Paul in Athens & The Unknown God

This is going to be good….

Acts 17:16-21 – While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All of the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

So it sounds like the meeting of Areopagus is almost like a gossip meeting of the latest trends during that time. Think of just a group of people who want to collaborate with all of the latest ideas of what to believe in and just go with the flow picking what they feel like sounds best. This bothered Paul because he sees all of these people without God and willing to accept whatever comes around. Sometimes we get bothered when we hear false teaching or see something that is not in the Bible or does not support, know, or love God. At times we feel anger from this and want to defend God because it feels like a direct insult to us being children of God. What we have to be careful about is not letting that anger take over and letting Satan get a foothold.

God gives us His Word…….

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

This is our answer. When we recognize false teaching and get that response of wanting to defend God and our fellow saints, this is something we can use. And it will always be more powerful than any response we think of on our own. So what is Paul going to do in this situation with the meeting of the Areopagus? Let’s see…

Acts 17:22–28 – Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

This is awesome! I like to imagine there was silence in this room after Paul said this. I would love to be Paul in this situation, respond the way he did, drop the Bible in their hands and say now what do you think? One of the best parts is how Paul recognizes the unknown god altar that they have and just flat out says I am going to proclaim who this God is to you! The fact that we live and move and have our being because of him. He even relates to their own poets by ending it saying “We are his offspring.” Imagine if we spoke to everyone like this about how awesome, loving, and powerful God is. People would recognize quickly just how much we are on fire and see God working within us!

I pray that we can be bold in these situations when we face difficult times of false teachings, false proclamations, and remember everything is for God’s glory and that God is Love.

Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor at Austin Life Church.

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