:::: MENU ::::

Posts Tagged / Athens

  • Jan 06 / 2019
  • Comments Off on In 2019, let’s go to our Athens! (Acts 17:16-34)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

In 2019, let’s go to our Athens! (Acts 17:16-34)

https://soundcloud.com/antioch-church-325593234/in-2019-lets-go-to-our-athens

Download Notes in a .MD file

In 2019, Let’s go to our Athens!

Acts 17:16-34 (Pastor Heo)

In Athens

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 **’For in him we live and move and have our being.’** As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.


  • Hedonism : The chief end of man is pleasure.
  • Stoicism : Strong self-discipline, avoiding all kinds of self-indulgence and pleasure.

Athens was very proud of their philosophies and philosophers.

  • “Philea” = Love (agape, philia, …, eros) –
  • “Sophia” = Wisdom

So “philosophy” = “love of wisdom”

In the study of philosophy:

  • Who Am I?
  • Where am I from?
  • Where am I going?
  • How did this universe come to exist?

Yes, these questions are very important questions – if we are not clear about them, our lives will be frustrated without action – events without reason.

Only IN God and BY God can we get correct answers to these questions. Outside of God, human philosophy makes us more meaningless and frustrated. (It’s true, I studied it in college…)

The Athenians lived Romans 1:25:

“25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”

  • The Jews want miraculous signs;
  • Greeks seek philosophy and wisdom;
  • we preach Jesus Christ resurrected –
  • a stumbling block to the Jews and Greeks.

Based on this background, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom; the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

v. 16

“16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.”

At that time there were more gods than men in Athens. So, Paul was greatly distressed.

Like Paul, we must feel anger and hatred against Satan who is holding him/her, and at the same time compassion for their soul. We must also have open (spiritual) eyes like Paul.

v. 17

“17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”

The Areopagus Sermon of Paul

  1. Opening: Jesus’ resurrection
  2. Closing: Jesus’ resurrection
  • Epicurean = believed everything happened by chance and death is the end, and God is far from the world – practically, they were materialists like today’s.
  • Stoics = everything that happened by the will of A god (pantheists = everything is god, god is everything) and must be accepted.

What is a babbler? Someone picking up trash – it’s a criticism about Paul – someone speaking something very strange and with unknown sounds. (because Paul was speaking of the resurrection).

To the Greeks, this was a fable; a myth; some silly story to give a moral lesson (like Aesop). So, they called Paul a babbler.

v. 19-23

“19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) [gossip] 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. *Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.* [wow]”

The Areopagus was just a hill – an open area, called “Mars Hill.”

These men sneered at Paul, but he was very wise and kind to them. We must learn from him about his outreach.

  • He didn’t say, “You SINNERS! You IDOLATERS!”
  • No, he said, “Wow, I see you are so religious!” (He gave them compliments and praise first)
  • He also saw the “Unknown God” and said, “You CAN know him!”
  • How? Because he is revealing himself through his Creation (also Romans 1).

Through this story (2,000 years ago), we can see that our world is another Athens.

“Our world is an(other) Athens.”

“In 2019, let’s go to our Athens!”

3 points about “our Athens”

#1 Athens is FULL of idols

Our world today is so full of idols (physical, spiritual) (idols “of the heart” Ezekiel)

Everybody has his/her own personal god. They think “this is my God” but really they often have another god.

Why? Man is not Creator, but created TO WORSHIP – so if you don’t have one, you will find one. Everybody has his own God:

  • Material
  • Money “You cannot serve both God and Money”
  • Family
  • Children
  • Popularity / reputation / YouTube fame
  • Health

Our world is FULL of idols. BE CLEAR about Who is your God in 2019. Who/what is the Driving Force in your life?

#2 They ALWAYS looked for “something new”

[Novelty seekers]

v. 19, 21

“19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “*May we know what this new teaching* is that you are presenting? … 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but *talking about and listening to the latest ideas*.) “

Are you addicted to your phone?

Facebook pull-down-to-refresh = always looking for something new – like a slot machine in a casino (it’s designed that way).

Everybody wants something new. But the Bible reminds us : “There is NOTHING NEW under the sun.” ONLY “in Christ there is a new Creation; the old is gone, the new has come.”

  • What is OLD in your life?
  • What is NEW in your life?

Remember, NEW is only possible IN CHRIST. Old is gone; New has come.

  • Old: Penalty, punishment, fear, worry, anxiety, has gone. Only in Christ – hatred, bitterness, all these evil things are gone.
  • New: Only in Christ – NEW has come: new hope, new vision, new mind, new start, new day. ONLY in Christ.

1 Cor 5:17? “If anyone is in Christ, he is a New Creation. The old has gone; the new has come.”

#3 All citizens spent all their time sitting and talking (gossiping) with each other

Sounds like social media…

Our world likes an EASY life, a comfortable, convenient life. Our world does not like a dangerous, difficult, dirty, sacrificial job.

Remember, we are saved by faith in Christ PLUS nothing. Because Christ has done ALL things for our salvation.

We are SAVED TO SERVE others

The church is the body of Christ; it needs DOERS not talkers, it needs WORKERS not sitters, it needs HELPERS not on-lookers.

Christ shed his _blood_ to save us.

If this is true, we must shed our _sweat_ to serve others.

SHOW the evidence of your salvation with your hands, your feet, your sweat, your blood. If Christ has shed his blood for me, I should be READY to shed my blood for him.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are FEW.”

v. 24-31

“24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. **28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’** As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” “

How wonderful [how powerful] a sermon.

  • v. 18 = Jesus’ resurrection (opening)
  • v. 31 = Jesus’ resurrection (closing)

“God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice…” (The Areopagus was a court of justice, so they were very familiar with this concept) “…by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

By Paul’s sermon, God is:

  • Creator
  • Sustainer
  • Provider
  • Savior
  • Judge

We must be clear on WHO God is:

We do not believe atheism (no gods), nor pantheism (many gods), we believe monotheism (ONE God). We believe in ONE and only God – but remember, it is not enough to say “I am a monotheist. That God is my God.” This is not enough to reach salvation.

Even today,

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses also say this.
  • Mormons also say this.
  • Muslims say it;
  • Jews say it.

So, what is the BIGGEST difference between them and us?

The FUNDAMENTAL difference: We are the ones who say “JESUS is my God.”

Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ, but when he saw the resurrected Christ, he knelt immediately and confessed, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said, “You believe because you see; but more blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.”

One day we will stand before Christ to be judged and he will ask to each of us only TWO questions (remember them):

  1. What did you do with me on earth?
  2. What did you do with what I gave you on earth?

Your Time, Treasure, Talents: what did you do with it?

  1. answer = WHERE we will spend eternity
  2. answer = HOW we will spend eternity

May God bless all of us with his final reward and praise: “Well done, my good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with a few things in this world, now I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness.”

v. 32-34

“32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council [Areopagus]. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. “

At this sermon of Paul, there were THREE reactions:

  1. Sneering
  2. Delay
  3. Accepting

Today, these same three reactions are possible to our own witness about the resurrection of Christ. Do not be surprised.

At our witness of Christ, some may sneer; others will say, “later”; others will accept and believe and kneel down and confess Christ as Savior and Lord.

Please remember, even today, God is happy to save those who believe in Christ through our witness: the story of the death and resurrection of Christ; which sounds FOOLISH to those who are perishing.

God gave us a NEW opportunity in 2019.

“Let’s go to our Athens!” (x5)

God bless you; your shouting; your mouth; your feet; your hands; your life.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 23 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Unknown God Made Known (Acts 17:16-34)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Unknown God Made Known (Acts 17:16-34)

9.23

Bulletin_09.23.2012

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Paul in Athens, waiting for Timothy and Silas to catch up with him.

He noticed idols all over, and his spirit was provoked.

Athens had a 1,000 year long history, the foundation of democracy – very famous place. Literary, artistic, philosophic center.

Socrates, Aristotle, and others…
A long heritage of philosophy.

Romans conquered Athens, but they were so impressed, they fostered Athens continued philosophy, education, etc.
But, before Paul, it had long since lost its wealth, reputation, etc.

Its population at that time was only 10,000, compared to Thessalonica at 200,000.

It’s proud of its pagan heritage, full of idols, tons of religion.

William Barclay “more statues of the gods in Athens than in all Greece put together – it was easier to meet a god than a man”

Paul enters the synagogue and begins to reason with them, as was his pattern.

On the weekdays, he went to the marketplace and reasoned with the Gentiles there. This was the center of Athenian social life, where goods were bought and sold, and philosophers exchanged their ideas.
Paul challenged them there, soon he encountered Epicurus “pleasure is the chief goal of life – freedom from pain, superstitions, etc” Different from Hedonism – “physical pleasure” Epicurus taught friendship and mind pleasure were the greatest.

The Epicureans had little motivation to seek God or fear him “gods are far off, they don’t care, let’s just live our lives as best we can”
Actually, Thomas Jefferson was an Epicurean – “all men are created equal…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Stoic school of Phil – founded by Xeno – emphasize human rational abilities, reason, logic (Spock – Star Trek)

The gods of popular mythology believed to be expressions of this kind of thought.

So, these two schools of thought were competing with each other, then Paul comes along with the gospel.

Thoughtful people want to cope with the world of suffering using one of these two schools of thought. So, the two schools tried to show them how to cope without God. But the gospel questions the usefulness of these two philosophies because it depends on God.

This from Paul sounded dangerous and upsetting to them. “Who is this babbler?” (bird pecking at food – scrap-peddlers – people who sold religious ideas without understanding them)

Paul is dismissed as ignorant, foolish.
1 Corinthians 1:23 – “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks, foolishness, but to us who are being saved, salvation”

Others, more polite, said they’d listen again.

He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods – because he preached on Jesus and the resurrection (maybe this was TWO gods? Jesus AND the resurrection god?)

They took him to the chief judicial body of the city – 30 members – they overlooked the religious, phil, moral, stuff of the day. Areopagus still means “judicial body” in Greece today.

There’s an implied threat here, though nothing formal – yet. Josephus talked about many who were executed by insulting the Greek gods. Paul might be in trouble here….

In Athens, the introduction of strange gods was a capital offense IF the state gods were denied.

So, here is Paul, before the council, giving answers to their questions – gotta be quick on his feet, speak to the culture.

Paul points out the weaknesses of idolatry, by relying on their OWN insights (from phil of their own). Some pagan phil have ideas of gods that contradict idols. Paul says it doesn’t go far enough, and then he presents the gospel.

Paul quickly takes the side of his hearers (flattering them, making him sound like one of them) – He said they are “religious” – could be devout or superstitious.

He saw an altar to an unknown god, (God’s providence), so that he was able to say “Let me explain this unknown god to you.”

In this way, we can also see how Paul “became all things to all people, so as to win some.” Paul became as one without the Jewish Law in order to win them over. He had to become like them, become like the culture, empathize with the culture, before he was able to preach the gospel to them.

He informs them that God is the Creator of all – not detached from the universe, but caring, loving – so loving, he sent his own son to die in their place for their sins. The world did not come about by chance, but by design, God himself is the designer.

William H. Williams – in reasoning from the natural world toward faith in God, Paul borders on natural theology as a forerunner to faith. How can one look up into the stars and deny something or someone created them? Yet, atheists still do – ALL THIS STUFF just “looks” cool, just “looks” designed, but “oops! coincidence!” But to those who know better, there is no coincidence in this intricacy.

First, Paul needed to establish WHO the one true God was – and that he could be glimpsed through nature. He had to break them away from their idolatry before they could fully understand God.

“God doesn’t live in temples built by human hands.” Even Stephen – the first martyr – said that in a Jewish context. “He lives in hearts that are open to him.”

Interesting, pagan AND Jewish temples are placed in the same category. Even churches are not where God lives. If the beautiful temples in Jerusalem could not contain the true God, how much less could lesser temples (and churches) contain him?

“God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, but he gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

Our common humanity has a single source. From one man, God made all the nations, he marked their appointed times and lands (Adam and the scattering during the Tower of Babel). Paul insists, God has a purpose in the rise and fall of nations and their geographical locations – WHY? so that men would seek Him, and reach out to Him, though He is not far.

Ps. 145:18 – the Lord is near to ALL who call out to Him in truth.

God is not far away, he wants to be found, he wants to be discovered. For IN God, “we live and move and have our being.”

He quotes one of their own poets:
“Phenomenon” – “let us begin with Zeus, let us never leave him unmentioned, the marketplace, harbors, everywhere has him. For everywhere and in everything we have our being in Him.” So, Paul uses their own understanding and culture in order to give them the gospel.

“Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold, or silver, or stone – in the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

This speech is not just a dream or philosophy, but the call to repentance is very serious, because God has set a day for judgment.

At the end, he focuses on Jesus’ his cross, and resurrection.

From the introduction (focusing on the culture), to the conclusion (focusing on Jesus), Paul speaks well.

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some sneered, some wanted to hear more. The idea of a person’s body being resurrected was absurd to Greek thoughts. They believed in the immortality of the soul, but not the body. But at least no charges were brought against him, and some became believers.

In some ways, Paul’s work in Athens ended in an anti-climactic note – no church was established there. But the next city, Corinth, had a large number of acceptance.

But for those few that believed, it was NOT anti-climactic. Jesus died for the ONE person, just as much as he died for the multitudes.

It’s important that Paul made known the living and true God.

A time is coming when each of us will appear before the one true God, and Jesus will have to say to some of us, “I never knew you…”

Do we know we’re saved? Examine our own hearts and know we’re saved.

I’m a sinner, I need salvation by grace, God is not far off, he forgives sin, he cleanses from unrighteousness, we need the Lord.

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen