Paul Preaches in Athens

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As we read through Paul’s sermon in Athens, keep in mind the beliefs held by those to whom he was addressing and observe how Paul interacted with those beliefs. The Epicureans in the crowd were more materialistic and non-religious, believing that life was for pursuing pleasure, while the Stoics were very religious (believing in many gods), self-disciplined, and quite prideful. Paul correctly observed that the people of Athens were very religious (v. 22). Idols for each and every Greek god could be found all throughout ancient Athens. But Paul had also seen an alter dedicated “to the unknown god”. The Greeks were vehemently concerned with earning favor with the gods, and they feared the possibility of an unknown god being displeased with them. Paul used their superstition as a jumping off point. There was a God they didn’t know about, the one true God.

The God of the Bible is Lord of all. He doesn’t have just one or two domains like the Greek gods. He is the Creator of all, Lord of heaven and earth (v. 24a). He doesn’t live in man-made temples, nor is He reliant on man’s worship (vv. 24b-25a). He is the giver of life, breath, and everything (v. 25b). The Greeks, especially the Athenians, prided themselves on being better than the rest of humanity. Paul confronted their false belief, stating the truth found in Genesis that all men come from one man (Adam), and it is the Lord who decides the boundaries of the nations both in time and in space (v. 26). The Lord is in direct control over what happens in His universe, and He is orchestrating events so that people should seek Him and possibly find Him (v. 27). Paul quoted two Greek writers who had been close to the truth about God (v. 28). It doesn’t make sense logically that the Creator God would need to be made by the art and invention of men (v. 29). Up to this point, God allowed the Gentiles to wander in ignorance of the truth, but now He is calling all to repent and come to Him (v. 30). We don’t know when the day of judgement will be, but we can know that that day is fixed, and we know that the judge will be Jesus Christ, the one God raised from the dead (v. 31). As a result of his message some laughed and mocked. Others were interested but wanted to hear more. A small group believed on Jesus Christ and were saved.


Lord, help me to have boldness to share like Paul did. Also please help me to reach people where they are at, not ignoring their customs and beliefs, but showing how your truth brings clarity. 

Acts 17:22-34 (English Standard Version)

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