Paul's Address To Athens

  1. INTRODUCTION:

    1. SCRIPTURE READING:
    2. Acts 17:22-32 = "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if  haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of  this matter."

    3. THE CITY OF ATHENS:
      1. The capital city of the ancient Greek state of Attica and the modern capital of Greece.
      2. The center of Greek art, architecture, literature, and politics during the golden age of Grecian
        history (the fifth century B. C.) and was visited by the apostle Paul on his second missionary
        journey [Acts 17:15--Acts 18:1].
      3. Even today the visitor to Athens is impressed by the city's ancient glory. The ACROPOLIS 
        (the great central hill)-- with its Parthenon (the temple dedicated to the virgin Athena, the
        goddess of wisdom and the arts).
      4. The history of Athens goes back before 3000 B. C., when a small village grew up on the 
        slopes of the Acropolis.
      5. It was here amidst the splendor of Athens that Paul spoke to his own countrymen in their
        synagogue and disputed with certain philosophers in the marketplace.
      6. After ascending the steps of the Areopagus, he delivered one of the greatest speeches of his 
        life.

  2. DISCUSSION:

    1. THE SUBJECT OF THE ADDRESS:
      1. "To The Unknown God"
      2. Acts 17:22-23 = "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of 
        Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto 
        you.
        "

        1. A more skillful introduction to an address likely to provoke resentment could not be
          imagined.
        2. The fact that the inscription was found in the city, Paul says, is an admission by the
          Athenians that they did not know the true God.
      3. Paul sought to bring before them the God they knew not of.
    2. THE ADDRESS: [Acts 17:24-31] The address is in three parts: --
      1. God and the world.
      2. Acts 17:24-25 = "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;"

        Comment: Paul presents the "unknown God" as:

        1. The world's creator:
          1. This unknown God "made the world".
          2. The gods in Athens were not creators, but creatures, made from the works of 
            men's hands.
        2. The Lord of the universe:
          1. "Lord of heaven and earth".
          2. Being the Creator, He is the possessor and ruler of heaven and earth.

          Matthew 28:18 = "And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, all power is 
          given unto me in heaven and in earth
          ."

        3. The Omnipresent One:
          1. "Dwelleth not in temples made with hands".
          2. Since He is the Creator, He cannot be limited to one spot, or confined to a 
            temple made with hands.

          I King 8:27 = "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"

        4. The self-sufficient One:
          1. "Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything".
          2. Unlike the idols, God is not served by men's hands.
          3. Man can not give God anything, for all that man has comes from God and is His
            already.
          4. Man can only give loving obedience to God's commands.
        5. The Source of life:
          1. "He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things".
          2. Their idols were lifeless.
          3. How could their idols give life, seeing that life can only come from life?
      3. God and the human race:
      4. Acts 17:26-29 = "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."

        Comment: Paul exhibited the human race as:

        1. One family:
          1. God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the
            earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their
            habitation;"
            1. The human race is one in origin, nature and responsibility.
            2. Science proves that all races come from a single source.
          2. The Greek language, with its beauty and perfection, did not have a word to 
            express the brotherhood of man as the Greeks did not believe in the brotherhood 
            of man.
        2. Guided by the Divine hand of God:
          1. God "hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their
            habitation".
          2. God has established for all mankind:
            1. His seasons and time.
            2. Genesis 1:14 = "And God said, let there be lights in the firmament 
              of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for
              signs, and for season, and for days and years.
              "

            3. The extent of his habitation where he can dwell.
        3. Capable of knowing God and his obligation to Him:
          1. "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him,
            though he be not far from every one of us:"
          2. Mankind is to seek the Lord.
          3. God is never far from man. [See Psalms 139: 7- 10].
        4. Convinced of the folly in thinking that God could be made by man with material 
          substance:
          1. "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the
            Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."
          2. Man, having life, cannot be the offspring of a lifeless idol, even though it be made 
            of the most precious of metals.
      5. The call to repentance:
      6. Acts 17:30-31 = "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now 
        commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
        "

        1. God calls the living to repentance: "Commandeth all men every where to repent".
        2. God has set a day of judgment: "Appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world 
          in righteousness".
        3. God's assurance of this was the resurrection of Christ" "Whereof he hath given 
          assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead".

  3. CONCLUSION: THE REACTION TO PAUL'S ADDRESS --
  4. Acts 17:32 = "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others 
    said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
    "

    1. THERE WAS CONTEMPT ON THE PART OF SOME: "HEARING OF THE 
      RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, SOME MOCKED".
      1. What they heard was contrary to their preconceived ideas, philosophy, or thinking.
      2. They sought to escape the power of his address by sneering and scoffing at him.
    2. THERE WAS A DELAY ON THE PART OF OTHERS: "WE WILL HEAR THEE AGAIN".
      1. They held nothing against Paul or what he had said.
      2. They simply dismissed him for the present.

      Acts 24:25 = "And as he (Paul, JHB) reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."

    3. THERE WAS BELIEF ON THE PART OF OTHERS:
    4. Acts 17:34 = "Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them."

      1. Dionysius was a member of the court, or council, of the AREOPAGUS.
      2. Damarius, was a woman that we know nothing about, but is recorded in The Bible as one that
        believed.

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