His spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.
On his second missionary journey the apostle Paul came to Athens, the cultural centre of the world of the time. Impressive buildings and ruins are monuments of the high level of culture there and are still admired by countless visitors. Paul saw many of them in their original state, as temples of idols. That “provoked” the apostle’s spirit.
In his epistle to the Romans Paul wrote about the primitive idolatry of the uneducated heathens, who were contemptuously called “barbarians” by the Greeks and Romans. Then, however, in chapter 2 he addressed the educated class and revealed that the Greeks with their learning and philosophy acted no differently. In their culture they had even refined idolatry and sin. But idols are still idols, and sin remains sin. His conclusion was: uneducated barbarians, educated Greeks and even religious persons, who make a mere outward profession before God, are all sinners without any differentiation. All need Jesus, the Saviour.
In the marketplace in Athens Paul met the adherents of various philosophical schools. He preached the good news of Jesus and His resurrection. But the people called him a “babbler”.
They considered it foolishness to proclaim a crucified Redeemer; but for Paul and the
Christians He is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1, 23.24).
Others, however, showed at least a superficial interest and wanted to hear more about this new doctrine.
(to be continued tomorrow)