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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 27

Verse 27. That they should seek the Lord. Gr., To seek the Lord. The design of thus placing them on the earth—of giving them their habitation among his works—was that they should contemplate his wisdom in his works, and thus come to a knowledge of his existence and character. All nations, though living in different regions and climates, have thus the opportunity of becoming acquainted with God, Ro 1:19,20. The fact, that the nations did not thus learn the character of the true God, shows their great stupidity and wickedness. The design of Paul in this was, doubtless, to reprove the idolatry of the Athenians. The argument is this: "God has given to each nation its proper opportunity to learn his character. Idolatry, therefore, is folly and wickedness; since it is possible to find out the existence of the one God from his works."

If haply. ei arage. If perhaps—implying that it was possible to find God, though it might be attended with some difficulty. God has placed us here that we may make the trial; and has made it possible thus to find him.

They might feel after him. The word used here—qhlafhseian means, properly, to touch, to handle, Lu 24:39; Heb 12:18; and then to ascertain the qualities of an object by the sense of touch. And as the sense of touch is regarded as a certain way of ascertaining the existence and qualities of an object, the word means to search diligently, that we may know distinctly and certainly. The word has this sense here. It means to search diligently and accurately for God, to learn his existence and perfections. The Syriac renders it, "that they may seek for God, and find him from his creatures."

And find him. Find the proofs of his existence. Become acquainted with his perfections and laws.

Though he be not far, etc. This seems to be stated by the apostle to show that it was possible to find him; and that even those who were without a revelation need not despair of becoming acquainted with his existence and perfections. He is near to us,

(1.) because the proofs of his existence and power are round about us everywhere, Ps 19:1-6.

(2.) Because he fills all things in heaven and earth by his essential presence, Ps 139:7-10; Jer 23:23,24; Am 9:2-4; 1 Ki 8:27.

We should learn then,

(1.) to be afraid to sin. God is present with us, and sees all.

(2.) He can protect the righteous. He is ever with them.

(3.) He can detect and punish the wicked. He sees all their plans and thoughts, and records all their doings.

(4.) We should seek him continually. It is the design for which he has made us; and he has given us abundant opportunities to learn his existence and perfections.

{*} "haply" "possible" {**} "feel after him" "search" {a} "he be not far" Ac 14:16

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