King James Dictionary
AREOP'AGUS, n. Gr. Mars, and hills.
A sovereign tribunal at Athens, famous for the justice and impartiality of its decisions. It was originally held on a hill in the city but afterward removed to the Royal Portico, an open square, where the judges sat in the open air, inclosed by a cord. Their sessions were in the night, that they might not be diverted by objects of sight, or influenced by the presence and action of the speakers. By a law of Solon, no person could be a member of this tribunal, until he had been archon or chief magistrate. This court took cognizance of high crimes, impiety and immorality, and watched over the laws and the public treasury.
Easton's Bible Dictionary
On this hill of Mars (Gr. Ares) Paul delivered his memorable address to the "men of Athens" (Acts 17:22-31 ).
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
The hill of Mars, the seat of the ancient and venerable supreme court of Athens, called the Areopagites, Acts 17:19-34 . It was composed entirely of ex-archons, of grave and blameless character, and their wise and just decisions made it famous far beyond the bounds of Greece. Their numbers and authority varied greatly from age to age. They held their sessions by night. They took cognizance of murders, impieties, and immoralities; punished vices of all kinds, idleness included; rewarded or assisted the virtuous; and were peculiarly attentive to blasphemies against the gods, and to the performance of the sacred mysteries. The case of Paul, therefore, would naturally come before them, for he sought to subvert their whole system of idolatry, and establish Christianity in its place. The Bible narrative, however, rather describes an informal popular movement. Having heard Paul discoursing from day to day in the market place, the philosophic and inquisitive Athenians took him one day up into the adjacent hill, for a more full and quiet exposition of his doctrine. The stone seats of the Areopagus lay open to the sky; in the court stood Epicureans, Stoics, etc.; around them spread the city, full of idolaters and their temples; and little south-east rose the steep height of the Acropolis, on whose level summit were crowded more and richer idolatrous structures than on any other equal space in the world. Amid this scene, Paul exhibited the sin and folly of idol-worship with such boldness and power, that none could refute him, and some were converted.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("Mars' Hill".) A rocky eminence in Athens, separated from the W. of the Acropolis by a raised valley, above which it rises sixty feet. Mythology made it the scene of the god Mars' trim before the gods, at Poseidon's accusation, for murdering the son of the latter, Halirrhotius. The most venerable of all the Athenian courts, consisting of all exarchons of blameless life. It was the Upper Council, to distinguish it from the five hundred, who met in the valley below. It met on the S.E. top of the rock. Sixteen stone steps in the rock still exist, leading from below to Mars' hill, and directly above is a bench of stones cut in the rock facing S., and forming three sides of a quadrangle. Here the judges sat, in criminal and religious cases, in the open air.
The accuser and accused had two rude blocks, still to be seen, one on the E., the other on the W. side, assigned them. Paul, "daily disputing" in the market (agora ), which lay between the Areopagus, the Acropolis, the Pnyx (the place of political assemblies), and the Museum, attracted the notice of "certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics." They brought him up from below, probably by the steps already described, and, seated on the benches, heard from him the memorable address, so happily adapted in its uncompromising faithfulness, as well as scholarlike allusions, to the learned auditory, recorded in Acts 17. Paul's intense earnestness strikingly contrasts with their frivolous dilettantism.
With the temple of Mars near, the Parthenon of Minerva facing him, and the sanctuary of the Eumenides just below him, the beautiful temple of Theseus, the national hero (still remaining) in view, what divine power he needed to nerve him to declare, "God that made the world ... dwelleth not in temples made with hands"; and again in the midst of the exquisitely chiseled statues in front, crowning the Acropolis, Minerva in bronze as the armed champion of Athens, and on every side a succession of lesser images, to reason, "Forasmuch as we are the offspring of God" (which he confirms by quoting his fellow countryman Aratus' poem, 'We are His offspring'), we ought not to think that the Godhead is like gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art or man's device."
Yet he does not begin by attacking their national worship, but draws them gently away from their ignorant worship of the Deity under many idols to the one true God, "Whom ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you." In opposition to the Greek boast of a distinct origin from that of the barbarians; he says, "God hath made of one blood all nations to dwell on all the face of the earth"; and ends with announcing the coming judgment by the Lord Jesus.
Holman Bible Dictionary
(ehr ih ahp' uh guhss) The site of Paul's speech to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers of Athens (Acts 17:19 ). It was a rocky hill about 370 feet high, not far from the Acropolis and the Agora (marketplace) in Athens, Greece. The word also was used to refer to the council that originally met on this hill. The name probably was derived from Ares, the Greek name for the god of war known to the Romans as Mars.
1910 New Catholic Dictionary
(Greek: Ares, Mars; pagos, hill: Hill of Mars)
Low hill situated near the Acropolis at Athens; court held on this hill before which Saint Paul was brought to explain his dactrine (Acts 17 )
Morrish Bible Dictionary
, or Mars Hill
The hill of Ares, or Mars. Here was held the highest and most ancient and venerable court of justice in Athens for moral and political matters. It was composed of those who had held the office of Archon unless expelled for misconduct. Paul, who had been disputing daily in the market place, was conducted by some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers to Mars' Hill, not for any judicial purpose, but doubtless that they might hear him more quietly. Here he delivered his address respecting God, so suited to the heathen philosophers who heard him, and which was not without its fruit. Acts 17:19 . The Greek words are Areios-pagos, but are translated Mars' Hill in Acts 17:22 . The court was situate on a rocky hill opposite the west end of the Acropolis. Sixteen stone steps still lead up to the spot.
(n.) The highest judicial court at Athens. Its sessions were held on Mars' Hill. Hence, any high court or tribunal
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
AREOPAGUS . This is a compound name, which means ‘Hill of Ares,’ that is, Hill sacred to (or connected with) Ares, the Greek god of war, who corresponded to the Latin Mars. The hill referred to is a bare, shapeless mass of rock in Athens, about 380 feet high. It is due west of the Acropolis, and separated from it only by a ridge. From the earliest times known to us this hill was associated with murder trials, and a court known as the ‘Council from the Areopagus’ met on or near it to try such cases. In the account in Acts ( Acts 17:19 ; Acts 17:22 ) it is not the hill, but the ‘Council’ itself that is referred to, the name of the hill being often used for the Council which met there. In Roman times the Council had power to appoint lecturers at Athens, and St. Paul appears before them to have his aptitude tested. The proceedings were audible to the surrounding crowd. St. Paul’s claim was rejected, and only one member of the Council, Dionysius ‘the Areopagite ’ ( Acts 17:34 ), was convinced by his teaching.
Hitchcock's Bible Names
The hill of Mars
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Areopagite, Areopagus
In Acts 17:34 the title ‘the Areopagite’ is given to one Dionysius, a convert to the Christian faith at Athens, implying that he was a member of the council of the Areopagus.
Areopagus (Acts 17:19 Authorized Version and Revised Version ; Acts 17:22 Authorized Version ‘Mars’ Hill,’ Revised Version ‘Areopagus’; the Revised Version is correct in rendering ‘Areopagus’ in both places, as it preserves the ambiguity of the original).-(a) The name denominated a rocky eminence N.W. of the Acropolis at Athens, which was famous in the history of the city. Between the hill and the Acropolis was a narrow declivity, now largely filled in. On the N.E. the rock is precipitous, and at the foot of the precipice the worship of the propitiated Furies as the Eumenides was carried on, so that the locality was invested with awesome associations. It is approached from the agora, or market-place, by an old, worn stairway of sixteen steps, and upon the top can still be seen the rough, rock-hewn benches, forming three sides of a square, upon which the court eat in the open air, in order that the judges should not be under the same roof as the accused.-(b) The expression was also used of the court itself (Cicero, ad Att. i. 14. 5; de Nat. Deor, ii. 74; Rep. i. 27). From time immemorial this court held its meetings on the hill in question, and was at once the mot ancient and most revered tribunal in the city. In ancient times it had supreme authority in both criminal and religious matters, and its influence, ever tending to become wider, affected laws and offices, education and morality. It thus fulfilled the functions of both court and council. Pericles and his friend Ephialtes (circa, about 460 b.c.) set themselves to limit the power of the court (Aristotle, Const. Ath. 25), and it became largely a criminal court, while religious matters seem to have been controlled, at least in part, by the King Archon. But the reforms of Ephialtes mainly concerned interference in public affairs; and the statements of aeschylus in the tragedy Eumenides, which appeared at the time in defence of the court, appear to be exaggerated. In any case, in the Roman period it regained its former powers (Cicero, ad Fam. xiii. 1. 5; de Nat. Deor. ii. 74). As to the origin of the court, according to popular legend Ares was called before a court of the twelve gods to answer for the murder of Halirrhotius (Paus. i. xxviii. 5), but aeschylus (Eum. 685ff.) attributes its foundation to Athene.
The questions which arise out of the narrative of Acts are these: Was St. Paul taken before the council or to the hill? Or did he appear before the council sitting in the traditional place? Was he in any sense on trial?
The lung Archon held his meetings in the Stoa Basileios, and it was there that Socrates had been arraigned on a matter similar to that which exercised the minds of the philosophers in the case before us. It seems probable that this Stoa became identified with the discussion of religious questions, and that, when the council of the Areopagus regained its full powers, it held its meetings here, reserving its old judgment-seat for cases of murder (so Curtius, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Berlin, 1894, ii. 528f., Stadtgesch. von Athen, do. 1891, p. 262f.; but Harnack, Acts of the Apostles, Lond. and N.Y., 1909, p. 108, remarks: ‘Curtius’ explanation seems to me untenable’; see also Conybeare, in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) i. 144). The whole picture, indeed, is in favour of this view. There is no reason why the Stoics and Epicureans should have carried away the Apostle to an isolated spot. further, Ramsay truly remarks: ‘The Athenians were, in many respects, flippant; but their flippancy was combined with an intense pride in the national dignity and the historic glory of the city, which would have revolted at such an insult as that this stranger should harangue them about his foreign deities on the spot where the Athenian elders had judged the god Ares and the hero Orestes’ (St. Paul the Traveller, Lond. 1895, p. 244). Moreover, the Apostle’s speech was not a philosophical disquisition but rather a popular oration, suited to the general populace of idle Athenians and dilettante Roman youths whose education was not considered complete until they had spent some time in the purlieus of the ancient university. If the council happened to be sitting, as was evidently the case, it was a most natural impulse to hurry the newcomer, who ‘babbled’ apparently of two new deities, Jesus and ‘Resurrection’ (for so they would understand him), to its meeting-place, that the question might be settled as to whether or not he was to be allowed to continue. Yet it can hardly be said that the proceedings were even remotely connected with a judicial inquiry. It was no anakrisis, or preliminary investigation, though the philosophers may have hoped that something of the sort would be the outcome. It is of little importance whether the phrase ‘they took him and brought him’ implies friendly compulsion or inimical intent. The feelings or the listeners would be very mixed, and they would quite naturally be excited by the curious message of the new preacher. The professing teachers were all interested in new ideas and yet resented unwarranted intrusion. The council was in the habit of making pronouncements on the subject of new religious cycles of thought, and it was no doubt felt that, if their attention was drawn to the subject, official proceedings would follow. It is evident that there was much in the address of St. Paul that awoke sympathy in his audience. One member of the council, at least, was converted, to wit, Dionysius. There may have been others. But the general effect produced by the mention of the Resurrection was contempt. A few were ready to hear more on the subject, possibly a minority suggested a more formal examination; but the result of the hearing, as of the visit, outwardly and visibly, was failure. The council of the Areopagus made judicial procedure impossible, by refusing to treat the matter seriously, and the Apostle left them, a disappointed, and no doubt a somewhat irritated man.
Literature,-Besides the authors quoted, see W. M. Ramsay, in Expositor, 5th ser. ii.  209, 261, also x. ; E. Renan, St. Paul, Eng. translation 1890, p. 193f., A. C. McGiffert, History of the Apostolic Age, Edinburgh, 1897, p. 257ff.; Encyclopaedia Britannica 9, article ‘Areopagus’; R. J. Knowling, in Expositor’s Greek Testament ii. [London, 1900] 368f.
F. W. Worsley.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
the high court at Athens, famed for the justice of its decisions; and so called, because it sat on a hill of the same name, or in the suburbs of the city, dedicated to Mars, the god of war, as the city was to Minerva, his sister. St. Paul, Acts 17:19 , &c, having preached at Athens, was carried before the Areopagites, as "a setter forth of strange gods." On this occasion he delivered that fine sermon which is in substance recorded in Acts 17. Dionysius, one of the judges, was converted; and the Apostle was dismissed without any farther trouble.
People's Dictionary of the Bible
Areopagus (ăr-e-ŏp'a-gŭs, or âre-ŏp'a-gûs), Mars' Hill. A narrow naked ridge of limestone rock at Athens, sloping upwards from the north and terminating in an abrupt precipice on the south, 50 or 60 feet above a valley which divides it from the west end of the Acropolis. It had its name from the legend that Mars (Ares), the god of war, was tried here by the other gods on a charge of murder. Here sat the court or council of the Areopagus, a most ancient and venerable tribunal, celebrated through Greece. It examined criminal charges, as murder, arson, wounding; but the lawgiver Solon gave it also political powers. Those who had held the office of archon were members of this court, and they sat for life, unless guilty of some crime. The Areopagus was respected under the Roman dominion, and existed in the empire. Here it was that Paul made his memorable address, Acts 17:19-34; one of the council, persuaded by it or more fully instructed afterwards, becoming a Christian. But it does not appear that the apostle was, properly speaking, tried; rather he was placed on this spot in order that what he had to say might be more readily heard by the multitude. Sixteen stone steps from the agora (market) yet exist, and the stone seats forming three sides of a quadrangle looking southwards, also two blocks, appropriated, it is believed, to the accuser and the criminal.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
The Areopagus was an ancient and highly respected council of philosophers in Athens. The name came from the hill in Athens where the council originally met (commonly known as Mars Hill), though in New Testament times the council met in the commercial area of the town itself. The council consisted of philosophers from the two main schools of Greek philosophy, the Epicureans and the Stoics (see EPICUREANS; STOICS).
Athens was a famous centre of learning where people publicly discussed philosophy, religion and politics (Acts 17:21). The Areopagus was responsible for the orderly conduct of all public lecturing in Athens. When some of its members heard Paul preaching in the public places of the city, they invited him to give the Areopagus an account of his religion. From what they had heard, they thought he was announcing two new gods, whose names were Jesus’ and Resurrection’ (Acts 17:16-20).
Paul explained to the Areopagus the nature of the God they did not know. This God was the creator and controller of the universe, and the judge of all people everywhere. The death and resurrection of Jesus made forgiveness of sins available to all, but it also guaranteed judgment for those who refused to repent (Acts 17:22-31). Paul won the attention of the council with an explanation of the gospel that contained specific points relating to Epicurean and Stoic beliefs; but on the whole both groups rejected his teaching about the resurrection. There were a few, however, who believed (Acts 17:32-34).
- (ehr ih uhp' uh gith) A member of the highly respected Greek council which met on the Areopagus
in Athens. See Areopagus
; Athens ; Dionysius
- He was a member of the Areopagus
, an elite and influential group of officials. See Areopagus
- The Areopagus
or rocky hill in Athens, north-west of the Acropolis, where the Athenian supreme tribunal and court of morals was held. (See Areopagus
- A member of the court of Areopagus
(Acts 17:34 )
- A member of the court of the Areopagus
- the hill of Mars or Ares, better known by the name of Areopagus
, of which hill of Mars or Ares is a translation. The Areopagus
was a rocky height in Athens, opposite the western end of the Acropolis. The spot is memorable as the place of meeting of the Council of Areopagus
. The Areopagus
possesses peculiar interest to the Christian as the spot from which St. Paul "disputed daily" in the "market" or agora, (Acts 17:17 ) which was situated south of the Areopagus
in the valley lying between this and the hills of the Acropolis, the Pnyx and the Museum. Attracting more and more attention, "certain philosophers of the Epicureans and Stoics" brought him up from the valley, probably by the stone steps, to the Areopagus
above, that they might listen to him more conveniently
- One connected with the court of Areopagus
at Athens, where Dionysius heard Paul and "clave to him and believed
- Mars' Hill (märz hĭll), or Areopagus
(ăr'e-ŏp'a-gŭs or â're-ŏp'a-gŭs). He also "disputed" in the "market," or agora, "daily," 17:17, which was south of the Areopagus
, in the valley lying between this hill and those of the Acropolis, the Pnyx, and the Museum
- The Areopagus
was an ancient and highly respected council of philosophers in Athens. The Areopagus
was responsible for the orderly conduct of all public lecturing in Athens. When some of its members heard Paul preaching in the public places of the city, they invited him to give the Areopagus
an account of his religion. ...
Paul explained to the Areopagus
the nature of the God they did not know
(ăr-e-ŏp'a-gŭs, or âre-ŏp'a-gûs), Mars' Hill. Here sat the court or council of the Areopagus
, a most ancient and venerable tribunal, celebrated through Greece. The Areopagus
was respected under the Roman dominion, and existed in the empire
- of it is the Areopagus
. (See Areopagus
. " (See ALTAR; Areopagus
- A member of the court of the Areopagus
at Athens, converted under the preaching of Paul, Acts 17:34
The Epicureans, with the Stoics, were members of the Areopagus
, a council of philosophers that Paul addressed in Athens (Acts 17:18-19; Acts 17:22; see Areopagus
- Chrysostom declares Dionysius to have been a citizen of Athens, which is credible, because the judges of the Areopagus
generally were so
- Concerning Paul’s debate with the philosophers of the city see Areopagus
; EPICUREANS; STOICS
. From the earliest times known to us this hill was associated with murder trials, and a court known as the ‘Council from the Areopagus
’ met on or near it to try such cases
- He used this as the text of his sermon before the Areopagus
- There was, however, a council of philosophers, called the Areopagus
, that exercised some control over public debate in the city. The council consisted of philosophers from two main schools, the Epicureans and the Stoics, and both were keen to hear the travelling preacher Paul give an account of his new religion (Acts 17:18-22; see Areopagus
- In Acts 17:34 the title ‘the Areopagite’ is given to one Dionysius, a convert to the Christian faith at Athens, implying that he was a member of the council of the Areopagus
(Acts 17:19 Authorized Version and Revised Version ; Acts 17:22 Authorized Version ‘Mars’ Hill,’ Revised Version ‘Areopagus
’; the Revised Version is correct in rendering ‘Areopagus
’ in both places, as it preserves the ambiguity of the original). It seems probable that this Stoa became identified with the discussion of religious questions, and that, when the council of the Areopagus
regained its full powers, it held its meetings here, reserving its old judgment-seat for cases of murder (so Curtius, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Berlin, 1894, ii. The council of the Areopagus
made judicial procedure impossible, by refusing to treat the matter seriously, and the Apostle left them, a disappointed, and no doubt a somewhat irritated man. ; Encyclopaedia Britannica 9, article ‘Areopagus
- " "The Areopagus
," RV, stands for the council (not hill) held near by
- Next, westward, was a lower eminence, the Areopagus
or Mars' Hill, and then the Pnyx, where the assemblies of the people were held. He was taken from the agora, and brought up to the Areopagus
, where he delivered his wonderful address
- " On his second missionary journey Paul visited this city (Acts 17:15 ; Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:1 ), and delivered in the Areopagus
his famous speech (17:22-31)
- A small valley lay between the Acropolis and the hill on which the Areopagus
held its session; it also separated the Areopagus
from the Pnyx, a small rocky hill on which the general assemblies of the people were held. See Areopagus
- Immediately west of the Aeropolis is a second hill of irregular form, the Areopagus
(Mars' Hill). The Areopagus
, or Hill of Ares (Mars), is described elsewhere. [ MARS ' HILL] The Pnyx, or place for holding the public assemblies of the Athenians, stood on the side of a low rocky hill, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile from the Areopagus
. Between the Pnyx on the west) the Areopagus
on the north and the Acropolis on the east, and closely adjoining the base of these hills, stood the Agora or "Market," where St
- Paul's celebrated sermon, Acts xvii, was preached on the Areopagus
, or Hill of Mars, where a celebrated court was held which took cognizance of matters of religion, blasphemies against the gods, the building of temples, &c. ( See Areopagus
- The stone seats of the Areopagus
lay open to the sky; in the court stood Epicureans, Stoics, etc
- Paul, "daily disputing" in the market (agora ), which lay between the Areopagus
, the Acropolis, the Pnyx (the place of political assemblies), and the Museum, attracted the notice of "certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics
- We are told that the hero, in a time of plagueat Athens, took white and black sheep to the hill Areopagus
and let them loose
- Paul’s address before the court or council of Areopagus
(q. That the address before the Council of the Areopagus
was not entirely fruitless is proved by the conversion of a man holding so important an official position as Dionysius the Areopagite (q
- Thus the apostle Paul himself addressed the Athenians in the Areopagus
, while in an ancient Pompeiian painting a schoolmaster is represented as teaching in the open forum
- Paul’s speech on the Areopagus
seems framed with them in mind, and one of his sentences, ‘for we are also his offspring’ (Acts 17:28), a quotation from Aratus, is almost identical with the words of Cleanthes, one of the founders of the sect. Paul with Stoic literature and ideas as shown in his speech on the Areopagus
we have already remarked
- The whole created order Paul before the Areopagus
in Athens spoke of “the God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24 NIV)
Acts of the Apostles
- Contrast the account of the conduct of the Greek magistrates at Iconium and Thessalonica who were active against him, or of the Court of the Areopagus
at Athens who were contemptuous, with the silence about the action of the Roman magistrates of Pisidian Antioch and Lystra, or the explicit statements about Sergius Paulus, Gallio, Felix, Festus, Claudius Lysias and Julius the centurion, who were more or less fair or friendly. ( f ) The old Court of the Areopagus
at Athens ( Acts 17:19 ), which really ruled the city, though it was a ‘free city,’ as the demos or popular assembly had lost its authority
- Epimenides caused black, and white sheep to be let loose from the Areopagus
, and wherever they lay down to be offered to the appropriate deity
- The Areopagus
on one occasion sentenced a Greek boy to death only for plucking out a quail's eyes, because, they said, if that boy was let live, he would do widespread cruelty and mischief when he grew up, and he had better die at once; and so they sent him to the executioner
- On the Areopagus
he set forth the Risen Jesus as the Judge of the world, and urged repentance for that reason (Acts 17:30 f
Greece, Religion And Society of
- (2) The Areopagus
functioned as a court of justice judging persons who had committed murder, mutilation, poisoning, or treason
- The ancient Areopagus
sentenced an Athenian boy to death because he had plucked out the eyes of a captive quail
- Damaris, a woman, is among the few to respond favorably to Paul's Areopagus
Roman Law in the nt
- At Athens, also a ‘free’ city, we find a Greek institution, the court of the Areopagus
(Acts 17:19; Acts 17:22), the members of which were called ‘Areopagites’ (Acts 17:34)
- Among the proselytes to Christianity we find Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea, members of the senate of Israel; Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue; Zaccheus, the chief of the publicans at Jericho; Apollos, distinguished for eloquence; Paul, learned in the Jewish law; Sergius Paulus, governor of the island of Cyprus; Cornelius, a Roman captain; Dionysius, a judge and senator of the Athenian Areopagus
; Erastus, treasurer of Corinth; Tyrannus, a teacher of grammar and rhetoric at Corinth; Publius, governor of Malta; Philemon, a person of considerable rank at Colosse; Simon, a noted sophist in Samaria; Zenas, a lawyer; and even the domestics of the emperor himself