What’s the significance of Acts 17:26-27?

This passage is frequently cited by determinists, for Paul here states that God “marked out” the “appointed times in history and the boundaries” of nations (Ac. 17:26). This doesn’t entail omni-control on God’s part, however. It only entails that God is involved in setting temporal and geographical parameters around nations. Moreover, nothing suggests that God does this unilaterally or from all eternity. As humans make decisions, God responds to them in ways that delimit the length and scope of nations.

What’s particularly interesting for our purposes, however, is the reason Paul says God does this: because he is, at all times, working among people “so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (vs. 27, emphasis added). God clearly works in people’s lives hoping that they will reach out for him and find him. But this implies that whether or not people reach out for God is not a pre-settled certainty. Insofar as the future is left up to the wills of free agents, it is open and known by God as such.

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