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Acts 17:31

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He hath appointed a day - He has fixed the time in which he will judge the world, though he has not revealed this time to man.

By that man whom he hath ordained - He has also appointed the judge, by whom the inhabitants of the earth are to be tried.

Whereof he hath given assurance - ΠιϚιν παρασχων πασιν, Having given to all this indubitable proof, that Jesus Christ shall judge the world, by raising him from the dead. The sense of the argument is this: "Jesus Christ, whom we preach as the Savior of men, has repeatedly told his followers that he would judge the world; and has described to us, at large, the whole of the proceedings of that awful time, Matthew 25:31, etc.; John 5:25. Though he was put to death by the Jews, and thus he became a victim for sin, yet God raised him from the dead. By raising him from the dead, God has set his seal to the doctrines he has taught: one of these doctrines is, that he shall judge the world; his resurrection, established by the most incontrovertible evidence, is therefore a proof, an incontestable proof, that he shall judge the world, according to his own declaration."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Because he hath appointed a day - This is given as a reason why God commands people to repent. They must be judged; and if they are not penitent and pardoned, they must be condemned. See the notes on Romans 2:16.

Judge the world - The whole world - Jews and Gentiles.

In righteousness - According to the principles of strict justice.

Whom he hath ordained - Or whom he has constituted or appointed as judge. See the Acts 10:42 notes; John 5:25 notes.

Hath given assurance - Has afforded evidence of this. That evidence consists:

(1) In the fact that Jesus declared that he would judge the nations John 5:25-26; Matthew 25; and,

(2) God confirmed the truth of his declarations by raising him from the dead, or gave his sanction to what the Lord Jesus had said, for God would nor work a miracle in favor of an impostor.

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
The Desire of Ages, 633

Christ continues, pointing out the condition of the world at His coming: “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Christ does not here bring to view a temporal millennium, a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah's day, so will it be when the Son of man comes again. DA 633.1

How was it in Noah's day? “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5. The inhabitants of the antediluvian world turned from Jehovah, refusing to do His holy will. They followed their own unholy imagination and perverted ideas. It was because of their wickedness that they were destroyed; and today the world is following the same way. It presents no flattering signs of millennial glory. The transgressors of God's law are filling the earth with wickedness. Their betting, their horse racing, their gambling, their dissipation, their lustful practices, their untamable passions, are fast filling the world with violence. DA 633.2

In the prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction Christ said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This prophecy will again be fulfilled. The abounding iniquity of that day finds its counterpart in this generation. So with the prediction in regard to the preaching of the gospel. Before the fall of Jerusalem, Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, declared that the gospel was preached to “every creature which is under heaven.” Colossians 1:23. So now, before the coming of the Son of man, the everlasting gospel is to be preached “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” Revelation 14:6, 14. God “hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world.” Acts 17:31. Christ tells us when that day shall be ushered in. He does not say that all the world will be converted, but that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord's return. We are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God. 2 Peter 3:12, margin. Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory. DA 633.3

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 115.2

Through faith the children of God obtain a knowledge of Christ and cherish the hope of His appearing to judge the world in righteousness, until it becomes a glorious expectation; for they shall then see Him as He is, and be made like Him, and ever be with the Lord. The sleeping saints shall then be called forth from their graves to a glorious immortality. When the day of deliverance shall come, then shall ye return and discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. When Christ shall come, it will be to be admired of all those that believe, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. FW 115.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 548

But when about to leave His disciples, Jesus did not tell them that they would soon come to Him. “I go to prepare a place for you,” He said. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:2, 3. And Paul tells us, further, that “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” And he adds: “Comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. How wide the contrast between these words of comfort and those of the Universalist minister previously quoted! The latter consoled the bereaved friends with the assurance that, however sinful the dead might have been, when he breathed out his life here he was to be received among the angels. Paul points his brethren to the future coming of the Lord, when the fetters of the tomb shall be broken, and the “dead in Christ” shall be raised to eternal life. GC 548.1

Before any can enter the mansions of the blessed, their cases must be investigated, and their characters and their deeds must pass in review before God. All are to be judged according to the things written in the books and to be rewarded as their works have been. This judgment does not take place at death. Mark the words of Paul: “He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31. Here the apostle plainly stated that a specified time, then future, had been fixed upon for the judgment of the world. GC 548.2

Jude refers to the same period: “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” And, again, he quotes the words of Enoch: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all.” Jude 6, 14, 15. John declares that he “saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: ... and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books.” Revelation 20:12. GC 548.3

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Ellen G. White
Maranatha, 22.3

The work of John the Baptist, and the work of those who in the last days go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to arouse the people from their apathy, are in many respects the same. His work is a type of the work that must be done in this age. Christ is to come the second time to judge the world in righteousness. Mar 22.3

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