Acts Devotionals


Sometimes when we debate with each other, it is not because we disagree with each other. We agree and our debating helps to stimulate our thinking and maturing as to what we believe about something. Debating when we disagree could become heated as we disagree. Debating when we agree can also become heated … but this being heated is because we agree, we are happy, we find words spoken that stimulate us and we mature. Debates at other times are tools of education. One might be in agreement about an issue and the debate helps one move from lesser knowledge (ignorance) to more knowledge (maturity) about that issue. Please read:

Ac 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

1) Paul reasoned with those in the synagogue and in the marketplace. The word reasoned means to have thoughts and ideas revolving around your head that you either discuss, teach or argue with others about. These are thoughts and ideas and beliefs that have mingled through one’s mind that need to be put out into the public space. That is what the root meaning of the material Paul “reasoned” about. The text tells us that … he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. The thought of all these idols was so offensive that he needed to use every opportunity to teach about its demonic influence, to discuss his thoughts and even debate others about what he saw as a grievous bondage the Athenians were in (faced with) even though they did not realize it.

(1) He did this in the synagogue. There were Jews and God-fearing Greeks present. This was certainly the best place to start … amongst people who believed in the God of the Old Testament Scriptures. These Scriptures spoke against idolatry. He knew that the very Law in its basic presentation spoke of such evils:

Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

One needs to remember that although the Greeks in the synagogue were proselytes (converts to the God of the Jews), these idols were once their gods. Once they too worshipped demons in the form of these man made forms, statues and temples. I would see Paul being more direct with these people and the Jews. He would remind them that what he has seen is evil and demonic and that should there be any remaining affection or attachment to the pantheon of gods, it needs to be done away with immediately.

You might recall me writing a long time back of me being in a secret society and even though years later, after coming to faith in Jesus, I still had the regalia and medals packed away. One weekend I was particularly depressed and did not know why. The Holy Spirit brought to my attention that I still had these things and needed to get rid of it. I fetched the things, wrapped each in newspaper, including the solid gold ring and dumped it in the garbage bin. The next morning, quite early, the garbage truck came around … and as soon as I heard the truck munching up the garbage, the depression lifted and I was back to normal … back to freedom. No more of that idolatrous attachment. You might say … “but that gold ring was worth lots of money”. Yes, you are correct … but freedom in Jesus cannot be bought with silver and gold! Without me putting undue pressure upon you, perhaps you need to reflect upon what you might still have from the past that the enemy uses, without you actually being aware of, using it to hamstring you. Get rid of it. Those memories and that attachment is worth losing for gaining joy, happiness and more freedom in Jesus.

(2) He did this in the marketplace. We must not get confused between the “marketplace” here in verse 17 and the “meeting place of the Areopagus” in verse 19. The marketplace was used as a multipurpose venue. The one was to display and sell goods and the other, an assembly place for citizens. The picture to me is similar to what we have near us in Greer, South Carolina. There is a flea market open on Saturdays and Sundays. They have hundreds of booths that people hire permanently. They have toilets, food stalls and goods of every description available for sale. People gather there as a meeting place and a market place. This market place in Athens was called the Agora … the center of Athenian life and activity. One commentator called it a “citizens’ resort” … a place where people met and fellowshipped. Paul would go to this place daily to “debate” and “discuss” the Gospel of the Lord Jesus in relation to the many idols the people used in their worship of their gods.

Most of us might not be competent to tackle deep theological issues with people about their gods, idols and religious culture, but we can evangelize by handing out tracts, Bibles and Christian books. However, there are those of us who are able to debate religion, theology and doctrine … and the question then needs to be asked … “Why don’t we?” Is it possibly because we lack confidence in the Power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit’s ability to help? Paul believed both! May I suggest that the time has come for the people of God to rise up and be counted? Let us make use of every opportunity to reach the spiritually dead. The longer they are not confronted with their need, the more change they have of eternal ruin!

O God, as You used someone to speak Christ to us, move us to see Christ to people who are lost and needing salvation urgently. Amen.

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