New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Paul’s Speech at the Areopagus. 22 Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:[a]
“You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’[b] What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,(A) 25 nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. 26 He made from one[c] the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, 27 so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.(B) 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’[d] as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29 Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.(C) 30 God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent 31 because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”(D)Read full chapter
- 17:22–31 In Paul’s appearance at the Areopagus he preaches his climactic speech to Gentiles in the cultural center of the ancient world. The speech is more theological than christological. Paul’s discourse appeals to the Greek world’s belief in divinity as responsible for the origin and existence of the universe. It contests the common belief in a multiplicity of gods supposedly exerting their powers through their images. It acknowledges that the attempt to find God is a constant human endeavor. It declares, further, that God is the judge of the human race, that the time of the judgment has been determined, and that it will be executed through a man whom God raised from the dead. The speech reflects sympathy with pagan religiosity, handles the subject of idol worship gently, and appeals for a new examination of divinity, not from the standpoint of creation but from the standpoint of judgment.
- 17:23 ‘To an Unknown God’: ancient authors such as Pausanias, Philostratus, and Tertullian speak of Athenian altars with no specific dedication as altars of “unknown gods” or “nameless altars.”
- 17:26 From one: many manuscripts read “from one blood.” Fixed…seasons: or “fixed limits to the epochs.”
- 17:28 ‘In him we live and move and have our being’: some scholars understand this saying to be based on an earlier saying of Epimenides of Knossos (6th century B.C.). ‘For we too are his offspring’: here Paul is quoting Aratus of Soli, a third-century B.C. poet from Cilicia.