30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
In verses 30 and 31, Paul moved into special revelation, a category that the Athenians could not know without revelation. He switched from philosophical debate to practical reality.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked [bore with],
Since there is a God who created all things and all people, no one can escape from the need to repent about Him. God overlooked the ignorance of idol worship; He was patient with humanity on that point (Acts 14:16; Ro 3:25). However, ultimately they are without excuse and will face His judgment (Ro 1:19-20). Paul here accused the Athenians of “ignorance,” the very idea they despised.
If ignorance of God had been the fault in previous generations, it was inexcusable now. The Athenians needed to come to grips with their willful unbelief. A false conception of God is no excuse.
commands all men everywhere to repent,
It was not typical for a speaker at the Areopagus to challenge his listeners. They must have been surprised. The word “repent” has the sense of comprehensive repentance. Now that the Athenians were no longer ignorant about God, it was time for them to “repent.” From this point, if they would reject the Creator of the world, the onus would fall entirely on them. The unknown God was now known. Their only course of action was to change their thinking about God. Everyone must stand in accountability before Him.
The repentance that Paul set forth was for the pagans of Athens to forsake their polytheistic gods. This request was not a condition for salvation, but if the unbeliever changed his mind about what he believed, he would become open to God. This happened to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 1:9; they turned from their idols.
because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness [justice]
The apostle said that the God of Creation was also a judge, and there would come a day when He would judge the world. God would judge the Athenians for worshiping idols, for it was unrighteous to worship an image of the invisible God. This was a call to come to a monotheistic God. How one does this was the next step.
Paul at this point in his sermon introduced something distinctively Christian. God would not overlook human ignorance, because He had “appointed a day” in which He would “judge the world in righteousness” by Jesus Christ (Jn 5:22, 23, 27; Ac 10:42). He ordained a person to save the world. Jesus will judge the world one day. He set a determined date for this Judgment.
by the Man whom He has ordained.
In God’s economy, there is a “Man” who will carry out His judgment. God raised this Man from the dead. Eternity is at stake for those who reject the God of the universe.
He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
God authenticated the reality of Christianity by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. His Resurrection is the proof that men need to believe.
The authority of the Risen Christ implies His judicial authority.
Eternity is at stake for those who reject the God of the universe. People love to listen to theory, but when it comes time for them to decide (“repent”), they lose interest.
Recognition of God as Creator does not lead a person to salvation. Creation can reveal generalities about God, but it cannot give particularities about Him. It cannot reveal His love, justice, or any particular attribute. People need special revelation to fill in the lack of specifics in general revelation. Verses 30 and 31 fill in the specifics required. God, from eternity, “ordained” Christ to save those who would respond to this special revelation (Acts 4:12).