The Unknown God of Athens
The people of Athens were obsessed with their religious traditions. So much so, they made certain not to forsake any god by worshiping a deity known to them only as the Unknown God. They knew nothing of this god, but still they offered him their service and worship.
The once great City of Athens was on the decline. After the war with Rome in 164 BC, the once vibrant capitol of Greece was waning to a town of little more than 20,000, mostly poor people. Nonetheless, under Roman authority, Athens was given the status of a free city because of its widely admired schools, philosophy, architecture, art, and religion. This was the state of the city when Apostle Paul visited. Everywhere he turned, he saw statues of man-made gods.
Seemingly everywhere Paul looked he saw images of Zeus, Athena, Dionysus, and many other Greek gods. Paul was distressed because he knew that there is “only one Way to the Father.” One important monument that quickened Paul’s spirit was the Altar of the Unknown God. Paul recognized this as an opportunity to share the Good News. He stood in the midst of the Areopagus and addressed the crowd, saying:
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.
“Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. [Acts 17:22-18:17]
I Know the Unknown God
The apostle Paul was trying to convey to people of Athens that the unknown God was not Zeus or some other deity, but the true God, Jesus Christ. The true God who created all things and every man.
On our Biblical tours and cruises that explore the passages of the Bible you’ll be able to see the area of Mars Hill where we believe this story occurred. With scripture in hand, we will stand together to see what Paul saw and the awesomeness of the words the Holy Spirit gave to him for that time period in our Footsteps of Paul Cruises, where you will be able to explore these passages and many more!