Paul Confronts Idolatry in Athens: Acts 17:16-20
Scripture: Acts 17:16-20
By Bob DeWaay
Paul, entering Athens and seeing idolatry on a scale that is hard to imagine,cause him to be “provoked.” We list many of the gods of Athens to show just how many there were.The magnitude of idolatry in Athens is shocking. The Greek work Luke used to describe Paul being “provoked” is used often in the Septuagint of the OT and we quote many passages. In some of them God had been “provoked” by Israel turning to idols despite the many mighty deeds He had done in defeating the false gods of Egypt and bringing them out and bringing them to Himself.
The absurdity of turning to idols when the evidence for the truth of God’s existence, power, and great love is shocking. In this discussion, we explain the key attributes of deity that are essential, such as eternal, non-contingent existence. No idol has such attributes.
We also teach the doctrine of Christ and state that He neither gained nor lost deity, but exists from all eternity. The true God existed before time and is the Creator, not the created. This is true of the triune God of the Bible. False teachers claim Jesus lost His divinity when He died on the cross and had to fight to get it back. We explain why that is heresy and a denial of the deity of Christ. There is much to be provoked about today!
Acts 17:17 tells how Paul “reasoned” in the synagogue with Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. In class, we discuss how reason is valid and important and why the tendency of contemporary culture to reject reason is absurd and self-defeating. Humans depend on rationality and evidence for their very existence. The resurrection of Jesus is evidence for His claims and the gospel He commissioned the disciples to preach. The resurrection of Jesus was mentioned in every sermon in the Book of Acts.