Main point summary
The truth about God and man leads to the necessity of true worship, while sinful people worship false gods instead. Therefore, they need to turn from idols to the true God.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said:
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
For as I passed along
and observed the objects of your worship,
I found also an altar with this inscription,
p ‘To the unknown god.’
p What therefore you worship q as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
r The God who made the world and everything in it... does not live in temples made by man,
...being Lord of heaven and earth...
nor is he served by human hands,
u as though he needed anything,
since he himself v gives to all mankind w life and breath and everything.
And x he made from one man every nation of mankind
to live y on all the face of the earth,
z having determined allotted periods and a the boundaries of their dwelling place,
b that they should seek God,
c and perhaps feel their way toward him
and find him.
d Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
for e “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; 1
as even some of f your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 2
g Being then God’s offspring, h we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
i The times of ignorance j God overlooked,
but k now he l commands all people everywhere to repent,
because he has fixed m a day on which n he will judge the world
o in righteousness
by a man whom he has appointed;
and p of this he has given assurance to all q by raising him from the dead.”
Because you are religious but ignorant, I will proclaim the true God to you.
As the Creator and Sustainer of mankind, God can't be contained or served.
Mankind is the offspring of God.
Therefore, we ought not to think that God is like people, but repent and thus avoid Christ's judgment.
God is the Creator and mankind is his offspring; therefore, they should repent of their idolatry.
Notes for FB Live (March 19/21): DETAILS Paul doesn't just proclaim the nature of God, but also the nature of man. And not only does he proclaim these truths, but he also shows their implications: a call to repent of idolatry. Even though Paul just says "repent," and doesn't say of what in verse 30, the context is clear: you have many "objects of ... worship" (23b), not including the true God, who doesn't live in man-made temples (24-25), and who isn't "gold or silver or stone" (29). So the Athenians thought wrongly about God, and needed to repent. The main point is in 24-25 and 26-31. Here's the Main Point Summary: the truth about God and man leads to the necessity of true worship, while sinful people worship false gods instead. Therefore, they need to turn from idols to the truth God. (See 1 Thess 1:9). APPLICATION We can apply this verse to Gentile unbelievers, like Paul's audience: turn from idol worship to the true God. We can also apply this verse cautiously to our witness. I say "cautiously" because this presentation is very different from Paul's other presentations. He doesn't use the OT, and he is preaching to a unique group (pagan philosophers), and because of a different impetus (being asked what his new teaching was about, rather than preaching at a synagogue of his own volition). I just want to make one careful application to our witness: When confronting a pagan culture, we can make two complementary approaches: 1) Appropriate truth they already believe, and 2) confront lies they believe. Notice how Paul uses Greek poets for support in 28a and c! And they don't even follow this, as they ought to! They still worship idols! But he also talks about the coming judgment, righteousness, and Jesus' resurrection, which was foolishness to them (v. 32). He calls them jarringly to repentance. We must never accommodate sinful ideas of a culture to schmooze up to them and make them accept the gospel. Paul never did this. But he was willing to use the light people had to show them the light of the gospel. What's a modern example of this?