And they that conducted Paul brought him to Athens: and receiving a commandment to Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed…
What did he discover that so intensely distressed him?
I. GREAT GENIUS PERVERTED. He saw —
1. Developments of great genius. What Jerusalem has been in the true religious culture of humanity, Athens has been in the culture of the aesthetical and reasoning powers of mankind.
2. Perversions of great genius. Though possessing a mind qualified to appreciate the splendid works which lay about him, yet he was thrown into an agony of grief at what he beheld. He had a standard of character unknown to any Athenian sage, and he felt that the aesthetic glory of Greece was but a gorgeous covering which genius had spread over a vast cemetery of moral corruption. Genius wasted — nay, worse than that, employed for immoral and impious ends. There is nothing in mere material civilisation, even in its highest forms, to delight a truly enlightened soul.
II. THE GREAT GOD DISHONOURED. With all this display the Athenians had —
1. No grand moral purpose in life (ver. 21). Empty theories and idle gossip occupied their chief attention; since they knew not the only true God, they had no grand purpose in life. The deeper and diviner parts of their souls were undeveloped.
2. No love for the true God. Athens, by wisdom, knew not God. "It was easier," says an old writer, "to find a god than a man." All history shows that where the gospel has not gone, man has never reached the true religion, nor felt the higher inspirations of his being (Romans 1). The best of the Athenian gods were but men, whose passions in some cases were of the most revolting kind. Paul knew that the destiny of the soul depended upon its worship; that if it worshipped any object but God, it must inevitably sink lower and lower forever. There is but one being that has a claim to the worship of man — the Creator. He claims the supreme homage and service of all souls. His claim is just: no conscience can dispute it. Because the apostle loved supremely this supreme object of worships he felt intense pain at seeing His righteous claims contemned. "I beheld the ways of transgressors, and was grieved."
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.