27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
The argument of Paul’s speech to this point goes something like this: (1) There is a genuine God behind the “unknown god.” (2) The Athenians could know something about this God by observing creation. And (3) the unknown god cannot be known without one’s knowing and accepting Jesus Christ.
God’s purpose in determining the time and place for humanity was that people might seek and find Him (Ro 1:20). The things God created point directly to Him.
These two words show the implication of who and what God was and did in Acts 17:24-26. If God was the creator and ruler over all things, then by logic that should drive the Greeks back to the First Cause, the creator God. The Greek gods were not relational or social beings but aloof and indifferent to humanity.
they should seek the Lord,
Since God revealed Himself to humanity, there is a responsibility on those exposed to that revelation. The reason God predetermined where people would live is that they would search for Him (Ro 1:19-20).
in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him,
The purpose of God sovereignly appointing the times the way He did was to bring people to Himself so they may see something of His nature. If they see who He is, they might “grope for Him and find Him.” They can only grope in the dark without the special revelation in the Bible.
This clause is a statement of uncertainty—”if perhaps.” “Might grope” is in the optative mood in Greek, expressing substantial doubt. Paul strongly doubted that the Athenians would grope for and find God. This mood in Greek carries a tone of uncertainty; finding Him is not certain. Sin prevents us from coming to grips with God.
though He is not far from each one of us;
Although pagans groped around to find God like the blind feeling about to locate their way, He was not far from any one of them; He is immanent among creation. He can be found by searching within creation. God, not far from anyone, carries the idea of His immanence. God is both transcendent and immanent. This assertion challenged the Epicurean notion that the divine was separate from the physical universe. It also conflicted with the Stoic idea of pantheism—that he is present in creation itself, that creation divinely embodies god himself.
The purpose of creation is theocentric.
The Athenians believed the world was the result of a cosmic accident. Our passage, on the contrary, asserts that God structured the situation of all people so that they might seek Him.
The purpose of creation is to glorify God and worship Him. He gave the general revelation of creation and the special revelation of the Bible so people could find their way to Him. The Athenians experienced God through creation, and as they encountered God this way, we can begin with that and go further to embrace His special revelation.
If God is providentially over humanity, then people are responsible to Him. God made humanity to inhabit the earth and to seek Him. Since God created humanity from Adam, all mankind is related to God. All human beings came from a Creator.
People generally desire to seek God, but their sinful nature distorts their search.