Paul in verse 29 offers a classic Jewish and Christian argument
against the polytheism of that day. If we as humans
are truly “God’s offspring,” then we shouldn’t think that gold,
silver, stone, or even an image created by our own endeavor can
adequately represent God. As God’s offspring, divine nature is
of our kind and not that of gold, silver, or stone. As a creation of
God’s, we engage in worship of the Creator, not in worship of
something created by our own design and skill. Paul’s preaching
against the idolatry of that time sounds very much like Old
Testament discourses on idolatry.
Paul returns to address the ignorance of the Athenians.
Their acts of piety avail them nothing because they don’t know
or worship the one true God. Previously, God has overlooked
humanity’s ignorance, but now the time of the Athenians’ ignorance
has ended because they know of the one true God through
Paul’s proclamation. Now is the time for repentance. Paul challenges
them to turn from the worship of gods created by their
own design and turn to God. Without calling him by name, Paul
mentions Jesus in verse 31 and refers to his resurrection. Paul
meets the Athenian intellectuals on their own turf and connects
them to the potent message of the gospel.
When I consider the polytheism of that time, I am amazed
that people could worship so many different gods. Yet, when
I step back from my amazement, I am troubled by what I see
today. Like the Athenians, we have erected multiple gods that
we worship daily. Consider money, job, status, and possessions,
to name a few. Paul offers us a powerful message for those times
when we create personal idols. God doesn’t punish us for our
ignorance but does call us to repentance and change.
Help me, God, to turn from my personal idols to worship only you. Amen.
The psalm and the Acts reading address the ways in which the concrete faith claims of the community have credence outside that community. They undertake to make the faith credible to outsiders. On the basis of personal testimony, the psalm invites the nations to share in the new life given by God who has saved. Paul makes concrete confessional claims about Jesus in response to the religious inclinations of his Hellenistic listeners. The Gospel and epistle readings focus on the needs of the church community and seek to offer pastoral consolation. The psalm and Acts readings are a “journey out” to the nations and to attentive nonbelievers. The Gospel and epistle readings are a “journey in” to the life and needs of the church.
• Read Psalm 66:8-20. Recall a time when God did not let your feet slip.
• Read Acts 17:22-31. What are your unknown gods? What are your known gods that become idols in your life? How do they affect your relationship with the God who made the world and everything in it?
• Read 1 Peter 3:13-22. When have you suffered while doing good? What did you learn about God? about yourself?
• Read John 14:15-21. How have you experienced the Advocate’s companionship and guidance?
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