|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.
Verse 30. - The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked for and the times of this ignorance God winked at, A.V.; he commandeth for commandeth, A.V.; men for all men, A.V.; that they should all everywhere repent for everywhere to repent, A.V. and T.R. The times of ignorance; perhaps with reference to ver. 23, and also implying that all the idolatry, of which he had spoken in ver. 29, arose from ignorance. God overlooked; or, as it is idiomatically expressed in the A.V., winked at; made as if he did not see it; "kept silence," as it is said in Psalm 50:21; made no move to punish it. That they should all everywhere. The gospel is for the whole world- "Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Romans 10:18); "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Repent. The key-note of the gospel (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Acts 20:21).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the times of this ignorance God winked at,.... Not that he approved of, or encouraged such blindness and folly, as appeared among the Gentiles, when they worshipped idols of gold, silver, and stone, taking them for deities; but rather the sense is, he despised this, and them for it, and was displeased and angry with them; and as an evidence of such contempt and indignation, he overlooked them, and took no notice of them, and gave them no revelation to direct them, nor prophets to instruct them, and left them to their stupidity and ignorance:
but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; that is, he hath given orders, that the doctrine of repentance, as well as remission of sins, should be preached to all nations, to Gentiles as well as Jews; and that it becomes them to repent of their idolatries, and turn from their idols, and worship the one, only, living and true God: and though for many hundreds of years God had neglected them, and sent no messengers, nor messages to them, to acquaint them with his will, and to show them their follies and mistakes; yet now he had sent his apostles unto them, to lay before them their sins, and call them to repentance; and to stir them up to this, the apostle informs them of the future judgment in the following verse. Repentance being represented as a command, does not suppose it to be in the power of men, or contradict evangelical repentance, being the free grace gift of God, but only shows the need men stand in of it, and how necessary and requisite it is; and when it is said to be a command to all, this does not destroy its being a special blessing of the covenant of grace to some; but points out the sad condition that all men are in as sinners, and that without repentance they must perish: and indeed, all men are obliged to natural repentance for sin, though to all men the grace of evangelical repentance is not given: the Jews (a) call repentance , "the command of repentance", though they do not think it obligatory on men, as the other commands of the law. The law gives no encouragement to repentance, and shows no mercy on account of it; it is a branch of the Gospel ministry, and goes along with the doctrine of the remission of sins; and though in the Gospel, strictly taken, there is no command, yet being largely taken for the whole ministry of the word, it includes this, and everything else which Christ has commanded, and was taught by him and his apostles; Matthew 28:20.
(a) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 157. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
30. the times of this ignorance God winked at—literally (and far better), "overlooked," that is, bore with, without interposing to punish it, otherwise than suffering the debasing tendency of such worship to develop itself (compare Ac 14:16, and see on Ro 1:24, &c.).
but now—that a new light was risen upon the world.
commandeth—"That duty—all along lying upon man estranged from his Creator, but hitherto only silently recommending itself and little felt—is now peremptory."
all men every where to repent—(compare Col 1:6, 23; Tit 1:11)—a tacit allusion to the narrow precincts of favored Judaism, within which immediate and entire repentance was ever urged. The word "repentance" is here used (as in Lu 13:3, 5; 15:10) in its most comprehensive sense of "repentance unto life."
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