“Paul in Athens”
Pastor David Moore
Old Testament reading: Psalm 130:1-8 (NIV)
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
New Testament reading: Acts 17:16-34 (NIV)
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 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 the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
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.’
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but other men said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Theme: Paul is in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy. Since Paul has been chased out of Thessalonica and Berea, Paul is speaking in the intellectual center of the world. Paul is teaching at the Areopagus and will point out 2 points of Christianity that will challenge the thinking of the Greek culture.
The gospel will affect every area of your life. The gospel means you have been blessed, it will change your understanding of money, of power, material things and your career. Those are nice things, but the cornerstone of Christianity is living a life in Jesus. ~D. Moore
The gospel has intellectual power and that is demonstrated by engaging two different philosophies at the same time: the Stoics and the Epicureans. The Stoics sought to accept the world as it is. The Epicurean understands pleasure to be the main point of life. They wanted a life of tranquility and free of pain. ~D. Moore
Paul will teach in the Areopagus about:
1) the big contradictions and
2) the bodily resurrection.
The big contradiction in Athens is that they were sacrificing to the unknown god. Paul has the insight to point out that he is going to tell them about the unknown god. Paul challenges the Athenians, why would they worship a god they did not know? The God is a judge, He is a good God that will judge the world in its goodness. Paul is trying to show them that they believe in this God already and they refuse to admit to that fact. ~D. Moore
The next point is Paul shows us in his teachings, the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Paul makes a point that God has given proof in the resurrection of Jesus that He is the God of the universe. No matter if the Christian is sinning or not walking in Christ’s lifestyle. The stubborn fact is Jesus was resurrected. No matter the objections to the Christians and the God of Abraham, the stubborn truth is Jesus’ body was resurrected. ~D. Moore
Today – Where do you stand in your faith in Christ in regard to the big contradiction and the bodily resurrection of Jesus? Is your life changing?
John 3:17: For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.