Let me begin by saying the 17th chapter of Acts is a little intimidating to me. So much is happening so fast, as well as setting the tone for things to come. It gives me a new respect for the followers of Christ at that time for two reasons. First, their lives were on the line, meaning every word they spoke could have landed them in prison or worse. Secondly, they had no Pocket New Testament to leaf through for guidance, no concordance, or no library full of reference books from which to glean. They did have a very valuable well to draw from… the Holy Spirit.
I can only imagine the excitement of the day; Jesus had been crucified and arisen. Saul has been transformed into Paul and the disciples are on fire and filled with wisdom that literally stuns listeners as they speak, miracles and healings abounded. Still, ignorance and idolatry ran rampant and it is up to Paul to deal with it.
In verses 16-17 we are told that “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.” In verse 18, He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
So Paul is dealing with Jews, God-fearing Gentiles, and Stoic Philosophers and must put up an apologetic defense, as well as a simple yet systematic teaching that will not only show them their sin but lead them ultimately to Christ. In verse 30 he tells them they are commanded to repent of their sins and “turn” to Christ and warns them of the coming Judgment. What happens next is amazing! In verse 32, we are told that some laughed at him, thinking he was crazy, but others wanted to hear more and still others believed.
This leads me to my conclusion, the more things change the more they stay the same. We have a tendency to think that we are unique in both our struggles and the world in which we live. In reality, it is much the same today; when we share the Gospel, some laugh, some brush us off and others have a seed planted in them that causes them to seek God. Sound familiar?
Our job is to learn the word of God and share the Gospel, just the same as Paul in his missionary journeys 2000 years ago. Whether living in Athens, Greece or Athens, Tennessee the message is the same. Jesus died for our sins, we are saved by grace and we do want the lost climbing over our bodies acting as barriers to Hell.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post! I am grateful and if you need prayer or a friend, please feel free to leave a comment.