on Acts 17 :28
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 εωμεν
Αρῤητον· μεϚαι δε Διος πασαι μεν αγυιαι,
Πασαι δ' ανθρωπων αγοραι· μεϚη δε θαλασσα,
Και λιμενες· παντη δε Διος κεχρημεθα παντες·
ΤΟΥ ΓΑΡ ΚΑΙ ΓΕΝΟΣ ΕΣΜΕΝ ὁ δ' ηπιος ανθρωποισι
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.
on Acts 17 :28
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 kinoumetha. Doddridge 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 esmen. And 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.
on Acts 17 :28
17:28 In him - Not in ourselves, we live, and move, and have our being - This denotes his necessary, intimate, and most efficacious presence. No words can better express the continual and necessary dependence of all created beings, in their existence and all their operations, on the first and almighty cause, which the truest philosophy as well as divinity teaches. As certain also of your own poets have said - Aratus, whose words these are, was an Athenian, who lived almost three hundred years before this time. They are likewise to be found, with the alteration of one letter only, in the hymn of Cleanthes to Jupiter or the supreme being, one of the purest and finest pieces of natural religion in the whole world of Pagan antiquity.