Acts 17:25
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things;
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(25) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing.—Literally, as needing anything in addition. The previous words had struck at a false theory of temples, this strikes at a false theory of worship. Men have to think of God as the supreme Giver, not as requiring anything at their hands but justice, mercy, and truth. Both Jewish and heathen writers had borne their witness of the same truth: David had said, “Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it” (Psalm 51:16), and the Latin Epicurean poet had written of the Divine nature, that it was—

“Ipsa suis pollens opibus, nihil indiga nostri,

Nec bene promeritis capitur, nec tangitur ira.”

[“Strong in itself, it needeth nought of ours,

Is neither won by gifts, nor moved by wrath.”]

Lucret. ii. 649-50.

The passage is found also in some editions in i. 61, 62.

Life and breath.—If we can draw a distinction between the two words, the first may be held to mean the higher element of man’s life, the latter that which he shares, by virtue of his organization, with other animals. Stoics and Epicureans would, probably, both of them, so far, accept a teaching which echoed much that was taught in their own schools.

17:22-31 Here we have a sermon to heathens, who worshipped false gods, and were without the true God in the world; and to them the scope of the discourse was different from what the apostle preached to the Jews. In the latter case, his business was to lead his hearers by prophecies and miracles to the knowledge of the Redeemer, and faith in him; in the former, it was to lead them, by the common works of providence, to know the Creator, and worship Him. The apostle spoke of an altar he had seen, with the inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. This fact is stated by many writers. After multiplying their idols to the utmost, some at Athens thought there was another god of whom they had no knowledge. And are there not many now called Christians, who are zealous in their devotions, yet the great object of their worship is to them an unknown God? Observe what glorious things Paul here says of that God whom he served, and would have them to serve. The Lord had long borne with idolatry, but the times of this ignorance were now ending, and by his servants he now commanded all men every where to repent of their idolatry. Each sect of the learned men would feel themselves powerfully affected by the apostle's discourse, which tended to show the emptiness or falsity of their doctrines.Neither is worshipped with men's hands - The word here rendered "worshipped" (θεραπέυεται therapeuetai) denotes to "serve"; to wait upon; and then to render religious service or homage. There is reference here, undoubtedly, to a notion prevalent among the pagan, that the gods were fed or nourished by the offerings made to them. The idea is prevalent among the Hindus that the sacrifices which are made, and which are offered in the temples, are consumed by the gods themselves. Perhaps, also, Paul had reference to the fact that so many persons were employed in their temples in serving them with their hands; that is, in preparing sacrifices and feasts in their honor. Paul affirms that the great Creator of all things cannot be thus dependent on his creatures for happiness, and consequently, that that mode of worship must be highly absurd. The same idea occurs in Psalm 50:10-12;

For every beast of the forest is mine;

And the cattle upon a thousand hills.

I know all the fowls of the mountain;

And the wild beasts of the field are mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell thee;

For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

Seeing he giveth - Greek: he having given to all, etc.

Life - He is the source of life, and therefore he cannot be dependent on that life which he has himself imparted.

And breath - The power of breathing, by which life is sustained. He not only originally gave life, but he gives it at each moment; he gives the power of drawing each breath by which life is supported. It is possible that the phrase "life and breath may be the figure hendyades, by which one thing is expressed by two words. It is highly probable that Paul here had reference to Genesis 2:7; "And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." The same idea occurs in Job 12:10;

In whose hand is the life (margin) of every living thing;

And the breath of all mankind.

And all things - All things necessary to sustain life. We may see here how dependent man is on God. There can be no more absolute dependence than that for every breath. How easy it would be for God to suspend our breathing! How incessant the care, how unceasing the providence, by which, whether we sleep or wake - whether we remember or forget him, he heaves our chest, fills our lungs, restores the vitality of our blood, and infuses vigor into our frame! Compare the notes on Romans 11:36.

25. Neither is worshipped with—ministered unto, served by

men's hands, as though he needed anything—No less familiar as this thought also is to us, even from the earliest times of the Old Testament (Job 35:6, 8; Ps 16:2, 3; 50:12-14; Isa 40:14-18), it would pour a flood of light upon any candid heathen mind that heard it.

seeing he—He Himself.

giveth to all life, and breath, and all things—The Giver of all cannot surely be dependent for aught upon the receivers of all (1Ch 29:14). This is the culminating point of a pure Theism.

As though he needed any thing; God is not worshipped or served by holy men, because he wants their service, or any thing that can be offered unto him by them; but because it is their duty and advantage to be employed in his service and worship, Psalm 50:10,11.

Life, and breath; the breath of life, Genesis 2:7. And in this respect God is called the God of the spirits of all flesh, Numbers 16:22; as the cause of life and breath in all creatures, but especially in man; which made that charge so great against Belshazzar, Daniel 5:23, that his breath was in God’s hand, and yet he had not glorified him. Neither is worshipped with men's hands,.... Or "served" with them; or "ministered unto" by them, as the Syriac version renders it: and the sense is, that men by worshipping God do not give anything to him, that can be of any use or service to him; he, being God all sufficient, stands in need of nothing; for external worship is not here intended by worshipping with men's hands, in distinction from, and opposition to, internal worship, or to the worship of God with the heart; but that whether it be with the one or with the other, or both, nothing is given to God, as adding any thing to his essential glory and happiness:

as though he needed anything; for he does not, he is "El Shaddai", God all sufficient; nor can anything be given to him, he has not; or otherwise all perfection would not be in him: but that he cannot be indigent of anything, appears from hence,

seeing he giveth to all life and breath; or "the breath of life", as the Ethiopic version renders it; this God breathed into man at first, and he became a living soul; and every animate creature, everyone that has life and breath, have them from God; he gives them to them, and continues them:

and all things; that are enjoyed by them, and are necessary for their subsistence, and for the comfort of life, and for both their use and profit, and for their delight and pleasure; wherefore he that gives them all things, cannot want anything himself, nor receive anything at their hands. This clause is left out in the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions.

Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
Acts 17:25. οὐδὲθεραπεύεται: used in LXX and in classical Greek of the service of the Gods, significantly twice in Epist. Jer[313], 17:27, 39, of the worshippers and priests of the idols overlaid with silver and gold, which are contrasted with the true God in that they can save no man from death, or show mercy to the widow and the fatherless, before which the worshippers set offerings and meat as before dead men. “Non quærit ministros Deus. Quidni? ipse humano generi ministrat,” Seneca, Epist., 95, and instances in Wetstein; but St. Chrysostom’s comment must also be noted, λέγων δέ, μὴ ὑπὸ χ. ἀνθ. θεραπεύεσθαι τὸν θεόν, αἰνίττεται ὅτι διανοίᾳ καὶ νῷ θεραπεύεται.—προσδεόμενός τινος: only here in N.T., to need in addition, as if necessary to perfection, “qui habet quidem aliquid, sed non satis, qui insuper eget,” Wetstein, so “cum … nullius boni desideret accessionem,” Erasmus; a close parallel is found in 2Ma 14:35 (3Ma 2:9); in both passages the word ἀπροσδεής is used of God, and in the former reference is made to the fact that God was pleased that the temple of His habitation should be amongst the Jews, cf. also Ecclus. 52:21. Blass and Wetstein both quote a striking Pythagorean saying from Hierocles, see in loco, and to this αὐτάρκεια of the divine nature both the Jewish philosopher Philo and the Roman Epicurean Lucretius from their varying standpoints bore witness, see the instances in Wetstein (cf. Psalm 51:9).—Luther takes τινος as masculine, which as Wendt admits corresponds well to the preceding and also to the following πᾶσι, but it seems best to take it as neuter, of the service which men render, cf. Clem., Cor[314], lii., 1, ἀπροσδεής, ἀδελφοί, ὁ δεσπότης ὑπάρχει τῶν ἁπάντων, οὐδὲν οὐδενὸς χρῄζει εἰ μὴ τὸ ἐξομολογεῖσθαι αὐτῷ, and Epist. ad Diognetum, iii., 5.—αὐτὸς διδοὺς: “seeing he himself giveth,” R.V., so Vulgate ipse, but although αὐτός is so emphatic it was unfortunately ignored in Wycl., Genevan and A.V. The best commentary on the words is in David’s words, 1 Chronicles 29:14, cf. the striking passage in Epist. ad Diognetum, iii., 4.—πᾶσι: taken as neuter or masculine, but perhaps with Bengel “omnibus viventibus et spirantibus, summe προσδεομένοις indigentibus. De homine speciatim, v. seq.”—ζωὴν καὶ πνοὴν, cf. Genesis 2:7, not a mere hendiadys, vitam animalem, or spiritum vitalem, but the first word = life in itself, existence; and the second the continuance of life, “per spiritum (halitum) continuatur vita,” Bengel: on the paronomasia, see Winer-Moulton, lxviii., 1. For πνοή LXX, Psalm 150:6, Job 27:3, Isaiah 42:5, Ecclus. 30:29 (Sir 33:20), 2Ma 3:31; 2Ma 7:9, etc.—τὰ πάντα: omnia quæcumque, Romans 8:32, the expression need not be limited with Bethge to all things necessary for the preservation of life and breath.

[313] Jerome, Hieronymus.

[314] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.25. neither is worshipped with (served by) men’s hands] The verb implies the sort of service yielded by a steward to his master, or a minister to his King, a service in which the superior is not independent of his inferior, and could not well do without him. This is seen in the next clause. God is not like earthly masters and kings. He gives all, and men can only offer to Him themselves in return. Cp. Psalms 50, 51 for like teaching.Acts 17:25. Οὐδὲ, neither) The negation belongs to προσδεόμενος. He is said προσδεῖσθαι, who has something, but accompanied with some degree of need (of it): 2Ma 14:35, σὺ, κύριε, τῶν ὅλων ἀπροσδεὴς ὑπάρχων, εὐδόκησας ναὸν, κ.τ.λ.—θεραπεύεται) Middle.—τινός) There is a double antithesis to this, πᾶσι and πάντα. The masculine is included in the signification of the neuter τινός.—διδοὺς) He hath given and gives.—πᾶσι) to all who live and breathe, who are in the highest degree προσδεόμενοι, in need. As to man specially, see the foll. ver.—ζωὴν, life) To this refer we live, Acts 17:28.—πνοὴν, breath) spirit. To this refer we move, Acts 17:28. It is by the spirit, or breath, that the life is continued. This moment I breathe, the very next moment that follows is not in my power.—τὰ πάντα, all that they have) To this refer we have our being, Acts 17:28.Verse 25. - Is he served by for is worshipped with, A.V.; he himself for he, A.V. Served by men's hands. Θεραπεύεται, is "waited upon," as a man is waited upon by his servant, who ministers to his wants; θεράπων and θεραπευτής are "an attendant." So in Hebrew: עָבַד, to serve God; עָבֵד, a servant of God; עְבודָה service as of the Levites in the temple, etc. Anything; or as some take it, as if he needed anybody's help or service. The argument, as Chrysostom suggests, is similar to that in Psalm 50:8-12. Is worshipped (θεραπεύεται)

Incorrect. Render, as Rev., served. Luke often uses the word in the sense of to heal or cure; but this is its primary sense. See on Luke 5:15. It refers to the clothing of the images of the gods in splendid garments, and bringing them costly gifts and offerings of food and drink.

As though he needed (προσδεόμενος)

Properly, "needed anything in addition (πρός) to what he already has."

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