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How Paul Preached to Educated Infidels

The place was Athens. The story is recorded in Acts 17. Some Greek philosophers wanted to know about Paul's teaching. Here are some things Paul said to them.

  • God made the world. “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” (v. 24). When Paul went to Thessalonica and Berea earlier in this chapter, he began his teaching with the the Old Testament Scriptures (v. 2, 11). That was because he was talking to Jews who knew those Scriptures and already believed in the one true God. But the idolaters in Athens were ignorant of both. Paul began on common ground: the creation.

  • God gives life. “Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (v. 25). God needs nothing from us, but we need everything from Him. Paul reasoned with the superstitious people of Lystra the same way, saying that God “made the heaven, the earth, the sea” and “gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons” (Acts 14:15, 17). Any honest person should see this.

  • God made man. “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” (v. 26). There are different nationalities and skin colors, but all men are the same. God made us all of one blood. With these few words Paul settles the whole issue of racism. He also brought these high-minded scholars down to earth when he reminded them that God made us to live on earth, not among the stars. People today who are more interested in UFOs and alleged beings from other planets need to read Paul’s words.

  • God made us to seek him. “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” (v. 27). Here is why God created. He made us and everything we see so that we might seek Him and find Him! Unbelievers think they can tell us where the universe came from, but they don’t even try to explain why it is here. The Bible answers both questions. It assures us that anyone anywhere can find God.

  • God makes life and motion possible. “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’” (v. 28). He not only made the material world but gave us life and the ability to move. Greek poets had said that we come from a Supreme Being, but the famous philosopher Aristotle had speculated about what causes things to move. Paul gave the simple explanation: God.

  • Idolatry is absurd and foolish. “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” (v. 29).

  • Men need to repent of this evil thinking and turn to God because the day is coming when He will judge them. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 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” (vv. 30-31).

The world is changing and getting smaller and more diverse. You never know who you will have a discussion with these days. The Bible will guide us if we remember it.

Kerry

West End church of Christ bulletin article for March 5, 2023

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