William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:Acts Chapter 17
We are now brought into somewhat new circumstances. The work of the Lord goes on, the testimony varies in its character, the zeal of the labours is the same, the results differ more or less, and so does the opposition of the enemy.
'Now, when they had journeyed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was the synagogue of the Jews' (ver. 1).
It is remarkable that the more ancient manuscripts (ABD, et al.) omit the article before synagogue, as do the Authorized and Revised Versions; but the testimony to its existence is ample and varied. On the one hand it is well-nigh impossible to conceive its insertion unless it were originally there. On the other it is easy to understand its omission, because of its unusual connection. It would be quite justified if in fact there was but that synagogue in the district, which would give it notoriety. At Philippi we saw that there was none; there was only the place for prayer by the river, where a few used to assemble on the sabbath.
'And Paul as his custom was went in among them, and on three sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, opening and alleging that the Christ must suffer, and rise again from [among] the dead, and that this Jesus, whom I announce to you, is the Christ' (vers. 2, 3). Here the apostle returns to a testimony of pointed application to the Jews. No doubt it is of the highest value to everyone, but the form of it exactly suited the place where his discourses were given. A suffering and a risen Christ was proved out of the scriptures, and this not merely as a truth in what they owned to be the word of God, but the absolute necessity because of man's sin, and the only adequate remedy in God's grace, with the further and clenching conclusion that 'This is the Christ Jesus, Whom I announce to you.' No miracle was needed here to arrest attention. The scriptures are a testimony beyond miracles, and the most permanent of all testimony. Jesus alone, as far as His first advent is concerned, gives full meaning to the word of God, and this it is which completely meets the conscience and the heart of the believer for purging to the one, and giving a blessed and blessing object to the other. But it is not all that the apostle had to say at Thessalonica, as we shall shortly learn, and as it is all which is mentioned here, no more need be added now.
'And some of them were persuaded and added [joined themselves] to Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few' (ver. 4). Thus, as the apostle wrote afterwards, 'Our gospel was not with you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance' (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The harvest was considerable, not only from among the Jews, but far more from the Gentiles, including not a few women of rank, In no assembly of apostolic times do we find in fact greater simplicity, freshness, and power of the truth than among the Thessalonians.
But the success of the gospel is ever apt to rouse bitter opposition and nowhere so much as among the Jews, who would keenly feel that rancorous spite which is natural to those who were overwhelmed by their own scriptures, for which they could not account, but to which they would not bow. 'But the Jews, having been stirred up to jealousy, took unto them certain wicked men of the rabble (lit., market-loungers) and gathering a crowd set the city in confusion, and besetting the house of Jason, sought to bring them out to the people. And not having found them, they dragged Jason and certain brethren before the city-rulers (or, politarchs), crying out, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also whom Jason has received; and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus. And they troubled the crowd and the city-rulers, when they heard these things. And having taken security for Jason and the rest, they let them go' (vers. 5-9).
Here we see the usual lack of common honesty, which marks the religious assailants of the truth. The Jews, who professed the fear of God did not scruple, through jealousy, to form a party with wicked men of the lowest sort against the gospel. Abandoned heathens were good enough allies against the truth of their own Messiah, Whom worldly lusts would not let them discern in the suffering, but risen Jesus. God was in none of their thoughts; and self-wit/ wrought to darken and destroy the force of His word. Their degradation could not be hidden in the company with whom they consorted to form a crowd and set the city in uproar. Yet were the Jews the exclusive representatives of divine law before all nations They were now alas! the standing proof of utter failure, not because the law was not holy, the commandment holy and just and good, but because they themselves were unholy, unjust, and evil. Even now, their own Messiah being come, they failed to recognize Him through unbelief urged the Gentiles to crucify Him, and now were also forbidding His servants to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved. Thus were they filling up their sins always 'but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.'
The host of Paul, Jason, was the special object of their animosity, his house they beset in their desire to bring forward the Lord's servants unto the people, i.e., the regular assembly of the city. Not finding them, they dragged Jason and certain brethren before the city-rulers,1 a peculiar title of the local authorities, which so much the more attests Luke's accuracy because the term occurs in no known remains of Greek antiquity. But an inscription still extant on the marble arch of the western or Vardir gate of Saloniki proves that such was the title of the Thessalonian magistrates, and that there were seven. By a remarkable coincidence three of the names of Paul's companions found here, or in the Epistles, answer to as many in that inscription given from Boeckh, No. 1967, in Conybeare and Howson I. 395. Sosipater, Secundus, and Gaius are common to both, a fact which points to the prevalence of these names in that region. It was a free city anciently called Therma, which afterwards received its name of Thessalonica from Cassander in compliment to his wife, Thessalonica, sister of Alexander the Great, and it remains a flourishing city of the Turkish empire in our day (1887) under the derived name of Saloniki or Salonica.
1 The Greek noun here, πολίαχος, not πολίταρχος, is a word, with its cognate verb, of common occurrence in Dio Cassius, for praefect or commandant of a city, besides its broader usage in the past as said of a king or prince. But I do not find it applied to magistrates in Greek cities, only to the praefect of Rome.
The outcry of the assailants in verses 6, 7 is strikingly instructive, at least in its latter part. That the preachers of divine grace 'turned the world upside down' was natural to say, and became a standing reproach, however untrue. Yet is it intelligible because the gospel penetrates among high and low, and separates from the world by a divine bond to Christ in heaven. But for that very reason it does not meddle with the authority of the world; to which, on the contrary, it enjoins subjection on every soul as God's ordinance here below. It simply but completely attaches the heart of those who believe to the rejected One, now glorified in heaven. But we cannot look for truth in a foolish cry raised by envious Jews and idle loungers of the Gentiles. They only sought an appearance sufficient to arouse the fears of the magistrates, and therefore drive away the chief heralds of the truth
But they laid another charge of a more definite kind, which has the more interest because of the light on it furnished by both the Epistles to the Thessalonians: 'And these all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.'
The insinuation was unfounded and malicious undoubtedly; but it had a show of evidence in the prominence given to the kingdom of God in which Jesus was to come. For He was gone, among other objects, to receive that kingdom and to return. Now, whatever the ill-willed folly of representing that this expectation is antagonistic to the rights of Caesar, it is plain that the teaching was very far from modern doctrine, which could never be so misconstrued. Paul and his companions held before the saints the constant looking for Christ to come and reign; and this, not as a secret for the initiated, but as a most influential hope which penetrated all walk as well as doctrine, and to be urged from first to last throughout the whole Christian life. We learn from the earliest chapter of the first Epistle that it characterized the Thessalonian converts from their starting point. They turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to await His Son from the heavens, Whom He raised out of the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath. (1 Thess. 1) Their conversion was to wait for Jesus no less than to serve God. That hope, therefore, was suited to the youngest believers as truly as to the apostle. It was independent of prophetic scheme, with which neophytes, especially from the heathen, could not be acquainted. Yet was it so much the more a hope bright and unembarrassed in which they lived from day to day.
So surely was this the case, that the apostle reminds them (1 Thess. 2.) how, as a father his own children, he used to exhort 'each one of you, and comfort and testify that ye should walk worthy of God, Who calleth you to His own kingdom and glory'. What could more prove His kingdom as bearing on present walk? And in fact it is notorious that the lack of it before the eyes of the saints exposes them to seeking ease and honour, and wealth and all worldliness. With His kingdom and glory before us, we can heartily bear present shame and suffering, and the walk is elevated accordingly. Even the apostle looked for his crown of boasting in the saints only before our Lord Jesus at His coming. Then would holiness have its consummation and display at His coming with all His saints (1 Thess. 3). Dead and living saints (1 Thess. 4) would be changed and be with Him on high at His coming; and in due time the day of the Lord should fall with sudden destruction on a thoughtless, unexpecting world (1 Thess. 5).
If possible, more precise is the intimation about the kingdom in the Second Epistle. The saints in Thessalonica, through various causes, did not then enjoy so much of the brightness of the hope, but the apostle joins his fellow-labourers with himself in boasting of their endurance and faith in all their persecutions and tribulations. This is viewed as a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God to the end that they should be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, 'for the sake of which ye also suffer'. Retribution will come in its day at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven: He it is Who makes good, manifests, and administers the kingdom (2 Thess. 1). But that day cannot be (errorists pretended that it was already present) ere the apostasy come, and the man of sin be revealed.
There was already at work the mystery or secret of lawlessness, the upshot of which will be the revelation of that lawless one, who is yet himself to sit down in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. This will draw swift judgment on him and his adherents; for the Lord Jesus shall consume him with the breath of His mouth, and annul him by the appearing of His coming (2 Thess. 2). This need not alarm the feeblest believers seeing that God has called them by the gospel to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, though we need the Lord meanwhile to direct our hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of the Christ (2 Thess. 3) It is the second advent, as men call it, the manifestation of the Lord in glory, which introduces the kingdom judicially, when in the language of Daniel. the 'little stone', having executed judgment on all opposing hostile powers here below, will then expand into a great mountain and fill the whole earth. To expect universal spread and supremacy for God's kingdom, before the King comes in personal and public overthrow of His foes, is an error of no small magnitude. The error sought early entrance but met with immediate exposure by the apostle who strengthened the Thessalonians in the truth. He from the beginning pressed the coming of Jesus, and God's kingdom then: a truth as solemn for the world as full of cheer for the saints.
But the world was hostile, though nothing more was done then beyond taking bail1 of Jason and the rest, and letting them go, as the preachers were not found. Persecution soon fell heavily, as the Epistle shows, on the young converts.
1 This is expressed, not in the more ancient Greek technical expression ἐγγύη but in the equivalent of the Latin satisdatio, τὸ ἱκανὸν.
'But the brethren immediately sent away by night Paul and Silas unto Berea, who on their arrival went away into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, being such as received the word with all readiness of mind, day by day examining the scriptures whether these things were so. Many out of them therefore believed, and of the Greek2 women of good position, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews from Thessalonica knew that the word of God was announced by Paul in Berea also, they came thither also, stirring up and troubling3 the crowds. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to proceed toward4 the sea; but Silas and Timothy abode there. But they that were conducting Paul brought [him] as far as Athens; and having received a charge for Silas and Timothy that they should come as quickly as possible unto him, they departed' (vers. 10-15).
2 They were not Grecians or Hellenists, but Greeks.
3 'And troubling' has ancient and wide support.
4 Ignorance of the idiomatic use of ὡς here probably led to ἓως in ABE and some other authorities, and to its omission in D, et al.
It is blessed to mark the unwearied zeal of the Lord's servants. They had barely escaped the ill-will roused by the Jews at Thessalonica, when we behold them undauntedly repairing to the synagogue in Berea on their arrival. Here they experienced such readiness of heart in searching the scriptures as evinced a greater simplicity and real nobility of soul. To bow to the word, to receive it as God's word, which indeed it is, is the truest condition of divine blessing; yet did they daily examine scripture, whether the things preached accorded with the things written. Therefore many from among them believed. There is no way so sure or good. And it is of interest to observe that here also not a few Greek women of rank, no less than men, believed, as well as the God-fearing Jews. It was doubtless an unspeakable deliverance from debasing immorality, as well as from empty fable - from a life of selfishness to serve an only and true God, and to await His Son from heaven.
But Jewish rancour could not content itself with driving the apostles from Thessalonica: from Thessalonica came the hostile Jews to Berea in order to counteract the preached word, stirring up and troubling the crowds there also.
Knowledge of old revelation gives no security for receiving the truth God is actually sending or using most at any given time. On the contrary, as we see in these Jews here and elsewhere, if there be pride in what is already possessed, it will act powerfully in rejecting what is meant of God to test the heart now; especially if grace be at work to open the door of faith to those who had no religious standing from of old. Hence the gospel is of all things most repulsive to the ancient people of God, who madly refused the mercy which waited on them first of all, before it was preached to the Gentiles.
Thereon Paul is again sent off by the brethren toward the sea, whilst his companions stayed there still. Athens was the apostle's destination, whither he had a loving escort, and where he charged Silas and Timothy to rejoin him. But Athens, as we shall see, was not destined to be a fruitful field for the incorruptible seed, the living and abiding word of God.
No! Athens was to be comparatively barren for the gospel: so different are the thoughts of God from those of men. Mere love of novelty, not value for truth, characterized that city once the most renowned seat of the arts, of letters, of philosophy. It was covered with idols: God was not really in their thoughts. Indeed He cannot be known or loved apart from Jesus. But now a herald was come to set the testimony of Jesus before them, yet alas how little heeded!
'Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked in him as he observed the city to be full of idols.1 He reasoned therefore, in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout, and in the market-place every day with those that turned up. And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers2 attacked him. And some said, What would this babbler say? and others, He seemeth to be an announcer of strange divinities, because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And having taken hold of him, they brought [him] up to the Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new teaching [is], that is spoken by thee? For thou bringest certain strange things unto our ears: we wish to know therefore what these things mean. Now all Athenians and the strangers sojourning there spent their time in nothing else than either to tell something or to hear something3 newer' [i.e., than the last] (vers. 16-21).
1 Κατείδωλός πόλις Actor. Apost.xvii. 16 quod non est, ut quidam opinantur simulacris dedita urbs, sed simulacris referta.' Zeunius ap. Viger, de pr. Gr. L Idiom. 638, ed iii. Lips. 1822.
2 'Also' has good authority, though omitted in Text. Rec., which inserts 'the' before Stoic, and 'to them' before 'preached'.
3 The most ancient authorities support the double 'something'.
It was an indignant and painful feeling which stirred the apostle's spirit as he beheld idols everywhere. Companionship he loved and valued, and tidings of Thessalonica he longed for, but at once he goes to the synagogue for the Jews and proselytes, as well as to the market-place every day for those that came by. The Epicureans and the Stoics soon encountered him; the former being really Atheists under the plea of chance, and looking for the dissolution of soul and body; the latter, of a sterner school which cried up necessity or fate, and an intolerant and intolerable egotism, being really Pantheists. Some had recourse to banter: 'What would this babbler say?' Others took Paul up more gravely: 'He seemeth to be an announcer of strange divinities [or demons], because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.' So ignorant were these sages as to count the resurrection a goddess, the counterpart of Jesus, a god. The true God was unknown.
But they were no longer disposed to persecute. Intellectual levity survived the loss of their national independence and political power. Mocking or curiosity alone remained. Still they were sufficiently struck by the apostle's preaching to lay hold of him and bring him up to the Areopagus, not to try him for his life, as they once did with Socrates, but that they might know what this new doctrine was. Even they could not but avow how strange the sound was to their ears: 'We wish to know therefore, what these things mean.' The truth, however, enters not through the ear merely, but the conscience also, and what conscience was there in spending their time for nothing else than either to tell or to hear the last news? We shall see that the apostle brought God, as a personal and living reality, before themselves as morally related to Him. Till conscience is awakened, what groundwork can there be? Otherwise the gospel is degraded into another new thing, and Jesus and the resurrection become the latest additions to the Pantheon of heathen vanities.
'And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, Men of Athens, in all things I observe that ye are very [i.e., more than others] reverent to divinities [or demons]; for passing through and closely observing the objects of your worship, I found also an altar on which was the inscription, To an unknown God. What [or Whom], therefore, ye without knowing worship, this1 I announce to you. The God that made the world and all things therein, He, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, nor is He served by human2 hands as needing something more, Himself giving to all life, and breath, and all things. And He made of one [blood3] every nation of men to dwell on all3 the face of the earth, having determined appointed4 seasons, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek God5, if haply they might feel after and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and are; as also some of your own poets have said, For His offspring also are we. Being therefore God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divinity is like gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man. God therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, now commendeth men6 that they should all everywhere repent, inasmuch as7 He has appointed a day in which He is about to judge the world [inhabited earth] in righteousness, by a Man Whom He marked out, having given assurance to all in that He raised Him from [the] dead' (vers. 22-31).
1 The neuter form has more ancient support than the much more general masculine.
2 'Of men' in Text. Rec. must yield in antiquity to 'human'.
3 'Blood' is not in AB, eight cursives, and most ancient Versions, some reading 'every face'.
4 'Foreappointed' rests on D and a few more.
5 'God' has ample support of the best kind.
6 Text. Rec. has 'all men' with many, but not the best witnesses, as in the text followed.
7 καθότι ABDE, et al., διότι 'because', has inferior weight.
Though we have only a sketch of the apostle's discourse, we can readily see its striking difference from that which he was wont to preach to the Jews. He comes down to the lowest point and form of truth, in order, as he had done before (Acts 14) with the Lycaonian barbarians, to reach the Athenian conscience, the Jews having through the law incomparably more worthy thoughts of God and of their own relationship to Him. Nevertheless the address opens with habitual courtesy whilst there was not a particle to flatter their pride. The apostle laid hold of the only object in that crowd of honours paid to truly strange demons, which confessed the humbling fact about themselves and God. 'An unknown God' told the true tale; all else around was but deception and the triumph of the enemy. 'What, therefore, ye worship in ignorance, this I announce to you.'
The God that made the world and all things therein is the Judge of all the world by the same risen Man Who is Saviour of such as repent and believe the gospel, be they who or what they may. Creation was owned by neither Epicureans nor Stoics: the one holding the absurdity of a fortuitous concourse of atoms, the other conceiving a fixed ever-recurring cycle of generation and dissolution in the universe, which was their god if they can be allowed to have had any. But the Creator of all things is also Lord of heaven and earth; He neither rests in apathy, nor is He the mere active soul of the passive world, but supreme Ruler, not of heaven only, but of the earth. He is not therefore to be limited to human sanctuaries, nor to be served by human hands, as though He needed anything, seeing that He Himself gives to all life and breath and the whole of what they enjoy. Some elements of these truths might be accepted here and there, for man has a conscience, but seen fully and simply they swept away the dark clouds of philosophic dreamers, maintaining for God His own place of sovereign goodness towards man, let him be ever so proud, dark, and miserable.
The apostle adds more. He struck next at a well-known theme of Athenian vanity, by no means however peculiar to that race, or land, or time: 'And He made of one [blood] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined appointed seasons and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek God, if indeed they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.' The one origin of man goes with the unity of God, as the pretension to distinct races goes with their respective patrons of polytheism. The Jews as they fell away helped on the falsehood in their self-exalting vanity, though to them only was committed the revelation of the twofold truth, which Christianity alone applied thoroughly and carried out according to God. It was not only the mere passing testimony to His goodness in the gift from heaven of rains and fruitful seasons, to which the apostle here pointed, but also to appointed seasons, and the boundaries of the dwelling of the various nations, all under God's hand with peculiar favours distributed to each, and at least a whisper to seek after (not 'the Lord', which is true neither in the Jewish sense of Jehovah, nor still less in the only just revealed exaltation of the rejected Messiah, but) 'God', if haply they might grope after and find Him, though He is not far from each of us.
It is not however without interest to compare Job's treatment of the same truth generally (Job 12:23-25): only he dwells rather on the side of the divine sovereignty of Him to Whom the nations, haughtily indifferent about Him though they might be, are 'as a drop of a bucket', and are counted 'as the small dust of the balance' (Isaiah 40:15). But the glowing heat of the inspired preacher does not fail to urge the moral aim of His beneficent arrangements on the grandest scale, that they might seek after Himself, if perhaps they might feel after and find Him: teaching quite in keeping with his own Epistle to the Romans (Romans 1:20). Even in the darkness of heathenism more than one had owned, if not Paul's fine statement of man's absolute dependence on God for continued life, activity, and existence, God as the source of the race: a truth already given most distinctly in Luke 3:38, supposed parabolically in Luke 15:11, and taught formally in the first clause of Ephesians 4:6. The poets among them (the heathen Greeks) had expressed it; not the Cilician Aratus only (whom he cites verbally), but Cleanthes also in nearly similar words, as well as others substantially.
With this acknowledgment of their poetical seers the apostle states the confutation of the folly of idolatry. If man alone of creatures on earth is God's offspring, how maintain that the divinity is like a work of man's craft and imagination in gold, or silver, or stone? 'We ought not' so to think, he says graciously, not forgetting that Israel too had to bear the sterner irony of Isaiah (Isaiah 44:9-20). A lifeless stock that man forms cannot be, or duly represent, the God Who made him and all things.
Yet the God, Who was thus shamefully misrepresented in the times of the ignorance that was past, would no longer overlook as heretofore such delinquency; He is now charging on men that they all everywhere repent (ver. 30). Here was a death-blow, not only for the self-indulgence of the Epicurean as well as for the self-righteous Stoic, but also for the careless and the proud of all mankind, and not least in that city. And the apostle followed it up with the solemn reason for heed and urgency, 'because He had appointed a day in which He is about to judge the habitable [earth] in righteousness by a Man Whom He had marked out, having afforded assurance [or, ground of belief] to all in that He raised Him out of [the] dead.'
Here the prevalent thought of Christendom errs greatly. The Jews used to, and perhaps in some measure still, look for a judgment of living men; the mass of Christians, notwithstanding the Creeds, only look (all but exclusively in fact) for a judgment of the dead before eternity. The apostle here and elsewhere pressed the judgment of this habitable scene at our Lord's appearing to introduce His kingdom in displayed power and glory, as He did Himself in Matt. 24, and 25; Mark 13; Luke 17, 19, 21, and other scriptures. The pledge of His thus coming to judge and to reign is His own resurrection, as ours who believe will be at His coming preparatorily to our appearing and reigning with Him.
This scripture shows how vital and fundamental a truth is His resurrection, which so blessedly involves our own, besides being the witness to His victory over death and Satan to the Father's glory in vindicating His Son to the efficacy of His sacrifice to the believer, and to the displayed condition of man for heaven according to divine counsels. Granted that in the nature of the case it is a fact attested by His own, though with the most abundant and weighty evidence, above all by God's word long before the fact, as well as by fresh revelation immediately after. Could any other fact be shown possessed of grounds to be compared with these? All that on which the soul stands for ever before God rests on the self-same ground of divinely given testimony; and, consequently, as being addressed to faith, purifies the heart through the operation of the Holy Ghost, as nothing else can do.
What was the effect on the Athenians? 'Now when they heard of resurrection of dead [men], some mocked, but others said, We will hear thee concerning this yet again. Thus Paul went out from their midst. But some men crave to him and believed; among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them' (vers. 32-34)
Nor should we wonder at these heathen philosophers and newsmongers being staggered by a call resting on a basis so irrefragable on God's part so crushing to human will and unbelief, as resurrection. For human science never rises above sensible causes and effects, or phenomena arrayed according to natural laws. This is all true and interesting in its own sphere. The folly is in denying what is as wholly different in kind, as grace necessarily is from nature, and in rejecting facts attested by the fullest and surest testimony, the most unreasonable course to be conceived in things which must and ought, as facts, to depend on testimony: a course only intelligible in this exceptional case through the desperate antagonism of fallen humanity to God, even when He is waiting on and speaking to man in the richest mercy.
But man, and not least philosophic man, rebels against resurrection. He might endure a whole night's Socratic discussion of the soul's immortality; for this gratifies the nobler sort, if it be offensive to the morally degraded. But a dead man raised brings in God; and proves God intervening in the midst of a busy world to mark out the Man Whom they crucified, Who is going to judge this habitable world one day, as also in due time the dead raised later, ere all things are made new for eternity. To science as science, I repeat, this fact is repulsive, because impossible for their idol for what can be the cause of resurrection? Certainly not death, but God in the person of the Son.
Bow, proud man, bow to Him, Who in love sent His Son that we might live through Him, true God as He is, and that He might die for us - for our sins, without which the gift of eternal life had been the merest anomaly, but with it the deep blessing of a full and everlasting salvation of His grace, yet righteous, to the glory of God for ever. There were mockers and triflers then as now. Oh! may you, like the others of old, cleave to the apostle, and find your place with the true Dionysius of Luke, not with the Neo-Platonist impostor who borrowed the scriptural name for his fables and rhapsodies of the sixth century manufacture. Doubtless that blessed place must be shared with a Damaris and others, whose names are written in heaven if unknown on earth. May Christ satisfy your soul, as well He may Who is all, and in all!
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
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.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
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.
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;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
So Paul departed from among them.
Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.