Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 17:22-31: Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him-though indeed he is 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 too are his offspring.” Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’
Summary – This famous speech given by Paul in Athen on “Mars Hill” demonstrates the apostolic defense of the faith. In speaking to these pagan thinkers, Paul does not appeal to Scripture (as he does in the synagogues), he begins with their own culture as a point of contact. He then moves on to provide a biblical description of the Creator-God which has a certain rational consistency. Essentially, if this is the Creator, then He is not limited to your altar or shrines. He is the one who gives life to all. Now he appeals to the biblical story again in that from one person God made all the nations and is sovereign over them. He did this so we would reach out to find him. Here he once again makes the point of contact some of the poetic words of pagan writers (Epimenides, c.600 B.C. and Aratus, c. 315–240 B.C.). Then Paul moves to call them to account, emphasizing that the proof is that God raised a man (Jesus) from the dead.
Insight – The Christian faith is grounded in the historical events of the OT, leading to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. We proclaim that after a vicarious death for sins, God raised Jesus from the dead and this Jesus ascended to rule from heaven. Therefore, Jesus is Lord. These beliefs are not leaps into the darkness of irrationality. One need not sacrifice the fullest intellectual curiosity for truth in believing this Gospel. God has provided sufficient evidence for all the world to be “without excuse” (anapologetous – “without an apologetic” Rom. 1:20), since He has “furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). On the other hand, men can erect a Standard (“of reason” or “evidence”) which never yields to the Triune God whose existence is the foundation for truth, knowledge, reason, logic and evidence. You can’t get rationality in a universe made by chance. Rationality only makes sense if there is a God to account for it. At the end of Paul’s address, many scoffed over the resurrection. Were they doing so because they had a superior rationality? Paul had already successfully argued that their entire culture was bound in irrational practices (idolatry) since the Creator is not made of metal. Rather, we are God’s offspring and therefore we should expect God to further reveal Himself in a human being and one who showed Himself evidentially to walk in the power of God. The Greeks here did not have a superior Standard of truth; they had a bias against creation/matter/physicality. Only by yielding their alleged Reason and worldview to be examined in the light of the true God’s revelation could they truly come to a higher level of rational understanding.
Child’s Catechism – Where do we live? In Him we live, move, and have our being.
Discussion – What is the greatest intellectual challenge for you to believe the Bible?
Prayer – O LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.