The Boldness of Paul {Acts 17}

11:30 PM

by Lisa Moore

Following along the line of thinking that, "Every boy should have a dog", when my son was six my husband and I agreed to let him have a puppy.  He picked out a little chihuahua mix that he fell in love with at first sight and named Biscuit.  That little dog has the heart of a lion.  You'll never convince him that he's not a 60 pound pit bull.  Whenever I see him standing his ground against another animal twice his size I can't help but admire his boldness.  That's the kind of boldness God wants us to have; especially when spreading the gospel.  And that's the same kind of boldness Paul had when preaching Christ to a Christ less culture.  

After leaving Philippi, Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled to Thessalonica where Paul spent three Sabbaths preaching in the Jewish synagogue.  The Bible tells us that "some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a large number of the leading women."  (v. 4)  But some of the unbelieving Jews became jealous and incited a mob against the disciples causing Paul and Silas to have to slip away in the night to Berea.  There they were better received for these Jews "were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (v. 11)  And once again, many believed.  But upon hearing about the disciples continued preaching in Berea, the Jews in Thessalonica came there as well to stir up the crowds.  This time Paul was sent out alone to find safety in Athens.  And there he found himself in a city full of idols, facing a culture of people who worshiped at an altar with the inscription ,"TO AN UNKNOWN GOD", (v. 23)

Paul in his usual manner, began by "reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles and in the market place everyday with those who happened to be present.", (v.17).  While doing so, he encountered some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who wanted to hear more about these "strange things" Paul was bringing to their ears, so they invited him to speak at the Areopagus.  The Areopagus, also known as Mars Hill, was a meeting place for the Areopagus Court; the highest court in Greece.  It was also where the Athenians and foreign visitors used to "spend  their time in nothing more than telling or hearing something new.", (v. 21)  

The Athenians were known for their endless debates, and more than likely wanted Paul to speak just so they had something new to discuss and over analyze.  They considered his message amusing but nonsense.  They were idol worshippers who probably saw Paul as beneath them.  And in spite of all of this Paul, as his "spirit was being provoked within him", (v.16) used the opportunity to teach them about the one true God, and salvation through Christ Jesus. 

I admire the boldness of Paul.  Instead of focusing on the differences between them, he first found some common ground.  He appealed to the fact that like himself the Athenians were searching for truth, and were "very religious in all respects.", (v. 22).  He knew the truth they needed was God's truth and let nothing dissuade him from sharing the Good News.  He used persuasion and reason to persuade people of the truth of the Gospel, and was able to answer any questions they might throw his way because of his knowledge of God's Word and his complete submission to the Spirit.  He did nothing for his glory.  He didn't worry about his reputation or even his physically safety.  Paul was all about winning souls for Jesus.  In my own life there have been times when instead of sharing the Gospel, I remained silent.  Instead of standing in God's strength, I gave in to fear.  Fear of being ridiculed, rejected, or challenged.  Other times I've shared the Gospel too aggressively or pompously, looking down my nose at those who didn't agree with my beliefs or immediately want to reconcile themselves to God.   2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, "Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."  Paul was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, and even left for dead.  Through it all he never lost his faith, or his desire to please God in all he did.  I want that boldness.  I want the heart of a lion.  I want to be fearless in responding to God's calling in my life regardless of the circumstances.  I want to share the Gospel in a confident, loving, respectful way, with my focus far from my myself.  And on today of all days, I am so thankful for all of those that have sacrificed so that I have the freedom to do just that!  

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