judge and rewarder
Acts 17:16-34 (JDV)
Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his breath was disturbed when he observed that the city was full of idols.
Acts 17:17 So he made speeches in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, as well as in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
Acts 17:18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some said, “What does this seed picker want to say?” Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities”– because he was telling the good news about Jesus and Resurrection.
Acts 17:19 They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you are presenting?
Acts 17:20 Because what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these things mean.”
Acts 17:21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
Acts 17:22 Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I observe that you are extremely religious in every respect.
Acts 17:23 You see, as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it – he is Lord of the sky and land – does not reside in handmade shrines.
Acts 17:25 Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.
Acts 17:26 From one man he has made every nationality to reside over the whole land and has determined their appointed periods and the boundaries of where they live.
Acts 17:27 He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
Acts 17:28 For in him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’
Acts 17:29 Since we are God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t figure that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.
Acts 17:30 “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to seriously change their minds,
Acts 17:31 because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by getting him up from the dead.”
Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him, but others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.”
Acts 17:33 So Paul left their presence.
Acts 17:34 However, some people stuck with him and believed, including Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
judge and rewarder
Some have suggested that this passage in Acts 17 is the first major text of the Bible establishing human immortality. A closer look at the text shows that Paul was conceding human mortality, not rejecting it. If all humans are already immortal, then how can Jesus’ resurrection prove anything? If we have immortality by nature, why insist that life and breath are gifts from God?
No, this passage does not prove we have immortal souls. But it does explain how we can gain immortality. By trusting our destinies to the man who is appointed as our judge, we can see life again, even after we die. Our judge is coming, and he has our reward with him (Isaiah 62:11; Revelation 22:12). That reward is immortality: the gift of permanent life.
Lord Jesus, we will wait for you. You are our appointed judge and rewarder.
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