Paul's Sermon on Mars Hill in Athens - v22-31
- Acts 17:22 (KJV)
- Acts 17:23 (KJV)
- Acts 17:24 (KJV)
- Acts 17:25 (KJV)
- Acts 17:26 (KJV)
- Acts 17:27 (KJV)
- Acts 17:28 (KJV)
- Acts 17:29 (KJV)
- Acts 17:30 (KJV)
- Acts 17:31 (KJV)
As Paul addressed his audience on the summit of Mars Hill, many objects of art, temples, statues, and altars stood round about on every side. These were devoted to the worship of other gods, and all of them were the works of men's hands. The city itself was crowded with idols. In his approach to win them to Christ, Paul used great prudence. He was careful not to insult any of their gods or objects of worship.
Paul was not introducing a new deity. Instead he was making known the one God whom they themselves were ignorantly endeavoring to worship. Paul was seeking to gently draw his hearers away from polytheism (the worship of other gods) by pointing them to the one true God who made the heavens and the earth. They understood that the other gods were formed with their own hands.
Paul Commends Them For Being Religiously Disposed
Paul is saying: “I see that in every way you are very religious” or “I bear witness to your carefulness in religion.” Superstitious could be more accurately rendered
“religious.” Paul tells them that they are more religiously disposed than others.
Paul Finds a Good Starting Point
Paul had commended his hearers for being wholehearted in their search for God. Now he uses an inscription he saw on one of their altars as a starting point to begin his message. The manner in which we introduce our subject matter is very important. He quoted something that was inscribed on one of their own altars. It said—“To the Unknown God.” This inscription revealed both their desire to worship but also their ignorance in worshipping. It is also an acknowledgment that there
is a God. Paul said: “I would like to define more clearly this God after whom you are groping.”
God Made Everything—What Can We Add to Him?
Paul is making his point gently. God made the universe. How can He be contained in temples, or confined to statues made with men's hands? He gave us our very breath! How can we add anything to the Creator of the universe? Can we bring God down to our level? Paul is saying all this with great tact.
The Creator Controls Time, History, Boundary, and Destiny
God is not nebulous but a Person who possesses all wisdom. He made all the nations from one man, Adam. When He created man, He had already determined times, eras, and the boundaries of the nations.
God Wants Man to Seek Him and Find Him—We Are His Children
Paul continues to describe “the unknown God” to the Athenians. God is a Person. He is not an “idea” or something nebulous, mystical, or vague. God is a Person. He created the universe and possesses all power and wisdom. Out of one man (Adam) sprang all the peoples of the world. God predetermined the times, history, and even the boundaries of the nations. Yet this same God wants us to seek Him, and find Him. God is very personal and desires to be known and understood
(cf. Jer. 9:24).
To gain a further rapport with his audience, Paul now quotes from the poets of Athens. “Your own poets have said, 'We are also his offspring'.” To say that we are God's offspring means that He is our Father. We came from Him and we are made like Him. Therefore, we resemble Him because we are made in His image and likeness. He desires man to seek Him and find Him because we came out from Him and we are His offspring. (See Luke 3:38 where Adam is said to be the son of God.).
God Cannot be Fashioned With Silver or Gold
If God made us, and if we descended from God, then He is much greater than we are. We cannot liken Him to gold, silver, stone, or anything we can make with our hands. (See Exodus 20:4, Deut. 4:15-18). The Command to Turn From the Ignorance of Idolatry Unto the True God 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God [overlooked]; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” God did not restrain the Gentiles from these idolatries by sending prophets to warn them as he did to Israel. He let them alone and allowed them to go their own ways (14:16), but now God is offering salvation to all men. He commands all men everywhere to repent. It is such a blessing when God chastens men and does not allow them to go their own ways. If God allows people to go their own ways and does not correct them anymore, it means that He has given up on them. Whom the Lord loves He chastens and rebukes (Rev. 3:19).
Proof of the Coming Resurrection and Judgment—God Raised Jesus From the Dead
There is a day of judgment coming; everyone will give an account of himself to God. The Man appointed to be the Judge is the Lord Jesus Christ. The proof of the resurrection and coming judgment is the fact that Jesus Himself was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the evidence and the assurance God has given to all men that there will be a resurrection and a day of reckoning (cf. Acts 24:15, 26:8).
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