Paul Proclaiming the Unknown god in Athens

May 14, 2022 Preacher: Thinus Meyer Series: Acts - The Gospel in Motion

Topic: Christian Living, The Gospel Scripture: Acts 17:16–34

Paul is currently on his second missionary trip, and he finds himself in Athens. Athens was the most intellectually sophisticated culture in the ancient world and Paul was about to speak to the cultural elite of the city. The city of Athens the birthplace of western civilization. The city was full of people who looked down at others. There were philosophers who heard and discussed every theory under the sun.

Paul was not about to preach to a crowd who was seeking a saviour, people who looked up at him. He did not performed miracles to get their attention. According to the people of Athens, he was simply "a babler" who was saying "some new thing". 

Despite this audience, Paul boldly proclaimed his faith to these intellectual sceptics, because he was convinced it was the truth. We also need to be confident, not embarrassed, nor intimidated by the philosophes of this world. We must also be able to give a reason for the hope that we have. We can only do that if we know that what we believe is really real.

If the thought of sharing the gospel with philosphers and intellectuals intimidates you, then Paul’s sermon to the philosophers of Athens should both encourage and instruct you. 

  1. Paul in Athens Acts. (17:16-21)
  2. The One True God. (Acts 17:22-29)
  3. The Gospel. (Acts 17:30-31)

The only way an intellectual can be saved is the only way anyone can be saved, by repenting of his pride and other sins, and by trusting in Jesus Christ as the one who bore his penalty on the cross. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Paul was stirred up about those misguided people in Athens. And we should be stirred up about the people given over to paganism today. So many people are completely unaware of their desperate need for Jesus, and they are investing their lives in absolute vanity. God wants us to care. The Lord has called us to be the salt and light in our world. And it is very easy to draw back into our shell, but God calls us to care. We may feel outnumbered, but don't stop caring.

Discussion questions

  1. What are some helpful ways to initiate a discussion of spiritual things?
  2. What do you say if someone says, “I don’t believe in God,” or, “I don’t believe in the Bible”?
  3. Why is the doctrine of creation crucial to the gospel? Should we debate evolution with an unbeliever? If so, how?
  4. Some argue that we should not mention repentance in a gospel presentation, but only faith in Christ. Why is repentance inseparable from saving faith?

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