Acts 17-18: "We Are the Offspring of God"

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 105–106

Have you ever tried to share your testimony of Heavenly Father with someone who did not believe in Him at all? Was it difficult to express what you know in terms that person could understand? Paul had a similar experience in ancient Greece when he tried to teach the people that we are the offspring of God. The people there believed in many gods, but they had no idea of a Father in Heaven. Notice how Paul used what they understood to teach them about what they did not understand.

Understanding the Scriptures

Acts 17

Opening and alleging (v. 3)Explaining and showing, teaching 
Consorted (v. 4)Joined 
Lewd … baser sort (v. 5)Wicked, filthy-minded 
Taken security (v. 9)Paid money to guarantee peace 
Disputed (v. 17)Discussed, reasoned 
A setter forth (v. 18)One who teaches 
Clave unto him (v. 34)They joined with him 

Acts 17:18—“Philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks”

The Epicureans and Stoics were two groups of philosophers in ancient Greece. The Epicureans believed that the world came into existence by chance and that if gods did exist they were not concerned nor involved with man. To them life’s highest goal was to pursue pleasure and avoid sorrow and pain. (See Bible Dictionary, “Epicureans,” p. 666.)

The Stoics believed in a divine power that had created and ordered the universe and then had established fixed laws to govern life. They taught that man’s individual needs were of no importance and it was his duty to accept his lot in life. Stoics also believed that only things that could be perceived by the physical senses were real. (See Bible Dictionary, “Stoics,” p. 777.)

Acts 17:22–31—Paul Testifies of the God of Heaven

Paul testified of several ways that God differs from idols:

  • God created all things in heaven and earth.

  • He cannot be confined to a manmade statue or building.

  • He is the Creator of all men, and all men are brothers.

  • He decides when and where men will live.

  • He is not an image of stone or metal; He is our Father and we are literally His children.

  • He has commanded us to seek Him, repent, and keep His commandments.

  • There will be a day when He will judge all mankind.

Acts 18

Wrought (v. 3)Worked 
Opposed themselves (v. 6)Set themselves in opposition to Paul 
Made insurrection (v. 12)Attacked 
Fervent (v. 25)Zealous 
Was disposed (v. 27)Desired 

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following activity as you study Acts 17–18.

Activity A iconPaul Teaches of the Unknown God

When Paul went to Athens he found the Greeks—particularly the Epicureans and Stoics—open to new ideas. Paul preached a sermon about their unknown god and taught them about the one true God of heaven (see Acts 17:16–31).

  1. 1.

    After reading the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for Acts 17, describe how the truths Paul taught in his sermon corrected some of the false ideas described.

  2. 2.

    What are some of the false ideas that some people have today that could be corrected by a proper understanding of what God is really like?