Acts 17:22-34 – December 3, 2006

December 4, 2006 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

DISTRESS AND DEBATE AT ATHENS – PART 2 (verses 22-34)

Each study will have an error in one of the questions. It is our duty as believers to test everything that we read or hear with the Bible. So this will be a mini exercise in testing what is being said in class.

Q1) In verse 23, Paul states that those in Philippi worshipped God without knowing it. How can this be?

Clues) This is the trick question of the study. Paul stated this about those in Athens.

Discussion) It was mentioned that this is the unknown god that those in Athens had a monument to. To the Athenians, this was to cover themselves in case they missed worshipping any gods accidentally. To Paul, this was Jehovah God, the one and only God that they were worshipping. Paul then proceeds to tell the Athenians who God is and who Jesus is. We noted here that some try to twist this verse to make it sound like the worship of Jesus is just like the worship of Buddha and others. That is not what Paul is saying here. What Paul is saying is that the unknown God that the Athenians had was actually the God of the universe.

Q2) Why did Paul emphasize that God made the world and everything in it?

Clues) We need to focus on where the Athenians were at and what they believed in at the time.

Discussion) The Athenians (and the Greeks for that matter) believed in the Greek mythology that there were multiple gods who created the universe, world, and everything in it. Paul met the people where they are at (like Jesus meets each one of us right where we are at). Paul shows the Athenians that Jehovah God of the Old Testament is the one and only God that created the universe, world, and everything in it.

Q3) Verse 27 sticks out as a peculiar verse. Why did Paul say this?

Clues) We must give attention of how the Athenians worshipped their gods.

Discussion) The Athenians were groping around always seeking their gods. If their gods did not answer their worship (which was all the time since they are false gods), they then created performance steps or penance that they must go through in order to reach their gods. At the end of verse 27, Paul mentions that Jehovah God is not far from each person alive. This means that whenever you call upon God and the name of Jesus that He is there, and He will be there no matter who you are or what your social, racial, or economical status is.

Q4) In verse 28, Paul mentions poets and in verse 29, he mentions gold, silver, stone, and art. He has never mentioned any of these things before when telling others about Jesus. Why does he mention these things here?

Clues) Again, Paul is meeting the Athenians exactly where they are at.

Discussion) These are all things that the Greeks held in high regard and were most influential in their thinking in the society. We must remember that the Greeks were not the type of society that the Romans were who ruled with an iron fist. The Greeks ruled with philosophical ideas and the written word. Poetry and art were of utmost importance. Here is one thing we must get a hold of. In verse 28 it states, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.'” Paul must have learned and known some poetry in order for him to state this line from a poem. This shows us that Paul was willing to learn about the culture of the places that he went to in order to meet the people where they are at. He did not have a one size fits all program that he performed when talking to others about Jesus. In the same way Jesus meets us where we are at.

Q5) The people listen undisturbed to Paul for a time. When did they get riled up and begin mocking him?

Clues) This is where Jesus says that He is a stumbling block to many.

Discussion) They become riled up in verse 32 after Paul states in verse 31 that Jesus was raised from the dead. The Athenians agreed with everything that Paul stated up until this point. Their gods were gods of convenience, and Paul here states a plain, hard fact that Jesus was raised from the dead which is inconvenient to many. This is what many people stumble upon today is what Jesus did for them in complete love.

Q6) What is significant about Dionysius and Damaris in verse 34?

Clues) #1) Notice what is after Dionysius’ name. #2) In what context were women considered by the Greeks?

Discussion) First of all we need to understand what we talked about a few studies ago. Whenever the New Testament calls someone by their name and they are only in a couple of verses, it is pointing out obedience to the Holy Spirit and boldness among their countrymen to talk to them about Jesus and to follow Jesus amidst persecution.

Verse 34 calls him Dionysius the Areopagite. This means that he was high up in the rule and philosophical ranks of the Athenians. He was keeper of the Areopagus. This would be like calling him mayor or governor. He had mighty influence over many people.

Damarais is a different story since there are very few clues given about her. Women were considered higher than slaves and were not allowed to be part of any philosophical discussions with the men. There are several different views about who Damarias was and where she came from. One view holds that she was an influential daughter of one of the lead philosophers. Another view holds that she was a foreigner and that she was educated due to her being a foreigner. Another view says that she was somehow related or married to Dionysius and therefore held influence over others as Dionysius did. One last view, which is intriguing is that she was a hetairai. That is a woman that was a mistress of a high philosopher, not for fornication or adultery purposes, but that to talk about philosophies when he went out of the Athenian area. Whatever her past was, she gave it all up to follow Jesus and became obedient unto Him.

Here we see that Paul is meeting the Athenians exactly where they were at. He did not spend years studying their culture or way of thinking. Also, he did not discount what they currently believed in. Instead he took them from what they currently believed in and pointed them towards Jesus.

CAHLLENGE: Some people believe Paul wrote Galatians during the council in Acts 15. Some believe he wrote it while he was on his third missionary journey in Acts 20. Still others believe he wrote it while he was in prison in Acts 28. Read Galatians and determine when you think he wrote it.

Not many people accepted this challenge from last week, so we postponed it until next week.

As we study next week (Acts 18:1-11) we see that some commentators state that the reason Paul stayed at Corinth for 18 months was for the lack of people at Athens that wanted to follow Jesus. In other words that this was the proverbial “straw that broke the camels back” and that Paul needed a sabbatical. As you do the questions for next week, do you see that this being validated in Scripture?

Paul did not go anywhere in this portion of text, so there is no map.

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Entry filed under: Time in the Word.

Acts 17:10-21 – November 26, 2006 Acts 18:1-11 – December 10, 2006

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