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In Acts 17, Paul delivers a concise but effective message to the Greeks.  The stage, however, was set centuries before through the workings of God's providence.

Approximately 500 years earlier in Athens, a man named Socrates began to consider the question, "What is the best way to live?"  This came in response to the sophists, a group of Greeks whose prevailing mode of thought was "YOLO" (You Only Live Once).


These Greeks considered the gods, found them to be false, and concluded that they could live however they wanted with no fear of punishment.

In some ways, of course, the sophists were right: the numerous Greek gods - Zeus, Poseidon, Athene, etc. - were false.  But their jump into harmful living was something even many non-Christians could see was wrong (or, in the least, not the best way to live).  Their consciences, of course, knew what was right and what was wrong, for God had given them this knowledge when Adam and Eve first ate of the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil.

Anyway, Socrates - and then later Plato and Aristotle - all considered the philosophers to have the secret knowledge of how life worked best.  "If only the rest of the people would listen to us," they would plead.  But the problem with these philosophers was that they failed to recognize that they were humans just like everyone else.  They possessed no secret knowledge; they, like everyone else, were missing the knowledge that came only from their Creator.

The philosophers did understand one thing: right thinking produces right living.  The problem was, as I stated earlier, they thought the philosophers were the only ones who knew what was right.  The truth is, right knowledge only comes from God.  He is the one who decides what is right and what is wrong.  The philosophers were not the deciding factor of what is right - God is.

Fast forward five hundred years and Paul is in Athens, the hub of Greek culture.  He is walking among the new philosophers, who are still seeking the answer to the age old question, "What is the best way to live?"  Paul, seeing an inscription on an altar "To the Unknown God" sees his opportunity to enlighten the people.

"Men of Athens," he begins, "I perceive you are spiritual, for I see you have an altar to the Unknown God.  That which you do not know, then, I will proclaim to you now: This is the Creator, the One who made Heaven and earth, and who is sovereign over all people.  Because of His authority as Creator, He commands all people everywhere to repent, for judgement is coming against all those who do not follow His ways or believe in His Son."

At this, some who heard understood.  "This is the answer to all our wonderings!" they said.  "The best way to live is as our Creator tells us, and He commands us to repent and believe in the Christ, who died for us and was raised for our hope."  So some believed.

Others mocked.  "Who does this man think he is?" they jeered.  "He thinks he is one of us philosophers.  Ha, only we know how to live.  And he would teach us?"  So some rejected the truth of God.

Still others were intrigued.  "We want to hear more about this," they said.  "Yes, we are always wanting to hear more (but we never like to make judgements about truth because that would be intolerant)."  So some were indifferent.

By God's providence, even pagan Greeks came to know and trust the risen Lord!  God used the musings of the first philosophers hundreds of years earlier to prepare His people to receive the Word of His apostle.

What about you?  Do you believe God knows the best way to live?  He is, after all, the Creator of everyone, and the Creator always knows what is best for His creation.  Indeed, He is kind, calling on everyone to turn away from their sins against Him and call upon the Name of His Son, who died as a rebel in our stead and who lives now to bring us before His glorious presence, without fault and with great joy!


"[H]e has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed..." (Acts 17:31).