The Gospel to the Greeks: Acts 17:24-31
“24) The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25) nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26) and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27) that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28) for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29) Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30) Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31) because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”” Acts 17:24-31
This message from Paul preached in the Areopagus aught to be studied by everyone. It contains multiple foundational truths.
He starts in verse 24 with origins and the Creator. He states that there is a God who made the world and all things in it. We may assume that he is referring to life and the entire biosphere. Paul attributes the mystery of life to this creator God. He has a special plan for planet earth and He is Lord of heaven and earth.
The question of origins and the mystery of life confronts every philosopher, theologian, culture and civilization. The way this question is answered determines everything that follows related to morals, ethics and religion because it shapes world view.
Both here and in Romans 1:18-32, Paul builds the case that man made religion has drifted far from the truth of the God of Creation. The end result has been idolatry and twisted human morals all neatly packaged in religious garb. Such was Greek mythology and numerous pagan religions. But notice, they were highly religious. (Acts 17:22-23) You can distort the knowledge of God, but you cannot remove the “god void” from humanity. It is as if God consciousness in in human DNA.
As his message continues, Paul points out fallacy of false religions, especially idolatry that makes gods of gold, silver and stones. Verse 29 points out that these are the byproduct of the art and thought of men. The arts of every civilization include a portrayal of the spiritual views of that culture. For some reason, the arts eventually express the notion of “god” held by the populace. Archeologists have found this to be true of every civilization.
The amazing thing about his message is that Paul starts with a religious contact point and then builds a case for the true God. He moves them from deception and ignorance about religion to the God who created all people and has a plan for mankind. Notice that this message was aimed at a Greek religious orientation and was different from his typical approach to a Jewish mindset, but it ends with the gospel and pointing people to Jesus Christ.
An interesting observation is that he quotes Greek poets and not Old Testament Jewish Scripture in this message. He is aware of his audience. He adapts his methods for presenting the gospel to the Greeks, but he brings them back to the God of creation and calls them to repentance.
Look back at verse 26; “and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on the face of all the earth.” In doing this, Paul moves all the way back to Adam and the fall of humanity. In essence he is saying that sin is a universal problem and that God has a plan of redemption for all people.
The good news for you and me is that God has a plan for all of us. Jesus died for all of humanity and rose from the dead. The gospel is for every man, woman and child. God is calling people everywhere to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
The Gospel to the Greeks: Acts 17:24-31