BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 17:16-34
MAIN POINT: Paul taught the people in Athens that the one true God sent Jesus to be the Savior.
KEY PASSAGE: Acts 1:8
BIG PICTURE QUESTION: How do people hear about Jesus? God uses Christians to tell others about Jesus so they may repent and be saved.
Paul and Silas had been released from prison in Philippi (FIH lih pigh). Before leaving the city, they met with believers at Lydia’s house and encouraged them. Then they traveled to Thessalonica and stopped at the synagogue to explain to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. A large number of Greeks and influential women believed in Jesus.
Before long, Jews in the city became jealous and forced Paul and Silas out of the city. Even though the Jews opposed Paul’s preaching, the number of believers in Thessalonica grew and the church there was established.
Paul made his way through Berea, where people heard the gospel and believed. The Jews from Thessalonica followed him and caused trouble, so Paul went to Athens. Athens—about 200 miles from Berea—was a cultural center. People in Athens loved to hear about and study the latest ideas. The Jews and the philosophers in the city were interested in what Paul had to say, but Paul was troubled by what he saw. Athens was full of idols to every kind of god. There was even an altar to an unknown god.
The people obviously had a religious desire. Paul knew that their hunger for God could be satisfied—in Jesus. Paul began preaching, telling the people that they worshiped a god they did not know. He said that people can know God! God made the world and everything in it! “We ought not to think that God is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man,” Paul said.
Then Paul told them about Jesus and how God wanted them to turn away from their sins. Some people made fun of Paul, but others believed. Paul explained God’s plan of salvation.
The men of Athens worshiped a false god whom they did not know. Paul explained to the men God’s plan of salvation. He said that God is not like the Greek idols. Only God deserves our worship! Paul talked about Jesus and the resurrection. All people can know God because Jesus took the punishment for sin that separates people from God.