– Unstoppable (6) – Unstoppable Impact – November 20, 2016
lesson six (6) and the final lesson in our series entitled “Unstoppable
scripture is Acts 17:16-18, 22-23, 30-31.
of JESUS CHRIST can impact any culture.
lesson, we fast forward to the Apostle Paul in Athens. It is interesting how
GOD guides HIS servants to where HE desires for them to preach HIS message.
Let’s read Acts 17:1-15:
A Short Ministry in Thessalonica
1 Then they traveled through
Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish
2 As usual, Paul went to them, and on three
Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
3 explaining and showing that the
Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying: "This is the
Messiah, Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you."
4 Then some of them were persuaded and
joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well
as a number of the leading women.
“GOD-fearing” applies to those who have not fully converted to Judaism. They
have not been circumcised but they believe in one GOD and accept the moral and
ethical teachings of Judaism.
The Assault on Jason's House
5 But the Jews became jealous,
and when they had brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace and
formed a mob, they set the city in an uproar. Attacking Jason's
house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly.
this was interesting, that thugs were enlisted to form a mob to disrupt. Does
that remind you of anything going on in America today? Satan does not want
unity but disruption.
6 When they did not find them, they
dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting,
"These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too,
7 and Jason has received them as
guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar's decrees, saying that there is
8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and
the city officials who heard these things.
9 So taking a security bond from Jason
and the others, they released them.
The Beroeans (Bereaian’s) Search the Scriptures
10 As soon as it was night, the
brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea (Berea). On arrival, they went
into the synagogue of the Jews.
Paul and Silas were not intimidated because as soon as they arrived in Berea,
they went straight to the synagogue.
11 The people here were more
open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with
eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
12 Consequently, many of them believed,
including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.
13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica
found out that God's message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came
there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds.
14 Then the brothers immediately sent
Paul away to go to the sea, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there.
The Apostle Paul
was the lightening rod.
15 Those who escorted Paul brought him
as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to
come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.
Paul was escorted to Athens and left there with instructions that Silas and
Timothy will join in as quickly as possible. So what did Paul do while he was
waiting? He was taking in the culture in Athens and getting an impression of
those who either lived or visited Athens.
known for its literature, art, pagan religion, philosophers and intellectuals. As
Paul was taking in all the sites, what impression did he have of Athens? Let’s
Let’s read Acts 17:16-18:
Paul in Athens
16 While Paul was waiting for them
in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was
full of idols.
Paul was troubled
in his Spirit because of all the idols. Paul knew they needed to hear about JESUS.
Paul was GOD’S man of action. When we are disturbed what do we do? Do we
complain or do we do something about it and get involved? What should we do? He
concluded that these poor people were seeking truth in all the wrong places and
he knew the truth and was compelled to share it.
Christians, know the truth, but are we willing to share it with those who are
in Spiritual darkness? This was Paul’s cue to go to work.
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue
with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, and in the marketplace every
day with those who happened to be there.
with those who were seeking truth by going to the local synagogue.
He met with
the Jews and those who worshipped GOD. He then expanded into the marketplace
and spoke to those there. Paul “reasoned” with those who were interested in
spiritual matters. The use of the word “reasoned” carries the idea of
discussion or conversation marked by an exchange of ideas. This implies
speaking and listening in order to have a dialogue.
18 Then also, some of the
Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some said, "What is this
pseudo-intellectual trying to say?" Others replied, "He seems to
be a preacher of foreign deities"-because he was telling the good news
about Jesus and the resurrection.
encountered Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.
Epicurean philosophers followed the philosophy espoused by the Greek
philosopher Epicurus who lived from 341 BC to 270 BC. Epicureans’ believed that
the chief aim of life was to pursue happiness, pleasure and tranquility by
living in simplicity and in freedom from pain, passion and fear.
They had given
up on the gods of the culture. They were convinced that these gods did not care
about humans. They also did not believe in life after death. In essence, eat,
drink and be merry because tomorrow you will die. They identified atoms as the
basic material in the universe.
or Stoicism was founded by Zeno who live from 490 BC to 430 BC. Stoicism was
likely the most influential philosophy in the Greco-Roman world. The Stoics
were disciplined in their behavior. They believed that GOD was a spirit to be
found in all of creation. They believed they could discover truth through human
reasoning. Life was governed by fate rather than by faith.
So what did
these followers of these philosophies think of Paul? They referred to him as a
“pseudo-intellectual” which means “picking up seeds.” It referred to a person
who did not have the intellectual base to form his or her own ideas. They would
go around and talk to those who were intellectuals, gathering idea seeds; to
give the impression he or she knew what they were talking about. Bottom line
these people were considered “empty talkers” or “babblers.” They thought Paul
was such a person and likely invited him to speak before a group of true
intellectuals to embarrass him and shut him up.
later part of verse 18 “Others replied, "He seems to be a preacher of
foreign deities"-because he was telling the good news about Jesus
and the resurrection.” The intellectuals made some assumptions. They
thought Paul was going to lecture on “foreign deities” and to help them
determine if they had overlooked a deity. They thought that JESUS, masculine,
was one deity and they thought “the resurrection,” which is a feminine noun in
Greek, referred to a female deity such as Anastasia. They wanted to hear Paul
GOD is at
work using the curiosity of the Athenians to get them to gather to hear HIS message
to them through HIS servant Paul.
19 They took him and brought him
to the Areopagus, and said, "May we learn about this new teaching
you're speaking of?
Areopagus (Ar e op a gus) was also known as “Mars Hill.” It was dedicated to
Ares, the Greek god of war, who also known as “Mars” in Latin.
20 For what you say sounds strange
to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean."
21 Now all the Athenians and the
foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or
hearing something new.
gathering of “intellectuals” loved to hear new ideas and thoughts. So they were
eager to listen to what Paul had to say.
Let’s read Acts 17:22-23:
22 Then Paul stood in the middle
of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely
religious in every respect.
as was common for the speaker and began speaking with a left-handed compliment.
The term “religious” could mean superstitious in that they wanted to make
certain that they did not leave out any deity. The Greek word could be
interpreted as “religious,” which would be acceptable to these
23 For as I was passing through
and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was
inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD
Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I
proclaim to you.
In case they
had omitted a deity they had an altar to “An unknown GOD.” Paul used this as
the basis of his message to them. This must have peaked their interest and
cause them to listen very carefully to his message. Paul’s message focused on
God as theos, the supreme Divinity. He would bring his audience around to JESUS
but in the beginning he needed for his audience to listen. If he had been
speaking to a Jewish audience, he would have referred to GOD, as the Jews knew
speak, our audience helps us to set the tone for our message as led by the
indwelling Holy Spirit.
24 The God who made the world and
everything in it-He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines
made by hands.
general agreement that God or a higher power existed and HE created the world.
But there was little to no definition of that GOD, God or god.
25 Neither is He served by human
hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and
breath and all things.
out that GOD is self-sufficient but we as humans are dependent upon HIM. Paul
knew to whom he was referring and his audience had their definition of who they
thought he was referring. So they listened. The Holy Spirit was at work in each
listener bringing about understanding and establishing a foothold for further
seeking of the truth. GOD’S desire is for all to accept JESUS The CHRIST as
26 From one man He has made
every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their
appointed times and the boundaries of where they live,
with GOD making man, Adam, without getting into scriptural history.
27 so that they might seek God,
and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each
one of us.
GOD made man
with a natural desire to seek HIM. GOD is not far from any of us and reachable.
Consider this ---
28 For in Him we live and move and
exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His
offspring.' Gk poet.
reminded his audience that the Greek poets had written regarding the beginning
of the human race being an offspring of GOD.
29 Being God's offspring, then, we
shouldn't think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an
image fashioned by human art and imagination.
logic to get his audience to open their eyes and hearts to truth. Since humans
are GOD’S offspring and GOD is divine shouldn’t we consider that?
If GOD is
divine, then why do we attempt to fashion some image of GOD using material
things, art and/or imagination? Paul narrowed the concept of GOD from broad to
30 "Therefore, having
overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to
them that, the GOD to Whom I am referring has compassion and HE overlooked the
ignorance of humans but that had changed. HE demands all people everywhere to
repent. Repent is to stop, turn around and go in the direction of seeking HIM
in view of this new understanding.
31 because He has set a day on which He
is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He
has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the
gets to the heart of his message. The Man GOD appointed was JESUS. By referring
to “the Man” GOD appointed should generate questions, e.g.well who is this Man
and tell us more about this Man?
32 When they heard about resurrection
of the dead, some began to ridicule him. But others said, "We will hear
you about this again."
Keep in mind
that most did not believe in the resurrection. When Paul made the statement
regarding the resurrection of this Man (JESUS), some began to ridicule Paul. The
noise of the crowd squelched further discussion. People do not want to be
considered a fool by others. When things get out of control, it is time to
33 So Paul went out from their
retreated. He had delivered the message GOD desired for him to deliver. GOD
takes over, where we leave off. GOD’S Spirit strives with all mankind. GOD’S
desire is for all to come to a saving knowledge of HIM through faith in HIS
only Son, JESUS. But was all lost? Let’s read on.
34 However, some men joined
him and believed, among whom were Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman
named Damaris, and others with them.
never returns void. HIS Word is powerful and produces a result. Here we learn
that Dionysius (de o nu se os), the Areopagite (a re o pa ge tas). Dionysius
was a member of the Areopagus which referred to a council, an assembly of Greek
leaders or possibly a formal court. So a person of stature accepted Paul’s gospel
message and became a Christian.
There was a
second person, a lady named Damaris (da ma res) and others who accepted Paul’s gospel
message of JESUS and became Christians.
So what can
we learn from Paul’s experience? GOD provides opportunity and gives us HIS
message through the indwelling Holy Spirit. When we are in uncharted territory we
can begin by seeking common ground. Paul addressed their interest in knowing about
some deity they might have overlooked so he zeroed in on a local inscription “TO
AN UNKNOWN GOD.” That statement likely caught their attention.
The key to speaking
is for those to whom you speak listen. Paul held their attention until he spoke
of the resurrection of the “Man.” Some rejected the idea of resurrection but others
did not, thus some accepted JESUS as their Savior. Those who rejected the gospel
message at that moment had a base upon which GOD’S Spirit could work within each
of those who heard. Only eternity will reveal who accepted JESUS later but for sure,
GOD’S Word always works within. It is up to each individual to either accept or
reject JESUS as his or her Savior.
HAVE YOU MADE
THAT DECISION IN YOUR LIFE? If not, why not now? Eternity is but a heartbeat away.