Chapter Seventeen of the Acts of the Apostles tells of how, when a lynch mob from Thessalonica was pursuing Paul, his partners, Timothy and Silas, got him away on a boat headed for Athens.
It seems to have been Paul’s first visit to that great city, and he enjoyed himself taking in the sights. He was particularly taken with the altars on almost every street corner. The Athenians, as the world’s first democratic people, had permitted the people from every Mediterranean port to set up an altar honoring their own god. Paul was particularly taken with an altar inscribed with a tribute to The God We Do Not Know.
The Athenians were also the world’s most philosophical people, and on every corner Paul fell in with men discussing ideas. When he spoke to a group about Jesus who had come back from the dead, he drew such a crowd that the people escorted him to the Areopagus, which was an open-air stadium for expounding philosophical theories.
As the Athenians filled the stands above him, Paul complimented them on being such a religious people. After commenting on their altars honoring every known god, he went on to speak of the one whom they called, “The God we do not Know”
After identifying that God as the creator of all things, even of life itself, Paul went on to say, “He is not far from any of us, for in him we live and move and have our being.”
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