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The Unknown God

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Looking at Paul's approach to the Athenians

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I) Tailored his message to his audience

I) Tailored his message to his audience
I) Tailored his message to his audience
A) Paul walked around and engaged the people partly to learn about their needs – vs.17, 23
B) He did not quote from Hebrew scriptures since they were of no significance to the Greeks, but he did quote from at least two ancient Greek poets (Epimenides and Aratus or Cleanthus) – v.27
C) He addresses their needs (sin or weakness) – v.24-25 – instead of generalities that may or may not be useful to them

II) Nature of God

A) He commended what he could – v.22 – their religious zeal
B) He sought an opening – v.23 – to open their mind to listen, like Jesus to the Samaritan woman – – and offered to explain the “Unknown God” which they worshipped in ignorance
John 4:4–10 ESV
And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
C) Paul used logic to describe much of what they did not understand concerning God, explaining that God is not worshipped in temples made by men, since He created the world (a fact that many Greeks accepted, although some thought the world was eternal) and all that is in it; nor does He need man
D) But this singular creator, not the plurality of their mythology; also leads to a unity of mankind, which the Greeks found difficult to accept as they thought of themselves as superior – – and it also means that man is subject to the creator – ; ;
1 Corinthians 4:6–7 ESV
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 ESV
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Malachi 2:10 ESV
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?
Deuteronomy 32:8 ESV
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
E) Instead of God seeking to serve man, man should be seeking God, though God does not make that difficult as He is close to all – – and life is only in God, as the Greek poets declared
Luke 15:3–6 ESV
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
F) Since man is the creation of God, we should not think that gods are made of physical elements and the creation of man – ,
Isaiah 44:9–10 ESV
All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?
Isaiah 44:18–20 ESV
They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

III) What God requires of man

A) God did not hold man accountable to what He had not revealed – – but now declares that all should repent – ;
Acts 14:16 ESV
In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.
Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 3:19 ESV
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
B) Because there is a day of righteous judgment, compared to the often vindictiveness of the Greek mythology, through one appointed judge
C) Proof of His appointment as judge – – is seen in the resurrection from the dead – – the ultimate power
Acts 10:42 ESV
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:5–8 ESV
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Concl: At this comment, many of the Athenians sneered and dismissed Paul, but some were interested and others believed. The same will happen in response to the gospel message today.
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