“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” (Acts 17:32)
Greece is known for its contributions to education. Pythagoras was a Greek mathematician. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, is known as the Father of Western Medicine. The Hippocratic oath is named after him. In Acts 17, Paul the apostle visited Athens and “…saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” (Acts 17:16) Paul debated with Jews there, as well as other religious types.
Paul spoke with Athenians who enjoyed talking philosophy. These included Epicureans, who were pleasure-seekers, and Stoics, who emphasized self-control. Apparently, these people were fairly brainy. Paul, who was well-educated and rather brainy himself, used the opportunity to tell them about Jesus, and he mentioned the Lord’s resurrection from the dead.
Our opening verse gives us his listeners’ reactions. They were skeptical. Skepticism, by the way, is also a Greek philosophy based on the idea that there is no such thing as certainty in human knowledge. These people were skeptics, at least in the modern sense of the term. (info on all three philosophies taken from philosophybasics.com) Some didn’t even want to take the idea of resurrection from the dead seriously, but others were willing to listen.
It’s interesting that Paul was the one who met these people. He could talk on an intellectual level. Peter, on the other hand, was a fisherman, a blue-collar guy. He didn’t have the education Paul had. Acts 4:13 says Peter and John were “…ignorant and unlearned men,” The Athenians might not have taken Peter seriously, but they took Paul seriously. At least some of them did.
The Athenians no doubt were well-educated in subjects like math and science, but apparently, they knew little or nothing about God. They even had an altar inscribed, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” (Acts 17:23) Aside from the widespread idolatry, which seemed like religious guesswork, the altar appeared to say, “If there’s a God out there that we’re missing, this altar is for you.”
People today can be like the Athenians. They can be educated in the best schools and know much about arts, math, and science. They can be decent people. Yet they know almost nothing of God because they don’t know His Word. God didn’t leave us to be ignorant about Him, and He does not play games with people’s souls. He gave us His Word so we wouldn’t have to guess what He’s about and be tormented all our lives hoping we’re right. He even said, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
God gave us His Word, the Bible, so we could know about Him. Most importantly, He gave us His only-begotten Son, Jesus, so we could be forgiven for our sins and get to heaven. To see how to receive Jesus, God the Son, as your personal Saviour and be forgiven for your sins, please go to www.clevelandbaptist.org, click “Helpful Links,” then “How Do I Go to Heaven?”
Brian Miller 8/6/2021
Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216-671-2822