Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 16:22-34.
Paul and Barnabas have a serious disagreement, so Silas takes Barnabas’s place as Paul begins his second missionary journey. In Lystra, a young disciple, Timothy, joins their team.
Desiring to take the gospel to Europe, God gives Paul a dream of a man in Macedonia calling for help. The group sails across the Aegean Sea and travels to Philippi. Lydia, a trader of purple cloth, believes in Jesus. Paul casts a demon out of a slave woman who predicts the future; her owners are furious. They have Paul and Silas thrown in jail. As they pray and sing, God brings an earthquake, bursting open the jail cells. The jailer and his family believe in Jesus.
God leads Paul and his companions to Thessalonica. Some of the Jews accuse Paul of proclaiming a king other than Caesar. The city is in an uproar — the new believers send the missionaries to Berea. The Jews in Berea search God’s Scriptures, and many trust Jesus. But when Jews from Thessalonica track Paul down, he has to leave Berea. Timothy and Silas stay while Paul is escorted to Athens.
In Athens, Paul dialogs with the Athenian philosophers at the Areopagus. He points out their altar to an unknown god and tells them about Jesus. Many believe.
Paul travels to Corinth and meets a believing couple, Aquila and Priscilla. Silas and Timothy catch up with him there. After the Jews reject his teachings, Paul starts to teach the Gentiles. He stays for a year and a half, then departs for Ephesus, where he stays briefly, leaves and then returns. God is growing his kingdom.
The King’s Heart
Before God sent his Son to earth, people did their best to figure out the answers to their meaning-of-life questions: Why are we here? Where did we come from? The Greeks invented gods and mythologies, guessing about what these gods were like. Philosophers pontificated.
As Paul pointed out, the Athenians stumbled on some truths. Paul built on those truths, helping the Athenians see how their hearts were already longing for who God really is.
If God had not sent his Son, we would have spent our lifetimes trying to figure him out, never knowing what was really true. But thankfully, God wants us to know him. And because of his heart, and because he sent people like Paul who are zealous for it, we do.
Paul quotes some of the Athenian’s own poets when he says “For in him we live and move and have our being,” and “We are his offspring” (see Acts 17:28). Paul affirms the truth of these ideas, but explains that they’re about God, not Zeus.