In this blog post, we are going to look at the remaining portion of Acts chapter 17. We are going to see several great examples that are set by the Apostle Paul. We will first see the importance of checking doctrine with Scripture, and the importance of us being defenders of the Truth. We will also see how to address sin as a minister or witness.
Search the Scriptures
In Acts 17:11-15 we see that Paul and Silas go to an area called Berea. In this area, the people were very reasonable and received the Gospel. In verse 11 we see it emphasized that the people who received the Gospel searched the Scriptures daily. Why did they do this? “to find out whether these things were so”. As a result of them diligently searching the Scriptures ‘many of them believed’. I would like to point out that these people who received the Gospel did not just search the Scriptures once a week, they searched them daily. Sadly, many people who dare to call themselves Christians only read their Bible when they are in church. Come on people, we have such easy access to the Bible. If you don’t have the time to sit down and read it, then pull up an audio Bible on your phone!
Know the Truth – It is NOT About You
Part of the reason that there is a pandemic level of distortion in Christianity today is that people don’t properly read the Word of God, or don’t read it at all. Many people like to hear preaching where it is based on the notion that it is all about you, all about how they are a David facing a Goliath. I have news for you, that is not the Full and True Gospel. The Bible is not about you! The Bible is about a God who is able and willing! We must study the Scriptures daily in order to know Truth from heresy. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”. The full Word of God makes us complete and equipped for every good work. Why settle for anything less?
As usual, there is a conflict with the Jews on what Paul and Silas were doing. There is a group of Jews that come and stir up the crowd. In verse 14 we see that Paul gets sent by the brethren to Athens, while Timothy and Silas stay in Berea. Paul had such an anointing on him because he became the focal point of Jewish opposition. One of the ways to know you are a true disciple of Christ is that you face opposition. If there is no opposition, then I would greatly question your source.
Idol Worship in Athens
While Paul is in Athens, he notices that much of the area is given to idol worship. As a bit of background, Athens is an area with many great buildings and monuments. It is also known as a central hub for philosophical, intellectual, and religious discussion. The idol worship taking place troubled Paul’s spirit as mentioned in verse 16. I like how verse 16 says the idol worship provoked his spirit. As we should know it is our spirit man who is recreated the moment we truly get born again. Our soul and flesh are not saved. We must renew our minds as Scripture tells us. Paul did not let his flesh surface with this issue of idolatry. This is how we are to handle unbelievers. We should not let it provoke anger in our flesh, we should only let it provoke our spirit man. If we let our flesh run how we minister to people, then we will not bear much fruit at all. It is our spirit man that should be on display while ministering to people.
Paul Continues His Custom
As in the previous chapter, Paul continues his custom of reasoning with people in the synagogues. He does not get in their face and confront them; he reasons with them. This was Paul’s custom that was shown in the previous chapter. In verse 17 we see that he additionally went to the marketplace daily and reasoned with people there as well. We are called to always be ready to minister and/or witness to someone at any given time as the Holy Spirit leads us. It might be while you are at church, work, school, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or anywhere. We must always be ready!
The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers then come to question Paul. These people came from the best-known schools for philosophy. Regardless, Paul was ready to deal with their questioning. Paul not only studying Scripture diligently, but he was also filled with the Holy Ghost. When we are questioned by people, we should not rely only on our intellect, but also lean on the Holy Spirit to give us the words to speak. The philosophers take Paul to the Areopagus which is a place that hosted gatherings of philosophical and religious debate.
Paul’s Address to Athens – ‘You are religious’
In verses 22-31 we see Paul’s third and final missionary address in the Book of Acts. There are a few key items from his address I would like to point out. In verse 22 he refers to the people as being ‘very religious’. Many unbelievers love to label Christians as religious, while true Christians are not slaves to a religious system. I would label myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ, which is what we are all called to be at the very least, and we are called to go and make disciples. Jesus said in Matthew 23:27 (NKJV), “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”. Religious people like to cover themselves on the outside, so they do not look so bad. While the truth is that true Christians know and admit that before we came to Christ, we were broken and in need of a Savior.
Paul’s Address to Athens – Idol Worship
Paul then addresses the issue of idolatry. The people of Athens were guilty of worshiping objects made by hands. Paul addresses this while in the Areopagus. Look at Psalm 115:4-8 (NKJV) which tells us, “Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.”. Additionally, Paul mentions an altar they have which states ‘To the Unknown God’. Paul tells them that there is only One True God. He stresses that God is evident through creation, this is something that is explained in further detail in Romans chapter 1. Paul also tells them about the day of judgment that is to come and about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
While there were people who disagreed with Paul’s reasoning ‘some men joined him and believed’. There will come times when we may not get every single person to believe, we may only get a small handful. Regardless it is always the work of the Holy Spirit that brings people to Christ. There were many important points I mentioned throughout this blog post. I encourage you to go back and read through the Scriptures yourself. I also encourage you as we are starting a new year to spend more time than ever before to diligently get to know Gods Word.