Friday, June 15, 2012

Commentary on Paul's Areopagus Address part 1

Obese Disclaimer: This is a commentary by a roughly 2 1/2 year old Christian. Keep that in mind. I think of this blog as my online container of thoughts. I am open for correction as my "About" page explains. I'm not a professional theologian or philosopher, I'm a student. Having said that, please enjoy this post. 

Acts 17

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 

What? Paul doesn't begin his address with wit? He doesn't begin his address with a snarky comment or joke? He doesn't even begin by offering them pizza so they have something to do while he talks? Wow. Paul is different. Paul starts with a compliment, "...I are very religious." Now, it's not like he's saying, "Dudes, you're awesome." I don't think it's a compliment like that or even an accepting compliment like, "Your way is just another way to God." Paul clearly didn't teach here or in his letters universalism or inclusivism. However, it is a compliment. Maybe implying "you're almost there. Let me clear the fog for you."

Paul was truly in step with the Spirit I think. It would have been very easy for him to approach the men in arrogance, right? Paul, if anyone, was very religious. He had the credentials for sure of a very religious man. He could have swaggered in the Areopagus (I bet Paul had excellent swagger), adjusted his black rimmed glasses, threw one end of his scarf behind his neck and then tore the Areopagus apart with his wisdom and rhetoric. He didn't do that though. I imagine, exercising the virtues of the Spirit, Paul approached them in a neutral, yet engaging manner; full of patience, kindness, and confidence. Not being a floor-mat, yet not being a steam-roller. Paul is the kind of man every apologist should set his benchmark at. Paul is not an impossible man to be because he also had weaknesses and struggled just like every Christian does, but what set him apart was his life of repentance and faithfulness to Christ.

When you address a person, group, or crowd with the gospel it is wise to begin like Paul did with the men at the Areopagus: begin like, to borrow from STR, an ambassador of Christ would begin. Be gracious. Be confident. Be reasonable. Be attractive. Most importantly, be honest and correctable. You might make a mistake to the person or group you're talking with. Own up to it, if it is indeed a mistake, then take it from there. Don't let pride and/or anger get the best of you. You're sharing the truth of Christianity and if it's delivered in pride, anger, or rude snarkiness it won't hit the bullseye regardless of the truth content because of the delivery. Delivery matters. Truth must be delivered with gentleness and respect. That's how Paul rolled and I want to roll like Paul. Let's pray every Christian shares the same desire.

Part 2 of the commentary here


  1. It drives me bonkers when people use this verse (and the one after it) to teach inclusivism or universalism. They choose to completely ignore the rest of the sermon, especially verses 30-31 where Paul shows he is clearly NOT teaching universalism. Sure, Paul opens up by finding something the Athenians will be able to relate to, but he finishes with the Gospel.

    1. Wow I didn't know this was one of the verses used for inclusivism or universalism. Sometimes, I wish numbers had never been placed in front of phrases and sentences to make verses. Verse numbers are excuses for people thinking that verses are independent from other verses.

      I'm going to edit the beginning of this commentary to make the point Paul wasn't saying the Greek religion was just one path of the very many paths to God.

    2. It's pretty common in the inclusivism/universalism camp. I actually made a post on my own blog about it here:


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