While Paul was waiting at Athens for Silas and Timothy, his anger was aroused when he saw that the city was filled with idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Greeks who joined in their worship, and every day with those whom he happened to meet in the market-place. A few of the philosophers also met him. Some of them said, |What has this picker-up of scraps of learning to say?| Others said, |He seems to be a herald of some new deities.| This was because he had been telling the good news about Jesus and how he rose from the dead. And they took him to the Court of Areopagus and said, |May we hear what this new teaching of yours is? For the things you are saying sound strange to us; so we want to know what they mean.| (For all the Athenians and the foreign visitors spent their time doing nothing but telling or hearing something new.)
So Paul stood in the middle of the Court and said, |Men of Athens, I see wherever I go that you are very religious, for as I passed along and looked at your objects of worship, I found an altar with the inscription,
TO AN UNKNOWN GOD
Whom, therefore, you worship without knowing, him I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by men. He is not served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, for he it is who gives to all men life and breath and all things. He has made all nations from one family that they may live over the whole earth. He has also fixed for them when and where they are to live, that they should seek God in the hope that, as they feel after him, they may find him, for he is not far from each one of us; for it is in him that we live, and move, and have our being, as in fact, some of your own poets have said, 'We also are his children.'
[Illustration: St. Paul Preaching at Athens
Painted by Raphael]
|Therefore, as the children of God, we ought not to think of the divine nature as being like gold or silver or stone, carved by man's art and invention. God overlooked the ages of ignorance, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, for he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world justly by the one whom he has appointed, and he has given proof of this to all mankind by raising him from the dead.|
When they heard of raising one from the dead, some sneered, but others said, |We will hear what you have to say about that some other time.| So Paul went out from among them. Some men, however, joined him and believed, among whom were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and several others. After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.