What does Acts 17:25 mean?
ESV: nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
NIV: And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
NASB: 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;
CSB: Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.
NLT: 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.
KJV: Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
NKJV: Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is in the Areopagus in Athens, expertly weaving together the local use of an altar to an unknown god to the true Creator God of the universe who, by the admission of Greek poets, made us and thus cannot be represented by idols. He starts by noting that a deity cannot be contained in a human-built structure (Acts 17:24), as Euripides admitted. He goes on to say the Creator God needs nothing from us because He created us, which philosophers Socrates, Seneca, and Lucian agreed with. Indeed, God sets the times and places for nations so that we might seek Him (Acts 17:26–27). The fact that He gives us our breath proves He is findable: He is near us (Acts 17:28).

If God cannot be contained in a temple made with human hands, and if He gives humans life and movement—if we are His offspring—He cannot be represented by idols made of gold, silver, and stone. To attempt to do so and then to worship those idols is not only futile, but also sin. God overlooks such idolatry done in ignorance, but now that they know the truth, they need to repent or face judgment (Acts 17:26–31).

Throughout history, mankind has developed systems of false gods that need something from us. Creation myths claim the gods made humans as slaves to work the earth. Fertility gods seemingly must be reminded every year how to bring life to crops and livestock. Even household idols get a daily offering of grain. The God of the Bible is not so needy. Yes, He is mighty and worthy to be praised. But He is also the gracious Father who provides gifts for His children (Matthew 7:11). We serve Him out of love and thankfulness, not because He needs anything from us.
Verse Context:
Acts 17:22–34 contains the second of two sermons which Luke records from Paul. The more typical sermon explains to synagogues how Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 13:16–41). Here, however, Paul is speaking to a group of Athenian philosophers. Paul uses lines from classical poets to introduce the Creator God who cannot be represented by an idol. He calls his audience to repent of their idolatry lest they face judgment by the representative God has resurrected. But they don't believe in the resurrection of the dead or final judgment. The majority dismiss Paul as a fool and go on their way.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 17 describes how Paul's ministry travels down the coast of Greece. In Thessalonica, some Jews and God-fearing Gentiles believe while other Jews start a riot (Acts 17:1–9). The Bereans study the veracity of Paul's statements—until the Thessalonian Jews arrive and threaten to start another riot (Acts 17:10–15). Paul flees to Athens where the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers accept Paul's argument when he uses Greek poets to introduce God as the creator of the world, but lose interest when he mentions the resurrection from the dead (Acts 17:16–34).
Chapter Context:
Acts 17 continues Paul and Silas' travels out of Macedonia and on to Greece. The two have been through modern-day Asia minor where they picked up Timothy in Lystra and Luke in Troas (Acts 16:1–10). They have established a strong church in Philippi but were forced to leave after being falsely imprisoned (Acts 16:11–40). They now skip down the coast to Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. From here, they will spend a considerable amount of time in Corinth before heading back to Judea and Syrian Antioch (Acts 18:1–22).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/28/2024 6:43:35 PM
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