Gospeling, gospeling, gospeling … that’s what Paul does. And today we look at his great address on the Areopagus in Athens:
Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, ?What does this babbler want to say?? Others said, ?He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.? (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19 So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, ?May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.? 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.
Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ?Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ?To an unknown god.? What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him?though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For ?In him we live and move and have our being?; as even some of your own poets have said,
?For we too are his offspring.?
29 Since we are God?s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.?
Acts 17:32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, ?We will hear you again about this.? 33 At that point Paul left them. 34 But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Paul’s gospeling involved: Jesus and the resurrection and the Gentile philosophers think he is talking about foreign gods (revealing, in part, how Paul spoke of Jesus in exalted terms).
Paul’s gospeling involved “touchstones”: he started where the audience was. What those gods were pointing at Paul knew: the one God created it all, this one God made all humans to search for God and is not far from any of us — in fact, we dwell in God — but idols are not God.
Paul’s gospeling involved the call to repentance in light of God’s judgment. And the Judge will be Jesus Christ.