Acts 17:15
And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
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Acts 17:15. They that conducted Paul brought him — By land, εως, as far as Athens — That celebrated, unequalled seat of learning among the Greeks. It is true, Athens had now passed the zenith of its political splendour, and had been declining in power and glory ever since the Romans, after conquering Greece, fixed the seat of their government at Corinth. Nevertheless, its fame for learning was still as great as ever. For, at the time Paul visited that city, it was full of philosophers, rhetoricians, orators, painters, statuaries, and of young persons who came to learn philosophy and the arts. But this sort of people, being generally very idle, were great talkers, and had an insatiable curiosity. So that the character which Luke has given of the Athenians, and strangers there, (Acts 17:21,) is perfectly just. And receiving commandment unto Silas, &c., that they should come to him with all speed — Probably that they might bring him information of the state of the new converts he had left behind him at Thessalonica and Berea. Or, perhaps, he wished to be joined by them before he began his ministry at Athens, which yet, observing the wretched state of the city, he was in haste to do. Whether Silas came to him while he was at Athens, is uncertain. Timothy, however, came and informed him, that the idolaters in Thessalonica, displeased to see so many of their countrymen deserting the temples and altars of their gods, had joined the Jews in persecuting the disciples, 1 Thessalonians 2:14. On hearing this, Paul thought it good to be left at Athens alone, 1 Thessalonians 3:1; and sent Timothy back to Thessalonica, to establish and comfort the brethren concerning their faith. While Paul “continued in this renowned city, the centre of polite learning, philosophy, and the fine arts, and, as it were, the university of the Roman empire and of the world, he took little notice of the sculpture and edifices, the fragments of which, to this day, are considered as the most perfect models in their kind; or of their paintings and exhibitions, and other curiosities of this sort.” And yet “Paul is generally allowed to have been a man of fine taste and cultivated genius; but his thoughts were too much occupied about more sublime and interesting subjects, to make observations on these elegant or magnificent trifles.” — Scott. For,

17:10-15 The Jews in Berea applied seriously to the study of the word preached unto them. They not only heard Paul preach on the sabbath, but daily searched the Scriptures, and compared what they read with the facts related to them. The doctrine of Christ does not fear inquiry; advocates for his cause desire no more than that people will fully and fairly examine whether things are so or not. Those are truly noble, and likely to be more and more so, who make the Scriptures their rule, and consult them accordingly. May all the hearers of the gospel become like those of Berea, receiving the word with readiness of mind, and searching the Scriptures daily, whether the things preached to them are so.Unto Athens - This was the first visit of Paul to this celebrated city; and perhaps the first visit of a Christian minister. His success in this city, for some cause, was not great, but his preaching was attended with the conversion of some individuals. See Acts 17:34. Athens was the most celebrated city of Greece, and was distinguished for the military talents, the learning, the eloquence, and the politeness of its inhabitants. It was founded by Cecrops and an Egyptian colony about 1556 years before the Christian era. It was called "Athens" in honor of Minerva, who was chiefly worshipped there, and to whom the city was dedicated. The city, at first, was built on a rock in the midst of a spacious plain; but in process of time the whole plain was covered with buildings, which were called the lower city. No city of Greece, or of the ancient world, was so much distinguished for philosophy, learning, and the arts.

The most celebrated warriors, poets, statesmen, and philosophers were either born or flourished there. The most celebrated models of architecture and statuary were there; and for ages it held its preeminence in civilization, arts, and arms. The city still exists, though it has been often subject to the calamities of war, to a change of masters, and to the mouldering hand of time. It was twice burnt by the Persians; destroyed by Philip II of Macedon; again by Sylla; was plundered by Tiberius; desolated by the Goths in the reign of Claudius; and the whole territory ravaged and ruined by Alarie. From the reign of Justinian to the thirteenth century the city remained in obscurity, though it continued to be a town at the head of a small state. It was seized by Omar, general of Muhammed the Great, in 1455; was sacked by the Venetians in 1464; and was taken by the Turks again in 1688. In 1812 the population was 12,000; but it has since been desolated by the sanguinary contests between the Turks and the Greeks, and left almost a mass of ruins. It is now free; and efforts are making by Christians to restore it to its former elevation in learning and importance, and to impart to it the blessings of the Christian religion. In the revolutions of ages it has been ordered that people should bear the torch of learning to Athens from a land unknown to its ancient philosophers, and convey the blessings of civilization to them by that gospel which in the time of Paul they rejected and despised.

And receiving a commandment - They who accompanied Paul received his commands to Silas and Timothy.

With all speed - As soon as possible. Perhaps Paul expected much labor and success in Athens, and was therefore desirous of securing their aid with him in his work.

15. Silas and Timotheus to come to him with all speed—He probably wished their company and aid in addressing himself to so new and great a sphere as Athens. Accordingly it is added that he "waited for them" there, as if unwilling to do anything till they came. That they did come, there is no good reason to doubt (as some excellent critics do). For though Paul himself says to the Thessalonians that he "thought it good to be left at Athens alone" (1Th 3:1), he immediately adds that he "sent Timotheus to establish and comfort them" (Ac 17:2); meaning, surely, that he despatched him from Athens back to Thessalonica. He had indeed sent for him to Athens; but, probably, when it appeared that little fruit was to be reaped there, while Thessalonica was in too interesting a state to be left uncherished, he seems to have thought it better to send him back again. (The other explanations which have been suggested seem less satisfactory). Timotheus rejoined the apostle at Corinth (Ac 18:5). They that conducted Paul; who accompanied, and had undertaken to secure him.

Athens; the Greece of Greece, or the eye of Greece; as Greece was accounted the eye of the world; and yet, with all its learning, did not attain to saving knowledge, until Paul came and preached it. Satan’s malice still causes the gospel to spread.

And they that conducted Paul,.... From Berea to the sea side:

brought him unto Athens; a famous city in Attica, where both (q) Pliny and Ptolomy (r) place it, well known for the learning and wisdom of the ancient philosophers, who had their schools and universities in it; the former of these calls it a free city, and says, it needed no description nor commendation, its fame was so diffused everywhere. The account Jerom (s) gives of it is,

"Athens, a city in Achaia, dedicated to the studies of philosophy, which though but one, is always used to be called in the plural number; its haven, called the Piraeum, is described as fortified with seven walls.''

The city itself stood about two miles from the sea; it had its name either from the Greek word which signifies the mind of God, as boasting of its divine knowledge; or rather from the word "Athen", which may be interpreted "strangers", it being originally inhabited by the Pelasgi, who were a set of people that moved from place to place (t); or because of the great multitude of strangers which flocked from all parts hither for learning, of whom mention is made in Acts 17:21. The inhabitants of it have been called by different names; when under the Pelasgi, as Herodotus (u) observes, they were called Cranai; when under King Cecrops, they went by the name of Cecropidae; when Erechtheus had the government, they changed their name into Athenians; from Ion, the son of Xythus, their general, they were called Ionians. This city has gone through different fates: it was burnt by Xerxes, about 480 years before Christ; some years after that it was taken by Lysander; and after that restored to its ancient liberty by Demetrius; after this the Romans were possessed of it; and now it is in the hands of the Turks, and goes by the name of Setines. In Beza's ancient copy it follows, "but he passed through Thessalia, for he was forbidden to preach the word to them"; for as he came from Berea to Athens, he must come through Thessalia; but he made no stay here, but passed through, being forbid to preach the Gospel here, as he had been before to preach it in Asia and Bithynia, Acts 16:6 nor have we any account anywhere else of the Gospel being preached in Thessaly; and in the second century, we read of Heathenism prevailing there, and of many gross acts of idolatry, particularly at Pella in Thessaly, a man was sacrificed to the gods: though in the beginning of the fourth century there were bishops out of Thessalia at the synod of Nice; and so there were at the synod at Sardica, about the middle of the same century: in the sixth century, Dion, bishop of Thebes in Thessalia, was in the first synod at Ephesus; and Constantinus, bishop of Demetrias, and Vigilantius of Larissa, both cities in Thessalia, were in another at the same place (w).

And receiving a commandment; or "a letter from him" as one copy and the Syriac version read; that is, the brethren from Paul:

unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed; to Athens, where he now was: they departed; from Paul at Athens, and came back to Berea.

(q) Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 7. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 3. c. 15. (s) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 95. K. (t) Vid. Hiller. Onomasticum Sacrum, p. 678, 755. (u) Urania, c. 44. (w) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 2. c. 15. p. 193. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 5. & c. 9. p. 425. cent. 6. c. 10. p. 666.

{8} And they that conducted Paul {e} brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

(8) The sheep of Christ also watch their pastor's health and safety, but yet in the Lord.

(e) It is not for nothing that the Jews of Berea were so commended, for they brought Paul safe from Macedonia to Athens, and there is in between these two places all of Thessalia, and Boeotia, and Attica.

Acts 17:15. καθιστῶντες, see critical note, i.e., the Berœan brethren. In N.T. only here in this sense, cf. Joshua 6:23, 2 Chronicles 28:15, so also in classical Greek and in later Greek (instances in Wetstein); they accompanied Paul probably for protection as well as guidance (it has sometimes been supposed that disease of the eyes rendered the guidance necessary, but the word is used quite generally); see further additional note at end of chapter and critical note above, Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 159, 160. If we compare Acts 18:5 it looks as if Timothy and Silas only overtook Paul at Corinth, and that he had left Athens before they reached that city. But from 1 Thessalonians 3:1 it appears that Timothy was with Paul at Athens, and was sent from thence by him to Thessalonica, and this is quite in accordance with Paul’s earnest wish that Timothy and Silas should come to him as quickly as possible (if we suppose that they only rejoined him in Acts 18:5, they must have taken a much longer time than was necessary for the journey). But if Paul remained alone, as he states, 1 Thessalonians 3:1, at Athens, Silas must also have been sent away; and we may well suppose that as Timothy was sent to comfort the Thessalonians for St. Paul’s delay in returning to them, so Silas may have been sent to Philippi, with which St. Paul was frequently in communication at this time, Php 4:15. But after their return to Corinth from their mission, they found that St. Paul had already gone on to Corinth, and there they rejoined him. See on the whole subject, Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 233, 240, as against McGiffert; Wendt (1899) and Felten, in loco; Paley, Horœ Paulinæ, ix., 4.

15. they that conducted Paul] The use of the Greek verb (which is only found here in N. T. in this sense) gives the idea that the whole care and ordering of the journey was in their hands rather than the Apostle’s.

brought him unto Athens] And of course saw him safely settled where he could wait for his fellow-missionaries, which he seems to have designed to do, without preaching, had not his spirit been roused by the sights he saw.

with all speed] As at present he was alone, and not able to set about his work so promptly.

Acts 17:15. Καθιστῶντες) those conducting (constituentes, those who fixed for him his place), i.e. having care of him, putting him in a place of safety.—Παῦλον, Paul) who did not of his own accord retire from danger.

Verse 15. - But for and, A.V.; as far as for unto (ἕως), A.V.; Timothy for Timotheus, A.V.; that they should come for for to come, A.V. They that conducted, etc. (οἱ καθιστῶντες). The verb καθίστημι, in its primary sense, means to "place any one" in a given spot; and thence secondarily, to "conduct" or" escort" any one to a place, to "set him down" at such a place. So Homer ('Odyssey,' 13:294) uses the word of transporting any one by ship to this or that town (quoted by Meyer). There is the indication in the word of St. Paul's defect of sight or infirmity. Receiving a commandment, etc. We learn here that St. Paul sent a message to Silas and Timothy to join him at Athens as quickly as possible, and at ver. 16 that he waited at Athens for them. From 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2, we learn that he sent Timothy from Athens back to Thessalonica; and from 1 Thessalonians 3:6 we learn that Timothy came to St. Paul at Corinth (where the Epistle to the Thessalonians was written) from Thessalonica. We also learn from 1 Thessalonians 1:1 that Silas and Timothy were both with him at Corinth when he wrote the Epistle, and from Acts 18:5 that they had both come to Corinth from Macedonia, some weeks after Paul himself had been at Corinth (Acts 18:4, 5). All these statements harmonize perfectly (as Paley has shown) on the supposition that Silas and Timothy did join St. Paul at Athens; that for the reasons given in 1 Thessalonians 3, when he was unable to return to Thessalonica himself, as he much wished, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica, and Silas probably to Beraea; and that Silas and Timothy came together from Macedonia to Corinth, where St. Paul had gone alone; where it may be noted, as another undesigned coincidence, that whereas the First Epistle to the Thessalonians implies that Silas did not go to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2), Acts 18:5 does not say that Silas and Timothy came from Thessalonica, but from Macedonia. The inaccuracy supposed by Meyer (on this verse) is purely imaginary. Acts 18:5 does not say that Silas and Timothy "only joined Paul at Corinth," but merely relates some change in St. Paul's procedure consequent upon their joining him at Corinth. Alford (on this verse), in saying that Paul sent Timothy from Beraea, not from Athens, is guided by his own idea of what is probable, not by the letter of the narrative (see further note on Acts 18:5). Acts 17:15They that conducted (καθιστῶντες)

Lit., brought to the spot. Note the different word employed, Acts 15:3 (see note there).

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