I. "THEN PAUL STOOD IN THE MIDST OF MARS HILL."
A. Above him the Acropolis, below him the agora with the great temple to Zeus and the many altars to every god imaginable. Before him the intelligentsia of the day represented by the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, who had nothing better to do than to tell or listen to something new.
B. His opening remark, "I perceive that you are very religious." The King James translation is not good at this point. Paul would not open his talk by insulting his listeners.
C. As I was observing your devotions.
1. We were told earlier that Paul was stirred when he saw a city that was wholly given over to idolatry.
2. As Paul saw them worshipping the false gods, he was moved.
3. People can be very devoted to and zealous for their false gods.
4. Sometimes zeal and devotion puts us to shame.
D. "I saw an altar inscribed to the unknown god."
1. The Greeks had deified almost everything they could think of, but if by chance they missed one god, they did not want his or her disfavor, so the altar to the unknown god.
2. It is interesting that in the worship of the many gods, they did indeed miss the only true and living God who was to them unknown.
E. You worship Him in ignorance, but I would like to tell you about Him.
II. "GOD WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND EARTH AND EVERYTHING THAT IS IN THEM."
A. How different is the message of Paul to these Greeks.
1. When he went into the synagogue they already knew who God was. All they needed to know was that the scriptures prophesied that the Messiah would have to be rejected, put to death and rise again, and Jesus was the Messiah.
2. With these Greeks, he had to start with the beginning. Introduce them to the true and living God, the Creator and sustainer of the universe.
B. He does not dwell in temples made by man's hands.
1. Above Paul the beautiful Parthenon, the temple built to honor the goddess Athena, made of white marble with its 40 huge marble columns. It is one of the architectural wonders of the world, even to the present day.
2. Below him the great temple honoring Zeus.
3. The God who created all things is the Lord of heaven and earth, and does not dwell in these splendid temples made by man.
a. When Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem he acknowledged that the heavens of heavens could not contain God. How much less this temple that he had made.
b. I think that it is wrong to call a church a house of God. I think that it gives us a wrong impression. It has the tendency to localize God, to restrict Him to a locality.
c. We have come in your presence here tonight. We will soon be dismissed and leave your presence as we drive home.
d. Not so, "Where can I flee from Thy presence?"
4. Neither is He worshipped with man's hands.
a. Paul is probably referring to the many people who were employed in the temples to prepare and to offer the sacrifices.
b. There was an idea among the pagans that the gods needed to be fed, therefore the offering of the sacrifices.
c. Thus the idea behind the offering of the sacrifices in Judaism was totally different from the offerings in the pagan religions.
d. The offerings in Judaism were not to feed God, but to recognize the dire consequences of sin which is death, and to thus make propitiation for sin. It recognized the substitutionary death of the sacrifice.
5. As though He needed anything. He is completely self-sufficient.
a. It is ludicrous to think that God needs me, or something from me.
b. I need Him.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I [am] God, [even] thy God.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, [to have been] continually before me.
I will take no bullock out of thy house, [nor] he goats out of thy folds.
For every beast of the forest [is] mine, [and] the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field [are] mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world [is] mine, and the fulness thereof.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
6. "As though He needed anything."
a. I do not sustain God, He sustains me.
b. He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
c. I owe my very existence to Him.
d. He not only created me, but He sustains me.
III. HE HAS MADE OF ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS.
A. All of the nations of the world are from one source, Adam.
1. Skin pigmentation, facial shapes, do not make us to differ one from another.
2. This white Aryan superiority is nonsense. It comes from the even more nonsensical evolutionary theory.
3. We are all of one blood, and there is no super race, or privileged race. The Jews were called the chosen race, for God chose them as the race through which the Messiah would come. Once the Messiah came, they fulfilled the purpose of God, and in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek.
B. He has determined the times before appointed and the boundaries of their habitations.
1. The apostle here opposes both Stoical Fate and Epicurean Chance.
2. This God of whom Paul speaks is the one that controls the fate of the nations.
C. That they should seek the Lord.
1. As someone has said, God has put eternity in our hearts.
2. Paul said,
For the creature was made subject to emptiness, not willingly, but by reason or the design of Him who hath subjected [the same] in hope,
3. God has put a heart-shaped vacuum in every man, that only He can fill.
4. David said:
As the deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
5. This is true of every man, and the folly of man is to try to satisfy that thirst with anything other than God.
D. And perhaps reach out for Him, though He is not far from any of us. For in Him, we live, we move, we have our being.
1. Paul wrote to the Romans:
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down [from above]:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
2. We are daily surrounded by God.
3. You cannot escape His presence.
4. David said:
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. That is, You are behind me and in front of me, and Your hand is on me.
E. Some of your own poets have said, "We are His offspring."
1. We were made in the image of God. He breathed into Adam the breath of life, and he became a living soul.
2. We were related to God, but that relationship was broken.
3. God wants to restore that relationship.
4. That life of the spirit that was lost by Adam, can be regained through Jesus Christ.
F. Inasmuch as we are the offspring of God, we should not think of Him as something made of silver or gold, or something that is made by the hands of man.
1. The Greeks were tremendous artists, and had made images of their gods from gold, silver, marble.
2. Paul is saying that God is alive, and should not be thought of something made with man's hands out of gold or silver.
3. Any likeness of God made with gold, silver, or even painted immediately degrades God to something less than He actually is. That is why God forbade it in the Law.