Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens he took a good look around. The city was full of idols which had to be shocking to a man who, even before becoming a follower of Jesus, had been dedicated to the singular God of the Jews.
Paul was going to speak, no matter where he was and so he conversed not only in the Jewish synagogues with those who were devout but also in the marketplace with who ever happened along. Here he encounters the curiosity of the Greeks – Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
So, they give him a pulpit at Areopagus (Mars Hill as it was called by the Romans, was an actual rock hill where the Greeks held court of sorts.) It was here they sit down to listen and judge Paul’s words. (Who wouldn’t wish for an opportunity like this?)
Paul is masterful. (I could talk all day about this sermon…just ask Bob.) He affirms their zeal for religious things and begins to introduce them to their very own “unknown god.” He pictures God for them exactly as they have viewed Him…one whom they should seek …, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
And then he reveals:
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “in him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said. (Said poet being Epimenides who had written this line about the immortality of Zeus.)
Paul’s argument is logical (love it) and leads to a logical conclusion…the God who has done all this cannot be represented or contained by things built by man. However, this God has overlooked the time of ignorance (no condemnation fellows – ’cause, hey, you were trying but you didn’t know) but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
The crowd was divided over the idea of resurrection (always a tricky subject) but some said, “We will hear you again about this.” The door remained open.
There were some men who joined Paul and believed and among them two people are named. Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris. It almost seems “some men” is the general term and “Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them” relates the specifics.
Dionysius is noteworthy because he was a judge at the Areopagus and therefore a prominent leader. Damaris may have been his wife, a woman of high social status or a foreigner.
(It is interesting how often now as the Gentiles come to Christ there is the intentional mentioning of the converts to be men and/or women, in groups or by name. This documenting of gender begins in the Gospels and into the beginnings of the church. No doubt it will culminate in Paul’s words from Gal. 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.)
He is the giver of the perfect words to speak.
In Him we live and move and have our being – need to keep that on the frontal lobe!
About the World?
There are those who are eager to hear about “the unknown god.”