Summary: Just as Paul had to proclaim who the true God is, because the Athenians were ignorant of Him, so we too must proclaim who the true God is to our world and culture.

Proclaiming the Unknown God

Acts 17:16-34

Pastor Mark Olson

The kind of God we worship, determines the kind of person we become - we become what we worship...

Sad truth - great ignorance of the true, living God

Athenians worshipped the “unknown god” because they did not want to leave any god out of their pantheon of deities, but it also reflects their great ignorance of the one, true, God.

Like Paul, we too must proclaim who the unknown God is to our generation and culture

The World of Paul’s Time

Pagan worldview

The gods control nature and human life

These gods are finite, good/bad, imperfect, glorified humans

Degrees of authority in various locations - hierarchy

Goal of worship - win their favor/blessing


Supreme good = happiness; pain is evil

Atoms control world/fate - devalued myths, religion

Death is final; no resurrection

Appealed to educated classes in Roman society


World soul/divine reason guides everything

God’s - symbols of this world soul

Natural moral law and self-control

Death is final; immortal spirit; no resurrection

Our World Today

Belief in one God (most people you will meet)

Many paths lead to this one God - relativism

Jesus, good moral teacher, someone to respect

General goodness entitles one to heaven - good outweighs bad

Death is final, immortal spirit; no resurrection of body

What Must We Proclaim About the True God vv 24-31

1. God is the Creator & Lord of all things v 24

2. God is Immaterial - does not live in temples v 25

Self-contained - is not served; does not need anything

Source for everything we need - we are dependent on him!

3. God oversees & guides human affairs and destiny v 26

One man = allusion to Genesis

Purpose = inhabit whole world

He sets up & deposes kings & rulers - active in our world

4. God wants relationship with us - grace v 27

God wants to be sought after: seek… reach out… find him

God is immanent - near & close to us

Problem: not distance, but estrangement & alienation

5. We are God’s offspring - made in his image v 28

Designed to live in fellowship with God

To live, move and have our being in him - true happiness

Insight: our humanity tells us something about God… he is personal

6. Idolatry is stupid and offensive to God v 29

Surely we are not gold, wood, stone - neither is God

We are offended when treated as an object or thing

Surely God feels the same way

Heart of the problem - we have mistreated God

7. God expects people to repent! v 30

God is just...he judges how people treat him

Cross/Res teach (1) God is going to judge

(2) God offers mercy now if we repent

(3) God promises resurrection!

Closing: The Choice is Yours to Make vv32-34

1. We can reject God - as many Athenians did

Do nothing, continue on our present path

2. We can hear… believe… follow

Hear = open, teachable spirit

Believe = personal commitment to Christ

Follow = become a disciple of Jesus

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