Paul visits Athens
16 While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he looked round the city. He saw that the people in the city had many idols. When Paul saw this, he became very upset. 17 So he went to the Jewish meeting place and he talked with the Jews. He also talked there with those Gentiles who now worshipped God. Every day he also went to the market place in the city and he talked with the people there. 18 There were also some teachers there who talked with Paul. They taught people about what they should believe. Some of them were called Epicureans and some were called Stoics. They said to each other, ‘Who is this silly man? He knows nothing and he talks too much!’ But some of these teachers said, ‘We think that he is talking about the gods of foreign people.’ They said this because Paul was telling people the good news about Jesus. He was also talking about the time when God will cause dead people to live again.
17:18The Epicureans were disciples of Epicurus. He taught that there were no gods. Or that the gods were not near to the people.
17:18The Stoics were disciples of Zeno. Zeno taught that everyone should be good to themselves. They should also do the right things for other people. He taught that God was the soul of the world.
19 So these men asked Paul to go with them to Areopagus hill. They wanted him to speak to the city's important officers who met there. 20 The officers said, ‘These strange ideas that you are teaching surprise us. Please explain to us what these ideas mean.’ 21 (The people of Athens liked to talk about new ideas. So did the foreign people who lived there. They all wanted to hear new things and to talk about them. They seemed to do this all the time.)
17:19These important men were the rulers of Athens and they met together on the Areopagus hill. They decided what should happen in the city.
22 So Paul stood up in front of the important officers of the city. He said to them, ‘People of Athens. I see that you have many gods. 23 I have walked round your city. I see that you have built many special places where you worship your gods. I saw one altar with a notice on it. The notice said, “To the god that we do not know.” This shows that you want to worship a god that you do not know. Now I will tell you clearly about this God, so that you can really worship him.
24 The true God made the earth and everything that is in it. He rules everything in the earth and in heaven. He does not live in any buildings that people have made for him. 25 People make things to give to God. But God does not need anything like that. It is God himself who causes everyone to live. He gives them everything that they need. 26 God first made one man. From that one man he made all the different groups of people. He caused them to live in different places all over the world. He decided where each group of people should live. He also decided how long they should live in each place. 27 God did all this so that people would look for him. They would try very much to find him. He wanted people to find him. Really, God is near to each of us. 28 Someone said this: “Because God gives us life, we are alive. Because of him, we can move about. Because of him we can be who we are.” One of your writers has also said, “We too are God's children.”
17:27Paul said that we should look for God. Then we will find him because he is near to us.
29 So, because we are God's children, we should know what God is really like. He is not a thing like an idol. Clever people use gold or silver or stone to make idols. But God is not like these things that people may worship. 30 In past times people did not know the true things about God. Because of this, God did not punish them. But now God tells people everywhere, “Stop doing bad things and turn to me!” 31 God has already chosen one special day. On that day he will judge everyone in the world in a completely right way. He has chosen a man who will do this for him. He has shown clearly to everyone who that man is. He showed it like this: People killed that man. But God caused him to live again.’
32 Paul had said, ‘God caused that man to live again.’ When the people heard this, some of them laughed at him. But other people said to Paul, ‘We want you to tell us more about this on another day.’ 33 So then Paul left the meeting of the important officers of the city. 34 Some of the people who had heard Paul's message joined his group. They believed the good news about Jesus. One of these believers was a man called Dionysius. He belonged to the group of important officers. A woman called Damaris also became a believer. Several other people also believed Paul's message about Jesus.