Acts 17:16–21 (ESV)
Paul in Athens
while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be
there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus
and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
Today’s reading is a bridge text that bridges yesterday’s
reading to tomorrow’s reading. It sets the stage for tomorrow. So far, every town that Paul and Silas have been traveled to preach and teach, a crowd has followed them. They are not groupies of Paul and Silas, but trouble makers.
The pattern is Paul and Silas enter a city to preach and teach and shortly after, the trouble makers come and stir up problems. Now Athens is a Greek city with a university and full of idols and philosophers. The city also had Roman ties.
Many structures still stand like the Parthenon, Acropolis, and others. Paul begins his preaching and teaching, but this is new to the philosophers they want to hear more. They believe in many Gods and idols... and Paul has introduced
a new God to them. Well, we know that there is only one God, but Paul works with them on this. I remember my professor at the seminary asked how many in the class would go out into the middle of downtown and start preaching to the people.
Most of the seminarians did not raise their hands. We will get into what happens tomorrow.
I pray: O Lord, Paul again keeps teaching me what it is to be a disciple. When he goes into a city
that worships many Gods and they have never heard of Jesus... Paul begins teaching and preaching. Lord, I think a need another helping of boldness. Amen.