The Meaning of Acts 17:26 Explained

Acts 17:26

KJV: And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

YLT: He made also of one blood every nation of men, to dwell upon all the face of the earth -- having ordained times before appointed, and the bounds of their dwellings --

Darby: and has made of one blood every nation of men to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, having determined ordained times and the boundaries of their dwelling,

ASV: and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;

Discover Acts 17:26

What does Acts 17:26 Mean?

Study Notes

blood
"blood" is not in the best manuscripts. R.V. omits.

Verse Meaning

The Greeks, and especially the Athenians, prided themselves on being racially superior to all other people. Still Paul told them that they, like all other people, had descended from one source, Adam. This fact excludes the possibility of the essential superiority of any race. God also determines the times of nations-their seasons, when they rise and fall-and their boundaries. In other words, God is sovereign over the political and military affairs of nations. The Greeks liked to think that they determined their own destiny.

Context Summary

Acts 17:22-34 - The One Living And True God
The gospel preacher must avail himself of any circumstance in his surroundings that will enable him to arrest the attention of his audience. He must meet them where they are and take them with him to realms of thought with which they are not familiar. Paul was wise to begin with that altar to the unknown god.
Around them stood the most exquisite temples ever reared by human genius, but these were not the home of God. He seeks the lowly and contrite heart, not of the Jew alone, but wherever man is found, and on whatever intellectual plane. Men, the world over, are brothers-"he hath made of one blood all nations." The arrangements of divine providence have been contrived to lead men to God. If they feel after Him with reverence and true desire, He will be found of them. All men are His offspring, but only those who receive the Son of God into their hearts become really sons. Repentance is the act of the will, and therefore it may be commanded. God can overlook much that is hurtful and evil, because He loves the world and deals with men according to their light; and we may rejoice therefore that He will judge mankind by "the Man." [source]

Chapter Summary: Acts 17

1  Paul preaches at Thessalonica, where some believe,
5  and others persecute him
10  He is sent to Berea, and preaches there
13  Being persecuted by Jews from Thessalonica,
16  he comes to Athens, and disputes and preaches the living God, to them unknown;
32  whereby, though some mock, many are converted unto Christ

Greek Commentary for Acts 17:26

And he made of one [εποιησεν τε εχ ενος]
The word αιματος — haimatos (blood) is absent from Aleph A B and is a later explanatory addition. What Paul affirms is the unity of the human race with a common origin and with God as the Creator. This view runs counter to Greek exclusiveness which treated other races as barbarians and to Jewish pride which treated other nations as heathen or pagan (the Jews were λαος — laos the Gentiles ετνη — ethnē). The cosmopolitanism of Paul here rises above Jew and Greek and claims the one God as the Creator of the one race of men. The Athenians themselves claimed to be αντοχτονους — antochthonous (indigenous) and a special creation. Zeno and Seneca did teach a kind of cosmopolitanism (really pantheism) far different from the personal God of Paul. It was Rome, not Greece, that carried out the moral ideas of Zeno. Man is part of the universe (Acts 17:24) and God created (εποιησεν — epoiēsen) man as he created (ποιησας — poiēsas) the all. [source]
For to dwell [κατοικειν]
Infinitive (present active) of purpose, so as to dwell. Having determined (ορισας — horisas). First aorist active participle of οριζω — horizō old verb to make a horizon as already in Acts Acts 10:42 which see. Paul here touches God‘s Providence. God has revealed himself in history as in creation. His hand appears in the history of all men as well as in that of the Chosen People of Israel. Appointed seasons Not the weather as in Acts 14:17, but “the times of the Gentiles” The perfect passive participle of προστασσω — prostassō old verb to enjoin, emphasizes God‘s control of human history without any denial of human free agency as was involved in the Stoic Fate Bounds (οροτεσιας — horothesias). Limits? Same idea in Job 12:23. Nations rise and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is an interplay between God‘s will and man‘s activities, difficult as it is for us to see with our shortened vision. [source]
Having determined [ορισας]
First aorist active participle of οριζω — horizō old verb to make a horizon as already in Acts Acts 10:42 which see. Paul here touches God‘s Providence. God has revealed himself in history as in creation. His hand appears in the history of all men as well as in that of the Chosen People of Israel. [source]
Appointed seasons [προστεταγμενους καιρους]
Not the weather as in Acts 14:17, but “the times of the Gentiles” The perfect passive participle of προστασσω — prostassō old verb to enjoin, emphasizes God‘s control of human history without any denial of human free agency as was involved in the Stoic Fate Bounds (οροτεσιας — horothesias). Limits? Same idea in Job 12:23. Nations rise and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is an interplay between God‘s will and man‘s activities, difficult as it is for us to see with our shortened vision. [source]
Bounds [οροτεσιας]
Limits? Same idea in Job 12:23. Nations rise and fall, but it is not blind chance or hard fate. Thus there is an interplay between God‘s will and man‘s activities, difficult as it is for us to see with our shortened vision. [source]
Before appointed [προτεταγμένους]
The Rev., properly, omits before, following the reading of the best texts, τεταγμένους assigned. [source]
Bounds [ὀροθεσίας]
Only here in New Testament. The word, in the singular, means the fixing of boundaries, and so is transferred to the fixed boundaries themselves. [source]

What do the individual words in Acts 17:26 mean?

He made then of one every nation of men to dwell upon all the face of the earth having determined [the] appointed times and the boundaries habitation of them
ἐποίησέν τε ἐξ ἑνὸς πᾶν ἔθνος ἀνθρώπων κατοικεῖν ἐπὶ παντὸς προσώπου τῆς γῆς ὁρίσας προστεταγμένους καιροὺς καὶ τὰς ὁροθεσίας κατοικίας αὐτῶν

ἐποίησέν  He  made 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ποιέω  
Sense: to make.
ἑνὸς  one 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: εἷς  
Sense: one.
πᾶν  every 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
ἔθνος  nation 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ἔθνος  
Sense: a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together.
ἀνθρώπων  of  men 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: ἄνθρωπος  
Sense: a human being, whether male or female.
κατοικεῖν  to  dwell 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: κατοικέω 
Sense: to dwell, settle.
ἐπὶ  upon 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἐπί  
Sense: upon, on, at, by, before.
προσώπου  the  face 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: πρόσωπον  
Sense: the face.
τῆς  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
γῆς  earth 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: γῆ  
Sense: arable land.
ὁρίσας  having  determined 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ὁρίζω  
Sense: to define.
προστεταγμένους  [the]  appointed 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Participle Middle or Passive, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: προστάσσω  
Sense: to assign or ascribe to, join to.
καιροὺς  times 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: καιρός  
Sense: due measure.
ὁροθεσίας  boundaries 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Plural
Root: ὁροθεσία  
Sense: a setting of boundaries, laying down limits.
κατοικίας  habitation 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: κατοικία  
Sense: dwelling, habitation.
αὐτῶν  of  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.

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