Bible Studies

The Apostle Paul and the Gentiles on Mars Hill

Sinning in Ignorance.
Num 15:28
And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.

Num 15:29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.

Lev 4:22-23 When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:

Lev 4:27-28 And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.

Num 15:27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.

Gentiles worshipping the "Unknown God" in ignorance.  A God they know exists because of the witness He left them, which can be seen clearly in nature.

Acts 17:22-34 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 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; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because 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. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Acts 17:29-30 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; (overlooked-not punish) but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

God overlooked these times of ignorance, but has now given to men full knowledge of Himself.

References to God patiently overlooking ignorance
Acts 14:16
Who in times past suffered (tolorated)all nations to walk in their own ways.

Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

But God's patience will not last forever; because of the full knowledge now disclosed in Christ, He commands men to repent, and He has appointed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man in whom this new light has come. The pledge (assurance) of this is provided by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Acts 17:31 Because 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 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device

God cannot be represented by an image. Believers are the offspring of God. We are spirits "living in flesh". Then God, who is the Father of our spirits is himself a Spirit, and we ought not to think that God is like unto gold, or silver, or stone graven art.. God honored man in making his soul after his own likeness, but man dishonors God if he makes him after the likeness of his body.

Paul then proceeds to call them all to repent of their idolatries, and to turn from them, (Acts 17:30-31). After Paul declared God to them (Acts 17:23), he urges them to repentance towards God, and would also have taught them faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, if they had had the patience to hear him. Having shown them the foolishness of their worshipping other gods, he persuades them to go on no longer in that foolish way of worship, but to return from it to the living and true God.

Notice the conduct of God towards the Gentile world before the gospel came among them: The times of this ignorance God winked at.

These were times of great ignorance. Those are ignorant for sure who either did not know God or worshiped him ignorantly.

As an act of divine patience and forbearance, He winked at these times. He did not restrain them from these idolatries by sending prophets to them, as he did to Israel. He did not punish them in their idolatries, as he did Israel, but gave them the gifts of his divine guidance.

Acts 14:16-17 Who in times past suffered (tolerated) all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Rom 1:19-20 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Rom 1:17-21 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

In the Gospel, righteousness is revealed which God bestows or imputes. The rest of Romans tells more about what is involved in this righteousness. Here Paul emphases that righteousness is from faith to faith. This righteousness (which God brings into being) comes to the Christian only because of faith. As the believer becomes increasingly aware of all that God's righteousness signifies, he must commit himself to it if he is to receive God's righteousness.

From faith to faith. Faith does not "stay the same". It changes as we grow in faith. As God reveals more we are to obey more. I believe that if God reveals more and we do not obey more, he sends afflictions our way and sometimes he will kill us and takes us home

Luke 12:47-48 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

More on sinning in ignorance.
Ps 50:21-23
These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

…ordereth his conversation aright He who makes his course of life or action according to the way God set them in order before thine eyes. (gives knowledge of Himself to their minds/hearts)

He did not call them to repentance as he does now. He let them alone. He was not quick and severe with them, but was long-suffering towards them, because they did it ignorantly.

1 Tim 1:12-13 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

God now gives the Gentile world the gospel as He does to the Jewish world. He now commands all men every where to repent. They must change their mind and their way. They must be repentant of their foolishness and act more discerningly or wisely, and stop the worship of idols and let the unknown God draw them to Himself. They are to worship the one true God.

God's call is for all men to come to repentance, but not to angels. Angels don't need it. The call is to men and not to devils, as they are excluded from the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ.

The prophets were sent to command the Jews to repent; but the apostles were sent to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations. Now is the time to repent; now, not later. The world has gone too long in sin. Soon it will be too late to repent.

He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17: 31) The revelation of Himself is complete. That which is perfect is come. There is now no excuse. Does the soul despise the things done in the body, or does the soul encourage the things done in the body?

God will judge the world by that Man whom he hath ordained, who is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ and to Whom all judgment is committed. By Him God made the world, by Him he redeemed it, by Him he governs it, and by Him he will judge it.

There is a day appointed for this general review of all that men have done in time, and a final decision to be made of their position for eternity. The day is fixed in the counsel of God, and cannot be changed. It is to be a day of recompence, (a day of reward or retaliation)

The council of God. He determined this of His own will. He got advice from Himself. He asks of no one.

Romans 2:7-16 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Rom 5:12-14 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come

Through Adam sin entered the world, and since all mankind are the offspring of Adam, all are born with a sin nature." Man is inclined (more willing) to sin. Death passed to all men, because all have sinned. Physical death came to all men.

From Adam's time to the giving of the law to Moses, sin was in the world. It was present in men's acts and in their nature. But sin is not charged to an account while there is no law. Adam's sin was charged to his account and to that of his future generations because he broke a clearly established command of God.

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Men from Adam to Moses without such clear laws did not have sin charged to their account in the same way as Adam had. They did not have definite, specific laws such as those later given to Moses. But these men shared in the consequences of Adam's sin, because death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam's transgression. Paul sees men from Adam to Moses as implicated in Adam's initial sin and in its consequences. Those in this group who did not sin in breaking a specifically given command still died. (physically) Paul is not saying that there were no God-given commands known to men between Adam and the Law. He does teach that an absence of a "code of God given law" sways the way sin is judged against men.

More than 430 years before the law.
Gen 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Paul shows that sin did not start with the law of Moses, but was in the world until, or before the law. Therefore the law of Moses is not the only order of life. There was a rule, and that rule was broken before the law was given. Therefore there was a law; for sin is not imputed where there is no law

Until the law, there were no clear actual commands on what to do and what not to do, as Adam had. In these times of ignorance God winked at. Sin was dwelt with differently. Man was held to a more lenient account. (More patient-tolerant-forbearing)

The law was added to make sin more manifest. So man could CLEARLY see himself as a sinner. THEN sin would be dwelt with differently to those of whom the law was given. (Jews-Israel)

Meanwhile, the Gentiles have a law unto themselves (Rom 2:14) manifest of the things of God that could be seen in nature (Rom 1: 19-20 and THEIR sins were dwelt with differently

Adam had only one law and couldn't keep it, and since we spring, or originate from Adam we have his sin and his sin nature imputed to our behalf. Adam sinned in the flesh and in his spirit. When we are born in the flesh, our body AND our spirits take on the likeness of our earthly father. We take on his nature and his sin.

When we are born from the womb, we become a part, or member in the body of Adam from which we spring.

HOWEVER, when we are "born again" in the spirit, we take on the likeness of our heavenly Father. We take on His nature and His righteousness.

When we are "born again" we become a part or member of the "Body of Christ" from which we spring.

The first Adam condemns us and the second Adam justifies us. As the sin nature of Adam is imputed to our behalf, so is the sinless nature of Christ imputed to those who believe.

1 Cor 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.