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Acts 17:28

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For in him we live, and move, and have our being - He is the very source of our existence: the principle of life comes from him: the principle of motion, also, comes from him; one of the most difficult things in nature to be properly apprehended; and a strong proof of the continual presence and energy of the Deity.

And have our being - Και εσμεν, And we are: we live in him, move in him, and are in him. Without him we not only can do nothing, but without him we are nothing. We are, i.e. we continue to be, because of his continued, present, all-pervading, and supporting energy. There is a remarkable saying in Synopsis Sohar, p. 104. "The holy blessed God never does evil to any man. He only withdraws his gracious presence from him, and then he necessarily perisheth." This is philosophical and correct.

As certain also of your own poets - Probably he means not only Aratus, in whose poem, entitled Phaenomena, the words quoted by St. Paul are to be found literatim, του γαρ και γενος εσμεν ; but also Cleanthus, in whose Hymn to Jupiter the same words (Εκ σου γαρ γενος εσμεν ) occur. But the sentiment is found in several others, being very common among the more enlightened philosophers. By saying your own poets, he does not mean poets born at Athens, but merely Grecian poets, Aratus and Cleanthus being chief.

We are also his offspring - Του γαρ και γενος εσμεν The Phaenomena of Aratus, in which these words are found, begins thus: -

Εκ Διος αρχωμεσθα, τον ουδεποτ 'ανδρες εωμενπ

Αρῤητον· μεϚαι δε Διος πασαι μεν αγυιαι,π

Πασαι δ 'ανθρωπων αγοραι· μεϚη δε θαλασσα,π

Και λιμενες· παντη δε Διος κεχρημεθα παντες·

ΤΟΥ ΓΑΡ ΚΑΙ ΓΕΝΟΣ ΕΣΜΕΝ ὁ δ 'ηπιος ανθρωποισιπ

Δεξια σημαινει. κ. τ. λ.

With Jove we must begin; nor from him rove;

Him always praise, for all is full of Jove!

He fills all places where mankind resort,

The wide-spread sea, with every shelt'ring port.

Jove's presence fills all space, upholds this ball;

All need his aid; his power sustains us all.

For we his offspring are; and he in love

Points out to man his labor from above:

Where signs unerring show when best the soil,

By well-timed culture, shall repay our toil, etc., etc.

Aratus was a Cilician, one of St. Paul's own countrymen, and with his writings St. Paul was undoubtedly well acquainted, though he had flourished about 300 years before that time.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For in him we live - The expression “in him” evidently means by him; by his originally forming us, and continually sustaining us. No words can better express our constant dependence on God. He is the original fountain of life, and he upholds us each moment. A similar sentiment is found in Plautus (5,4,14): “O Jupiter, who dost cherish and nourish the race of man; by whom we live, and with whom is the hope of the life of all men” (Kuinoel). It does not appear, however, that Paul designed this as a quotation; yet he doubtless intended to state a sentiment with which they were familiar, and with which they would agree.

And move - κινούμεθα kinoumethaDoddridge translates this, “And are moved.” It may, however, be in the middle voice, and be correctly rendered as in our version. It means that we derive strength to move from him; an expression denoting “constant and absolute dependence.” There is no idea of dependence more striking than that we owe to him the ability to perform the slightest motion.

And have our being - καὶ ἐσμέν kai esmenAnd are. This denotes that our “continued existence” is owing to Him. That we live at all is his gift; that we have power to move is his gift; and our continued and prolonged existence is his gift also. Thus, Paul traces our dependence on him from the lowest pulsation of life to the highest powers of action and of continued existence. It would be impossible to express in more emphatic language our entire dependence On God.

As certain also - As some. The sentiment which he quotes was found substantially in several Greek poets.

Of your own poets - He does not refer particularly here to poets of Athens, but to Greek poets who had written in their language.

For we are also his offspring - This precise expression is found in Aratus (“Phaenom.,” v. 5), and in Cleanthus in a hymn to Jupiter. Substantially the same sentiment is found in several other Greek poets. Aratus was a Greek poet of Cilicia the native place of Paul, and flourished about 277 years before Christ. As Paul was a native of the same country it is highly probable he was acquainted with his writings. Aratus passed much of his time at the court of Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedonia. His principal work was the “Phoenomena,” which is here quoted, and was so highly esteemed in Greece that many learned men wrote commentaries on it. The sentiment here quoted was directly at variance with the views of the Epicureans; and it is proof of Paul‘s address and skill, as well as his acquaintance with his auditors and with the Greek poets, that he was able to adduce a sentiment so directly in point, and that had the concurrent testimony of so many of the Greeks themselves. It is one instance among thousands where an acquaintance with profane learning may be of use to a minister of the gospel.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Medical Ministry, 9

Here Christ leads the mind abroad to contemplate the open fields of nature, and His power touches the eye and the senses, to discern the wonderful works of divine power. He directs attention first to nature, then up through nature to nature's God, who upholds the worlds by His power.—Manuscript 73, 1893. MM 9.1

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 417

The mechanism of the human body cannot be fully understood; it presents mysteries that baffle the most intelligent. It is not as the result of a mechanism, which, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. The beating heart, the throbbing pulse, every nerve and muscle in the living organism, is kept in order and activity by the power of an ever-present God. MH 417.1

The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy beings, all waiting to do His will. Through these messengers He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. By His Spirit He is everywhere present. Through the agency of His Spirit and His angels He ministers to the children of men. MH 417.2

Above the distractions of the earth He sits enthroned; all things are open to His divine survey; and from His great and calm eternity He orders that which His providence sees best. MH 417.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 115

The Levites, in their hymn recorded by Nehemiah, sang, “Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things therein, ... and Thou preservest them all.” Nehemiah 9:6. As regards this world, God's work of creation is completed. For “the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Hebrews 4:3. But His energy is still exerted in upholding the objects of His creation. It is not because the mechanism that has once been set in motion continues to act by its own inherent energy that the pulse beats and breath follows breath; but every breath, every pulsation of the heart, is an evidence of the all-pervading care of Him in whom “we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28. It is not because of inherent power that year by year the earth produces her bounties and continues her motion around the sun. The hand of God guides the planets and keeps them in position in their orderly march through the heavens. He “bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth.” Isaiah 40:26. It is through His power that vegetation flourishes, that the leaves appear and the flowers bloom. He “maketh grass to grow upon the mountains” (Psalm 147:8), and by Him the valleys are made fruitful. “All the beasts of the forest ... seek their meat from God,” and every living creature, from the smallest insect up to man, is daily dependent upon His providential care. In the beautiful words of the psalmist, “These wait all upon Thee.... That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good.” Psalm 104:20, 21, 27, 28. His word controls the elements; He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth. “He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.” Psalm 147:16. “When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasuries.” Jeremiah 10:13. PP 115.1

God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. We are thus led to adore the Creator and to have an intelligent trust in His word. PP 115.2

No finite mind can fully comprehend the existence, the power, the wisdom, or the works of the Infinite One. Says the sacred writer: “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.” Job 11:7-9. The mightiest intellects of earth cannot comprehend God. Men may be ever searching, ever learning, and still there is an infinity beyond. PP 116.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1062

1-3. See EGW on 2 Timothy 3:14, 15. 6BC 1062.1

14 (2 Corinthians 8:12). Light for Those Who Are Willing—God's Spirit can only enlighten the understanding of those who are willing to be enlightened. We read that God opened the ears of Lydia, so that she attended to the message spoken by Paul. To declare the whole counsel of God and all that was essential for Lydia to receive—this was the part Paul was to act in her conversion; and then the God of all grace exercised His power, leading the soul in the right way. God and the human agent cooperated, and the work was wholly successful (Letter 150, 1900). 6BC 1062.2

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