Paul Preached in the City of Athens
15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 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.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (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.)
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
“Athens, the capital of Greece, was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Although in a state of decline by the time of Paul’s visit, Athens had formerly possessed more intellectual genius, philosophical wisdom, and architectural splendor than any other ancient city. Its inhabitants, even during the period of decline, prided themselves on their brilliant heritage.
“Some people have called the city of Athens at the time of Paul’s visit the world capital of idolatry. Paul’s spirit was stirred when he arrived, for he saw the city ‘wholly given to idolatry’ (Acts 17:16). Many Greeks were polytheists (believing in many gods). The chief men of Athens gathered in the marketplace each day to hear debates, to conduct business, and to learn something new. Since Paul’s message was new, he attracted listeners. At length, Paul was conducted to the famed ‘Mars’ hill’ to appear before the chief judicial council (the Areopagus), to explain the ‘new doctrine’ he taught (see Acts 17:19–21). Paul’s sermon addressed God’s true nature, man’s responsibility to God, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul did not recite Jewish history or scripture as he typically did when teaching Jewish and God-fearing audiences (see Acts 13:16–41). Instead, he taught the Athenians by establishing areas of common ground and trying to lead his hearers from those points to true points of doctrine that were contrary to tenets of Greek philosophies and religions.”
(New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 315.)