One of the most important and timely observations concerning the record of Paul’s evangelism in first century Athens, is to take note of the distinctive way the gospel was presented. Unlike previous scenes in Acts, in which people were being promptly called to respond to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, Paul’s message in Greece began by a focused explanation of some of the foundational tenants of the Old Testament—namely that God is the transcendent and sovereign Creator, who not only personally provides us with life, breath and everything else, but who is also a righteous Judge to whom we must give an account (Ac.17:24-31).
This unique preface, before even mentioning Christ’s role, is not hard to understand when we take into consideration that up until that point in the Book of Acts, evangelism had been aimed at those who had an education in Judaism. This important distinction is monumental. How critical it is for us to realize that our twenty-first century neighbors and coworkers are a whole lot more like the misguided Athenians when it comes to their theology, than the well-taught “Sabbath School graduates” of the first century.
So, in your next evangelistic discussion, remember to set the stage by carefully explaining the nature and authority of the God of the Old Testament before you present the New Testament truth about the life and ministry of Christ.
-- Pastor Mike
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