Thursday, September 3, 2015
“And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)” (Acts 17:19-21 KJV).
Athens was the chief intellectual city of the ancient world. What will its citizens do with God’s Word, true wisdom?
Recently, while reading a world history book, I came across the following statement: “The Athenians believed that life was empty unless people tried to gain new knowledge and live freely.” Today’s Scripture came to mind. See, dear friends, when the Bible speaks of history, it speaks with accuracy!
While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy (verse 15), he was deeply affected to see Athens “wholly given to idolatry” (verse 16). After disputing with the Jews in the synagogue, and the religious people, and in the market daily with people who met him (verse 17), “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection” (verse 18).
As the Bible and history affirm, the Athenians were always eager to hear of something new. Yet, there was something odd about Paul’s “new” message. They saw him as a “babbler,” someone who had picked up secondhand tales and was now passing them along. After Paul’s extensive Gospel sermon (Acts 17:22-31), “when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter” (verse 32). Verse 33 says Paul left them, with certain men joining him and believing those words of eternal life. Still, the majority of Athenians were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). When it came time to receive “some new thing” that was also something eternally significant, the vast majority could not care less. Saints, let us not be discouraged when people act the same way toward us today! 🙂