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Have you ever had a longing or nagging bother you inside in moments of quiet and idleness where you’ve asked yourself :
“just who is almighty God?”….or
“who is the God of love?”…..or
“who is God really?”….
In this article, I wanted to share one of my favorite chapters out of the New Testament that blew me away the very first time I read it. The reason for this share and discussion is so I can hopefully answer the questions you may have, above.
In this discussion we look at a part of scripture out of the Holy Bible in Acts 17 where the apostle Paul was addressing a crowd of people in present day Athens almost 2000 years ago. The subject of his impromptu talk to this crowd was his declaration to these folk on just who the real God is, in relation to the number of different idols that Paul had seen around the city during his visit to Athens.
So who was Paul talking about in his presentation to this audience? I hope to show you who the God of the Bible is by taking a look at this portion of scripture, pulling it apart,interpreting it into every day speak and relating that to the world we see around us today. We will do this under the following sections:
Acts 17:16-34(Paul’s announcement to the Athenians)
Does the Bible confirm Paul’s declaration?
So,who was Paul Talking about?
Mars Hill Today
You are not alone anymore
**where scripture verse numbers are quoted below,just hover over the text to see the actual verse wording**
Please do enjoy this read and don’t forget to add any of your questions/thoughts /comments on this article, below when you are done :))
The time setting for this event as recorded in the New Testament is estimated to have taken place between 49 -52 A.D. during the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey from Jerusalem around countries bordering the present day Mediterranean sea.
The location of the Apostle Paul’s impromptu declaration on the one true living God was set on a hill just northwest of the present day Acropolis in Athens.The name of the hill was called the Hill of Ares(Mars in Latin), who was the Greek God of War.
Acts 17:16-34 NKJV(Paul’s announcement to the Athenians)
The Philosophers at Athens
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?….Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore, we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Addressing the Areopagus
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
“To The Unknown God”
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Does the rest of the Bible confirm Paul’s declaration?
My answer to this question is a resounding yes! To show this, lets now break all that up into every day speak and see how the Bible confirms, piece by piece, Paul’s announcement to the Athenians.
Acts 17: 16-21
In this first bit we see Paul is waiting for other friends to arrive in Athens and does what any of us would do in a strange city, walk around, check out the sites and the folks. In doing this he comes across heaps of Idols, Statues, Gods etc. around the city. From the description in this passage it sounded like a bit of a supermarket/marketplace to find a deity or God of anyone’s choosing.
The reason Paul is so disturbed by all of these idols is that inside of every “truly born again Christian” is the Holy Spirit given to us from God himself. A lot of non – believing folk look at Christianity and think that its all about don’t do this and don’t do that….
The reality is that it is the Holy Spirit inside each “born again “Christian that speaks/whispers suggestions to that person on how they should live their lives in reference to their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ which also coincides with God’s written word, The Bible. The other side of the coin to the “suggestions” being made to us daily by the Holy Spirit is that these are optional for the believer. Yep that’s right, God loves us so much He still gives us the free will to decide if we want to live His way or not, born again or not.
I can honestly say I know which way I would like to follow from my own personal experience, and that is based on my own personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
At the end of this portion we can see Paul certainly has his work cut out for him coming up because he is shown to be presenting the hope for his faith:
- in the local synagogue with his own fellow Jews and gentiles(non Jewish) folk
- in the local marketplace daily(can you imagine the diversity of people that would have been there in that day?)
- to stoic and epicurean philosophers who each came from their own philosophical schools of thought at that time
- Like that wasn’t enough, the passage clearly describes Athens at that time as being the place to go for natives and foreigners who were solely dedicated to ..”either to tell or to hear some new thing”. Sounds like any suburb located right next any university campus today doesn’t it?
Acts 17: 22-23
After running into a few of these characters in the marketplace Paul gets invited to present “his new doctrine” to a waiting audience at the Areopagus on Mars Hill. Imagine being in Paul’s shoes at this time :
- By his own admission Paul already admits to being a terrible public speaker in 1 Corinthians 2:3-5
- He’s a Hebrew in a foreign land already packed with natives and other foreigners alike
- He’s about to tell a bunch of strangers about a faith/world view that has already started facing violence and persecution from the established secular and religious rulers of the day…. e.g. Acts 17:5-8
No Pressure here for Paul hey!!
Acts 17: 24-31
After seeing an inscription on a random altar in the city which says “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” Paul bravely declares to the crowd just who the one true living GOD is by describing Him as :
- God, who made the world and everything in it, – Genesis 1:1
- He is Lord of heaven and earth – Isaiah 37:16
- He does not dwell in temples made with hands. – 1 Kings 8:27
- Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything – Psalm 24:1-2
- He gives to all life, breath, and all things. – Isaiah 42:5
- He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth – Genesis 1:26
As if that wasn’t enough to make Paul look crazy in their eyes, he goes on to announce that this very same GOD has actually set things up so that every person that ever lived, that’s alive today and will come to live on the earth has been allocated preset times and preset boundaries on where they live.- Romans 8:28-30
This is so that God hopes, that in each persons time and place that they will try and seek him, though he is never that far away from any of us at anytime! – Psalm 139:7
In addition to that he proclaims :
- all of us exist and live and move and have our being due to God alone – Colossians 1:15
- we are his literal offspring – 1 John 3:2
- that we should never imagine God to be an image made from gold or stone…really makes sense huh?If something is a living being how can you truly represent everything that it is/who it is in a painting, statue,carving…..no wonder God really dislikes idolatry….. Exodus 20:3-5
- God has let these past times of ignorance towards him slip (Acts 14:16) but now he has drawn a line in the sand(approximately 2000 years ago) and declared that he will now judge the entire world against his standard of righteousness as seen in Jesus Christ….and just to reassure everybody that yes this is going to happen, He has raised his Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead to basically say,“Yes, its me God behind this act and this resurrection is my authentication of this message!! – John 5:22-27
side note…. The reason the Old and New Testament refer to the return of Jesus Christ as being very soon over and over again can probably be related to these 2 scripture verses…. Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8
So if this declaration was made 2000 years ago and the Lord views 1000 years as the blink of an eye….guess what…All of us don’t have very much time left to get right with God!!
Acts 17: 32-34
The reactions to Paul’s speech on completion was mixed as one would expect from any diverse crowd. These responses were:
“the man’s a fool and he’s nuts” – Romans 1:22
“we definitely will hear what you have to say again”
After all that he was moved on as if just another guest lecturer on the speaking circuit to a knowledge hungry Athens. However, some did join him out of their own personal faith i.e. Dionysius the Areopagite, another lady Damaris and some others – Hebrews 11:1
So Who was Paul Talking about?
Pretty awesome chapter don’t you think? I love it because when I read it, I can draw so many similarities between the society of that day and the world we live in today. It just goes to show, that the hungers and searching for answers by the philosophers and “knowledge hunters” at Athens all those years ago haven’t gone away. They still “haunt” us all today. The truth of it is that today as then, some of us recognise we have that longing, hunger inside of us and some of us don’t. The bad news is that if we don’t know the real Jesus Christ and hence the one true living God, we will always then attempt to fill that “hole” with all kinds of things e.g. other forms of spirituality, careers, money,possessions,relationships,drugs,alcohol etc.
Mars Hill Today
Today, if you travel to Athens, you can still see the historic place of this address by Paul to the Athenians from so long ago. Located just northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, is the site of the Areopagus on the hill of Ares or Mars hill in Latin.
Also, on site is a plaque dedicated to Paul’s sermon at this place as well. And today, I think quite fittingly, is a road named after one of those who came to faith in the risen Christ after hearing Paul’s sermon…..Dionysiou Areopagitou.
The good news is that the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ are still alive and well and just as keen to find those that are looking for them!!
The Holy Bible is a God breathed, Holy Spirit inspired love letter to all past and present. The truly great news is that
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit treasure us, mankind, more than creation itself because we are family to him, blood kin and today he is calling to you and me to come home to him. Will you come home today to Jesus Christ?
“Well how do I get there?” you might ask.
you are not alone anymore!!
I do pray and hope that this article was able to help you in getting to know just who the real Jesus Christ is and I am excited for the journey that now lies ahead of you in your new walk with Christ now!!
I do have 2 vital suggestions for you before you go:
1. try and read a bit of the bible every day. If you don’t have one, you can download a free offline version here.
Doing this will truly grow you and strengthen you in Christ!!
2. Get around other “born again” Christian believers asap. You can does this by seeking out your nearest “bible teaching church”. You can find one by simply entering “bible teaching church near me” into google or via a search on most social media platforms.
Getting around other believers will also be a great source of strength to you as well !!
Please do comment below or email me at email@example.com on any thoughts that you may have on the above article. I do really look forward to hearing about any testimony you might have on how Christ has impacted your life now. I would also like to hear any questions on how I can assist you now, in moving forward with your walk with Christ today and into the blessed future that awaits you!!
I truly hope that this article was able to assist somebody, somewhere !!
Stay blessed !!
**Are you passionate about something/anything in life? Do you want to create a website to express that passion in the world? Head on over to the below link for a look. These folk taught me how to do it and they can do the same for you!!**