April 23, 2021 – Friday
Acts 17:16-17 NIV
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.
Acts 17:16-17 NASB
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he observed that the city was full of idols.
17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be present.
Acts 17:16-17 KJV
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
First a bit of background, Paul and Silas were imprisoned and eventually released in Philippi, then left the city (Acts 16:16-40). From there they ended up in Thessalonica where they had to flee once again (Acts 17:1-9). They fled to Berea where eventually Paul had to flee again, leaving behind Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:10-15) and was taken by ship to Athens Greece.
If you read back through the cities Paul and his companions went to, they always went to the synagogue right away – except in Philippi where there was no synagogue, so he went where Jews went to pray – to share the gospel. When they arrived in Thessalonica, 17:2 says As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue with no delay implied except to perhaps wait until the Sabbath to teach and reason there. Then in 17:10 we read, On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue, this time with no delay at all implied. Paul simply did not waste time getting to the synagogue to share the gospel.
However, once Paul reached Athens for some reason he did not go straight away to the synagogue. 17:16 tells us he was waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive with no explanation as to why that would slow him down. But while he waited verse 16 tells us, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols NIV, his spirit was being provoked within him as he observed that the city was full of idols NASB, and his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry KJV. Paul while waiting for Silas and Timothy observed as he went through the city of Athens it was full of idols or wholly given to idolatry or flooded with idols CEV. Three versions are given here as full of idols may mean lots of idols, but wholly given to idolatry implies even more, while flooded with idols implies they were simply everywhere.
As a result of what Paul observed he was greatly distressed or his spirit was provoked or his spirit was stirred. Three versions are provided to give a full description of what Paul was experiencing. As a result, even if the plan was to wait for Silas and Timothy, Paul was so distressed, so provoked and stirred spiritually he could wait no longer. So or Therefore, unable to wait any longer, he went to the synagogue to bring the good news of Jesus to the Jews there along with any God fearing Gentiles. This brings me to our culture today not only do not worship God, but worship almost anything to avoid worshipping God. It can be TV, sports, cars, hobbies, physical fitness, learning, income, etc. etc.
Are we provoked, distressed, stirred enough with what is going on in our world today for us to speak the truth of Jesus and the wonder of His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection on the third day to those all around us? Are we? J. MacFarlane writes to let us know how easy it is to become deaf and blind to it all: I was speaking with a gentleman who had just returned from a visit to Niagara, where he lived in the Clifton Hotel, which is close to the Falls. He asked a waiter, ‘Are you not annoyed by the noise of the waterfall?’ ‘Positively I don’t hear it. When I first came here I hardly heard anything for it; now it is quite quiet to me.’ Why is this? Because he is accustomed to it. That is the reason Christians are content to sit with folded hands, looking calmly on while so many of their fellows are gliding down the broad road to eternal death. Rouse yourselves; ask God for Christ’s sake to give you grace and strength to ‘rescue the perishing.'”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Open my heart so that it aches to share the good news of Your Son with those around me. Do not let me be deaf and blind to the need that surrounds me. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.