Acts 17:23
Parallel Verses
New International Version
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship--and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
for, passing through and beholding your shrines, I found also an altar on which was inscribed, To the unknown God. Whom therefore ye reverence, not knowing [him], him I announce to you.

World English Bible
For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I announce to you.

Young's Literal Translation
for passing through and contemplating your objects of worship, I found also an erection on which had been inscribed: To God -- unknown; whom, therefore -- not knowing -- ye do worship, this One I announce to you.

Acts 17:23 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Beheld your devotions - Σεβασματα, The objects of your worship; the different images of their gods which they held in religious veneration, sacrificial instruments, altars, etc., etc.

To the Unknown God - ΑΓΝΩΣΤΩ ΘΕΩ. That there was an altar at Athens thus inscribed, we cannot doubt after such a testimony; though St. Jerome questions it in part; for he says St. Paul found the inscription in the plural number, but, because he would not appear to acknowledge a plurality of gods, he quoted it in the singular: Verum, quia Paulus non pluribus Diis indigebat ignotis, sed uno tantum ignoto Deo, singulari verbo usus est. Epist. ad Magn. This is a most foolish saying: had Paul done so, how much would such a begging of the question have prejudiced his defense in the minds of his intelligent judges! Oecumenius intimates that St. Paul does not give the whole of the inscription which this famous altar bore; and which he says was the following: Θεοις Ασιας και Ευρωπης και Λιβυης, Θεῳ αγνωϚῳ και ξενῳ, To the gods of Asia, and Europe, and Africa: To The Unknown and strange God. Several eminent men suppose that this unknown god was the God of the Jews; and, as his name יהוה was considered by the Jews as ineffable, the Θεος αγνωϚος may be considered as the anonymous god; the god whose name was not known, and must not be pronounced. That there was such a god acknowledged at Athens we have full proof. Lucian in his Philopatris, cap. xiii. p. 769, uses this form of an oath: νη τον αγνωϚον τον εν Αθηναις, I swear by the Unknown God at Athens. And again, cap. xxix. 180: ἡμεις δε τον εν Αθηναις αγνωϚον εφευροντες και προσκυνησαντες, χειρας εις ουρανον εκτειναντες, τουτῳ ευχαριϚησομεν ὡς καταξιωθεντες, etc. We have found out the Unknown god at Athens - and worshipped him with our hands stretched up to heaven; and we will gave thanks unto him, as being thought worthy to be subject to this power. Bp. Pearce properly asks, Is it likely that Lucian, speaking thus, (whether in jest or in earnest), should not have had some notion of there being at Athens an altar inscribed to the unknown God? Philostratus, in vit. Apollon. vi. 3, notices the same thing, though he appears to refer to several altars thus inscribed: και ταυτα Αθηνῃσι, οὑ και αγνωϚων Θεων βωμοι ἱδρυνται, And this at Athens, where there are Altars even to the Unknown Gods. Pausanias, in Attic. cap. 1. p. 4, edit. Kuhn., says that at Athens there are βωμοι Θεων των ονομαζομενων αγνωϚων, altars of gods which are called, The Unknown ones. Minutius Felix says of the Romans, Aras extruunt etiam ignotis numinibus. "They even build altars to Unknown Divinities." And Tertullian, contra Marcion, says, Invenio plane Diis ignotis aras prostitutas: sed Attica idolatria est. "I find altars allotted to the worship of unknown gods: but this is an Attic idolatry." Now, though in these last passages, both gods and altars are spoken of in the plural number; yet it is reasonable to suppose that, on each, or upon some one of them, the inscription αγνωϚῳ Θεῳ, To the unknown god, was actually found. The thing had subsisted long and had got from Athens to Rome in the days of Tertullian and Minutius Felix. See Bp. Pearce and Dr. Cudworth, to whose researches this note is much indebted.

Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship - There is here a fine paronomasia, or play on the words. The apostle tells them that (on their system) they were a very religious people - that they had an altar inscribed, αγνωϚῳ Θεῳ, to the unknown God: him therefore, says he, whom, αγνουντες, ye unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. Assuming it as a truth, that, as the true God was not known by them, and that there was an altar dedicated to the unknown god, his God was that god whose nature and operations he now proceeded to declare. By this fine turn he eluded the force of that law which made it a capital offense to introduce any new god into the state, and of the breach of which he was charged, Acts 17:18; and thus he showed that he was bringing neither new god nor new worship among them; but only explaining the worship of one already acknowledged by the state, though not as yet known.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

devotions. or, gods that ye worship.

Romans 1:23-25 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts...

1 Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

2 Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God...


Psalm 147:20 He has not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise you the LORD.

John 17:3,25 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent...

Romans 1:20-22,28 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made...

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God...

2 Corinthians 4:4-6 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ...

Galatians 4:8,9 However, then, when you knew not God, you did service to them which by nature are no gods...

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise...

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true...


Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:

Psalm 50:21 These things have you done, and I kept silence; you thought that I was altogether such an one as yourself: but I will reprove you...

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

John 4:22 You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

John 8:54 Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your God:

April 24 Evening
The eyes of all wait upon thee.--PSA. 145:15. He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.--The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.--Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.--Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters,
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

The Man who is Judge
...He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.'--ACTS xvii. 31. I. The Resurrection of Jesus gives assurance of judgment. (a) Christ's Resurrection is the pledge of ours. The belief in a future life, as entertained by Paul's hearers on Mars Hill, was shadowy and dashed with much unbelief. Disembodied spirits wandered ghostlike and spectral in a shadowy underworld. The belief
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State.
--Inter silvas academi quærere verum. Hor. lib. II. epist. 2. v. 45. To search out truth in academic groves. THE course of my last speculation [3] led me insensibly into a subject upon which I always meditate with great delight, I mean the immortali
Joseph Addison—The Evidences of the Christian Religion, with Additional Discourses

Repentance and Restitution.
"God commandeth all men everywhere to repent."--Acts xvii. 30. Repentance is one of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Yet I believe it is one of those truths that many people little understand at the present day. There are more people to-day in the mist and darkness about Repentance, Regeneration, the Atonement, and such-like fundamental truths, than perhaps on any other doctrines. Yet from our earliest years we have heard about them. If I were to ask for a definition of Repentance, a great
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It

Cross References
Isaiah 45:4
For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.

John 4:22
You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Acts 17:30
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

2 Thessalonians 2:4
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

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