Day 26

Paul Preaches at the Areopagus

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan


Acts 17:1-34, Zechariah 12:10, Romans 3:21-26

Uomo senza nome. It’s Italian for “the man with no name.”

It also refers to the protagonist played by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s trilogy of westerns: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

A key element in those genre-bending westerns was keeping the main character nameless, and thus mysterious, almost otherworldly. Nobody knew where he came from or where he was going, but they sure as shooting were witnesses to his brand of cinematic high plains justice. The man with no name.

Paul rode into Athens, so to speak, and was appalled at the number of idols/shrines. But he reined in his anger and set about to discussing this with the philosophers in town: “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously…I even came across an altar to THE GOD WITH NO NAME” (Acts 17:22-23, my paraphrase).

But rather than leave them in their ignorance, Paul introduced them to the one, true God—He is the God who created all there is, the God who doesn’t need a shrine or any human help for that matter, the God who spoke into existence the entire human race, the God who is always near, the God in whom we live and move and have our being, the God who commands people everywhere to repent and turn to the Man God has appointed as judge, the very Man God raised from the dead.

And just like that, the GOD WITH NO NAME was named: Jesus.

Jesus’ genre-bending narrative was like nothing the people of Athens had heard before. And once they heard it they had no excuses. They could choose His brand of cinematic-technicolor mercy, or they could refuse it. What they couldn’t do any longer was ignore it. Actually, they could no longer ignore Him—the God with a name, JESUS, who was crucified, died, buried, and raised from the dead.

It is the same choice before us today. Refuse, or choose the known God with fists full of justice and mercy. He is good, and His name is Jesus.

Written By John Blase 

Post Comments (5)

5 thoughts on "Paul Preaches at the Areopagus"

  1. Russ says:

    Lord give me faith to love my neighbors who do not know you, and to share with them the news about Jesus as the news they do really want to hear, even if it’s far below the surface. Don’t let me be pessimistic about a persons willingness to consider other ideas, and let that stop the conversation before it even starts.

  2. Russ says:

    I think that the Gospel isn’t a contradiction of all ancient religions but rather a fulfillment of the parts of them that ring true. The parts that know there is a bigger picture, the parts that value virtue, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hope of all peoples throughout time.

  3. Russ says:

    Paul definitely alludes to common grace here, by using the unknown god as a touchstone from which to connect with the Greeks. God gives all of us glimpses of himself.

  4. Russ says:

    It’s evidence of Imago Dei, that we all are connected to God somehow, from whatever background. Also, I love the Greeks’ curiosity about new ideas, and wish it for our culture. There is a part of us that wants to know Him.

  5. Russ says:

    No matter how closed off a person might seem to ideas about Christianity I must believe they are made in Gods image and are yearning at some level to know his character as revealed by Christ.

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