Acts 17:16-34: Areopagus
February 5, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Exodus 13-15, Psalm 28, Matthew 12:22-37, Acts 17:16-34
We come now to Paul’s famous sermon on Mars Hill. What can we learn from it?
First, that Paul was observant. He noticed the idols. If we want to understand the culture around us, it is important that we observe what are the idols which dominate our particular culture. Don’t think they have to be little statues of physical gods. Western cultures are full of the idols of commercialism, sex, power, and success. Look out for the idols in the city where you live and work.
Second, Paul started from where they were. He preached to them from the starting point of the “unknown god.” He also quoted from one of their poets. Because God is sovereign, because he is the Creator, his fingerprints are there in all sorts of unexpected places for those with the eyes to see. Start from the starting point of those you are trying to reach—not from your own culture.
Third, Paul’s success—some believed, some wanted to hear him further, some sneered—is about what we can expect when we are reaching out to Mars Hill-like environments—secular universities and highly intellectualized pagan environments.
In many ways the Areopagus stands as a model of how to do ministry in secular intellectual cultures. If you are living and working in such a situation, study Acts 17 carefully!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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