Summary: Fads today offer opportunitis for evangelism. Pul on Mars Hill pointed out a fad and turned it into a way to reach that Athenians.
Fads – a chance for evangelism
Last week James talked to us about worshiping when we really don’t feel like it. When things are bad and even scary that we need to find a way to worship.
Paul and Silas are set free and after an apology, visit the new church members and go on their way. They go to Thessalonica where there is a Synagogue and over a period of three weeks some Jews and a large number of God fearing Greeks and some prominent women come to believe.
Paul uses his standard operating procedure of gong to the synagogue and explaining the Jewish scripture. He pointed out that the long expected messiah would come into the world and suffer in die, instead of being a military leader he would be a servant.
Some of the important Jews are said to be jealous and go out and get come bad characters to cause a riot and blame the teaching of Paul and Silas who just happen to not be around at the moment.
Isn’t it strange that the mob can’t find these two men.
That night the brothers, the new believers, send Paul and Silas 45 miles to Berea. When they arrive they find the members of the Synagogue to be of more noble character and received the message that Paul shared.
The Berean’s were unique in how they responded to Paul’s teachings. It describes that they listened to what he had to say, then they went home and verified that what he said matched scripture.
I would suggest that is a good practice for anyone that listens to preaching. I am not saying that you should distrust the preacher, What I am saying is that you should not just automatically take in everything without an verification.
We are all gifted by the Holy Spirit to find the truth. However, you have to take the time to read scripture and compare what you hear here, or the radio or the TV preachers.
Any person that wants to gain a real understanding of God must at least make some attempt to learn for themselves.
Preaching is ok and helpful, but it must be supported my individual prayer and study, otherwise some flashy person can “almost” tell the truth and lead people down the wrong path.
The Bereans became believers not only because of Paul’s preaching ability and charisma but, because they researched his message and what this itinerant preacher said was true. It really was in the scriptures.
Things were going well in Berea; however, trouble makers from Thessalonica come to the city and stir up the crowds against Paul’s teaching.
The brothers (the new believers) sent Paul to the coast where it is thought that he traveled to Athens by ship. His companions Silas and Timothy stay at Berea for a time and Paul sends that they should join him there.
He is expecting to be in Athens for several weeks waiting on his companions.
Athens is the center of art, culture and education in Greece.
However, it had lost its place of power, the government and commerce had moved to Corinth down on the coast and left Athens as a sleepy little college town.
The population was well educated and philosophers shared thoughts and ideas as a general pass time.
The leadership of the town were intellectuals. They openly argued, discussed, deep thoughts of politics and religion.
Paul is a tourist; he is separated for a time from his companions. He walks around the city and can’t help but notice all the idols.
One ancient writer explains that, at this time, there were over 30,000 idols worshiped in Athens.
Petronius, an ancient historian, said that is was easier to find a god in Athens than a man! With 30,000 I think I can understand why.
Paul’s understanding of these idols is that people of the city believe that the idol itself is the god.
They believe that they must make offerings to keep the god alive to receive the blessing from the god for what they wanted and needed.
Our scripture explains that Paul is bothered, “greatly distressed,” over what he saw. As a Jew he would have been completely appalled by idol worship whenever he witnessed it and Athens was worse than any place he had ever seen.
He starts his normal procedure. He goes to the Synagogue to reason with the Jews and then he does something different.
-- Before he is thrown out of the synagogue he starts preaching in the “agora” (market place). He is talking to anyone that will listen.
He is desperate to reach these people.
He can’t believe that the Jews aren’t trying to make a difference. They keep themselves separate and avoid the culture as much as possible and seem to be doing nothing about idol worship in the town.