Acts 17:23
Parallel Verses
New International Version
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship--and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

New Living Translation
for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: 'To an Unknown God.' This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I'm telling you about.

English Standard Version
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.

New American Standard Bible
"For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

King James Bible
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

International Standard Version
For as I was walking around and looking closely at the objects you worship, I even found an altar with this written on it: 'To an unknown god.' So I am telling you about the unknown object you worship.

NET Bible
For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: 'To an unknown god.' Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“For as I was going around and beholding your temples, I found one altar on which it was written: “The Unknown God”; him therefore whom you do not know and yet worship, I proclaim to you.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
As I was going through your city and looking closely at the objects you worship, I noticed an altar with this written on it: 'To an unknown god.' I'm telling you about the unknown god you worship.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For as I passed by and beheld your sanctuaries, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you.

King James 2000 Bible
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

American King James Version
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.

American Standard Version
For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you:

Darby Bible Translation
for, passing through and beholding your shrines, I found also an altar on which was inscribed, To the unknown God. Whom therefore ye reverence, not knowing [him], him I announce to you.

English Revised Version
For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto you.

Webster's Bible Translation
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.

Weymouth New Testament
For as I passed along and observed the things you worship, I found also an altar bearing the inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' "The Being, therefore, whom you, without knowing Him, revere, Him I now proclaim to you.

World English Bible
For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I announce to you.

Young's Literal Translation
for passing through and contemplating your objects of worship, I found also an erection on which had been inscribed: To God -- unknown; whom, therefore -- not knowing -- ye do worship, this One I announce to you.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

17:22-31 Here we have a sermon to heathens, who worshipped false gods, and were without the true God in the world; and to them the scope of the discourse was different from what the apostle preached to the Jews. In the latter case, his business was to lead his hearers by prophecies and miracles to the knowledge of the Redeemer, and faith in him; in the former, it was to lead them, by the common works of providence, to know the Creator, and worship Him. The apostle spoke of an altar he had seen, with the inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. This fact is stated by many writers. After multiplying their idols to the utmost, some at Athens thought there was another god of whom they had no knowledge. And are there not many now called Christians, who are zealous in their devotions, yet the great object of their worship is to them an unknown God? Observe what glorious things Paul here says of that God whom he served, and would have them to serve. The Lord had long borne with idolatry, but the times of this ignorance were now ending, and by his servants he now commanded all men every where to repent of their idolatry. Each sect of the learned men would feel themselves powerfully affected by the apostle's discourse, which tended to show the emptiness or falsity of their doctrines.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 23. - Passed along for passed by, A.V.; observed the objects of your worship for beheld your devotions, A.V. (τασ` σεβάσματα υμῶν: see 2 Thessalonians 2:4); also an altar for an altar, A.V.; an for the, A.V.; what for whom, A.V. and T.R.; worship in ignorance for ignorantly worship, A.V.; this for him, A.V. and T.R.; set forth for declare, A.V. AN UNKNOWN GOD. There is no direct and explicit testimony in ancient writers to the existence of any one such altar at Athens, but Pausanias and others speak of altars to "unknown gods," as to be seen in Athens, which may well be understood of several such altars, each dedicated to an unknown god. One of these was seen by St. Paul, and, with inimitable tact, made the text of his sermon. He was not preaching a foreign god to them, but making known to them one whom they had already included in their devotions without knowing him.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For as I passed by,.... Or "through"; that is, through the city of Athens:

and beheld your devotions; not so much their acts of worship and religion, as the gods which they worshipped; in which sense this word is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and the altars which were erected to them, and the temples in which they were worshipped; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, "the houses", and "places of your worship"; and the Ethiopic version, "your images", or "deities",

I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Pausanias (p) speaks in the plural number of altars of gods, that were named unknown, at Athens; and so says Apollonius Tyanaeus to Timasion (q) it is wisest to speak well of all the gods, especially at Athens, where there are altars to unknown gods: it may be, there were altars that had the inscription in the plural number; and there was one which Paul took particular notice of, in the singular number; or the above writers may speak of altars to unknown gods, because there might be many altars with this inscription: the whole of the inscription, according to Theophylact, was this;

"to the gods of Asia, Europe, and Lybia (or Africa), to the unknown and strange god;''

though Jerom (r) makes this to be in the plural number: certain it is, that Lucian (s) swears by the unknown god that was at Athens, and says, we finding the unknown god at Athens, and worshipping with hands stretched out towards heaven, gave thanks unto him: the reason why they erected an altar with such an inscription might be, for fear when they took in the gods of other nations, there might be some one which they knew not; wherefore, to omit none, they erect an altar to him; and which proves what the apostle says, that they were more religious and superstitious than others: or it may be they might have a regard to the God of the Jews, whose name Jehovah with them was not to be pronounced, and who, by the Gentiles, was called "Deus incertus" (t); and here, in the Syriac version, it is rendered, "the hidden God", as the God of Israel is called, Isaiah 45:15 and that he is here designed seems manifest from what follows,

whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you; which could not be said by him of any other deity. God is an unknown God to those who have only the light of nature to guide them; for though it may be known by it that there is a God, and that there is but one, and somewhat of him may be discerned thereby; yet the nature of his essence, and the perfections of his nature, and the unity of his being, are very little, and not truly and commonly understood, and the persons in the Godhead not at all, and still less God in Christ, whom to know is life eternal: hence the Gentiles are described as such who know not God; wherefore, if he is worshipped by them at all, it must be ignorantly: and that they are ignorant worshippers of him, appears by worshipping others more than him, and besides him, or him in others, and these idols of gold, silver, brass, wood, and stone; and by their indecencies and inhumanity used in the performance of their worship: wherefore a revelation became necessary, by which men might be acquainted with the nature of the divine Being, and the true manner of worshipping him; in which a declaration is made of the nature and perfections of God, and of the persons in the Godhead, the object of worship; of the counsels, purposes, and decrees of God; of his covenant transactions with his Son respecting the salvation of his chosen people; of his love, grace, and mercy, displayed in the mission and gift of Christ to be the Saviour and Redeemer of them; of the glory of his attributes in their salvation; and of his whole mind and will, both with respect to doctrine and practice; and which every faithful minister of the Gospel, as the Apostle Paul, shuns not, according to his ability, truly and fully to declare.

(p) Attica, p. 2.((q) Philostrat. Vita Apollonii, l. 6. c. 2.((r) In Titum 1. 12. (s) In Dialog. Philopatris. (t) Lucan. Pharsalia, l. 2.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

23. as I passed by and beheld your devotions—rather, "the objects of your devotion," referring, as is plain from the next words, to their works of art consecrated to religion.

I found an altar … To the—or, "an"

unknown god—erected, probably, to commemorate some divine interposition, which they were unable to ascribe to any known deity. That there were such altars, Greek writers attest; and on this the apostle skilfully fastens at the outset, as the text of his discourse, taking it as evidence of that dimness of religious conception which, in virtue of his better light, he was prepared to dissipate.

Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship—rather, "Whom, therefore, knowing Him not, ye worship," alluding to "The Unknown God."

him declare—announce.

I unto you—This is like none of his previous discourses, save that to the idolaters of Lycaonia (Ac 14:15-17). His subject is not, as in the synagogues, the Messiahship of Jesus, but THE Living God, in opposition to the materialistic and pantheistic polytheism of Greece, which subverted all true religion. Nor does he come with speculation on this profound subject—of which they had had enough from others—but an authoritative "announcement" of Him after whom they were groping not giving Him any name, however, nor even naming the Saviour Himself but unfolding the true character of both as they were able to receive it.

Acts 17:23 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul Before the Areopagus
22So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23"For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;…
Cross References
Isaiah 45:4
For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.

John 4:22
You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Acts 17:30
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

2 Thessalonians 2:4
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Treasury of Scripture

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.

devotions. or, gods that ye worship.

Romans 1:23-25 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made …

1 Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in …

2 Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that …

TO.

Psalm 147:20 He has not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they …

John 17:3,25 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true …

Romans 1:20-22,28 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are …

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God…

2 Corinthians 4:4-6 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which …

Galatians 4:8,9 However, then, when you knew not God, you did service to them which …

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the …

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, …

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, …

ignorantly.

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all …

Psalm 50:21 These things have you done, and I kept silence; you thought that …

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

John 4:22 You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation …

John 8:54 Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my …

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Alphabetical: also altar am an and around as at carefully even examining For found GOD going I ignorance in inscription looked Now objects of passing proclaim something the Therefore this through TO UNKNOWN walked was what while with worship you your

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