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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Acts 17:23 Parallel
CommentaryVincent's Word Studies
As l passed by (διερχόμενος)
More strictly, "passing through (διά)" your city, or your streets.
Only here and Hebrews 13:7. Rev., much better, observed. The compound verb denotes a very attentive consideration (ἀνά and down, throughout).
Wrong. It means the objects of their worship - temples, altars, statues, etc.
An altar (βωμὸν)
Only here in New Testament, and the only case in which a heathen altar is alluded to. In all other cases θυσιαστήριον is used, signifying an altar of the true God. The Septuagint translators commonly observe this distinction, being, in this respect, more particular than the Hebrew scriptures themselves, which sometimes interchange the word for the heathen altar and that for God's altar. See, especially, Joshua 22, where the altar reared by the Transjordanic tribes is called βωμὸς as being no true altar of God (Joshua 22:10, Joshua 22:11, Joshua 22:16, Joshua 22:19, Joshua 22:23, Joshua 22:26, Joshua 22:34); and the legitimate altar, θυσιαστήριον (Joshua 22:19, Joshua 22:28, Joshua 22:29).
To the unknown God (ἀγνώστῳ Θεῷ)
The article is wanting. Render, as Rev., to an unknown God. The origin of these altars, of which there were several in Athens, is a matter of conjecture. Hackett's remarks on this point are sensible, and are borne out by the following words: "whom therefore," etc. "The most rational explanation is unquestionably that of those who suppose these altars to have had their origin in the feeling of uncertainty, inherent, after all, in the minds of the heathen, whether their acknowledgment of the superior powers was sufficiently full and comprehensive; in their distinct consciousness of the limitation and imperfection of their religious views, and their consequent desire to avoid the anger of any still unacknowledged god who might be unknown to them. That no deity might punish them for neglecting his worship, or remain uninvoked in asking for blessings, they not only erected altars to all the gods named or known among them, but, distrustful still lest they might not comprehend fully the extent of their subjection and dependence, they erected them also to any other god or power that might exist, although as yet unrevealed to them....Under these circumstances an allusion to one of these altars by the apostle would be equivalent to his saying to the Athenians thus: 'You are correct in acknowledging a divine existence beyond any which the ordinary rites of your worship recognize; there is such an existence. You are correct in confessing that this Being is unknown to you; you have no just conceptions of his nature and perfections.'"
Rather, unconsciously: not knowing. There is a kind of play on the words unknown, knowing not. Ignorantly conveys more rebuke than Paul intended.
Compare καταγγελεὺς, setter-forth, in Acts 17:18. Here, again, there is a play upon the words. Paul takes up their noun, setter-forth, and gives it back to them as a verb. "You say I am a setter-forth of strange gods: I now set forth unto you (Rev.) the true God."
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
devotions. or, gods that ye worship.
For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
2 Thessalonians 2:4
who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.