Reading For Monday Acts 17:16-34
Paul escapes from Berea after some Jews from Thessalonica came to that city to do him harm. He is escorted to Athens where he awaits Silas and Timothy to rejoin him. Athens was a significant city where intellectuals gathered and idolatry was practiced. Everyone worships something, even intellectuals. The ethos of Athens disturbed Paul to the point that he could not wait for the team any longer, he was compelled to preach and so he did in the synagogue and the marketplace. Philosophers interacted with him upon hearing about Jesus and the resurrection. They brought him to the Areopagus, a place where philosophy and religion were discussed and where court was held. It is possible that Paul was pleading his case to secure the freedom to continue preaching in the city.
Paul begins his address by establishing a rapport with his audience. He mentions what he has observed in their fair city, namely that they were religious, but there was something that they acknowledged as unknown. Paul stated that his desire was to proclaim what was unknown to them and asserts what will serve as the foundation for the gospel. God is the ultimate cause and reality of all things; he is the creator and delights in himself with no need for temples and idols. God gave everything life, placed them geographically, and determined their epoch. Paul drops a philosophical bombshell when he declares that God is transcendent and imminent at the same time. He contextualizes the sermon and draws from their own literature, offering quotes to support these truths.
Paul moves to the logical conclusion of his preaching. Man cannot make God because God made man and therefore only God can offer salvation. Paul finishes his sermons by proclaiming what is necessary for salvation, namely repentance and faith. God commands all people everywhere to repent or face judgment. Faith in Jesus, who was raised from the dead to offer hope and assurance of these things, is essential for there is no salvation or hope in idols. When faced with the demands of the gospel, some mocked, some wanted to delay a response, and some believed. The gospel is offensive to some, confusing to others, and the power of God unto salvation for those who believe.
Things To Consider:
- Is your heart moved by the things you see around you in your city? Why or why not?
- What do you encounter daily in your city that "provokes" you?
- Are you regularly proclaiming the gospel? If not why? If so, is it proving effective? Why or why not?
- Do you have a carefully thought out answer for the hope that you have in Jesus contextualized for the world around you?
- How should knowing that God has placed everyone in the time and place where he wants them impact our lives?
- Are you encouraged or frightened to know that God is not far away? Why?
- How do we balance love and truth in our gospel presentation since it requires that we call people to repentance?
- How should we view the way people respond to the gospel? Why?