Acts 17:22-31

Acts 17:22-31
Eastertide A25


22 Then PaulA stood in front of the AreopagusB and said, “Athenians,C I seeD how extremely religiousE you are in every way. 

Notes on verse 22

A “Paul” = paulos. From Latin Paulus (small, litle). This is Paul or Paulos, meaning little.
B “Areopagus” = areios pagos. 2x in NT. From ares (Ares, Greek god of war; also called Mars); {from Ionic are (bane, ruin) OR from aros (use, profit, help)} + pagos (hill, mountain peak, frost); {perhaps from pegnumi (to build, fasten, fix)}. This is Areopagus, literally “the Hill of Ares” or “Mars’ Hill.” See
C “Athenians” = aner + athenaios. Literally “men, Athenians.” 2x in NT. From Athenai (Athens); from athene (Athena; Greek goddess of wisdom). This is Athenian.
D “see” = theoreo. From theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning. It is looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means. This is the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning.
E “extremely religious” = deisidaimnesteros. 1x in NT. From deisidaimon (fearing the gods); {from deido (to fear) + daimon (demon, evil spirit, fallen angel; in other Greek writings also used of a god or goddess); {perhaps from daio (to distribute destinies)}}. This is literally fearing the gods or respecting the spiritual world. So, it is religious, devout, or superstitious.

23 For as I went through the city and looked carefullyF at the objects of your worship,G I foundH among them an altarI with the inscription, ‘To an unknownJ god.’K

Notes on verse 23a

F “looked carefully” = anatheoreo. Related to “see” in v22. 2x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + theoreo (see note D above). This is to gaze at, examine, behold with care or attention. This is to thoroughly consider, dote, pay attention to grasp something more fully.
G “objects of…worship” = sebasma. 2x in NT. From sebazomai (to fear, to hold in reverence or awe; to worship, adore); from sebo (to worship, revere, adore, be devout; properly this is personally placing a high value on someone or something, showing respect). This is a thing that is worshiped or the devotion itself. Objects could include a god or an altar.
H “found” = heurisko. This is to find, learn, or obtain. It is to discover something, which generally implies a period of searching for it. This is to find in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “heuristic” comes from.
I “altar” = bomos. 1x in NT. From the same as basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is a place that is elevated, a stand. It can be a platform or an altar.
J “unknown” = agnostos. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience). This is unknown or unknowable.
K “god” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.

What therefore you worshipL as unknown,M this I proclaimN to you. 

Notes on verse 23b

L “worship” = eusebeo. Related to “object of…worship” in v23. 2x in NT. From eusebes (pious, devout, God-fearing, respectful); {from eu (well, good, well done, rightly) + sebo (see note G above)}. This is to worship, be pious, revere, be dutiful. It can be following duty to one’s parents as respecting or supporting. It can be duty towards God as piety or devotion.
M “unknown” = agnoeo. Related to “unknown” in v23. From a (not) + noieo (to perceive, think, understand); {from nous (mind, understanding, reasoning faculty, intellect, capacity to reflect); from noos (mind); probably from the base as ginosko (see note J above)}. This is unaware not to know. Sometimes it is willful ignorance, but other times it is simple not knowing.
N “proclaim” = kataggello. 18x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, throughout, among, daily) + aggello (to announce, report) {from aggelos (angel, messenger – supernatural or human envoy of God); probably from ago (lead, bring, drive, carry, guide, go)}. This is to proclaim openly and confidently a very specific message. It can also be celebrate, preach, or teach.

24 The God who made the worldO and everything in it, he who is LordP of heavenQ and earth, does not liveR in shrinesS made by human hands, 

Notes on verse 24

O “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.
P “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
Q “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.
R “live” = katoikeo. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + oikeo (to settle or be established somewhere in a permanent way, to make a home or live at home);{from oikos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple)}. This is to live or settle on a permanent basis.
S “shrines” = naos. From naio (to dwell, inhabit). This is a place for God (or a god) to live – a sanctuary, shrine, or temple. It is a place for God or a god to manifest. For the Jewish Temple, it is used of the Temple itself and the two inner chambers.

25 nor is he servedT by humanU hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals lifeV and breathW and all things. 

Notes on verse 25

T “served” = therapeuo. From therapon (servant, attendant, minister); perhaps from theros (properly heat and so used for summer); from thero (to heat). This is to serve, care, attend, heal, or cure. Since it means to attend to, it can be used for doctors, but also for those who serve God. So, it can mean worship. This is where the word “therapy” comes from.
U “human” = anthropinos. 7x in NT. From anthropos (human, humankind; used for all genders); {probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face)}. This is human, in human terms, belonging to humans. It is used to contrast human and vine things.
V “life” = zoe. From zao (to live, be alive). This is life including the vitality of humans, plants, and animals – it is life physical and spiritual and life everlasting.
W “breath” = pnoe. 2x in NT. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is blowing, breath, wind, or breeze.

26 From one ancestor he made all nationsX to inhabit the whole earth,Y and he allottedZ the timesAA of their existenceBB and the boundariesCC of the places where they would live,DD 

Notes on verse 26

X “nations” = ethnos. Probably from etho (a custom or culture). This is people who are united by having similar customs or culture. Generally, it is used to refer to Gentiles. This is a tribe, race, nation, or Gentiles in general. This is where the term “ethnicity” comes from.
Y “the whole earth” = epi + pas + prosopon + ho + ge. Literally “upon all the face of the earth.”
Z “allotted” = horizo. 8x in NT. From the same as horion (boundary, territory); from horos (limit, boundary). This is to determine, set boundaries, appoint, designate, pre-determined. Literally, this is setting horizons.
AA “times” = kairos. This is season, opportunity, occasion. The word chronos is used for chronological time. Kairos is used for spiritually significant time – the right time or appointed time.
BB “existence” = prostasso. 7x in NT. From pros (at, to, toward, with) + tasso (to arrange, appoint, determine). This is to allot, place, appoint, or instruct. This is allotting with a focus on the one who is making the allotment decisions. Figuratively, this can also mean to enjoin.
CC “boundaries” = horothesia. Related to “allotted” in v26. 1x in NT. From the same as horion (see note Z above) + tithemi (to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense; properly, this is placing something in a passive or horizontal position). This is setting limits or boundaries ahead of time or a concrete boundary line.
DD “places where…live” = katoikia. Related to “live” in v24. 1x in NT. From kata (see note R above) + oikos (see note R above). This is dwelling or settlement. It is the act of settling or the place of settlement itself.

27 so that they would searchEE for God and perhaps grope forFF him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 

28 For ‘In him we live and moveGG and have our being’; as even some of your own poetsHH have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’II

Notes on verses 27-28

EE “search” = zeteo. This is to seek, search for, desire. It is searching for something by inquiring or investigation. It can be seek in a literal or figurative sense. There is a Hebrew figure of speech “to seek God’s face” so it can also mean to worship God. Alternately, you could seek someone’s life i.e. plot to kill them.
FF “grope for” = pselaphao.4x in NT. Probably from psallo (to twang, play, sing psalms, pluck a stringed instrument such as a harp); {from psao (to rub)} + hapha (to handle). This is to touch, feel, or grope about. It is a light touch to explore, discover, or confirm something with physical contact. It can also figuratively mean search for.
GG “move” = kineo. 8x in NT. This is to move, excite, or provoke. It is to stir in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “kinetic” comes from.
HH “poets” = poietes. Related to “made” & “made by human hands” in v24. 6x in NT. From poieo (to make, do, construct, accomplish). This is a maker or doer. It can also mean poet, author, or performer. This is where the word “poet” comes from.
II “offspring” = genos. From ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense.

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we oughtJJ not to thinkKK that the deity is like gold,LL or silver,MM or stone, an image formedNN by the artOO and imaginationPP of mortals. 

Notes on verse 29

JJ “ought” = opheilo. Perhaps from the base of ophelos (advantage, gain, profit); from ophello (heaped together, accumulate, increase). This is to be indebted morally or legally – having an obligation one must meet. This term came from the legal world, but was then adopted in reference to morality. In the New Testament it is used for humanity’s ethical responsibility.
KK “think” = nomizo. 15x in NT. From nomos (what is assigned – usage, law, custom, principle; used for the law in general or of God’s law; sometimes used to refer to the first five books of the Bible or the entire Old Testament; also used to refer to theology or the practice and tradition of interpreting and implementing the law of God); from nemo (to parcel out, assign). This is to practice, think, consider, suppose, hold by custom. This is thinking that something applies given precedent and practice – to do by law.
LL “gold” = chrusos. 10x in NT. Perhaps from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request). This is gold or something made of gold. It is symbolic of purchasing power.
MM “silver” = arguros. 5x in NT. From argos (shining). This is silver, whether the metal itself or things made from silver.
NN “image formed” = charagma. 8x in NT. From charasso (to engrave or sharpen) OR from the same as charax (pointed stake, barricade, rampart, trench); from charasso (see above). This is an engraving, stamp, sculpture, or brand mark. It is a mark that shows ownership identification or the mark on a coin or seal.
OO “art” = techne. 3x in NT. From tekton (craftsman; particularly one who works with wood); from the base of timoria (penalty, punishment, vengeance); from timoreo (to punish, protect honor); {perhaps from time (worth or something’s perceived value; literally, price, but figuratively, the honor or value one sees in someone or something else; also esteem or dignity; also precious or valuables); {from tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value)}} + the base of tikto (to produce, bring forth, beget). This is art, craft, skill, or trade.
PP “imagination” = enthumesis. 4x in NT. From enthumeomai (to think, reflect on, ponder, meditate on; also, passionate mindset, inspirited, moved by a strong impulse); {from en (in, on, at, by, with) + thumos (passion, wrath; actions emerging from passion or impulse) {from thuo (to rush along, breathe violently, offer sacrifice)}}. This is pondering, thoughts, reflection, or deliberation. It focuses on a passionate impulse that impels the thought process.

30 WhileQQ God has overlooked the timesRR of human ignorance,SS now he commandsTT all people everywhere to repent,UU 

Notes on verse 30

QQ {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
RR “times” = chronos. Time in the chronological sense, quantitative time or a duration of time.
SS “ignorance” = agnoia. Related to “unknown” & “unknown” in v23. 4x in NT. From agnoeo (see note M above). This is ignorance, whether inadvertent or willful blindness.
TT “commands” = paraggello. Related to “proclaim” in v23. From para (by, beside) + aggello (see note N above). This is to notify, command, charge, or send a message. It is a command in that it is a message that has gone through the correct processes. It is also a military term.
UU “repent” = metanoeo. Related to “unknown” & “unknown” in v23 & “ignorance” in v30. From meta (with, among, after, beyond) + noieo (see note M above). This is to change how one thinks, to reconsider, to repent. It refers to a change of thinking, which means a change of purpose and behavior.

31 because he has fixed a day on which he will haveVV the worldWW judgedXX in righteousnessYY by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assuranceZZ to all by raisingAAA him from the dead.”

Notes on verse 31

VV “will have” = mello. Perhaps from melo (something that one is worried or concerned about, something one pays attention to or thinks about). Properly, this is ready, about to happen, to intend, delay, or linger. This is just on the point of acting.
WW “world” = oikoumene. Related to “live” in v24 & “places where…live” in v26. 15x in NT. From oikeo (see note K above). This is inhabited land or the world. It is sometimes used to refer to the Roman world.
XX “judged” = krino. To judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue. This is judging whether it is done in court or in a private setting. Properly, it refers to mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty. It can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging.
YY “righteousness” = dikaiosune. From dikaios (correct, righteous – implies innocent; this is that which conforms to God’s notion of justice, uprightness); from dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is judicial or divine approval of character or action. This is righteousness, justice, justness, divine righteousness.
ZZ “assurance” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
AAA “raising” = anistemi. Related to “stood” in v22. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + histemi (to make to stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand by, stand still, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast). This is literally standing up or standing again. It is used figuratively for recovering a spiritual truth. It can be raising up, rising, or resurrection.

Image credit: “Saint Paul Preaching in Athens” by Raphael, 1515.

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