Featured Devotionals ACTS 03

Living In Harmony With God

Day 38 – Acts 17:16-34

The gospel now comes to Athens, the centre of intellectual and philosophical speculation in the ancient world.

Paul is distressed to find the city full of idols (v. 16). The scholarly Luke shows his frustration at the “airy fairy” nature of the Athenians (v. 21).

Paul uses the altar to “An Unknown God” (v. 23) as his point of contact with the Athenians, while reasoning with them at the Areopagus. He identifies God as the Creator. Therefore:

  • You do not create a place for the Creator to live (a temple) (v. 24). Rather, it is God the Creator who has made a place for you to live.
  • God is not dependent on us. We are dependent on Him (v. 25).
  • God is not unknowable. It is we that have strayed away from Him. But He has initiated His plan so that we might find Him again (vv. 26–28).
  • We are God’s offspring. He is not our offspring (v. 29).

At every point, Paul shows the Athenians the futility of idol worship; it minimises God and maximises man.

Biblical wisdom is all about living in harmony with reality. The central saying of the Wisdom Literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes) is, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”.

Reality is the Lord. To live in harmony with Him is to fear or affectionately revere Him.

At Athens, Paul preaches wisdom. The reality is the day of judgment which God has fixed. The proof of this reality is that God raised the Judge from the dead (v. 31). The resurrection of the Judge means that death was not the end for Him and will not be the end for us. Beyond death there is judgment.

Paul tells them how to harmonise with that reality: they must repent (v. 30). Athenians must end self-rule and revere and serve the One they will meet as judge on the day.

Again, we read of the typical, divided response (vv. 32–34)—some sneered; others made further enquiry; and for Dionysius, Damaris and others, it was a never-to-be-forgotten day of repentance and new life.

These repentant Athenians had embraced true wisdom by recognising the reality of the resurrection as proof of the coming day of judgment.

Think Through:

Athens was supposed to be a place of knowledge and intellectual stimulation. Yet, here Paul finds ignorance of the grossest kind. What do you find especially confronting about Paul’s discovery?

Paul shows the members of the Areopagus that their thinking about God was wrong. How much does their thinking match that of the secular mind today?

Taken from Journey Through Acts: 50 Daily Insights from God’s Word by David Cook.