As far as is known, the Apostle Paul visited Athens, Greece around 53 A.D. The famous Mars Hill is the location of his only recorded sermon to the Gentiles that has survived. Acts 17 contains that sermon. (There is a sermon to the Jews which is also in its entirety in Acts 13.) Mars Hill itself is across from the Acropolis. Near the steps leading up the to Hill is a plaque containing Paul’s sermon in Greek. Imagine having a sermon posted in one of the oldest known cities of the world. What a blessing it is.
Paul was no slouch. He must have had amazing training and a great memory. Here he is in Athens, which during his lifetime had been in existence for at least 2000 years. He sees all the gods and idols practically on every doorstep. They are everywhere. It really bothers him. But there is one that really catches his attention, the one TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Yes, in Athens, they honor a god who has no name. And there’s a story that goes with this unknown god.
Around 600 B.C. Athens suffered a terrible plague. Thinking that one of their gods was the cause of this calamity, they made offerings to them but to no avail. Epimenides, a philosopher that ranked up there with Aristotle and Plato, was fetched to remedy the cause of the plague. Epimenides made a prayer to the unknown god and told them to put hungry sheep out to eat on the green pastures of Mars Hill. If any of them laid down and didn’t eat, then there was another god they didn’t know of whom they should beseech. Several of them did lie down. These animals were given as offerings. Very soon after people began to recover.
Paul comes along some 650 years later and tells them who the UNKNOWN GOD is. It’s the one and only God of the Universe, the one who sent his Son and raised Him from the dead. (Acts 17:31) How simply amazing it is to see God’s hand in this story. Paul even refers to Epimenides again in Titus 1:12. Epimenides was from the island of Crete. Imagine. Centuries before a Greek philosopher acknowledged that there is a God that he was aware of but didn’t know. Man’s heart is always and forever drawn to his Creator. Some deny it which will be to their doom. But not Epimenides.
There were others who believed that day on Mars Hill, too. But still, Paul is hounded by naysayers and he continues on his journey. Just as then, it is so today. People live through tragedies, heartache, and pain. Many go to church and leave just as lost as when they came. Paul carried the Word of God to all who were within hearing distance. And, yet, today just as then, there are naysayers. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” One who kicks at that is either very brave or very stupid. Either way, no one should want to come face to face with God, who has given everyone on this earth chance after chance, and then turn his nose up to his very Creator. I mean no one should want to.
You can visit us at our website swedenchurch.com. It is complete with audios of the sermons. Pastor Strong can also be heard on our radio program at 8:05 a.m. Sunday mornings. Better yet, come and hear Brother Josh live. Sunday morning service begins at 11 a.m. (Sunday school is at 10 a.m.) and evening service begins at 6 p.m. Bible study is Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. except for our business meeting which is held the second Wednesday of each month.
Sweden Church is east of Ava about 10 miles on Highway 14 and then left onto 14-219 a quarter-mile.