Acts 17:24 MEANING

Acts 17:24
(24) God that made the world . . .--The masculine form of the pronoun and participles throughout the sentence presents an emphatic contrast to the neuter pronoun of the previous verse.

Seeing that he is Lord.--Better, He, being Lord.

Dwelleth not in temples made with hands.--We note with special interest the reproduction of the thought which the then persecutor had heard from the lips of the martyr Stephen. (See Note on Acts 7:48.) As asserted of the Temple at Jerusalem, it had at that time, even though it was quoted from a Jewish prophet, driven the Pharisee Saul into the frenzy of fanaticism. Now, having learnt the lesson as regards that Temple, he proclaims the truth as applicable a fortiori to all temples raised by human hands. It is obvious that this truth places the sacredness of Christian churches on a ground entirely different from that which influenced the minds of Jew or Greek in regard to their respective temples. Churches are holy, not because God dwells in them, but because they are set apart for the highest acts of the collective life of the congregation of His people. In those acts men hold communion with God, and so the Church is for them all, and more than all, that the Tabernacle of Meeting (this, as meaning the place where man met God, rather than Tabernacle of the Congregation, being the true rendering of the Hebrew term; comp. Exodus 29:42) was to the Israelites of old. Romish theory and practice, in presenting the consecrated wafer in pyx or monstrance, or carrying it in procession, as an object of adoration, revives the old Pagan view which St. Paul disclaims.

Verse 24. - The God for God, A.V. (surely a change for the worse); he being Lord for seeing that he is Lord, A.V. Made with hands (χειροποιήτοις); see the same phrase in Mark 14:5, 8; Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:11. St. Paul applies it, too, to the circumcision made with the knife, as distinguished from that wrought by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:11). It is frequent in the LXX. It is a striking instance of St. Paul's unflinching boldness and fidelity to the truth, that he should expose the hollowness of heathen worship, standing within a stone's throw of the Parthenon and the temple of Theseus and the countless other temples of gods and goddesses, which were the pride and glory of the Athenian people. Note how he begins his catechetical instruction to the Athenians with the first article of the Creed: "I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."

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.God that made the world, and all things therein,.... In this account of the divine Being, as the Creator of the world, and all things in it, as the apostle agrees with Moses, and the rest of the sacred Scriptures; so he condemns both the notion of the Epicurean philosophers, who denied that the world was made by God, but said that it owed its being to a fortuitous concourse of atoms; and the notion of the Peripatetics, or Aristotelians, who asserted the eternity of the world; and some of both sects were doubtless present.

Seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth; as appears by his being the Creator of both; hence he supports them in their being, and governs all creatures in them by his providence.

Dwelleth not in temples made with hands; such as were the idol temples at Athens; nor in any other edifices built by man, so as to be there fixed and limited; no, not in the temple at Jerusalem: but he dwells in temples that are not made with hands, as in the temple of Christ's human nature, in which the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and in the hearts of his people, who are the temples of the Holy Ghost. This strikes at a notion of the Athenians, as if God was limited, and circumscribed, and included within the bounds of a shrine, or temple, though it is not at all contrary to his promises, or the hopes of his own people, of his presence in places appointed for divine worship, but is expressive of the infinity and immensity of God.

Courtesy of Open Bible