Paul in Athens
 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.  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.  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.  And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?  For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”  Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
Paul Addresses the Areopagus
 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.  For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,  that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”  So Paul went out from their midst.  But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (ESV)
- Provoked by idols
G.K. Chesteron is believed to have said, “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in everything.” When we reject the Creator, we end up believing in myths. This was certainly the case in Athens. Paul observed the overwhelming religious devotion of the people. They were, however, devoted to idols: false, empty, and powerless gods. It was their vain hope in these false gods that provoked Paul to preach the Gospel of the true and living God.
- Our God is not needy
Seeing an altar that was dedicated to an unknown god, Paul takes the opportunity to declare the one true God. Unlike the false gods that were worshipped throughout the Roman Empire, the God revealed to us in scripture and through his Son Jesus is not needy. He does not need us to give him a temple nor does he need anything else from anyone, for he alone is the self-sufficient triune creator of all things. In every way, he is infinitely superior to the false gods represented at the Areopagus.
- The God who pursues
Nothing is coincidental. Not the times we live in, the families we are born into, nor our zip codes or addresses. God determines all of this with the intention of drawing us to him. He has determined a day of judgment and has appointed his Son, Jesus, to be both judge and deliverer for all who put their trust in him.
- Paul was provoked by the vain things that the people were trusting. Though our culture doesn’t erect statues and idols, we do put our hope in things that cannot save us. What are some of our cultural idols? What are some of yours?
- Read Psalm 115. List the ways that God is superior to idols.
- In this text, Paul claims that God has arranged our lives in particular ways in order that we might find him. In what ways has God arranged your life specifically to bring you to him?
Call to Worship
Deliver Me, O LORD, from Evil Men
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
 Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men;
preserve me from violent men,
 who plan evil things in their heart
and stir up wars continually.
 They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s,
and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah
 Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet.
 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net;
beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah
 I say to the LORD, You are my God;
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
 O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
 Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked;
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Lord Jesus, I have sinned times without number and been guilty of pride and unbelief, and of neglect to seek you in my daily life. My sins and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I thank you that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Deliver me from every evil habit, every interest of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of your grace in me, everything that prevents me from taking delight in you. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
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