Comments/Questions from Readers

Question #26: Sin in Scripture: "For I am Yahweh, I shall not change" (Malachi 3:6a, The Scriptures), if only things were that simple, consider Acts 17:30 (NIV), "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." I think statements like Malachi 3:6a imply that God was, is, and will be holy, loving, merciful, etc... God's actions can at least change from overlooking to a demand of repentance.

While I agree with Scripture that God does not change, I recognize that He reveals Himself to different men in different ways at different times. The point being made in that article was that God's character does not change, that His morality does not change, not that He necessarily reveals Himself exactly the same to all men in all times. Clearly, Scripture shows that God chose the nation of Israel to reveal Himself to, and not to the other nations of the world. They were His own chosen people. Let's look at the entire passage in Acts to get a better understanding of what Paul was communicating to the gentiles in Athens:

Acts 17:22-31: "And having stood in the midst of the Areopagus Sha'ul said, "Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in every matter. For passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN MIGHTY ONE. Not knowing then whom your worship, I make Him known to you. Yahweh, who made the world and all that is in it, this One being Master of heaven and earth, does not dwell in dwellings made with hands. Nor is He served with men's hands - as if needing any - Himself giving to all life, and breath, and all else. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having ordained beforehand the times and the boundaries of their dwelling, to seek the Master, if at least they would reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and are, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.' Now then, since we are the offspring of Elohim, we should not think that the Elohim is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by the skill and thought of man. Truly, then, having overlooked these times of ignorance, Elohim now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed, having given proof of this to all by raising Him from the dead."

When reading this passage in context, it is clear that Paul is not saying that God has changed His mind about what is sinful and what is righteous, but rather, He commands all those who were previously ignorant of God to repent, specifically the gentiles who did not previously know Him. Verse 23 states that they did not know the one true God. This is precisely what they were ignorant of. Then in verse 30, Paul states that God overlooked such prior ignorance but now commands them to repent. God overlooked the ignorance of the gentiles until such time as the New Covenant was established for all mankind, Israel and gentiles. God was revealing Himself to all men now and they would all be held to the same standard as Israel regarding repentence and obedience to His will.




"...In essentials we maintain unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love..."

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