The Story Of Paul Preaching In Athens

Have you noticed that sometimes people want to hear what you have to say? But they’re not interested in what you are saying. Paul experienced that when he was preaching in Athens.

Paul’s arrival in Athens was probably an unplanned trip. First, though we’ll read our verse for today which came at the end of his venture in that city. Then we’ll examine what happened there.

When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” Acts 17:32

Paul, Silas, and Timothy ran into some trouble when preaching the gospel in Berea. Some of the believers immediately escorted Paul to Athens where he waited for the arrival of the other two.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.  Acts 17:16

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The apostle maintained a habit of going to the local synagogue in each of the cities he visited. He did the same thing in Athens as well.

He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. Acts 17:17

Another thing that Paul did in each city, including Athens was to find a place for preaching the gospel. The next verse tells us how his message was initially received.

When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.” Acts 17:18

Paul Was Invited to the High Council

They weren’t necessarily interested in what he was saying. But they wanted to hear what he had to say. So they took him to the city’s high council for him to tell them about this new teaching.

Athens was a very unique and different type of place. And because of that, Luke the writer of Acts gave his readers an author’s note in verse 21.

(It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.) Acts 17:21

When we attempt to share the gospel, often the biggest problem we encounter is knowing how to start the conversation. As Paul was preaching in Athens, he modeled evangelism 101 for us.

As he stood before the high council he recognized something he and they had in common.

So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. Acts 17:22-23

He then expounded on an inscription written on one of their altars. With that, he had their ears because knowing the unknown was important to them.

And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. Acts 17:23

Who is this God?

It’s Exciting To Believe God For The Unbelievable

These men of Greece knew nothing about this God. As Paul continued, he revealed to them many of the attributes of God and His plan.

  • He is the God who made the world and everything in it.
  • He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.
  • His purpose was for the nations to seek after Him and find him.
  • In him, we live and move and exist.
  • We are his offspring and shouldn’t think of Him as an idol.
  • He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.
  • For he has set a day for judging the world with justice, by the man he has appointed,
  • and he proved to everyone who this man is by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:24-31

So, was the preaching of Paul in Athens successful? When he brought up the resurrection, some laughed, others wanted to hear more, and some believed. I’d say that was successful.

That ended Paul’s discussion with them, but some joined him and became believers. Acts 17:33-34

Is Your Preaching Similar to how Paul Preached in Athens?

Paul Preaching In Athens

Preaching doesn’t always have to be from behind a pulpit, it wasn’t with Paul in Athens. He found something they had in common and then spoke to them as he shared from his heart

I have a free eBook on evangelism called, How Do I Witness to Someone About Jesus? It contains 4 tools for soul-winning. One of them is called the SALT Method.

  • Say anything to start the conversation.
  • Ask questions to get to know the person better.
  • Listen carefully and take a genuine interest in what they are saying.
  • Turn your conversation to Jesus.

Paul modeled this method as he confronted the wisdom of these Grecian philosophers. He talked to them, asked questions and took an interest in them, then turned it to Jesus.

Lord, help us to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way to share Jesus. We acknowledge our need for the Holy Spirit to empower us to witness with boldness.

Check out these other “stories” I have written about.

Or you can get the free eBook that contains all these stories called Great Stories in the Bible.



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