17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
There is so much in these few words. I try and picture the scene. I try to put myself in the shoes of the Greek audience. I try and see and listen from their perspective. How do they see their gods? What do their man made idols mean to them? Are they literal gods? Are they symbolic? When Paul speaks to them of their unknown God are they excited, curious, offended, insulted that a Jew was trying to teach them? It seems they were curious and open minded. It seems they lived to ponder ideas so this was just more material to chew on.
However I believe as Paul began to speak the mood quickly shifted from curiosity and philosophical musings to a sense that something deeper was happening. Paul unveils a god unlike any they worship. When you examine the various gods of Greek mythology you discover each one has an area of expertise. They couldn't conceive of any one god being powerful enough to handle everything so they needed a wide range of gods. Many of these gods were children of other gods. They had human characteristics of lust and anger etc... In short they were not much different from us and in some ways worse.
Paul spoke of a God above all gods. A God who was the source of all life. A God who gave breath to every living creature.
Part of Greek god worship was to bring to the temples the things the gods wanted so they wouldn't get angry. Paul said the Unknown God needs nothing from us for He is the source of all things.
Simply put Paul was shifting their gaze higher. Higher than their gods. Higher than any God they had ever conceived of. The amazing thing was that they had a sense of Him already because He is beyond our imagination. He is higher and greater than our capacity to envision. We are so limited compared to who and what He actually is that we had to invent multiple gods to even begin to equal His greatness. Somehow they knew that beyond all their attempts at religion there was Someone higher and greater. Paul was there to introduce Him.
We'll dig deeper tomorrow. He's greater and higher than we think too, no matter what we think about Him.