Good News for Everyone

Key Verse: “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
—Acts 17:30, 31

Selected Scripture:
Acts 17:22-34

DURING THE APOSTLE Paul’s second missionary journey he was forced to make a stop in Athens, and saw that the city was steeped in idolatry, superstition, and philosophy. (Acts 17:16) Paul preached the Gospel message in the marketplace. On one occasion he encountered Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, who opposed his teachings. They took him before the supreme court of Athens—the Areopagus on Mars Hill—where Paul had to defend himself against the contention that he was preaching a new God.

Paul complimented the religious inclinations of the Athenians as a good thing. He specifically pointed to one of their altars that had been erected: “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” (Acts 17:23) He declared that this god whom they were ignorantly worshipping was not a new god, but the true God, and began to tell them about him and his plan. Paul began his defense by stating that the true God does not dwell in man-made temples, nor is he represented by idols made with hands. On the contrary, it is God who made all things, and gives life and breath to all. He further stated that all human creation originates from the same blood through Adam, and all the bounds of the earth’s habitations were of God’s design, including the times and seasons. Paul states that God is still easily accessible by those desirous of seeking him, and is not far from any of us. (Acts 17:27) He is our Creator, our lifegiver, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” (vs. 28) Hence, since we are his creation, formed in his own image, we should not expect him to be found in the likeness of stone or metal images.

Paul pointed out that in previous ages, ignorance of these truths could be excused, but no longer. Jesus had come, bringing the message of salvation with him. Paul continues to point out that the attitude of sincere repentance is of much more importance than worship of any idol. Since Paul was being judged, he pointed his listeners to a more important judgment, saying that a time of judgment upon the world will come—not a doomsday, but a judgment “in righteousness.”—Acts 17:31

This will be the great Judgment Day period of Christ’s Kingdom, when all the world will learn righteousness. For this to take place, it will require the raising of all those asleep in death. Jesus said, “An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life; those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment.”—John 5:28,29, New American Standard Translation

The assurance that this will take place lies in the fact that Jesus himself was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God. Many voiced their objections to the teaching of a resurrection of the dead, but others believed, including Dionysius, one of the supreme court Judges.—Acts 17:32-34

Dawn Bible Students Association
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