“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we too are his offspring.’
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” NRSV
Paul is hiding out in Athens, the philosophical capital of the world at that time, to escape the wrath of the Jews from Thessalonica. He is biding his time waiting for his traveling companions to return. While there, Paul assesses the context of his surroundings and uses them to his advantage to proclaim the risen Christ.
I love this story. It shows Paul’s brilliance in using every resource at his disposal to proclaim Jesus as Lord. Even statues of other peoples’ gods! You have to love his gumption and ingenuity.
Today, we call gumption, “passion,” and ingenuity, “mission.” Both require a right relationship with God as modeled for us by Jesus. Both are just as relevant in our day as they were in Paul’s day. The passion to find new ways to share God’s love with the people around us and around the world will always be the primary purpose of Jesus’ followers. Why, “because in God we live, we move, and we have our being!” It’s in our DNA.
Be a blessing to someone today!