The End of the Journey Series:
(Acts 17:22-32, Page 1735)
I met people at the park this week seeking God. People often know deep inside that they need to find God, but they are not sure how to get in touch in with God. Paul, a disciple of Jesus Christ, traveled to Athens, Greece one day. As he walked around the city, he observed how religion played a large role in the life of people. But, the people of Athens worshiped many idols. In this study, we will see how Jesus Christ used Paul to shine the light of salvation upon the people at Athens.
The Unkown God
As Paul walked around Athens, he noticed all the idols all over the city. When Paul went into the synagogue, then he began reasoning with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles about Jesus and His free gift of salvation. As Paul proclaimed Jesus, some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers heard him, and invited him to speak more at the Areopagus, a place where people proclaimed their teachings of all kinds.
In Acts 17:22, page 1735, Paul noticed that the people of Athens had a spiritual hunger, and worshiped many idols. Just like Jesus in the Gospels, Paul started his preaching with something already at hand. In this case, Paul noticed the idols all over town. Many people in Athens loved to spend time talking about new things, and they loved to hear new people proclaim new things. So, when Paul began to proclaim Jesus and His resurrection, the people of Athens became curious.
In Acts 17:23, page 1735, Paul focused everyone’s attention upon an altar bearing the inscription: “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” The people of Athens wanted to be sure they worshiped every proper God, and so they had created an altar to an unknown god, sort of a catchall for any god they may have missed. Today, I meet people who follow this same kind of thinking. They pray and worship many gods, but they have never found the one true God, Jesus Christ. So Paul exposed the ignorance of the people in worshiping a god they do not know. Paul gained their attention and now directed it towards Jesus Christ. Notice how Paul forged a link to their own altar, and used their altar to proclaim Jesus.
In Acts 17:24, page 1735, Paul made several important points. First, Paul declared that God made all things. Second, God is Lord of heaven and earth. Third, because He is Lord of all, God does not dwell in temples made with hands. In one clear declaration, Paul had just told the people that God was supreme and absolute, and the only God of heaven and earth. All others were imposters. Furthermore, the temples around town to various gods were a complete waste of resources, because the Lord of heaven and earth did not need men to build Him a house. He inhabited all of earth and heaven, and they could not contain Him. So, all the people who thought they had found a wonderful god in some idol, and worshiped some idol in a temple made with human hands, were actually worshiping false gods. While they may have thought they had ended their spiritual journey, they had not.
In Acts 17:25, page 1735, Paul exposed the false priests serving idols all over Athens. Notice please that Paul focused upon everyone who used human hands to serve gods. If they were truly gods, then they would not need anything, because the true God, Jesus Christ, gives to all people life and breath and all things. Paul proclaimed that Jesus Christ gives life to all people, and He does not need any human hands to provide for Him. In essence, Paul told the Athenians that they were created by Jesus Christ, whether or not they knew it.
In Acts 17:26, page 1735, Paul discussed the origin of man. Paul stated that God made all men, starting with just one man. We know that the one man was Adam, whom God created in the Garden of Eden, as described in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis. God also determined the appointed times and boundaries of the nations. We know that some nations have arisen, while others have fallen. Everyone must learn that God raises up nations at His appointed times, and then God removes nations. Likewise, God also fixes the boundaries of the nations. Paul clearly established that Jesus Christ controlled the nation of Greece and the fate of every other nation on earth. Paul proclaimed the greatness of God, far beyond all the work of men’s hands and the idols they made and served. Jesus was totally unlike their gods.