Israel/Greece 2019 Day 16
Today we took time to tour the ancient history of Athens. Although it was a cold and windy day with a little rain, we were able to see the most important sites in the city: the Areopagus (Mars Hill), the Parthenon, and the Agora (marketplace).
The Parthenon is a temple to the goddess Athena (wisdom) built on the acropolis of Athens. It’s not only the temple on the acropolis, it’s simply the most prominent. Among others there’s also temple to the goddess Nike (victory).
Next to the Parthenon, just a little lower and to the west sits the Areopagus. It was the place during the first century that the leadership of Athens would discuss ideas and even hear trials, especially regarding religious matters.
At the foot of the Acropolis lies the marketplace and administrative center: the agora. When the Apostle Paul arrived at Athens on his second missionary journey he spent time in the marketplace. Everywhere he looked he would have seen a temple to another god or goddess… Apollo, Nike, and of course Athena.
It was in this context that Paul was summoned to the Areopagus to give his presentation of Christianity. His address on Mars Hill is one of the most powerful moments in the book of Acts, made even more powerful when the context of Athens is taken into account.
I was truly impacted by reading Acts 17 on Mars Hill. Paul’s faithful presentation of the same gospel he preached in other towns while being aware of his specific cultural situation is noteworthy. By God’s grace a few souls responded to the gospel. On the whole, Athens was too smart for its own good—Paul moved on to Corinth and Athens continued debating.