean to Judaize, Hellenize, Atticize, etc. Here, then, the Athenians say that St. Paul's doctrines have a foreign air, do not look like native Athenian speculations.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears,.... Strange doctrines and strange deities, such as they had never heard of before:
we would know therefore what these things mean; they desire he would explain these things to them, and let them know the rise, and ground, and nature, and end, and design of them.
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