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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 17

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1 THEY now travelled by way of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2Following his usual practice Paul went to their meetings; and for the next three sabbaths he argued with them, quoting texts of scripture 3which he expounded and applied to show that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘And this Jesus’, he said, ‘whom I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.’ 4Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great number of godfearing Gentiles and a good many influential women.

5The Jews in their jealousy recruited some ruffians from the dregs of society to gather a mob. They put the city in an uproar, and made for Jason's house with the intention of bringing Paul and Silas before the town assembly. 6Failing to find them, they dragged Jason himself and some members of the congregation before the magistrates, shouting, ‘The men who have made trouble the whole world over have now come here, 7and Jason has harboured them. All of them flout the emperor's laws, and assert there is a rival king, Jesus.’ 8These words alarmed the mob and the magistrates also, 9who took security from Jason and the others before letting them go.

10As soon as darkness fell, the members of the congregation sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea; and, on arrival, they made their way to the synagogue. 11The Jews here were more fair-minded than those at Thessalonica: they received the message with great eagerness, studying the scriptures every day to see whether it was true. 12Many of them therefore became believers, and so did a fair number of Gentiles, women of standing as well as men. 13But when the Thessalonian Jews learnt that the word of God had now been proclaimed by Paul in Beroea, they followed him there to stir up trouble and rouse the rabble. 14At once the members of the congregation sent Paul down to the coast, while Silas and Timothy both stayed behind. 15Paul's escort brought him as far as Athens, and came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to rejoin him with all speed.

16While Paul was waiting for them at Athens, he was outraged to see the city so full of idols. 17He argued in the synagogue with the Jews and gentile worshippers, and also in the city square every day with casual passers-by. 18Moreover, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers joined issue with him. Some said, ‘What can this charlatan be trying to say?’ and others, ‘He would appear to be a propagandist for foreign deities’—this because he was preaching about Jesus and the Resurrection. 19They brought him to the Council of the Areopagus a 17:19 to…Areopagus: or to Mars' Hill. and asked, ‘May we know what this new doctrine is that you propound? 20You are introducing ideas that sound strange to us, and we should like to know what they mean.’ 21Now, all the Athenians and the resident foreigners had time for nothing except talking or hearing about the latest novelty.

22Paul stood up before the Council of the Areopagus b 17:22 before…Areopagus: or in the middle of Mars' Hill. and began: ‘Men of Athens, I see that in everything that concerns religion you are uncommonly scrupulous. 23As I was going round looking at the objects of your worship, I noticed among other things an altar bearing the inscription “To an Unknown God”. What you worship but do not know—this is what I now proclaim.

24‘The God who created the world and everything in it, and who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands. 25It is not because he lacks anything that he accepts service at our hands, for he is himself the universal giver of life and breath—indeed of everything. 26He created from one stock every nation of men to inhabit the whole earth's surface. He determined their eras in history c 17:26 determined…history: or fixed the ordered seasons. and the limits of their territory. 27They were to seek God in the hope that, groping after him, they might find him; though indeed he is not far from each one of us, 28for in him we live and move, in him we exist; as some of your own poets have said, “We are also his offspring.” 29Being God's offspring, then, we ought not to suppose that the deity is like an image in gold or silver or stone, shaped by human craftsmanship and design. 30God has overlooked the age of ignorance; but now he commands men and women everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed the day on which he will have the world judged, and justly judged, by a man whom he has designated; of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

32When they heard about the raising of the dead, some scoffed; others said, ‘We will hear you on this subject some other time.’ 33So Paul left the assembly. 34Some men joined him and became believers, including Dionysius, a member of the Council of the Areopagus; and also a woman named Damaris, with others besides.

Notes:

a 17:19 to…Areopagus: or to Mars' Hill.

b 17:22 before…Areopagus: or in the middle of Mars' Hill.

c 17:26 determined…history: or fixed the ordered seasons.

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