Acts 17:24
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) God that made the world . . .—The masculine form of the pronoun and participles throughout the sentence presents an emphatic contrast to the neuter pronoun of the previous verse.

Seeing that he is Lord.—Better, He, being Lord.

Dwelleth not in temples made with hands.—We note with special interest the reproduction of the thought which the then persecutor had heard from the lips of the martyr Stephen. (See Note on Acts 7:48.) As asserted of the Temple at Jerusalem, it had at that time, even though it was quoted from a Jewish prophet, driven the Pharisee Saul into the frenzy of fanaticism. Now, having learnt the lesson as regards that Temple, he proclaims the truth as applicable à fortiori to all temples raised by human hands. It is obvious that this truth places the sacredness of Christian churches on a ground entirely different from that which influenced the minds of Jew or Greek in regard to their respective temples. Churches are holy, not because God dwells in them, but because they are set apart for the highest acts of the collective life of the congregation of His people. In those acts men hold communion with God, and so the Church is for them all, and more than all, that the Tabernacle of Meeting (this, as meaning the place where man met God, rather than Tabernacle of the Congregation, being the true rendering of the Hebrew term; comp. Exodus 29:42) was to the Israelites of old. Romish theory and practice, in presenting the consecrated wafer in pyx or monstrance, or carrying it in procession, as an object of adoration, revives the old Pagan view which St. Paul disclaims.

Acts 17:24-26. God that made the world — Thus is demonstrated, even to reason, the one, true, good God; absolutely different from the creatures, from every part of the visible creation. Seeing he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands — God hath no need of temples to dwell in, seeing he hath made the world, and is the Lord, or possessor, of the universe. Ye, therefore, greatly err in thinking, that by erecting magnificent temples and images, and by consecrating them, ye draw God down into them, and prevail with him to reside among you in an especial manner. That vulgar notion is unworthy of men whose minds are improved by science, and who, from God’s having made the world, ought to know that his presence is not confined to temples made by men. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing — Or, person, the word τινος equally taking in both: that is, Neither is the true God worshipped with sacrifices and meats prepared by men’s hands, if these things are offered to him, as though he needed to be fed with the fruits of the earth, and with the flesh of beasts, and refreshed with the steams of sacrifices and incense: seeing he giveth to all — That live and breathe, whether men or beasts; life — For in him we live; and breath — In him we move; and all things — For in him we are: whence it is evident that men can contribute nothing to his life or happiness. And hath made of one blood all nations of men — Hath from one man and woman multiplied the human race, so as to form those different nations which cover the face of the whole earth; and hath everywhere made a liberal provision for them, of all the necessaries of life. How then can ye fancy that he himself needs to be lodged, and clothed, and fed by men! By speaking thus, the apostle also showed them, in the most unaffected manner, that though he was a Jew, he was not enslaved to any narrow views, but looked on all mankind as his brethren. And hath determined the times before appointed — Hath also assigned to each of these nations their times of existence; and the bounds of their habitations — By mountains, seas, rivers, and the like; that is, the particular countries they were or are to inhabit, according as he had before appointed these things. By all which he shows, that he governs the world by a most wise providence, contrary to what you Epicureans teach, and also that his government is most free, contrary to the doctrine of the Stoics.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.God that made the world - The main object of this discourse of Paul is to convince them of the folly of idolatry Acts 17:29, and thus to lead them to repentance. For this purpose he commences with a statement of the true doctrine respecting God as the Creator of all things. We may observe here:

(1) That he speaks here of God as the Creator of the world, thus opposing indirectly their opinions that there were many gods.

(2) he speaks of him as the Creator of the world, and thus opposes the opinion that matter was eternal; that all things were controlled by Fate; and that God could be confined to temples. The Epicureans held that matter was eternal, and that the world was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms. To this opinion Paul opposed the doctrine that all things were made by one God. Compare Acts 14:15.

Seeing that ... - Greek: "He being Lord of heaven and earth."

Lord of heaven and earth - Proprietor and Ruler of heaven and earth. It is highly absurd, therefore, to suppose that he who is present in heaven and in earth at the same time, and who rules over all, should be confined to a temple of an earthly structure, or dependent on man for anything.

Dwelleth not ... - See the notes on Acts 7:48.

24, 25. God that made the world and all … therein—The most profound philosophers of Greece were unable to conceive any real distinction between God and the universe. Thick darkness, therefore, behooved to rest on all their religious conceptions. To dissipate this, the apostle sets out with a sharp statement of the fact of creation as the central principle of all true religion—not less needed now, against the transcendental idealism of our day.

seeing he is Lord—or Sovereign.

of heaven and earth—holding in free and absolute subjection all the works of His hands; presiding in august royalty over them, as well as pervading them all as the principle of their being. How different this from the blind Force or Fate to which all creatures were regarded as in bondage!

dwelleth not in temples made with hands—This thought, so familiar to Jewish ears (1Ki 8:27; Isa 66:1, 2; Ac 7:48), and so elementary to Christians, would serve only more sharply to define to his heathen audience the spirituality of that living, personal God, whom he "announced" to them.

God that made the world; this seems to be directed against the Epicureans, who held, that the world was without beginning.

Dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as if he could be tied to them, or circumcised by them: yet God did in some respect dwell in his temple, where he did manifest himself more clearly than in other places; but that was a type of heaven, the throne of God. God that made the world, and all things therein,.... In this account of the divine Being, as the Creator of the world, and all things in it, as the apostle agrees with Moses, and the rest of the sacred Scriptures; so he condemns both the notion of the Epicurean philosophers, who denied that the world was made by God, but said that it owed its being to a fortuitous concourse of atoms; and the notion of the Peripatetics, or Aristotelians, who asserted the eternity of the world; and some of both sects were doubtless present.

Seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth; as appears by his being the Creator of both; hence he supports them in their being, and governs all creatures in them by his providence.

Dwelleth not in temples made with hands; such as were the idol temples at Athens; nor in any other edifices built by man, so as to be there fixed and limited; no, not in the temple at Jerusalem: but he dwells in temples that are not made with hands, as in the temple of Christ's human nature, in which the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and in the hearts of his people, who are the temples of the Holy Ghost. This strikes at a notion of the Athenians, as if God was limited, and circumscribed, and included within the bounds of a shrine, or temple, though it is not at all contrary to his promises, or the hopes of his own people, of his presence in places appointed for divine worship, but is expressive of the infinity and immensity of God.

{13} God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

(13) It is a most foolish and vain thing to compare the Creator with the creature, to limit him within a place who can be comprehended in no place, and to think to allure him with gifts, from whom all men have received all things whatever they have: and these are the fountains of all idolatry.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 17:24-25. Comp. Acts 7:48; Psalm 50:10 ff.; also the similar expressions from profane writers in Grotius and Wetstein, Kypke, II. 89, and the passages cited from Porphyr. by Ullmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1872, p. 388; likewise Philo, leg. alleg. II. p. 1087.

θεραπεύεται] is served (by offerings, etc.), namely, as regards the actual objective state of the case.

προσδεόμ. τινός] as one, who needed anything in addition,[67] i.e. to what He Himself is and has. Erasmus, Paraphr.: “cum … nullius boni desideret accessionem.” Comp. 2Ma 14:35, and Grimm in loc., p. 199. See on this meaning of the verb especially, Dem. xiv. 22; Plat. Phil. p. 20 E; and on the distinction of προσδεῖσθαί τινος and τι, Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 342 A.

αὐτὸς διδοὺς κ.τ.λ.] a confirmatory definition to οὐδὲτινός: seeing that He Himself gives, etc.

πᾶσι] to all men, which is evident from the relation of αὐτὸςπάντα to the preceding οὐδὲτινός.

ζωὴν κ. πνοήν] The former denotes life in itself, the latter the continuance of life, which is conditioned by breathing. Ἔμπνους ἔτʼ εἰμὶ κ. πνοὰς θερμὰς πνέω, Eur. Herc. f. 1092. The dying man φρίσσει πνοάς (Pind. Nem. x. 140) ἐκπνεῖ. Erasmus correctly remarks the jucundus concentus of the two words. Comp. Lobeck, Paral. p. 58; Winer, p. 591 [E.T. 793]. Others assume a hendiadys, which, as regards analysis (life, and indeed breath) and form (namely, that the second substantive is subordinate, and must be converted into the adjective), Calvin has correctly apprehended: vitam animalem. But how tame and enfeebling!

καὶ τὰ πάντα] and (generally) all things, namely, which they use.

Chrysostom has already remarked how far this very first point of the discourse (Acts 17:24-25) transcends not only heathenism in general, but also the philosophies of heathenism, which could not rise to the idea of an absolute Creator. Observe the threefold contents of the speech: Theology, Acts 17:24 f; Anthropology, Acts 17:26-29; Christology, Acts 17:30 f.

[67] Luther takes τινός as masculine, which likewise excellently corresponds with what precedes, as with the following πᾶσι. But the neuter rendering is yet to be preferred, as affecting everything except God (in the τί there is also every τίς). Comp. Clem. ad Cor. I. 52.

Acts 17:24-29. Paul now makes that unknown divinity known in concreto, and in such a manner that his description at the same time exposes the nullity of the polytheism deifying the powers of nature, with which he contrasts the divine affinity of man. Comp. Romans 1:18 ff.Acts 17:24. ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας: “the God Who made all,” R.V., the definiteness of the words and the revelation of God as Creator stand in marked contrast to the imperfect conception of the divine nature grasped by the Athenian populace, or even by the philosophers: ἐφθέγξατο φωνὴν μίαν, διʼ ἧς πάντα κατέστρεψε τὰ τῶν φιλοσόφων. οἱ μὲν γὰρ Ἐπικούρειοι αὐτόματά φασιν εἶναι τὰ πάντα, καὶ ἀπὸ ἀτόμων συνεστάναι· οἱ δὲ Στωϊκοὶ σῶμα καὶ ἐκπύρωσιν· ὁ δὲ ἔργον Θεοῦ λέγει κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ. Ὁρᾷς συντομίαν, καὶ ἐν συντομίᾳ σαφήνειαν. St. Paul’s language is that of a Jew, a Monotheist, and is based upon Genesis 1:1, Exodus 20:11, Isaiah 45:7, Nehemiah 9:6, etc., but his use of the word κόσμος (only here in Acts, only three times in St. Luke’s Gospel) is observable. The word is evidently not used in the moral sense, or in the sense of moral separation from God, which is so common in St. John, and which is sometimes employed by the Synoptists, and it may well have been chosen by Paul as a word familiar to his hearers. Both by Aristotle and Plato it had been used as including the orderly disposition of the heaven and the earth (according to some, Pythagoras had first used the word of the orderly system of the universe), and in this passage οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς may perhaps both be taken or included in the κόσμος, cf. Acts 4:24, Acts 14:15. In the LXX κόσμος is never used as a synonym of the world, i.e., the universe (but cf. Proverbs 17:6, Grimm, sub v.), except in the Apocryphal books, where it is frequently used of the created universe, Wis 7:17; Wis 9:3; 2Ma 7:23; 2Ma 8:18; 4Ma 5:25 (24), etc., Grimm, sub v., and Cremer, Wörterbuch.—οὗτος: “He being Lord of heaven and earth,” R.V., more emphatic and less ambiguous than A.V., “seeing that”.—ὑπάρχων “being the natural Lord” (Farrar), “He, Lord as He is, of heaven and earth” (Ramsay); see Plummer’s note on Luke 8:41; the word is Lucan, see above on οὐρ. καὶ γῆς κ., cf. Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 10:16, and 1 Corinthians 10:26.—οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κ.: as the Maker of all things, and Lord of heaven and earth, He is contrasted with the gods whose dwelling was in temples made with hands, and limited to a small portion of space, cf. 1 Kings 8:27; Jos., Ant., viii., 4, 2, and St. Stephen’s words, Acts 7:48, of which St. Paul here as elsewhere may be expressing his reminiscence, cf. for the thought Cicero, Leg., ii., 10, and in early Christian writers Arnobius and Minucius Felix (Wetstein), see also Mr. Page’s note.24. God that made the world, &c.] Better, The God, &c., which is specially needed when the neuter pronouns are read in the previous verse.

This was no Epicurean god, who dwelt apart and in constant repose; nor was the world a thing of chance as those philosophers taught, but God’s own handiwork, and all things in it were of His creation.

seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth] And therefore supreme possessor and disposer of all that is therein.

dwelleth not in temples made with hands] Of which Athens had some of the most renowned in the world. A special interest attaches to these words as being so like those of Stephen (Acts 7:48). If true of the temple at Jerusalem, a fortiori, it is true of all Christian churches.Acts 17:24. Ὁ ποιήσας, who hath made) So He is demonstrated to be One God, true, good, different from His creatures, and manifested by creation.—κόσμον, the world) Presently after, the heaven and the earth.—Κύροις, Lord) Psalm 50:9-10.—χειροποιήτοις, made with hands) There follows, Acts 17:25, by men’s hands.—κατοικεῖ, dwells) The antithesis concerning men is twice stated in Acts 17:26.Verse 24. - The God for God, A.V. (surely a change for the worse); he being Lord for seeing that he is Lord, A.V. Made with hands (χειροποιήτοις); see the same phrase in Mark 14:5, 8; Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:11. St. Paul applies it, too, to the circumcision made with the knife, as distinguished from that wrought by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:11). It is frequent in the LXX. It is a striking instance of St. Paul's unflinching boldness and fidelity to the truth, that he should expose the hollowness of heathen worship, standing within a stone's throw of the Parthenon and the temple of Theseus and the countless other temples of gods and goddesses, which were the pride and glory of the Athenian people. Note how he begins his catechetical instruction to the Athenians with the first article of the Creed: "I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." God

With the article: "the God."

The world (τὸν κόσμον)

Originally, order, and hence the order of the world; the ordered universe. So in classical Greek. In the Septuagint, never the world, but the ordered total of the heavenly bodies; the host of heaven (Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3; Isaiah 24:21; Isaiah 40:26). Compare, also, Proverbs 17:6, and see note on James 3:6. In the apocryphal books, of the universe, and mainly in the relation between God and it arising out of the creation. Thus, the king of the world (2 Maccabees 7:9); the creator or founder of the world (2 Maccabees 7:23); the great potentate of the world (2 Maccabees 12:15). In the New Testament: 1. In the classical and physical sense, the universe (John 17:5; John 21:25.; Romans 1:20; Ephesians 1:4, etc.). 2. As the order of things of which man is the centre (Matthew 13:38; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:25; John 16:21; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Timothy 6:7). 3. Humanity as it manifests itself in and through this order (Matthew 18:7; 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:6; Romans 3:19). Then, as sin has entered and disturbed the order of things, and made a breach between the heavenly and the earthly order, which are one in the divine ideal - 4. The order of things which is alienated from God, as manifested in and by the human race: humanity as alienated from God, and acting in opposition to him (John 1:10; John 12:31; John 15:18, John 15:19; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:15, etc.). The word is used here in the classical sense of the visible creation, which would appeal to the Athenians. Stanley, speaking of the name by which the Deity is known in the patriarchal age, the plural Elohim, notes that Abraham, in perceiving that all the Elohim worshipped by the numerous clans of his race meant one God, anticipated the declaration of Paul in this passage ("Jewish Church," i., 25). Paul's statement strikes at the belief of the Epicureans, that the world was made by "a fortuitous concourse of atoms," and of the Stoics, who denied the creation of the world by God, holding either that God animated the world, or that the world itself was God.

Made with hands (χιεροποιήτοις)

Probably pointing to the magnificent temples above and around him. Paul's epistles abound in architectural metaphors. He here employs the very words of Stephen, in his address to the Sanhedrim, which he very probably heard. See Acts 7:48.

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