Acts 17:16
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.

King James Bible
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

Darby Bible Translation
But in Athens, while Paul was waiting for them, his spirit was painfully excited in him seeing the city given up to idolatry.

World English Bible
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw the city full of idols.

Young's Literal Translation
and Paul waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, beholding the city wholly given to idolatry,

Acts 17:16 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Now while Paul waited - How long he was there is not intimated; but doubtless some time would elapse before they could arrive. In the meantime Paul had ample opportunity to observe the state of the city.

His spirit was stirred in him - His mind was greatly excited. The word used here (παρωξύνετο parōxuneto) denotes "any excitement, agitation, or paroxysm of mind," 1 Corinthians 13:5. It here means that the mind of Paul was greatly concerned, or agitated, doubtless with pity and distress at their folly and danger.

The city wholly given to idolatry - Greek: κατέιδωλον kateidōlon. It is well translated in the margin, "or full of idols." The word is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. That this was the condition of the city is abundantly testified by profane writers. Thus, Pausanias (in Attic. 1 Corinthians 1:24) says, "the Athenians greatly surpassed others in their zeal for religion." Lucian (t. i. Prometh. p. 180) says of the city of Athens, "On every side there are altars, victims, temples, and festivals." Livy (45, 27) says that Athens "was full of the images of gods and men, adorned with every variety of material, and with all the skill of art." And Petronius (Sat. xvii.) says humorously of the city, that "it was easier to find a god than a man there." See Kuinoel. In this verse we may see how a splendid idolatrous city will strike a pious mind. Athens then had more that was splendid in architecture, more that was brilliant in science, and more that was beautiful in the arts, than any other city of the world; perhaps more than all the rest of the world united.

Yet there is no account that the mind of Paul was filled with admiration; there is no record that he spent his time in examining the works of art; there is no evidence that he forgot his high purpose in an idle and useless contemplation of temples and statuary. His was a Christian mind; and he contemplated all this with a Christian heart. That heart was deeply affected in view of the amazing guilt of a people who were ignorant of the true God, who had filled their city with idols reared to the honor of imaginary divinities, and who, in the midst of all this splendor and luxury, were going down to destruction. So should every pious man feel who treads the streets of a splendid and guilty city. The Christian will not despise the productions of art, but he will feel, deeply feel, for the unhappy condition of those who, amidst wealth, and splendor, and outward adoring, are withholding their affections from the living God, and who are going unredeemed to eternal woe. Happy would it be if every Christian traveler who visits cities of wealth and splendor would, like Paul, be affected in view of their crimes and dangers; stud happy if, like him, people could cease their unbounded admiration of magnificence and splendor in temples, and palaces, and statuary, to regard the condition of mind, not perishable like marble of the soul, more magnificent even in its ruins than all the works of Phidias or Praxiteles.

Acts 17:16 Parallel Commentaries

April 7. "In Him we Live and Move" (Acts xvii. 28).
"In Him we live and move" (Acts xvii. 28). The hand of Gehazi, and even the staff of Elisha could not heal the lifeless boy. It needed the living touch of the prophet's own divinely quickened flesh to infuse vitality into the cold clay. Lip to lip, hand to hand, heart to heart, he must touch the child ere life could thrill his pulseless veins. We must come into personal contact with the risen Saviour, and have His very life quicken our mortal flesh before we can know the fulness and reality of His
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Paul at Athens
'Then Paul stood In the midst of Mars-hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24. God, that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25. Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

St. Justin Martyr (Ad 166)
Although Trajan was no friend to the Gospel, and put St. Ignatius to death, he made a law which must have been a great relief to the Christians. Until then they were liable to be sought out, and any one might inform against them; but Trajan ordered that they should not be sought out, although, if they were discovered, and refused to give up their faith, they were to be punished. The next emperor, too, whose name was Hadrian (AD 117-138) did something to make their condition better; but it was still
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation

Whether Idolatry is Rightly Reckoned a Species of Superstition?
Objection 1: It would seem that idolatry is not rightly reckoned a species of superstition. Just as heretics are unbelievers, so are idolaters. But heresy is a species of unbelief, as stated above ([3101]Q[11], A[1]). Therefore idolatry is also a species of unbelief and not of superstition. Objection 2: Further, latria pertains to the virtue of religion to which superstition is opposed. But latria, apparently, is univocally applied to idolatry and to that which belongs to the true religion. For just
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Cross References
Acts 17:15
Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.

Acts 17:21
(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

Acts 18:1
After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.

Acts 20:22
"And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there,

1 Thessalonians 3:1
Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone,

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