Summary: Paul knew that nobody could be saved without the knowledge of the Gospel, and so in preaching he imparts to Jews and Gentiles alike the knowledge which can, if they believe it, lead them to eternal life in Christ.
Marcus Bach tells of vacationing in Arizona where his 7 year old son came in to the house with
a snake in his pocket. "What kind of a snake is this daddy," he asked? "I don't know," he
responded. "Some harmless snake suppose. You wouldn't be carrying it around if it was
dangerous." The boy wanted to take it home for a pet, and so dad agreed. He was always playing
the naturalist with frogs, beetles, and whatnot. So they took the snake home to Iowa. One day the
father decided to get the lowdown on this pet, and so he took it to a biology professor at the college.
He put the snake on his desk and asked what kind of a reptile it was. The professor was shocked
and instinctively jumped up saying, "Why man, that is a deadly Arizona coral." The snake sensing
the fear present struck out, but they were far enough away to escape injury.
Here is a true story that illustrates the saying that what you don't know won't hurt you is
sometimes true. If you don't know a snake is dangerous you will not react in fear. Your ignorance
is bliss because the snake has no stimulus to strike at one who shows no fear. But it would be
foolish to conclude that because ignorance is bliss, and on occasion can even be beneficial, that
ignorance is preferred to knowledge.
Paul even tells these Greek philosophers on Mars Hill in verse 30 that in the past God overlooked
the ignorance of man making gods in His own image. In other words, God has taken ignorance into
consideration, and there have been people who were never judged even though guilty of idolatry
because of their ignorance. God has accepted ignorance as an excuse. Jesus said from the cross,
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do." They killed the Son of God in ignorance, and
because of this they were not condemned. You can make a case for the benefit of ignorance in
isolated situations. But over all ignorance is a curse, and the history of human progress is the history
of knowledge pushing back the kingdom of ignorance, and the light of truth overcoming the
darkness of ignorance.
Christians use to think that it was lack of faith to try and understand the diseases of a culture and
how to fight them before you went with the Gospel. The result was that many a well trained
missionary was sent to his or her death because of medical ignorance. In the first 40 years of
missions in the Congo of Africa 61 missionaries died. This was common in other parts of Africa as
well. Thomas Lewis, writing of his first experiences in Africa wrote, "I wonder how I am alive to tell
the tale. We did such irrational things in those days. We were not taught to take precautions for our
health, except perhaps not to expose ones self too much too the mid-day sun. There was not a
mosquito net in the whole Mission...The only medicine we were told to bring with us was quinine,
and that was to be used very sparingly neither Silvey nor I owned a clinical thermometer!...We all
went out in faith in those days, certainly not with knowledge."
Ignorance is usually not bliss, but is a curse. It was ignorance that led to sin and folly and the
reality of man's being lost. On the other hand, knowledge is the way back to God and eternal life.
Jesus made this clear in John 17:3 where He said, "Now this is eternal life that they may know you,
the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Salvation is in who you know, and what
you know about the Father and the Son. That is why we find the Apostle Paul practicing what we
can call educational evangelism.
Paul knew that nobody could be saved without the knowledge of the Gospel, and so in preaching
he imparts to Jews and Gentiles alike the knowledge which can, if they believe it, lead them to
eternal life in Christ. This chapter provides us with a fascinating account of the contrast between the
appeal to the emotions and the appeal to the mind. Paul had the evidence on his side as he proved
that the Messiah was to suffer, die, and rise again. His opponents only had one option if they did not
have the facts to defeat Paul in argument, and that was to stir up people's emotions. Look at the
words that describe the emotions of those who attacked Paul.
In verse 5 we see the Jews were jealous, and with this strong negative emotion they were
motivated to round up bad characters and form a mob to start a riot in the city. In verse 6 we see