Please read Acts 17, v16 – 34
‘The cultural centre of Greece. At its Zenith, Athens was home to the most renowned philosophers in history, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who was arguably the most influential philosopher of all. Two other significant philosophers taught there: Epicurus, founder of Epicureanism, and Zeno, founder of Stoicism – two of the dominant philosophies in that day.’ (John MacArthur)
Paul observes the religious life of the city, v16. He sees the idols and feels a burden to witness, even though he is alone. I think the Evangelist needs to have this concern what is happening around him, also some understanding of the history of a city. Paul has one message, but he sees different groups of needy people.
v17, The Synagogue
As his practise was, and obey the call given to him by the Lord Jesus, he goes to the Jews first. (see Acts 9v15) ‘To bear my name before Gentiles and…….the children of Israel. We too need to reach out to religious people; they have a faith, however mislead, they believe in God, and we should seek to make known to them the ‘way of salvation, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘You must be born again.’, is our message. (John 3 v3) We must respect other points of view at the same time.
v17, The Market place
Next we find him in the market place and reaching out to the everyday people, here we will meet so many opinions, so much unbelief. We will need to address so many issues as we contact people passing by. Some will be religious, but many will know very little of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
v18, The Areopagus
Soon Paul is engaged by the Philosophers. The Epicureans were materialist, they did not deny the existence of God, but believed he was not interested in the world, they lived for pleasure,at death man was annihilated, it was all over. Are we not surrounded by people who think like this? The Stoics taught that the supreme good was virtue, they were fatalist and pantheists. We too need to engage with our culture which is dominated by humanism & evolution.
Paul’s message on Mars Hill
All gospel preachers should study Paul’s message on Mars Hill. He takes note of their religious devotion. Some suggest that the ‘unknown God statue was related to the Jews, who did not mention the name of God.. Paul reveals to them that God can be known personally.
He is creator
v24, this challenged the Philosophers around him, some believed matter was eternal, others that God was in everything.
He is knowable
v27, we can seek Him and find Him. He sustains our very lives now.
He commands repentance
v30, Men and women living their lives breaking God’s laws and living for pleasure. We have to turn away from our selfishness.
He will judge the world
v31, Our world is already under judgement, but there is a day coming when we all account of our lives before God as the judge.
How do we know all this is true? We have the evidence of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead. v31.
The harvest was not plentiful at Athens, only a few believed, reminding us our the UK today. However we must proclaim the same message at Paul.