In the previous blog/podcast, I talked about how the Apostle Paul was intent on knowing God and making Him known. When he entered the city of Athens, he saw that the city was full of idols. We know that idols are not just statues of false gods, but is anything we put above/before God.
People are naturally curious. Many people like to hear about new things, new concepts. The Athenians, in Acts 17, brought the Apostle Paul to the Areopagus, asking him, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?”
The Athenians asked Paul to elaborate because he was “proclaiming strange deities” to them. They told Paul that he was “bringing some strange things” to their ears, and they wanted to learn more. The Apostle was talking about this “deity” who rose from the grave — something very foreign to them. Because of their curiosity and because Paul had something new for them to hear, they wanted to hear more. Hence they asked him to speak to them at the Areopagus, also known as Mars Hill.
Reasoning in the Marketplace
Before he could get this audience, however, he did a little “networking:” Paul reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and he reasoned with the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
Note: Paul reasoned with them. In the original language of the New Testament, the word used for “reason” is same word we get for the English word dialogue. A dialogue is an exchange of words by two or more people. What Paul did, as we understand from both the Greek language and from context of Acts 17, was dialogue in order that a conclusion could be made. More specifically, a truthful conclusion about a God that was unknown to the Athenians.
The word that is used for reason occurs thirteen times in the New Testament, where most of the time believers are practicing “dialectical reasoning.” In doing so, it is their hope that someone would come to a reasonable conclusion about Jesus.
I am reminded of Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet,they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (NAS).
- Paul reasoned with them. He didn’t “tell it like it is.” There is a time and place to “tell it like it is,” to take a front door approach. There’s also a time for listening, dialoguing, reasoning. There is a time to take the approach that Jesus did when He said, “Woe to you, Pharisees and teachers of the Law…!” There’s a time to preah, a time to teach, a time to dialogue, a time to reason.
- Don’t assume that everyone knows about Jesus. In America, everyone has heard the name of Jesus, but there is so much ignorance concerning who Jesus was. Therefore, engage in meaningful, reasonable dialogue to help bring people to reasonable conclusions about Jesus.
- If the Apostle Paul could go into a city and reason with people in the marketplace and the synagogue, we can certainly reason with people within our circle of influence — in the marketplace. Paul reasoned with those “who happened to be present.” He took advantage of the opportunity to connect with those around him.