Summary: THIS SERMON DEALS WITH PAUL AND HIS ADDRESS ON MARS HILL.
APRIL 25, 2010
6While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SOMEPLACE THAT YOU JUST DIDN’T FIT IN? YOU KNOW AS SOON AS YOU WALK IN, YOU DON’T BELONG THERE. SEVERAL YEARS AGO, MY FAMILY AND I WENT TO MACKINAW ISLAND. THE HOTEL WE STAYED IN, GAVE US A COUPON FOR $10.00, ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS GO TO THE KEWADIN CASINO, AND CASH IT IN. SO, I FIGURED, ITS TEN BUCKS, AND I WENT TO KEWADIN. LET ME TELL YOU, I HAD NEVER BEEN IN A CASINO BEFORE; ALL I KNEW WAS HOW IT LOOKED WHEN RAINMAN WENT TO VEGAS IN THE MOVIE. KEWADIN WAS NOT LIKE VEGAS. I THOUGHT I HAD WALKED INTO THE PIT OF HELL. I DID NOT BELONG IN THIS PLACE, AND IT DIDN’T TAKE ME LONG TO FIND THE EXIT.
AS WE OPEN OUR TEXT, PAUL IS IN THE SAME SITUATION AS I WAS. NOT AT A CASINO, BUT IN A PLACE FAR DIFFERENT THAN WHAT HE WAS ACCUSTOMED TO. ITS KIND OF LIKE DOROTHY IN THE WIZARD OF OZ, “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.” PAUL IS IN ATHENS, GREECE. THE GREEKS HAD A DIFFERENT MIND SET THAN THE ROMANS. HERE IS ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT THE ROMANS; AS LONG AS YOU DIDN’T ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW THE GOVT. YOU COULD BELIEVE PRETTY MUCH WHAT EVER YOU WANTED TO.
AS WE TALKED A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, THEY WORSHIPED MANY DIFFERENT GODS.
NOW AS PAUL HAS COME INTO ATHENS, HE IS DISTRESSED BY ALL THE IDOLS. IT WAS SAID OF ATHENS, YOU COULDN’T WALK DOWN THE STREET WITHOUT BUMPING INTO AN IDOL. BASICALLY WHAT THEY DID WAS THIS; THE SUN IS OUT, BUILD AN IDOL TO THE SUN GOD. DON’T WANT IT TO RAIN; BUILD AN IDOL TO THE RAIN GOD. I SURE FEEL GOOD TODAY, BUILD AN IDOL TO THE FEEL GOOD GOD. SO, YOU CAN IMAGINE, THEY HAVE COVERED THIS CITY WITH IDOLS. WHEN THEY ARE ALL DONE, AND THEY THINK THEY HAVE COVERED ALL THE BASES, THEY THINK, WHAT IF WE MISSED ONE? WHAT IF THERE IS A GOD SOMEPLACE THAT WE HAVE OVERLOOKED. JUST IN CASE, LETS BUILD AN IDOL TO THIS ONE. AND THEY NAMED ALL THESE IDOLS, AND THIS ONE, WAS NAMED, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
ATHENS WAS A CITY THAT WAS KNOWN FOR PHILOSOPHY. IT WOULD BE LIKE A UNIVERSITY TOWN TODAY. THERE WERE TWO MAJOR SCHOOLS OF PHILOSOPHY, MENTIONED IN VS 18.
“While differing from each other, both philosophies had the same practical purpose: each sought peace of mind. Stoics saw man as a rational being, felt that the world had a moral order, and emphasized a kind of universal law that pantheistically pervaded the universe. Epicureans saw man as a feeling being, emphasized the supremacy of the individual, and affirmed that the universe was but a random combination of atoms, mechanistically determined. They maintained that seeking pleasurable experience was the best way of life.”
Neither philosophy had any place for a divine Creation. One viewed matter as eternal, while the other regarded matter as pervaded by, and essentially equivalent to, the Divine. Without a personal, supreme God who created for His own purposes, the universe had no known origin, and history had no direction or goal. An individual’s relationship to either the universe or God (such a god as there was) had no meaning beyond its own existence; no purpose for life could be found outside the brief span of years allotted to an individual.