A Man to Follow Part 10: Paul at Athens

A time of waiting

When Paul came to Athens it was a time of waiting until his faithful fellow workers joined with him again. They were left at Thessalonica to encourage the believers and establish them in the faith. Later in writing (1 Thessalonians 3:6) he tells how he was uplifted with the report given by Timothy of their faith and love and how they missed him.

Likewise Paul missed them and hoped to get back to see them again. Sounds familiar to those who minister among the assemblies of the Lord’s people. Special bonds are formed and often later there is a deep longing to renew fellowship once more. It always causes me great joy through the years to see familiar faces and meet new believers. No matter what comes along they continue on and will be rewarded for their faithfulness.

A city steeped in idolatry

As Paul looked over the city of Athens he was deeply moved by the idolatrous nature of its people. How does that relate to us? Looking around at our communities are we affected by its desperate condition and hopeless situation before God.

People do not bow down to idols as they do in other of the parts of the world but that is not to say they don’t have idols of their own. An idol is anything or anyone who takes the place of God in the heart.

The sporting world have their teams and players who are idolized. Holywood has produced its own brand of idolatry when actors and actresses captivate millions who worship and want to emulate them.  Some in the business world want to own their workers 24 hours a day to giving them ultimate allegiance!

The Christian should always give their absolute best to their employer but when they demand more to the exclusion of all else it is time to make serious choices. Many a believer have had their spiritual life lost and their family life ruined by making work the top and only priority in life.

The question can be asked for what? Not only in this life but for all eternity! It is a high price to pay when the Lord is displaced in the heart.

Addressing the people

The first group that Paul spoke to were the Jews in the synagogue. He reasoned out of the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. He met them on the ground they were familiar with! Then in the marketplace he met the good living people (devout) and also the philosophers who said what will this babbler say? (Acts 17:18)

Here were people who were always open to hearing some new thing. They thought he was speaking of  strange new gods. How like our society today. Ready to listen to anything that appeals, whether true or false.

Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection. What wonderful truth to bring to their ears, for this is the heart of the gospel! Paul writing to the Corinthians

For I delivered unto you first of all what I received, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: and that he was buried, and that He rose again according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)

We are not told what the response was to his message but they were very open to hear what it was all about.

Today there are people in our neighborhoods who have never heard the gospel and yet I still find an openness. We need to seize the opportunities when they come along. Keep getting out this glorious gospel!

Jim Paul
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