As I begin to look into the life of Paul, I’m struck by how much suffering Paul had to endure in proclaiming the gospel of Christ. I’ll cover more of that as we go but for today I want to cover the speech that many consider his most important or famous, which is found in Acts 17.
Paul is on his second mission trip and after stops in Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, Thessanlonica, and Berea, he makes his way to Athens. Athens once considered the center of learning and to this day, still considered a giant in intellectual wisdom. When Paul steps into Athens, the home of Socrates and Plato, it was full of philosophers and myriad of various gods that the people had put their faith in.
In all likely hood, Paul was the first person to ever introduce to the people of Greece, the Savior of world, Jesus. Upon his arrival in Athens, Paul begin engaging people in discussions at the local market place. Ultimately, this led to Paul being invited by the local philosophers, to address them formally at a place called Areopagus, not to far from the Acropolis.
In Acts 17:22, Paul begins by immediately recognizing that the people of Athens are very religious. He also makes a point in referencing their objects of worship in verse 23. In this same verse, he points out a particular altar that he found with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD, and proceeds to point out that they are ignorant to the very thing they worship. From there, he begins his proclamation of the Gospel.
So Paul, a foreigner to this land wastes no time in engaging people and sharing with them the story of Jesus. Keep in mind, that he is by himself as Timothy and Silas had stayed behind Berea. In his sharing the story, he receives an invite to formally address the scholars and various intellects at Areopagus. How bold it was for him to accept the invitation to speak to this gathering.
I am amazed at how Paul not only accepted the invitation and once given the opportunity to speak, unashamedly spoke truth to those gathered there about their ignorance in worshiping so many gods, even to those they couldn’t even name. He then unpacks the truth about “the” God who made the world and everything in it. And in a city, where so many monuments, structures and statues had been made, he emphasizes that nothing they or any man could possibly make is needed by or serves God.
As I studied this passage more, I went from being amazed by Paul’s boldness to conviction at my lack of boldness in just my day to day walk with Christ. Paul lived his life as if he had been eternally changed on that road to Damascus. He understood that he had met the creator, his Savior, on that road and lived the rest of his life from that viewpoint.
Simplifying here, Paul knew he was to share the Good News of Christ no matter where he found himself. He knew the story of Christ and His coming to earth, dying on the cross and being resurrected three days later for the salvation of man but it wasn’t until Paul experienced Christ for himself, that he believed. From that, Paul lived with a single focus of no matter his circumstance, he would share the good news of Christ’s love for all mankind.
May we as Christ followers, being eternally changed, live with boldness and continually share the “Good News” whenever we can!
Peace and thanks for reading,