There are 5 critical questions that you can ask yourself no matter what parts of the Bible that can help get you started in better understanding it:
Who- author or characters
Who- the audience would be
What/Why– occasion or reason
When- historical stage or dating
Now that we know these questions lets dig into Acts 17 and see if we cannot answer these questions for ourselves.
The author is Luke the physician who was a companion of Paul.
Luke was very well educated Gentile.
We have Paul and Silias as the main characters of this chapter. I believe that it is important to note that Paul is on his second missionary journey and Silias is the one who is traveling with him.
The entire book of Acts is addressed to all believers.
I believe that Acts 17 in particular is addressed to Gentiles.
Luke is writing about Paul’s 3 different missionary journeys and what happened while on each journey.
Luke is writing to show that Paul was not only concern with sharing the Gospel with those that were God’s chosen people, but he wanted to tell the whole world!
Luke was a researcher, investigator, concern with history, very into detail and I think that he just wanted everyone to know the history.
Luke was a Gentile himself and I think he wanted the others to see that God did care for everyone!
Range between 60 to 150 AD
If you read all of Acts you know that Paul is awaiting trail and that happens between these dates.
No hint of the Jewish war (66-70 AD)
No hint of the fire of Rome (64 AD)
Acts only mentions two martyrs- Stephen and James.
The whole book of Acts is written as a narrative.
This means that there is a narrator, characters, plot, time, setting, and style.
A narrative is nothing more than a story.
Okay so now we have answered all five questions.. now what…. Now we understand all the background “stuff” and we are ready to look at the scripture with more knowledge!
I want to focus in on one scripture in particular if that is alright.
“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him.”
Luke is quoting Paul here, who is speaking of being in love with God and chasing after Him and not idols of any sort. We learned a little bit earlier that this was written somewhere between 60-150 AD. God is using Paul to tell the people of Athens that He is commanding their all, to give everything up for Him. That long ago, God was telling these people something that He has to remind us of every single day! That He commands of us to repent and to turn ourselves to Him!! Isn’t it amazing how a small verse like this one could easily be skipped over, but when we start thinking about it.. WOW! What is it that you are trying to hold onto today? What is it that you are being ignorant about right now? Can you hear God commanding you to turn everything over to Him? Do you think that you are strong enough to lay yourself before God every single day and totally rely on Him? My prayer for each of you today is that you can find a moment to stop and listen. God speaks, just listen!
=) Linsey Lambert