– – – From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
From one man He created
all the nations
throughout the whole earth.
He decided beforehand
when they should rise
and he determined their boundaries.
- (ASV) , having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;
- (BBE) , ordering their times and the limits of their lands,
- (CEV) and he decided when and where every nation would be.
- (EMTV) and He ordained their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
- (ERV) He decided exactly when and where they would live.
- (ESV) , having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
- (GW) He has given them the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live.
- (ISV) fixing the seasons of the year and the national boundaries within which they live,
- (JUB) earth and has determined the seasons (which he has limited) and the bounds of their habitation;
- (KJV) , and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
- (LITV) ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling,
- (MKJV) , ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling,
- (MSG) with plenty of time and space for living
- (NLT) He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
- (PICKERING), having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
- (RV) , having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;
- (TLB) and scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and when. He determined their boundaries.
- (TLV) , having set appointed times and the boundaries of their territory.
Read back over this verse again from the range of versions, paying special attention to the second half of the verse. What is Paul saying here? There are two parts to his statement.
That when God made mankind on the earth from one man Adam, He allotted the nations of mankind which developed from that one man, Adam, fore-appointed seasons or times and boundaries to their habitations. Wow that is a bold claim to the Greeks and the Romans. A bold claim also to any other nation on earth. Mesopotamian, Chaldean, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Aztec, Mayan, Hun, Goth, German, Alexandrian, Napoleonic, British, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Nazi, American or Chinese. I think you can work out what I have done here. I have listed (not exhaustively or definitively) a parade of the empires of man who have dominated large portions of the earth or wish to do so. Rather than individual countries’ boundaries I have picked on the empires of mankind which have been the world conquerors over time.
What Paul appears to be saying here is that God has placed limits on them. A limit in terms of time and a limit in terms of territory or the boundaries of their dominance. God “pre-ordered” or “pre-determined” [protasso] the “times” [kairos] and the boundaries [horothesia] of their habitation or territory [katoikia].
What an amazing statement! This statement was made to the philosophers and leaders of Athens, the Greek Empire. Present too at the same time and later to be informed through the distribution of Paul’s letters were the Romans and all who followed them and read the Bible.
Let’s connect some things together here. When mankind said they would be make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the whole earth (Gen 11:4) God said otherwise. Let’s scatter and divide their language. Paul is not talking here about where individual people should live (á la the ERV) but more about the dominance of one empire over another. There would be a limit to man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man. Human empires bent on world domination would be limited to a set time and set boundaries. Nations and empires would come and go; empires will rise and empires will fall. Seemingly when they become too savage and go beyond the bounds of God’s intended limits on such savagery God will bring about their demise.
The Bible is filled with indications of this thought. The limits on the Chaldeans, Persians, Assyrians etc. God calls and appoints kings to discipline Israel but their time and appointment has limits. As is the case with Cyrus, the Mede.
“This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again. This is what the LORD says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.”Isaiah 45:1-4
The wonder of this statement is that it is made by God to a king of the coming Medo-Persian empire two hundred years before he came on the scene. Isaiah wrote those words around 730 BC and Cyrus didn’t appear until 539 BC. Now you have to admit that shows God controls the rulers and nations of the world.
God said through Daniel in Daniel 5: “Mene Mene Tekel Uparsin: You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting (deficient)” concerning Belshazzar, a Chaldean king. One which Bible critics even claimed didn’t exist, that the Bible got it wrong, that there was no king named Belshazzar. They claimed the real king’s name was Nabonidus. But Nabonidus’ cylinder proved them wrong. Rather Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ offspring who ruled as co-regent and whose reign was ended by the Medo-Persian Empire. I use this example to show no ruler flies under the radar with God. God limits all human empires and declares an end to their domination when their inhumanity reaches a certain level. But yes, I am sure you are thinking of certain world powers which have arisen that human kind could have done without. But God is the one who sets the limit, not us.
Oh there is more. Daniel 7 gives an account of the parade of world empires and the limits God put on them. Human history is filled with the rise and fall of nation states and even more so empires with their rulers bent on world domination. Interestingly enough it is all laid out before us even to the time when God will allow one dominant leader to seemingly take over the world – the Antichrist. These limits and successions of human empires and powers seeking to take over the world will reach a culmination with the Antichrist. It is all kind of fitting really isn’t it. God’s hand on human history is a divine and global one. Of course, there is more that can be said but I will leave it there.
– – – “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him— though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. . .” (Acts 17:27-28)
There is a hint in Paul’s words that the predetermined limits to the dominance of human empires was in place before they were created. Ponder that.Ian Vail
Even when life is unfair, God is still good.Ian Vail
Have you ever come to the conclusion that something is not right with the world?Ian Vail
Genesis 3 gives you a front-row seat on the moment evil entered the human experience.Ian Vail
That is why the Jews were looking for the Life of the Age to Come. (If you understand that term then you get the big picture.)Ian Vail
There are no crown bearers in heaven who haven’t first been cross bearers on earth.Anon