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Acts 17:23-28

Context
17:23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, 1  I even found an altar with this inscription: 2  ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, 3  this I proclaim to you. 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, 4  who is 5  Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, 6  17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, 7  because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. 8  17:26 From one man 9  he made every nation of the human race 10  to inhabit the entire earth, 11  determining their set times 12  and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, 13  17:27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around 14  for him and find him, 15  though he is 16  not far from each one of us. 17:28 For in him we live and move about 17  and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 18 

1 tn Or “your sanctuaries.” L&N 53.54 gives “sanctuary” (place of worship) as an alternate meaning for the word σεβάσματα (sebasmata).

2 tn Grk “on which was written,” but since it would have been carved in stone, it is more common to speak of an “inscription” in English. To simplify the English the relative construction with a passive verb (“on which was inscribed”) was translated as a prepositional phrase with a substantive (“inscription”).

3 tn BDAG 13 s.v. ἀγνοέω 1.b has “Abs. ὅ ἀγνοοῦντες εὐσεβεῖτε what you worship without knowing it (on the subject matter Maximus Tyr. 11, 5e: all sorts of philosophers ἴσασιν οὐκ ἑκόντες καὶ λέγουσιν ἄκοντες sc. τὸ θεῖον = they know and name God without intending to do so) Ac 17:23.” Paul, in typical Jewish Christian style, informs them of the true God, of whom their idols are an ignorant reflection.

4 tn Grk “all the things that are in it.” The speech starts with God as Creator, like 14:15.

5 tn Or “because he is.” The participle ὑπάρχων (Juparcwn) could be either adjectival, modifying οὗτος (Joutos, “who is Lord…”) or adverbial of cause (“because he is Lord…”). Since the participle διδούς (didou") in v. 25 appears to be clearly causal in force, it is preferable to understand ὑπάρχων as adjectival in this context.

6 sn On the statement does not live in temples made by human hands compare Acts 7:48. This has implications for idols as well. God cannot be represented by them or, as the following clause also suggests, served by human hands.

7 tn L&N 57.45 has “nor does he need anything more that people can supply by working for him.”

8 tn Grk “he himself gives to all [people] life and breath and all things.”

9 sn The one man refers to Adam (the word “man” is understood).

10 tn Or “mankind.” BDAG 276 s.v. ἔθνος 1 has “every nation of humankind Ac 17:26.”

11 tn Grk “to live over all the face of the earth.”

12 tn BDAG 884-85 s.v. προστάσσω has “(οἱ) προστεταγμένοι καιροί (the) fixed times Ac 17:26” here, but since the following phrase is also translated “fixed limits,” this would seem redundant in English, so the word “set” has been used instead.

13 tn Grk “the boundaries of their habitation.” L&N 80.5 has “fixed limits of the places where they would live” for this phrase.

14 tn See BDAG 1097-98 s.v. ψηλαφάω, which lists “touch, handle” and “to feel around for, grope for” as possible meanings.

15 sn Perhaps grope around for him and find him. The pagans’ struggle to know God is the point here. Conscience alone is not good enough.

16 tn The participle ὑπάρχοντα (Juparconta) has been translated as a concessive adverbial participle.

17 tn According to L&N 15.1, “A strictly literal translation of κινέω in Ac 17:28 might imply merely moving from one place to another. The meaning, however, is generalized movement and activity; therefore, it may be possible to translate κινούμεθα as ‘we come and go’ or ‘we move about’’ or even ‘we do what we do.’”

18 sn This quotation is from Aratus (ca. 310-245 b.c.), Phaenomena 5. Paul asserted a general relationship and accountability to God for all humanity.



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