Acts 17:16-34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Paul at Athens
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were [a]conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this [b]idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him [c]to the [d]Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is [e]which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)
Sermon on Mars Hill
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the [f]Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and [g]exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge [h]the world in righteousness [i]through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men [j]by raising Him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you [k]again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
Acts 17:16-34 The Voice (VOICE)
16 So Paul found himself alone for some time in Athens. He would walk through the city, feeling deeply frustrated about the abundance of idols there. 17 As in the previous cities, he went to the synagogue. Once again, he engaged in debate about Jesus with both ethnic Jews and devout Greek-born converts to Judaism. He would even wander around in the marketplace, speaking with anyone he happened to meet. 18 Eventually he got into a debate with some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Some were dismissive from the start.
Philosophers: What’s this fast-talker trying to pitch?
Others: He seems to be advocating the gods of distant lands.
They said this because of what Paul had been preaching about Jesus and the resurrection.
The philosophers misunderstand Paul’s message. They think he is talking about two deities: Jesus and Anastasis (the Greek word for “resurrection”).
19-21 This stirred their curiosity, because the favorite pastime of Athenians (including foreigners who had settled there) was conversation about new and unusual ideas. So they brought him to the rock outcropping known as the Areopagus, where Athens’ intellectuals regularly gathered for debate, and they invited him to speak.
Athenians: May we understand this new teaching of yours? It is intriguingly unusual. We would love to know its meaning.
Paul: 22 Athenians, as I have walked your streets, I have observed your strong and diverse religious ethos. You truly are a religious people. 23 I have stopped again and again to examine carefully the religious statues and inscriptions that fill your city. On one such altar, I read this inscription: “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” I am not here to tell you about a strange foreign deity, but about this One whom you already worship, though without full knowledge. 24 This is the God who made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth. It would be illogical to assume that a God of this magnitude could possibly be contained in any man-made structure, no matter how majestic. 25 Nor would it be logical to think that this God would need human beings to provide Him with food and shelter—after all, He Himself would have given to humans everything they need—life, breath, food, shelter, and so on.
This is the only universal God, the One who makes all people whatever their nationality or culture or religion.
26 This God made us in all our diversity from one original person, allowing each culture to have its own time to develop, giving each its own place to live and thrive in its distinct ways. 27 His purpose in all this was that people of every culture and religion would search for this ultimate God, grope for Him in the darkness, as it were, hoping to find Him. Yet, in truth, God is not far from any of us. 28 For you know the saying, “We live in God; we move in God; we exist in God.” And still another said, “We are indeed God’s children.” 29 Since this is true, since we are indeed offspring of God’s creative act, we shouldn’t think of the Deity as our own artifact, something made by our own hands—as if this great, universal, ultimate Creator were simply a combination of elements like gold, silver, and stone. 30 No, God has patiently tolerated this kind of ignorance in the past, but now God says it is time to rethink our lives and reject these unenlightened assumptions. 31 He has fixed a day of accountability, when the whole world will be justly evaluated by a new, higher standard: not by a statue, but by a living man. God selected this man and made Him credible to all by raising Him from the dead.
32 When they heard that last phrase about resurrection from the dead, some shook their heads and scoffed, but others were even more curious.
Others: We would like you to come and speak to us again.
33 Paul left at that point, 34 but some people followed him and came to faith, including one from Areopagus named Dionysius, a prominent woman named Damaris, and others.
Acts 17:16-34 New English Translation (NET Bible)
Paul at Athens
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was greatly upset because he saw the city was full of idols. 17 So he was addressing the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue, and in the marketplace every day those who happened to be there. 18 Also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him, and some were asking, “What does this foolish babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods.” (They said this because he was proclaiming the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19 So they took Paul and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some surprising things to our ears, so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there used to spend their time in nothing else than telling or listening to something new.)
22 So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. 26 From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29 So since we are God’s offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination. 30 Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard about the resurrection from the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul left the Areopagus. 34 But some people joined him and believed. Among them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Acts 17:16-34 New Living Translation (NLT)
Paul Preaches in Athens
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
19 Then they took him to the high council of the city.[a] “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)
22 So Paul, standing before the council,[b] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man[c] he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your[d] own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council,[e] a woman named Damaris, and others with them.