A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Text: Acts 17:22-31
For a little bit of context, let’s look at the verses which precede today’s text:
16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” 21Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.
Now it may be that the Athenians were superstitious people – people who covered all their bases by erecting a shrine “to an Unknown God,” just in case they had missed a god in the creation of their pantheon of deities. Or perhaps they were sophisticated enough to know that there were gods or dimensions of deity that would always extend beyond the human capacity to know. At any rate, the writer of Acts indicates that Paul was unhappy to find such a proliferation of gods throughout the city of Athens. However, he did not vent his anger with the Athenians over their polytheism in the same manner he would later with the Romans (Romans 1:18-23.).