Paul in Athens 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was g provoked within him as he saw that the city was h full of idols. 17 So i he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, j “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because k he was preaching l Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to m the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this n new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some o strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. Paul Addresses the Areopagus 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, p ‘To the unknown god.’ p What therefore you worship q as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 r The God who made the world and everything in it, being s Lord of heaven and earth, t does not live in temples made by man, 1 25 nor is he served by human hands, u as though he needed anything, since he himself v gives to all mankind w life and breath and everything. 26 And x he made from one man every nation of mankind to live y on all the face of the earth, z having determined allotted periods and a the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 b that they should seek God, c and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. d Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for e “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; 1 as even some of f your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 2 29 g Being then God’s offspring, h we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 i The times of ignorance j God overlooked, but k now he l commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed m a day on which n he will judge the world o in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and p of this he has given assurance to all q by raising him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of r the resurrection of the dead, s some mocked. But others said, t “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius u the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
16 Ἐν δὲ ταῖς Ἀθήναις ἐκδεχομένου αὐτοὺς τοῦ Παύλου παρωξύνετο τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ θεωροῦντος κατείδωλον οὖσαν τὴν πόλιν. 17 διελέγετο μὲν οὖν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις καὶ τοῖς σεβομένοις καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ κατὰ πᾶσαν ἡμέραν πρὸς τοὺς παρατυγχάνοντας. 18 τινὲς δὲ καὶ τῶν Ἐπικουρείων καὶ Στοϊκῶν φιλοσόφων συνέβαλλον αὐτῷ, καί τινες ἔλεγον• τί ἂν θέλοι ὁ σπερμολόγος οὗτος λέγειν; οἱ δέ• ξένων δαιμονίων δοκεῖ καταγγελεὺς εἶναι, ὅτι τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν εὐηγγελίζετο. 19 ἐπιλαβόμενοί τε αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἄρειον πάγον ἤγαγον λέγοντες• δυνάμεθα γνῶναι τίς ἡ καινὴ αὕτη ἡ ὑπὸ σοῦ λαλουμένη διδαχή; 20 ξενίζοντα γάρ τινα εἰσφέρεις εἰς τὰς ἀκοὰς ἡμῶν• βουλόμεθα οὖν γνῶναι τίνα θέλει ταῦτα εἶναι. 21 Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ πάντες καὶ οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες ξένοι εἰς οὐδὲν ἕτερον ἠυκαίρουν ἢ λέγειν τι ἢ ἀκούειν τι καινότερον. 22 Σταθεὶς δὲ [ὁ] Παῦλος ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ Ἀρείου πάγου ἔφη• ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, κατὰ πάντα ὡς δεισιδαιμονεστέρους ὑμᾶς θεωρῶ. 23 διερχόμενος γὰρ καὶ ἀναθεωρῶν τὰ σεβάσματα ὑμῶν εὗρον καὶ βωμὸν ἐν ᾧ ἐπεγέγραπτο• Ἀγνώστῳ θεῷ. ὃ οὖν ἀγνοοῦντες εὐσεβεῖτε, τοῦτο ἐγὼ καταγγέλλω ὑμῖν. 24 ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὑπάρχων κύριος οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ 25 οὐδὲ ὑπὸ χειρῶν ἀνθρωπίνων θεραπεύεται προσδεόμενός τινος, αὐτὸς διδοὺς πᾶσιν ζωὴν καὶ πνοὴν καὶ τὰ πάντα• 26 ἐποίησέν τε ἐξ ἑνὸς πᾶν ἔθνος ἀνθρώπων κατοικεῖν ἐπὶ παντὸς προσώπου τῆς γῆς, ὁρίσας προστεταγμένους καιροὺς καὶ τὰς ὁροθεσίας τῆς κατοικίας αὐτῶν 27 ζητεῖν τὸν θεόν, εἰ ἄρα γε ψηλαφήσειαν αὐτὸν καὶ εὕροιεν, καί γε οὐ μακρὰν ἀπὸ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου ἡμῶν ὑπάρχοντα. 28 ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν, ὡς καί τινες τῶν καθʼ ὑμᾶς ποιητῶν εἰρήκασιν• τοῦ γὰρ καὶ γένος ἐσμέν. 29 γένος οὖν ὑπάρχοντες τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ὀφείλομεν νομίζειν χρυσῷ ἢ ἀργύρῳ ἢ λίθῳ, χαράγματι τέχνης καὶ ἐνθυμήσεως ἀνθρώπου, τὸ θεῖον εἶναι ὅμοιον. 30 τοὺς μὲν οὖν χρόνους τῆς ἀγνοίας ὑπεριδὼν ὁ θεός, τὰ νῦν παραγγέλλει τοῖς ἀνθρώποις πάντας πανταχοῦ μετανοεῖν, 31 καθότι ἔστησεν ἡμέραν ἐν ᾗ μέλλει κρίνειν τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ, ἐν ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὥρισεν, πίστιν παρασχὼν πᾶσιν ἀναστήσας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν. 32 Ἀκούσαντες δὲ ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν οἱ μὲν ἐχλεύαζον, οἱ δὲ εἶπαν• ἀκουσόμεθά σου περὶ τούτου καὶ πάλιν. 33 οὕτως ὁ Παῦλος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ μέσου αὐτῶν. 34 τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες κολληθέντες αὐτῷ ἐπίστευσαν, ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς.
Lord, help us to see our idols and turn from them. Help us to grasp what an enormous thing the resurrection is. News of Jesus' resurrection challenges, divides, and saves Idols...as physical representations of abstractions or ideas that we invented. Cities in particular are full of them as worshippers come together. Have you had the experience Paul had? Christian worldview fundamentally different for two reasons. 1. God has come to us in his word and in Jesus, so we aren't making up or searching out, since he has revealed himself. 2. The resurrection of Jesus shows there is certainty of him putting all things right - this age is not all there is. These two things shatter all idols. Introduction: Note that the resurrection is really central throughout this passage. And there is no appeal to a common heritage of Scripture. A number of well-meaning errors have come out of this passage. -Over-contextualisation -Strategic pursual of the intelligentsia, and the philosophers, as more 'strategic' than other people/groups -Faith in apologetics rather than the gospel -Despising apologetics altogether v16-21 Jesus and the resurrection is a new idea to the Athenians v16-21, Paul in Athens. This all happened because of a delay - let's remember this when we wait or are delayed! v16 idolatry provoked him. God's glory robbed! People in bondage. 'Forest of idols'. Apollo, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Bacchus, Neptune, Diana, ... and all beautiful. [cf going to India]. Paul 'provoked', i.e. jealous for the glory of God. Not simply bad tempered, or grieved over eternal damnation. ' Revolted at the sight of a whole city given to idolatry.' [cf when you go somewhere, you should notice things? A huge mosque? Idols to commerce and ambition? Me visiting JB in London and early one morning going in to work with him etc] v17 justification for cold-contact. v17 he reasoned in the marketplace with those who 'happened to be there'; here is our justification for cold contact ministry [cf whole list of evangelism methods in Acts, we want to do them all]. We can relate to Athens more than we think, whether or not we like philosophy. Epicureans - garden philosphers. Epicurus. Gods so distant that it's actually just randomness and chance. No survival, no judgement. Just pleasure. Stoics - philosophers of the porch. [renewed popularity - Ferriss, Taleb, etc]. Zeno. Acknowledged God in a pantheistic way, confusing him with the world soul. Fate, duty, resignation to live in line with nature and reason. Self-sufficiency. Endurance of pain. Both are ways to live in a world you can't control or fully understand. Scrapmonger/babbler. Insult - unscrupulous plagiarizer. This 'babbler'; or scrapmonger. Are they arrogantly critical of his being outside the camp? A bit like academics not taking someone seriously unless they have a PhD, or went to the right school, etc. v21 spend all their time on something new. A culture like ours! Every app giving notifications of something new, and we, culturally, are addicted to it; the constant flow of news, new books, new movies, new ideas, etc. The general despising of the old. 'He seems to be preaching foreign divinities' - a charge against Socrates. Misunderstanding; 'Jesus and Anastasin'. cf Lystra, another misunderstanding. That's ok, part and parcel of gospel ministry. v22-31 Paul preaches to the philosophy club Moves from known to unknown; i.e., a point of contact and then to the call to repent. Not simply the angry call to repentance. Unknown God. Could also read 'unknowable' I think. In part that's Paul's point, He isn't unknowable. v24 you don't make a temple, he made a place for you. Creator . v25 he isn't dependent on us, we depend on him. Sustainer . v26-28 God isn't lost and needing to be found, we are - and he has done everything so that we can know him. Ruler . v29 God is not our offspring, we are his, made in his image. Father . v30-31 So now repent of this ignorance. Harmonise with reality by repenting. Judge Fundamental reality is that God has fixed a day when he will judge all people; the proof is that the Judge has been appointed and put in office. Not the end, but the end of the beginning. [cf Greek, no hope of after life. Only River Styx and Hades - Odysseus etc]. So by repentance and faith, you get in line with reality and stop living in a dream world. Begins with Creator And hits right on the challenge: judgement and resurrection. Epicureans - news of judgement Stoics - news of resurrection To preach judgement and resurrection to Epicureans and Stoics is to touch precisely on the nerve centre! Judgement for epicureans, resurrection for stoics. Chances are, if the resurrection hasn't changed everything for you, you haven't fully understood it. For many Christians it's a kind of happy bonus miracle that Jesus did, proving he was God, or something like that. Without getting the cosmic significance. v32-34 The resurrection divides opinion He doesn't get to finish his sermon. It gets interrupted. Again, NB there was no greaco-roman category for resurrection at all. Only dim afterlife with immortality of soul. Even for Jews, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day was unexpected - though they believed in a future resurrection of just and unjust. Sneering - v23; or further enquiry - v32, or belief - v34. Dionysius was a council member; big deal. Note that there isn't a huge response. Feels a little like a lunch bar, where one or two might be interested to know more at the end. Glory of God: Created the World; revealed himself so that he is not unknown. Sustains and guides us. Overlooks the time of ignorance. Will put things right by a righteous Judge. FCF: The worship of abstract ideas, and rejection of the particular. We like the 'idea' of God. But crucify him when he comes to us. Proof of this is how talking about the resurrection goes. Abstract is tame, controllable. Particular is risky, and I lose the illusion of control. Abstract is idolatry. H1 - mock at the idea of judgement and resurrection [cf think of all the tangible, particular foreshadows of both rescue and judgement] H2 - love abstraction and ideas By nature - prone to ignore far off things, things distant and abstract. But also prone to make abstract gods in our image. 'Openness'; 'tolerance'; 'etc. Prone to suppress what God has said about himself. Choice - choose to insist that God is, at best, 'unknowable'. Choose to suppress that knowledge (proof in what we appeal to). Person of Jesus: becomes particular, Jesus of Nazareth, within creation. The true offspring of God. The true temple. The Word of God become flesh; God is exegeted and narrated in Jesus. Work of Jesus: crucified and raised from the dead to remove the penalty of judgement day. Repent and believe: turn from false worship - even of abstract ideas. Trust in the risen Lord Jesus. Live the resurrection!
16. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens his spirit was provoked/irritated within him beholding that the city was full of images of idols. 17. He conversed with the Jews and worshippers in the synagogue, and all day in the market-place with those he chanced to meet. 18. Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers disputed with him, and some said, 'What does this babbler wish to say?' Others said, 'he seems to be heralding foreign deities', since he was gospeling Jesus and the resurrection. 19. They took hold of him and lead him to the Areopagus, saying, 'May we know what this new teaching is that you are speaking about? 20. For you bring some strange things to our ears. Therefore we wish to know these things, what this wishes to be.' 21. For all the Athenians and foreign residents there do nothing but have leisure and talk and listen about what is new.