Paul had some days to wait at Athens for Silas and Timothy to arrive, and while he was there his soul was exasperated beyond endurance at the sight of a city so completely idolatrous. He felt compelled to discuss the matter with the Jews in the synagogue as well as the God-fearing Gentiles, and he even argued daily in the open market-place with the passers-by. While he was speaking there some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers came across him, and some of them remarked, “What is this cock-sparrow trying to say?” Others said, “He seems to be trying to proclaim some more gods to us, and outlandish ones at that!” For Paul was actually proclaiming “Jesus” and “the resurrection”. So they got hold of him and conducted him to their council, the Areopagus. There they asked him, “May we know what this new teaching of yours really is? You talk of matters which sound strange to our ears, and we should like to know what they mean.” (For all Athenians, and even foreign visitors to Athens, had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new.)
These people got together and asked him to make a public presentation over at the Areopagus, where things were a little quieter. They said, “This is a new one on us. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand.” Downtown Athens was a great place for gossip. There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.
This stirred their curiosity, because the favorite pastime of Athenians (including foreigners who had settled there) was conversation about new and unusual ideas. So they brought him to the rock outcropping known as the Areopagus, where Athens’ intellectuals regularly gathered for debate, and they invited him to speak. Athenians: May we understand this new teaching of yours? It is intriguingly unusual. We would love to know its meaning.
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