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Acts 17_16-34 - Ridiculing The Word

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Ridiculing The Word

Acts 17:16-34

1.      Paul’s Burden (16)

a.       Lamentations 3:51 "Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city."

b.      Paul saw and was stirred up…moved

c.       Waiting…he had just been kicked out, chased out and now was waiting to be reunited with the missionary team.

d.      He was motivated

e.      Jeremiah 20:9 "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay."

f.        We need to open our eyes and be moved to action

g.       Wholly given to idolatry

2.      Paul’s Outreach (17-20)

a.       Synagogues

                                                               i.      Jews

                                                             ii.      Gentiles (devout persons)

b.      In the Market (DAILY): Philosophers
*Encountered him
*Babbler – someone who collects various ideas and teaches as his own the second hand thoughts he borrows from others.
*He preached boldly

                                                               i.      Epicureans

1.       followed Epicurus (341-270 b.c.)

2.       Said the chief end of man was pleasure and happiness.

a.       the founder Epicurus sought truth by means of personal experience and not through reasoning.

b.      The Epicureans were materialists and atheists, and their goal in life was pleasure.

c.       They avoided extremes and sought to enjoy life by keeping things in balance, but pleasure was still his number one goal.

3.       Pursuit of pleasure and fine living

4.       They believed that if gods exist they do not become involved in human events.

                                                             ii.      Stoicks

1.       Zeno (ca. 320=ca. 250 b.c.) and got their name from the painted portico or stoa, where he traditionally taught in Athens.

2.       Pantheistic in their view, they felt a great “Purpose” was directing history.

3.       Man’s responsibility was to fit himself and align himself with this Purpose through tragedy and triumph.

4.       Follow one’s reason and be self-sufficient, unmoved by inner feelings and outward circumstances.

                                                            iii.      The Epicureans said “Enjoy life!” and the Stoics said “Endure life!” but it remained for Paul to explain how they could enter into life through faith in God’s risen Son.

3.      Paul’s Preaching (18)

a.       Jesus

b.      The Resurrection

c.       Paul’s message and gospel did not change with his audience. No new gospel.

d.      He would however establish common ground to launch his gospel presentation (21; 22-23)

                                                               i.      Love for debate of the newest ideas provided Paul an opportunity to preach Christ.

                                                             ii.      Paul did not emphasize the altar, but their ignorance of the true God.

e.      Aeropagas (19): meeting place of the council of Areopagas, the supreme body of judicial and legislative matters in Athens…reduced to that day and time to oversight of religion and education.

4.      Paul’s Message (22-31)

a.       God is the Creator (24)

                                                              i.      Greatness

                                                             ii.       Every thinking person asks, “Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?”

1.       Science attempts to answer the first question

2.       Philosophy wrestles with the second

3.       Only the Christian faith has a satisfactory answer to all three.

4.       The Epicureans, who were atheists, said that all was matter and matter always was.

5.       The Stoics said that everything was God, “the Spirit of the Universe.” Thinking God did not create anything; He only organized matter and impressed on it some “law and order.”

                                                            iii.      But Paul boldly affirmed, “In the beginning, God!”

1.       God made the world and everything in it, and He is Lord of all that He has made.

2.       He is not a distant God, divorced from His creation; nor is He an imprisoned God, locked in creation.

3.       He is too great to be housed in man-made temples

a.       1 Kings 8:27 "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"

b.      Isaiah 66:1-2 "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

c.       Acts 7:48-50 "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?"

4.       but He is not too great to be concerned about man’s needs (Acts 17:25). “HE GIVETH”

b.      God is the Provider (25)

                                                              i.      Goodness

                                                             ii.      Men may pride themselves in serving God, but it is God who serves man.

                                                            iii.      If God is God, then He is self-sufficient and needs nothing that man can supply.

                                                           iv.      Not only do the temples not contain God, but the services in the temples add nothing to God!

                                                             v.      In two brief statements, Paul completely wiped out the entire religious system of Greece!

                                                           vi.      He is the author, giver and sustainer of life

                                                          vii.      He is the provider. James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

                                                        viii.      Matthew 5:45 "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."

c.       God is the Ruler (26-29)

                                                               i.      Government

                                                             ii.      One blood: they thought they were superior, that they were different

                                                            iii.      Daniel 4:35 "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"

                                                           iv.      The fairy tail gods of the Greeks cared nothing for man, but the true God cares and rules in the kingdom of man.

                                                             v.      “He be not fare from every one of us”… Therefore, men ought to seek God and come to know Him in truth.

                                                           vi.      Here Paul quoted from the poet Epimenides: “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”

                                                          vii.      Then he added a quotation from two poets, Aratus and Cleanthes,

1.       “For we are also His offspring.”

2.       Paul was not saying that all people on earth are the spiritual children of God, for sinners become God’s children only by faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:11-13 "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.").

                                                        viii.      God made us in His image, so it is foolish for us to make gods in our own image!

                                                           ix.      Greek religion was patterned after gods who acted like men.

                                                             x.      Paul not only showed the folly of temples and the temple rituals, but also the folly of all idolatry.

d.      God is the Savior (30-31)

                                                              i.      Grace

                                                             ii.      Romans 1:18-20 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

                                                            iii.      Paul characterized the entire Greek culture: “times of ignorance”

1.       1 Corinthians 1:18-31

                                                           iv.      God held back his wrath, he was patient in giving men opportunity to repent

                                                             v.      Repent = change of mind

                                                           vi.      God is not like those dumb idols!

                                                          vii.      Resurrection: To a Greek, the body was only a prison; and the sooner a person left his body, the happier he would be.

1.       Why raise a dead body and live in it again? And why would God bother with a personal judgment of each man? This kind of teaching was definitely incompatible with Greek philosophy.

                                                        viii.      Christ is risen!

e.      God is the Judge (31)

                                                               i.      There is a day of judgment

1.       Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

                                                             ii.      Jesus is the judge

1.       Trust Him today: He will save us

2.       Reject Him: Tomorrow He will judge us

5.      Paul’s Reception (32-34)

a.       Ridiculed

                                                               i.      Some mocked

b.      Remained Inquisitive

                                                               i.      Some delayed

c.       Received

                                                               i.       Some received the Word

                                                             ii.      Clave: joined; keep company

1 Corinthians 1:26 "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:"


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