Acts 17:22-34 – Paul Preaches to the Greeks in Athens


Acts 17:22-34


Paul speaks on Mars Hill (Areopagus) in Athens to a crowd of interested Gentiles. Some express interest in his convictions, and at least two become believers in Christ.


Paul meets the Greek world on its own ground and on its own terms. In the heart of the educated world of ancient Greece, Athens was a kind of university town where ancient religious traditions were visibly honored in temples and shrines (including one dedicated “To an unknown god,” 17:23) and philosophical discourse continued to thrive.. Paul enters this non-Jewish, non-commercial city and speaks to sophisticated, though somewhat  jaded, audiences eager for something “new” and “strange” to entertain.

Paul’s speech is a “tour de force,” keenly alert to context. He quotes from a well-known Greek poet and speaks familiar lines about images, idols, and the true deity, the Creator God who made all peoples and invites them to search and find God, “though indeed he is not far from each one of us” (17:27). Concluding references to the resurrection from the dead, however, strike many  as silly or superstitious, except for a few who believe Paul’s message, such as “Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris” (17:34).

This passage shows Paul adapting his speech to the particulars audience he addresses. It also underscores the tenet of resurrection as a cornerstone of Christ-centered commitment.