Lectionary Year A
May 5, 2002
Acts 17:22-31

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The theological focus in this passage is God, the Creator of all that is. The next most important feature is Paul who makes the declaration, re: this God. The address is of equal significance, too. The points of the proclamation that seem to rate high marks in the scheme of this pericope include Paul's assurances that God is knowable and findable, that God is always close by, that God "gives to all mortals life and breath and everything(else)", that God "overlooks times human ignorance", that God calls all to repent and that God raised from the dead the one we know as Christ. These observations leave the minor concerns to include the Athenians' idolatries, their poets and their supposed being "extremely religious".

(DS)What is meaning of "having furnished proof to all men?" Is this gospel? (It seems to be something different from what Paul proclaimed gospel).

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 22 And Paul stood Paul in the midst of the Aeropagus and proclaimed; "Men of Athens, according to all I see hereabouts, you are very religious. 23 For going through your city I was observing your objects and places of worship. And, I found also an altar on which was written, 'to an unknown god'. Since you seem to be ignorant of whom you worship, now I make known to you. 24 The God who made the world and all that (is) in it, this one of heaven and of earth is being the Lord not made by human hands like a temple being to inhabit 25 nor by human hands is he served for having a need of any kind, who is gives to everyone life and breath and every thing; 26 who made from out of one every nation of human beings to dwell upon every fašade of the earth, who has designated times and ordered seasons and the boundaries of the regions for them 27 to seek God, if even to reach for Him and find Him, and yet He is never far from any of us. 28 For in Him we live and we move and have our being, as also some of those of your poets have said; for offspring of His also we are. 29 So as His offspring then we must not think that by gold or silver or stone, any image of craftsmanship of thought by humankind, the deity to be of the same nature alike. 30 Therefore, the times of any ignorance are overlooked by God, who orders/demands that all people everywhere repent. 31 Because He set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness/justice, in/by man whom He determined, He brought about faith for everyone by raising Him from dead.

(DS)V 22: So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
V 23: For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, `To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
V 24: The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands,
V 25: nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all life and breath and all things.
V 26: And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation,
(V 27:)
V 28: for `In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are his offspring.'
V 29: Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man.
V 30: While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands to all people everywhere to repent,
V 31: because he has fixed a day on which he is about to judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) "Morning Edition" on National Public Radio occasionally announces they are "supported by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation with a mandate to promote the diffusion of knowledge and understanding". Isn't that part of what St. Paul was doing long before its time? Well, perhaps, at least in part.

(DS)The gospel should be reinterpreted according to culture and generation. The gospel should be delivered by language that listeners use as Paul proclaimed the gospel according to men of Athens. (But it should be done by the direction of the Holy Spirit). How can we proclaim the gospel to this generation?

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