Monday, June 18, 2012

Acts 17

Paul and his team cause rioting everywhere they go. First in Thessalonica, the crowd is yelling a great thing “these people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also!” I would love to have that reputation. The person who is turning the world upside down has now come to town! Paul and Silas are sent off to Beroea where they have a few weeks to teach and preach before the rousers from Thessalonica make it to Beroea and stir up the crowd there as well. Paul is then taken to Athens.

This rather famous sermon, Paul among the Aeropagites, is a model of Christian evangelism. It is the same model we see from Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8. First, note that Aeropagus is the Greek for the Hill of Aries; it is sometimes translated “Mars Hill”. (Aries/Mars is the Greek/Roman god of war.) Paul is deeply distressed by all of the temples and idols on the hill side. When he is in the Aeropagus he is invited to speak, remembering that he saw an altar to “an unknown god”, Paul uses that altar as the spring board for his message. This is the Evangelistic message, he, as did Philip; begin where the person or group already is. Paul does not presume that his listeners know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, nor does he presume that they have even heard of Jesus of Nazareth. He uses their “unknown” as a spring board to tell them about Jesus. Some are converted, others, who are in love with new ideas and new teachings, scoff. Paul goes off with the convinced and begins to work with them.

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