Acts 17:28
For in Him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are His offspring.'
In GodJ. M. Whiton, Ph. D.Acts 17:28
In Him We Live and Move and have Our BeingW. L. Alexander.Acts 17:28
In Him We Live and Move, and have Our BeingG. Hodge, D. D.Acts 17:28
Man God's OffspringJ. Fraser, M. A.Acts 17:28
Man God's OffspringProf. Eadie.Acts 17:28
Man God's OffspringJ. C. Jones, D. D.Acts 17:28
Man in GodR.A. Redford Acts 17:28
Man the Offspring of GodD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 17:28
Our Being in GodE. B. Pusey, D. D.Acts 17:28
The Omnipresence of GodC. Hodge, D. D., Dean Plumptre.Acts 17:28
Christian Unconcern ExplainedJ. McFarlane.Acts 17:15-34
Moral Wretchedness of IdolatryD. Moore, M. A.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensExpository OutlinesActs 17:15-34
Paul At AthensSermons by the Monday ClubActs 17:15-34
Paul At AthensDean Vaughan.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensH. J. Bevis.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensR. A. Bertram.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensBp. Stevens.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensA. Barnes, D. D.Acts 17:15-34
Paul's Estimate of the AtheniansEvangelical PreacherActs 17:15-34
Paul's Moral Survey of AthensD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 17:15-34
The Moral Versus the AestheticW. L. Alexander, D. D.Acts 17:15-34
Paul At AthensE. Johnson Acts 17:16-34
Paul At AthensR.A. Redford Acts 17:16-34
Novelties and How to Regard ThemC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 17:21-31
Novelty AttractiveC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 17:21-31
Paul At AthensD. Merson, B. D.Acts 17:21-31
Paul's Sermon on Mars' HillD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 17:21-31
Paul's Sermon on Mars' HillM. C. Hazard.Acts 17:21-31
Some New ThingA. J. Brown.Acts 17:21-31
God Revealed: His Nature and RelationW. Clarkson Acts 17:22-29
The Gospel's Kindly Encounter with Novel FoesP.C. Barker Acts 17:23-32
God's OffspringR. Tuck Acts 17:28, 29

In him we live, and move, and have our being. The greatness and humility of the apostle - an illustration of the nature and method of Christianity. Over all the glory of Athens the pall of spiritual death. An unknown God amongst them. The pride of the ancient world still clung to empty superstitions, only half, if at all, believed in. Boldness of the messenger. Polytheism is false. The human heart is claimed for God. From their own altar to the Christian announcement of coming judgment. An appeal to reason, conscience, experience, the universal spirit of humanity.

I. A GREAT PRIMARY TRUTH set forth in two aspects - natural and spiritual

1. All religion rests on a natural foundation. We are creatures of God. Threefold view of humanity - as life, as activity, as being or character. Unsatisfactory view of human nature which omits any of these. We live not alone for earth, but far eternity. Not alone to exist, but to unfold our possibilities, intellectual, moral, spiritual. God the God of providence. History. Social life. But natural religion insufficient. Has proved itself so - must be so.

2. Religion is the work in man of the spiritual. The great fact of a moral ruin cannot be overlooked. Ancient heathen admitted the irreconcilable Opposition of heaven and earth. Refuge in Promethean pride. Despondency They openly said "It is better to die than to live" Errand of the gospel was one of hope. Proclamation of the life of man in God. Spiritual power at hand. The message written out in the facts of the gospel. Paul led up his hearers to Christ. To us religion is Christ. The resurrection is the seal on the promise of life.


1. The essential and supreme question of every man's existence is what he is to God, and what God is to him. Our life in him.

2. There is only one religion which meets man's wants, that which has come from God.

3. The religion of Christ is adapted to the humblest as well as the highest mind, to the lowest as well as the loftiest condition. - R.

In Him we live and move and have our being.

1. That He is a limited Being, dwelling in temples, receiving gifts from man. This was the popular notion here combated.

2. That He is an infinite Being, but removed from us; the Creator, but not the Moral Governor.

3. That He is the only Being, all that is being merely phenomena of Him; so that there is no separate existence, no self-activity, responsibility, sin, holiness, or hereafter.


1. That God is a personal Being, distinct from the world; its Creator and Preserver.

2. That He is not far from any one of us, but is everywhere present, beholding, directing, controlling all things; a Being on whom we are dependent and to whom we are responsible.

3. That our dependence upon Him is absolute for being, life, and activity, but at the same time it is consistent with separate existence, liberty, and accountability.

III. These are the fixed points in Paul's theism. HOW ARE THESE POINTS TO BE UNDERSTOOD?

1. By the reason. The problem to be solved is how the omnipresent agency of the First Cause stands related to the phenomenal world.(1) The most natural solution is the pantheistic.

(a)Because it is the simplest and most intelligible.

(b)Because it has been the solution most generally received.Brahm was the universal substance of which all things are the manifestation. This principle underlay the nature worship of the Egyptians, and was the esoteric faith of the higher Greek philosophers, and of the Alexandrian school. It reappears among the schoolmen, and is the popular faith of many modern teachers.(2) The rebound from this extreme is Deism — a God extra mundane, but indifferent to any efficiency of His in the events of the world.

2. By the intuitions of our moral and religious nature as enlightened by the Scriptures.

(1)That all existence is from and in God.

(2)That all life is from Him and in Him, and —

(3)All activity, so far that unsustained by Him no second cause could act.


1. That we are always most near God. This presence is one of knowledge, power, approval, or disapprobation.

2. That we are thus dependent for natural, intellectual, and spiritual life.

3. That this consensus of the human and Divine is according to fixed laws, which are, however, under the control of a personal God, who can suspend them at will. If we recognise these laws, and act according to them, we experience their normal working, we become more and more recipients of the life of God. If we transgress them the opposite result is unavoidable.

4. That as our whole being and blessedness is dependent on keeping the true relation to God, we should be ever on our guard against violating His laws; in all things acting in accordance with His will, feeling our dependence and obligation, rendering Him trust, gratitude, and love.

5. Under all circumstances we are ever in contact with the infinite source of knowledge, being, and blessedness; but the wicked are always in contact with Him as a consuming fire.

(G. Hodge, D. D.)

In Him —

I. WE LIVE. Apart from Him our life would decay, and be extinguished as a flame which had been suddenly deprived of its sustaining element.

II. WE MOVE. Apart from Him we are not only inert and helpless, but not even such movement as sustains the life of plants would be possible for us.

III. WE HAVE OUR BEING. In Him we are; apart from Him we should not only cease to be what we are, but we should cease to be at all; it is only the hand of God that interposes between us and annihilation.

(W. L. Alexander.)

Let us apply Paul's doctrine to —

I. THE WORLD OF MATTER. We are embosomed by mighty forces which we regard merely as God's instruments. But science comes forward as God's interpreter, and indicates with Sir John Herschel the force of gravitation, e.g., as the energy of an omnipresent will. Again, we speak of "dead matter," but science takes the ultimate atoms which chemistry deals with, so tiny that no microscope can detect them, and gives them free room to move about in — the ten millionth part of the twenty-fifth of an inch apiece, and shows them jostling each other with ceaseless activity, even in the block of stone and the bar of steel; and according to Jevons each one of these airy atoms is probably a vastly more complicated system than that of the planets and their satellites. But according to Faraday and Boscovitch an atom is a mere centre of force. When we have analysed it into its elementary constituents it is alive with energies inconceivably subtle. And all this force is the immediate energy of the omnipresent Creator. "Matter is force and force is mind," says science. So says Scripture. "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made." This solid frame is, in its inmost essence, nothing but a form of the thought of God.


1. Let us see how the same Divine force holds our physical frame together. Five-sixths of it is water, a creature of that form of force called chemical affinity. Each molecule is a compound of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. But for the constant action of this Divine force holding the gaseous element in unyielding combination our bodies would become a form of matter as invisible as air. Besides this the processes of growth and repair are carried on unrestingly by this same chemical energy of God ever gluing atom to atom in blood, skin, and bone, etc., under the direction of the master workman we call Life, in whose skill we see the Divine intelligence of Him in whom we live and who renews our substance day by day.

2. And it is wonderful how much God does and how little we do. We breathe because we cannot help it. From a sort of electric battery of cells in the head there streams along the nerves a current of divine force, which works the muscles of respiration, even in spite of the utmost effort of will to hold the breath. We eat and drink, but it is merely as the servant who opens the house door to receive supplies. The nerve current supplies the digestive apparatus with power to convert food into flesh, and works the central force pump which carries to every part of the system its due supply. What if it were dependent on us to keep the heart beating? And again, in every movement and utterance all we do is by our will to set free the quasi-electric force which is in us, but is not ours, by which the appropriate muscles are contracted and our will accomplished. "In Him we move." But a large part of our experience is passive. Hot and cold, bitter and sweet, light and dark, etc. What are we to all these phases of surrounding force but a harp of so many strings responding to the fingers of God in Nature? And then these outward touches of the Divine fingers woke other powers. The pain of fire and the recoil of the flesh are independent of our will, and the operation of a will not our own. So again with our instincts; their automatic power is the immediate energy of the God in whom we live.

III. THE MIND. Our thinking is done by means of the brain, as our lifting is done by means of the muscles. In either case we simply press the key. The Divine current of power flows according to the measure of the door we open, whether it be narrow in the case of the peasant or wide in that of the philosopher.

IV. THE SOUL. "We are His offspring." His ever-flowing stream it is which fills the tiny pools of our existence. We think; but all the truth we think is His. Our discoveries are His revelations. We desire; but our aspirations are God's inspirations. We pray; but prayer is the circulation of His Spirit through us and to Him again. Ours is the joy of doing good, but it is one with the joy of God in goodness; ours the pain of doing ill, but it is the resistance of God within us to evil.

(J. M. Whiton, Ph. D.)

1. Where is God? Ye will answer, "In heaven." True. Our Lord teaches us to pray," Our Father which art in heaven"; and what child would not long to be where its father was? Here on earth we cannot see God. In heaven He is seen in His glory.

2. But is God confined to heaven? Many think of Him so, and many wish so, in order that He might give no heed to them and their ways. But God says, "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" The eternity of God contains all time; the being of God, all being; the infinity of God, all space. If we could see Him here as fully as the angels, this too would be heaven. Yet "God is everywhere wholly, and yet the whole of Him is nowhere." For if He were not here wholly, He would be divided into parts; which cannot be. The air surrounds us, and we are in it, although we do not see it, only, at times, the moisture in it. God surrounds us, and we are in Him, although we have no senses to see or feel Him.

3. God worketh in all things around us, working at a distance, or giving laws by which all things should be and fulfil their being. Wherever anything is, or can be worked, there is God. It is not with God as when we build a house, and part off what is without from what is within, that so God should be shut out by the works of His own hands. He is above, beneath, behind, before them; not a part of them, not immingled with them, nor confused with them; nor are they a part of Him; yet they hinder not His presence. He is not in one way within them, in another way without them; but one and the same God wholly everywhere.

4. But then, since God is everywhere, we move, speak, act, think, in God. This might be the bliss almost of the blessed in heaven. But it has its awful side also. Since we think, speak, act in God, then every sin is committed in God. It cannot be otherwise. You can no more escape out of the presence of God than out of the air which you breathe. God's infinite, unchangeable holiness is sinned against by every sin of every creature, but cannot be injured by all sin. The human feelings which God has given us make men shrink from doing deeds of shame even in this created light. But to God, darkness is light. God not only sees through the darkness, He is in it. There He is, where thou sinnest. Thou canst not turn away from God, except to meet God. Thou canst turn away from His love, yet only to meet Him in His displeasure. Turn, then, in sorrow from thy sin, and thou wilt meet Him and see Him forgiving thee.

5. Yes! so is there a more blessed presence than that through which, in nature, "we live and move, and have our being" in God — nearer, closer, dearer, fuller far, whereby the soul, through grace, may be, or is, in God. God willed, before the foundation of the world, to make us one with Himself in Christ. He did not make us to exist only through Him, or to be encompassed by Him. He willed that we should be in the very closest union of love and of being of which created beings are capable. To this end God the Son, in eternal harmony with the Father's will, took the manhood into God. When men saw our Lord Jesus Christ in the body, they saw Him who was not man only, but God; they saw Him who was, with the Father, one God. And this oneness with us He took, not only to reconcile us to God by putting away the Father's wrath, but to unite us to God in Himself. Marvellous mercy! Yet since God has vouchsafed to do this, stranger were it that God, who is the life of our life, should form us capable of, and yet not give us His love, if we will have it; that He should make us capable of being united with Himself, and not unite us if we will. So hath He not left us. "Whoso dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." "He who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us."

6. Since then all is of God, and in God, since we, if our souls are alive, are in Christ and through Christ in God, there is no room to claim anything as our own. To do so were to rob God. But who could wish to?. How much more blessed is it to draw every breath of our lives in Him. As in nature, even the strength which men abuse against God is still continued by God, so, in grace, each act wherewith, from the sacrifice of Abel, God has been well-pleased, has been done through the power of His grace put forth in men, and by Him perfected in them. Where then can be boasting, or any thought of anything as our own, or any pleasure in any works as our own?

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

I. ITS NATURE. The simple, popular idea is that God is equally present everywhere. The understanding, however, requires a more particular statement to avoid our conceiving of God as extended. The nature of time and space involved in this conception is among the most difficult of philosophical questions. Happily some of the most simple truths are the most mysterious. We know that our spirits are here and not elsewhere, and yet the relation of our souls to space is inscrutable. So we know that God is everywhere, but His relation to space is past finding out.

1. He is everywhere present as to —

(1)His essence, for He does not admit of division.

(2)His knowledge, for nothing escapes His notice.

(3)His power, as He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.

2. This attribute, therefore, includes the idea —

(1)That the universe exists in God. All creatures "live and move, and have their being" in Him.

(2)That all the intelligence indicated in nature is the omnipresent intelligence of God. Rational creatures He has endowed with an intelligence of their own.

(3)That all the efficiency manifested in nature is the potestas ordinata of God.


1. The universe is a manifestation of God. We see God in everything.

2. All events, the falling of a sparrow or of a kingdom; the course of history; the events of our own life, are all manifestations of His presence.

3. We are ever in God's presence. All our thoughts, feelings, acts are open to His view.

4. An infinite Helper and Portion is ever near to us. The fountain of all blessedness is always at hand from which we may derive inexhaustible supplies of life.

5. All sin and sinners are enveloped, as it were, with a consuming fire, They can no more escape than we can escape out of the atmosphere.

III. REFLECTIONS. The contemplation of this doctrine serves —

1. To exalt our conceptions of God by making all things the manifestation of His glory and power.

2. To promote our peace and security, because we know that God is everywhere and controls all events.

3. To excite fear.

4. To stimulate joy and confidence.

5. To teach sinners the certainty and fearfulness of their doom. Conclusion: As all religion consists in communion with God, and as all communion supposes His presence, this doctrine lies at the foundation of all religion.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring. — The quotation has a special interest as being taken from a poet who was a countryman of St. Paul's. Aratus, probably of Tarsus (circ. B.C. 272), had written a didactic poem under the title of "Phoenomena," comprising the main facts of astronomical and meteorological science as then known. It opens with an invocation to Zeus, which contains the words that St. Paul quotes. Like words are found in a hymn to Zeus by Cleanthes ( B.C. 300). Both passages are worth quoting: —

"From Zeus begin we; never let us leave

His name unloved. With him, with Zeus, are filled

All paths we tread, and all the marts of men;

Filled, too, the sea, and every creek and bay;

And all in all things need we help of Zeus,

For we, too, are his offspring."ARATUS, "Phoenom.," 1-5.

"Most glorious of immortals, many-named,

Almighty and forever, thee, O Zeus,

Sovran o'er nature, guiding with thy hand

All things that are, we greet with praises. Thee

'Tis meet that mortals call with one accord,

For we thine offspring are, and we alone

Of all that live and move upon this earth,

Receive the gift of imitative speech."CLEANTHES, "Hymn to Zeus." —

(Dean Plumptre.)

This glorious fact in our nature —

I. INDICATES CONSTITUTIONAL RESEMBLANCE TO GOD. It means something more than to be God's creatures, like the earth, sea, sky, etc.; but implies resemblance in essential attributes — spiritual personality, intellectual perception, moral sensibility, loving sympathy, spontaneous activity. This resemblance —

1. Constitutes man the highest natural revelation of God. Though a mere atom comparatively, he is the brightest reflector of the Infinite. As I see the ocean in a dewdrop, and the sun in a particle of light, I see God in man.

2. Accounts for our power of forming ideas of God. Had we no resembling attributes, His existence would be a blank to us. Had we no personality, love, etc., His perfections would be without meaning. The eagle takes a vaster view of nature than we can; yet it sees no God because not made, like us, in the image of the Creator.

II. SUGGESTS THE RATIONALE OF DIVINE LAWS. Why has God given us laws? To restrict our freedom or curtail our pleasures? Do His laws, like those of human monarchs, arise from the policy of selfishness or fear? Is He obliged, like mortal rulers, to guard His throne by legislation? No. His laws are the considerate directions of a loving Father, profoundly desirous that His offspring shall escape all evils, and realise the highest good. He who has the true spirit of a child will always say with the Psalmist, "O how I love Thy law!" If any question this interpretation of the Divine code, let him —

1. Carefully examine the character of those laws, and see if he can find one that does not tend to happiness.

2. Consult the experience of the obedient, and see if he can find one who will not say, "In the keeping of Thy commandments there is great reward."

III. EXPLAINS THE INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST. What was there in insignificant and sinful man to enlist this? Was it the intrinsic value of the human soul? The soul, it is true, is superior to the irrational universe; but it is inferior, perhaps, to other intelligences; and as compared with the Infinite mind, What is it? I find the reason in the soul's relationship, as the "offspring of God. Parental love amongst men, instead of being cooled by the infirmities of the child, is fired by them. This principle, which is a Divine implantation, enables me to understand, in some humble measures, why the Infinite Father should show all this wonderful compassion to men.

IV. EXPOSES THE ENORMITY OF SIN. What laws are so binding — what authority so sacred as a true Father's? How heinous is sin —

1. In relation to God, when you think of Him as a Father! The greatest ingratitude is that which overlooks a father's kindness; the greatest criminality is that which violates a father's precepts; the greatest rebellion is that which contemns a father's authority.

2. In relation to society. We are all brothers and sisters. How enormously iniquitous then are slavery, war, cruelty, and oppression of every kind?

V. AIDS US TO ESTIMATE THE TRANSCENDENT BLESSEDNESS OF THE DUTIFUL. The office of a father is to provide for his children. As a guardian, God protects the mind as well as the body, and guards our existence with all its rights and interests. As an educator, He develops all the wonderful powers of our nature, trains us not only for some office in time, but for the high services of eternity. As a nourisher, He has supplies for all wants now and forever. Conclusion: Man, reverence thy nature! act worthy of thy high relationship; thou art a child of the Infinite. The great universe is thy Father's house. Seek through Christ the pardon of thy sins, and the true spirit of adoption, and thou shalt find at last in the great eternity a "mansion" prepared for thee.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Man, with few exceptions, has never been able to believe that he stands alone in the universe, a helpless orphan, surrounded by blind and irresistible forces, and hurried onward by inevitable destiny. Wherever the voice of man's nature is allowed to speak, it asserts that he is God's offspring. This fact is demonstrated by —

I. MAN'S INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY. In his physical nature he is allied to the lower animals; but the intellectual difference between the lowest savage and the highest animal is so great that it can only be accounted for by the text. Man's marvellous powers are seen in his discovery of the laws of the universe, in his forcing from nature her secrets, and in subjecting her to do him service, and above all in his capacity for knowing God. All this raises him immeasurably above all other creatures.

II. HIS MORAL NATURE. In all men there is a knowledge of rural distinctions, and as arising out of them the sense of obligation. In some communities this knowledge is imperfect and even perverted, but it is there. It cannot be the result of education, but must be part of the constitution of our nature, because so universal. This fact again puts an impassable gulf between man and all other creatures, and is inexplicable save on the hypothesis of the text.


1. His consciousness of guilt, everywhere demonstrated by sacrifice, shows his alienation from a Being with whom he was once in harmony.

2. His struggles after a purer and higher life are but the effort of God's child to recover a lost condition and relationship.

3. His restlessness and dissatisfaction till he finds rest in God is the culminating proof. Conclusion: Christ has come to lead us back to God, to make us true sons in Him, so that His Father becomes our Father.

(J. Fraser, M. A.)

What a blessed doctrine! How high our dignity! how rich our patrimony! Wherever we are, in whatever portion of His universe, we are still in His house — our home. We can never outstep our heritage. The Father has fitted nature not merely to supply our wants, but also to minister to our delight — the glitter of the star and of the dewdrop, the colour and scent of the flower, freshness and beauty for the eye, and song and melody for the ear. Our Father's house is not barely furnished, but richly ornamented. Rocks are piled into hoary mountains and picturesque heights; the woods are budding forth into life in spring, laden with foliage in summer, or swinging their great boughs to the tempest of winter; the sky folds its curtains and trims its lamps; the waters dance in torrents and leap in cascades, as well as fill the seas; there is gold as well as iron, gems as well as granites, the blush and fragrance of the blossom, as well as the sweetness and abundance of the fruit. The human frame, too, has symmetry as well as strength — possesses far more than is merely essential to life and work; the eye, lip, and brow are rich in expression and power. There is not only the power of thought essential to business and religion, but there is the garniture of imagination, poetry as well as science, music in addition to speech, ode and oracle as well as fact and doctrine in Scripture, the lyre of the bard no less than the pen of the apostle. Above sensation there rises the power of discovery — invention blends with experience. In man and around him there is not mere provision for necessities; there are profuse luxuries. "His offspring" walk in the lustre of His love. It rejoices them to know that the power which governs is no dark phantom veiled in mystery; no majestic and all-controlling force — a mighty and shadowless sceptre; no mere omniscience — an eye that never slumbers; no dim Spirit, having its only consciousness in the consciousness of man — but a Father with a father's heart to love us, and to the yearnings of which we may ever appeal — a father's ear to listen to us, and a father's hand to bless with kind and continued benefactions. And, as we have wandered, shall not each of us say, "I will arise and go to my Father"? Will not He accept the returning child, giving us the adoption of sons, revealing Himself graciously through Christ the Elder Brother, who leads us to cry in true filial devotion, "Our Father which art in heaven"?

(Prof. Eadie.)

Man has not ascended from the animal, say rather that he has descended from God. The line of his pedigree points, not downward to the dust, but upward to the skies. "The son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." "For we also are His offspring"; not the offspring of the chimpanzee. Compare the head of the most uncivilised man with the head of the best-trained monkey, and the difference is immense. What is the capacity of the monkey brain? Thirty-two cubic inches. What is the capacity of the human brain? Ninety cubic inches. You therefore see that the brain of the most undeveloped man, who is not positively an idiot, is nearly three times the capacity of the brain of the most civilised monkey in this or any other country. How to account for the difference? There is a great deal of talking and writing in the present day about the "missing link" — the missing link between the ape and the man. Missing link indeed! It is not a link that is missing, but a whole chain. Human reason is not a development of the monkey brain; rather is it the immediate outcome of the Divine Life.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

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