"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Sermon at Athens
Acts 17:16-31 Commentary
by Mitzi J. Smith
Arriving in Athens, Paul becomes distressed over the many idols adorning the city.
He decides not to wait for the arrival of his colleagues, Silas and Timothy (17:15) in order to share God’s good news with the Athenians. As has been his custom, Paul first visits the synagogues where he dialogues and debates with Jewish men and women (13:5, 14; 14:1) as well as those devout persons (hoi sebomenoi) in attendance (cf. 13:43; 16:14; 18:7). However, he does not limit himself to the synagogues; he also speaks to the people gathered in agora or marketplace (verse 17).
The Athenians and foreigners who frequented the market place were accustomed to hearing and engaging with new philosophical and religious ideas (verse 21). Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with Paul. Some concluded that Paul was a “Babbler” (spermologos, verse 18). That is, his message sounded piecemeal, like Paul had distributed crumbs of knowledge to them without the coherence and sophistication of the philosophers.
Others interpreted Paul’s words as promoting foreign divinities/religion ...
| Bible Text
Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 132: Sermon at Athens
May 18, 2014
Join Profs. Eric Barreto, Cameron Howard, and Rolf Jacobson for "I Love to Tell the Story," a conversation on Year 4 of the narrative lectionary. This podcast covers the text for May 18, 2014: Acts 17:16-31. Accompanying reading: John 1:16-18.