What does Acts 17:30 mean?
ESV: The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
NIV: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
NASB: So having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now proclaiming to mankind that all people everywhere are to repent,
CSB: "Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent,
NLT: 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.
KJV: And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
NKJV: Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
Verse Commentary:
Epicurean and Stoic philosophers have gathered at the Areopagus. This is a court where serious issues are discussed in Athens. The Greek philosophers pride themselves in discovering the truth about life. The Epicureans endeavor to find the balance between need and excess in all things. Stoics try to live according to the logos, the overarching law that governs creation; one of their four cardinal virtues is wisdom. Here, they have dragged the apostle Paul to hear him defend his preaching about Jesus.

Paul began his argument by comparing the altar "to the unknown god" with the God who created the world and the people in it. He points out that if this God is mighty enough to give humans life and movement, He can't possibly be reduced to an idol (Acts 17:22–29). To worship an idol as if it is the Creator is a sin of ignorance. Now that they understand it is wrong, the people need to repent or face judgment (Acts 17:31).

The idea that God overlooked times of ignorance is echoed in Romans 3:25. From the time of Moses to the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, relationship to God was almost exclusively defined through the Mosaic law. Many confused those laws and rituals with the means of salvation, itself. With Christ, the times of ignorance—lack of understanding about God, His expectations, and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus—have ended. Now that the Athenians know the truth, they are responsible for it. They have done the best they can by trying to live according to what they know of the world (Romans 2:14–16). It's time for that knowledge to be redeemed and for them to see the truth. They can show that they understand this by repenting: rejecting their previous worldview and accepting God's.

The problem is, neither group believes in the resurrection of the dead and so they don't believe in a final judgment. Despite claiming to search for and live according to the truth of the cosmos, they deny God exists and some mock Paul as he walks away (Acts 17:32–33). Others request to hear more, while others do believe (Acts 17:32, 34).
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 6/13/2024 12:13:36 PM
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