So Paul standing before the council,
addressed them as follows:
“Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,
for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines
one of your altars had this inscription on it:
‘To an Unknown God.’
whom you worship without knowing,
is the one I’m telling you about.
“He is the God
who made the world and everything in it.
Since he is Lord of heaven and earth,
he doesn’t live in man-made temples,
and human hands can’t serve his needs
for he has no needs.
He himself gives life and breath to everything,
and he satisfies every need.
From one man he created
all the nations throughout the whole earth.
He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall,
and he determined their boundaries.
His purpose was for the nations to seek after God
and perhaps feel their way toward him
and find him
though he is not far from any one of us.
For in him we live and move and exist.
As some of your own poets have said,
‘We are his offspring.’
And since this is true,
we shouldn’t think of God
as an idol
designed by craftsmen
from gold or silver or stone.
“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things
in earlier times,
he commands everyone
to repent of their sins
and turn to him.
For he has set a day
for judging the world
by the man he has appointed,
and he proved to everyone
who this is
by raising him from the dead.”
Notice how Paul has layered his argument. The crux of his argument is held in the relative clauses or stems which come back to This God who is Unknown to you.
This God unknown to you, He is the One
Who made the world and everything in it
Who himself gave life and breath to everything
Who created the nations from one man
Who decided at the beginning of time when they should rise and fall and determined their boundaries
Whose purpose was that the nations should seek Him
In whom we live and move and exist
Your own poets write of this. It is true.
This same God overlooked ignorance in past times
But now He has set a day for judging the world justly.
he other lines not included here are subordinate to the above points and explain those points further in layered ways.
Paul has skilfully shown that in their zeal for the gods they acknowledge themselves that they may have gaps in their knowledge. He noticed in walking around their city full of idols that they have idols and statues to all the gods. But he also noticed that there was an altar to an unknown god. Paul then goes on to explain that the one they acknowledge they may have missed is indeed the one and only true God and all the other idols are fake. The Greeks in their philosophical approach to life seem to have omitted the One True God. So Paul hints that he could explain to them that Unknown God they are missing. Paul tells them because they also worship this Unknown God without knowing Him, he will tell them who He is. He is the God who . . .
- In the following Gems we will dissect and analyze what it was that Paul actually told them.
- Following that we will examine their reactions to the things he told them.
Because God made all there is, gave life and breath to every living creature, determined the nations and their boundaries and set limits on their empires, He expects all men to seek Him and have their existence in Him. God will some day judge all of mankind through the One He raises from the dead. So you had better sit and take notice. This is a universal message from people of all nations and ages throughout time. So we had all better set aside our ignorance and listen. Jews and non-Jews. Greek and non-Greeks. In short all mankind in all time periods of history – including us in the present age.
Greeks, Romans, Kiwis, Indonesians lend me your ears. He and she who have ears listen up.
By announcing the Good News to shepherds, God made His favour rest on all people. As members of the “people of the earth” [Am Ha Arets] Shepherds were unclean and excluded from the temple.Ian Vail
Fifth Avenue, New York City: On one side of the street Atlas strains under the weight of the world. On the other side of the street (in St Patrick’s Cathedral) an eight year old Jesus holds the world in one cupped hand effortlessly.Anon
- Resolved: that every man should live to the glory of God.
- Further resolved: That whether others so this or not I will.
Be open to being transformed until you completely become like Him.Ian Vail