Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
– Acts 17:32-34
This is the concluding portion of the extended scripture passage we’ve been reading and meditating the last few days about the apostle Paul proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection from the dead to philosophers in the Greek city of Athens.
You’ll recall that Paul received an invitation to address these philosophers based on their observation that his message about Jesus centered on what they called “strange deities.” Being intellectually curious, they asked if they could hear more. You can see today their conclusion – which was, as far as the broader group was concerned, inconclusive. Some mocked him while others said they would give him another hearing.
Paul and the other apostles normally began their ministry in a city by visiting the local synagogue. Such a synagogue not only attracted Jews (who would, of course, be familiar with messianic prophecies and be eager to hear any news of Messiah’s actual appearance), but also God-fearing Gentiles – that is, non-Jews who were drawn the moral teachings found in the Scriptures of ancient Israel.
In Athens, Paul followed this pattern but also ventured into the city’s marketplace where he encountered some of the city’s famed philosophers who invited him to make his case to a larger group at a prominent place in Athens called the Areopagus (known by the Romans as “Mars Hills”). While the broader group was divided between those who derided him and those who were willing to hear more from him later, there were a few who believed Paul’s message about Jesus’ resurrection and His role in the redemption of creation.
Jesus does not deal with people as groups. God came to earth as a human being that He might deal with every human being individually. Do not worry if the majority of people think Jesus is worthy to be ignored or postponed. Instead, embrace Him with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. No other relationship you have, or could have, will ever be as rewarding.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord God, we are made in Your image. Let me live this day personally devoted to pleasing You…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)