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Acts of the Apostles: 31 - Acts 17:10-18

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Acts of the Apostles

31 - Acts 17:10-18

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Acts of the Apostles: 31 - Acts 17:10-18

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.72 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.04 GB)
MP3 Audio (32.57 MB)

In this class we will discuss Acts 17:10-18 and look at the interesting story of Paul visiting with a group of disciples in Berea and Paul's interactions with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens.


[Darris McNeely] In our last class, we're now still in Acts 17, we left our intrepid heroes, Paul and Silas, skulking out of the city of Thessalonica under the cover of darkness as a result of the riot that had taken place, stirred up by the Jews who were envious.

Acts 17:10 We find that “The brethren,” this will be the brethren from Thessalonica, “immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.”

And that is the next city down on your list here. We do have that one marked right here, a city called Berea. And when they arrived, what did they do? Just like they did in the other cities, they went into the synagogue of the Jews and encountered then a group of Jews there in a sizable synagogue. But what Luke has moved to leave us regarding this group of Jews is a far more... What's the word I'm looking for? Far more pleasant cast or story of this group than what we found up in the city of Thessalonica. Because in verse 11, these Jews in this synagogue are considered to be... They were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica. So there's an immediate contrast that he makes here to the group up in Thessalonica. So we could probably strike envy off of their list, at least as a problem that is not overriding in Berea as opposed to what they encountered up in Thessalonica.

They're more fair-minded, agreeable, or would we call that open-minded? I'm not quite sure when it comes to how we would entertain the idea of open-minded today. I would probably take this that they were a bit more noble, as one of the other translations put it. They were more noble than the Thessalonian Jews, because as they heard Paul's message, and that's what we're concerned with, they evaluated it against the rest of scripture. The touchstone was scripture rather than politics or other cultural considerations. You almost get the idea that these Jews here were able to rise above certainly the Roman politics and much of the Greco-Roman world and the culture, but perhaps even some of their stayed Jewish ideas and prejudices that they would inherit normally from Judaism.

Every ethnicity, every religious group has their prejudices, their point of view, their worldview. To be looking at the Jews as having theirs unique is not derogatory in any way. If you're Catholic, you have a particular worldview. If you are particular ethnicity, then, you know, the view of your culture, Polish, Germanic, Hispanic, you know, American, Southern, well, you know, regional isms that we have, all of that shapes us to one degree or the other.

And the mind of the 1st century Jew, it seems, didn't override this particular group of Jews in Berea to the point where they could not listen to what Paul said and be more fair-minded or more noble-minded by receiving the Word with all readiness. They were eager and willing to listen. And they search the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. And so they would've listened to Paul. And they would've searched their scriptures. Now, by searching the scriptures, it doesn't mean that they opened their Bibles up and study their Bibles, you know, day and night like we might. They didn't have a Bible. They would go to the synagogue to hear the scroll being read, and most of them would not own a copy of the scroll. If they did, they were rather wealthy. And again, keep in mind, whatever they might have had, it might have been only part of the Old Testament, if any at all.

And so the synagogue would've been the repository or the library for the Jewish community to search these scriptures. And they would've been literate. There's no question in my mind that the Jewish community in these cities would've had a high degree of literacy that Judaism did value that in the 1st century. And we talked about that back in the early chapters of Acts when the accusation was made about the disciples being from Galilee and rough men from there. They were not illiterate. In the Galilee of the 1st century, literacy was highly prized. And I think that carried through all the synagogues throughout the world as they were at that time. And this is going to be a contrast.

Now, I'm going to jump ahead here in a moment because when we get into the story at Athens, where Paul encounters the philosophers, they too are willing to listen to Paul up to a point, but they had an open-mindedness to engage this Jewish philosopher that they looked, it's how they looked at Paul, and hear what he had to say up to a point. And so they were, in a sense, kind of open-minded too, but they were coming at it from a Greco-Roman pagan world as opposed to what we find here in Berea. So I'm just contrasting the two groups, the group in Berea, and what we are told and what we will encounter when Paul goes down to Athens, but he's able to engage both of them. And that is probably a point just to make here about Paul and his high level of literacy. He knew Greek, he knew Aramaic, he knew Hebrew. What else did he know? I imagine he probably had a working knowledge of Latin as well being, you know, raised in the Roman world.

Remember, Paul came from the city of Tarsis, and Tarsis was an education hub of that age and of that time. It was probably second to Athens, but they had a number of universities. And Paul would've drawn from, let's say, the culture of that city and been aware, as we're going to see when we see what he quotes in his sermon in Athens. He's going to quote a couple of pagan poets. How do you quote a pagan poet when you're speaking off the cuff if you haven't read that poet and memorized what they said? So he studied Greek poetry, pagan poetry if you will. But also he knew how to engage the different audiences that he comes to. He's dealing with the Jewish synagogue here. In Athens, he's dealing only with a group of Greek philosophers. And he is able to talk with both at their level, in their world, speak their language, as we say. And God knew exactly who he was choosing, and He had prepared Paul as well, no doubt, by his background, and He chose him for a particular purpose to be able to take the gospel into the gentile world and be an effective apologist, to use a modern term of explanation of the scriptures. And so let's focus for a moment again on the latter part of verse 11.

Acts 17:11 It says, “They searched the scriptures daily.”

Now, this becomes a byword for these in Berea, and we talk about today being like the Bereans, we want to be a Berean. Technically, if you're looking at the Berean, you also say... If you just say you want to be like the Bereans, I don't think we technically would say that thinking that, “Well, we want to be like a Jewish Berean,” which is what we're really referring to, but we want the quality of the Berean in that they search the scriptures daily. Bible reading. Bible study. And they searched to find out whether these things were so. That's what they did. And that was their brand, if you will, that we remember, which is why today this name of Berea for cities is scattered across the United States.

Here in Clermont County, Ohio, we have a city just to the south from where we are called Berea. And, you know, people have taken those names, biblical names, and Berea is one of them that you find many different places called Berea throughout the United States. And it's taken from this account here in this city, and done by, you know, in our time, let's say a time when people valued the Bible and whoever was responsible or the city fathers of Berea, Ohio, evidently they wanted to be known like the Bereans here in the Book of Acts.

Now, looking at this word search. We need to understand something about this because it helps us to, again, appreciate what they did. The word search here is a Greek word “anikrino”. I think I've got words here, space forward, “anikrino”, right? And it has the meaning to do an investigation. Do a deep investigation into the background. This is the same word, “anakrino”, that is used today in courts and within the world of the law when a court case comes and the lawyers start to do their work of preparing their arguments for the case, whatever it might be. One of the things they do is they do an investigation into the entire caseload of law on a particular topic that is being argued in court. They go back and they do an investigation. They do a deep study through all of previous court proceedings. How did a previous court rule on this case in law that they're now arguing before a judge? Because of the matter of precedent.

That is very big in the American judicial system. I think the legal term for that is stare decisis from Latin. And again, just to illustrate how even in our American legal system, it goes back to Latin. And there are roots there, even though we've got a far better common law system than let's say the civil law of the Roman period. But still, there are these Latin terms that are in there. But a lawyer today will have to do a deep investigation. They will search not the scriptures, but they will search the law books that contain all the case law. And they usually have paralegals to do that on their staff. They don't always do it themselves unless they're maybe a single-person law firm.

But this is what they were doing. The Bereans were doing a very critical investigation into the scriptures. They would listen to what Paul said, and they didn't let their bias, they didn't let their culture, they didn't let their rabbi, even, of the moment or the rabbi before him be their final authority. “Well, we'll listen to you, Paul, but we're going to search the scripture. And if what you say holds up to scripture, then we will accept it,” is the theory, the idea. And that's where we want to be as a Christian, as a disciple today.

In our search of the scriptures on a daily basis to find out whether these things are so, we should as well be searching the Bible. And that's what you're here at ABC is to help you to do. And as our members, you know, here in this class and other classes, their desire is in the same way, to have a deeper study and a deeper dive into what the Bible says, and to knowing all of that to make sure that what we do is true. And so when we teach our doctrines we take that approach. And as you've been going through the doctrines class this year, you, hopefully, see that and understand that we don't just take one scripture to base a fundamental belief on, we have a whole case law, if you will, from scripture to back up and to support the fundamentals of belief that we have. And that is the hallmark of the Church of God. And it should be a hallmark of us that our religion, our faith, and our teaching will always stand up under a critical search. And what we believe and what we teach and what we do, if it is true religion, it will withstand the critical scrutiny and examination that often is put to it, whether we do it ourselves or someone else may do it.

And, you know, I get all kinds of papers from people. I'm on the Doctrine Committee of the Council of Elders, and we get all kinds of submissions from people with ideas about prophecy, ideas about our teachings, and our understanding of scripture, which we take very seriously, very carefully. And most of them will be examined and looked at by either the Doctrine Committee or subcommittee that we have for either doctrine or prophecy. And, you know, we'll search the scriptures on it and we will look at it. And, you know, if we come out with a... Well, you know, what we have always taught, we hold to that, we'll stay with that. I get booklets.

I mean, I was cleaning up my...still cleaning up books from my office, and I found one stuck away on the top shelf that I will keep, and I won't throw this one away. That is a challenge somebody sent to me sometime back and I just put it aside and forgot about it, which is what I do with, you know, some things that come in. But this one deals with the Passover and the Easter issues. And I need to read this. It's a very short booklet, but I want to read what this author says as they challenge our belief about Passover and days of unleavened bread, as opposed to the Easter observances. And, you know, I'll take the time to read that and see how they argue their case. And that's just an ongoing thing that I think we will always have as a part of our culture and of our life and the world we live in. And so we want to be a Berean, we want to be searching the scriptures. And then, at some point, you have to live by faith. You have to then act that out.

There's a sermon that a fellow elder gave many years ago. I borrowed it unabashedly, plagiarized his sermon, but I have given him credit. So is it plagiarism if you give credit? I don't think so. We'll go into all of it, but he talks about a group of people that we encounter in the Church called explorers. We run across all kinds of people in the Church. Explorers. What's an explorer? Somebody, you know, a Daniel Boone type, a Davy Crockett type, a Jim Bridger type, or Ernest Shackleton who explored the Antarctic. And closer to our time, you know, Edmund Hillary, that summited Everest in the early 1950s. And Indiana Jones, you know, fabulized explorer, somebody who seeks out new worlds, new adventures, always going. Daniel Boone famously said that, you know, if he could see a cabin, you know, even the smoke of a cabin, that neighbor was too close, even if it was five miles away. So he'd pick up, move and build his cabin where he couldn't see anybody else's cabin. And if somebody else built within his eyesight, then he had to build and go further out. He didn't want to be around people. And explorers are always going forward in that case.

And sometimes, you know, in the Church, we encounter people who are explorers. They are always searching but never able to find a knowledge of the truth. Have you read that someplace in scripture? Always searching but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Well, here's a positive case of the Bereans. They searched to find out whether these things were so. You've got to come to a point in your life where you... I've arrived. I'm going to put down roots, and I'm going to be a pilgrim, if you will, looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. You want to get to the point where then you prove the truth and then you live by it. We have to act on faith, the Sabbath, the holy days, a belief in the resurrection, right on down the list. You prove it. If it's true today, it should be true tomorrow, next year. And, you know, that's what truth is.

And I've encountered people who are always looking for something else, some new idea, some new teaching, some new twist. And sometimes those people, they come in our midst, and then they leave our midst. I've encountered that type of person time and time again through the years of my ministry in the Church. If you're going to search the scriptures, which we should, you've got to establish truth. And if it's truth, then it's truth. And then you get on with the business of living that truth and living by faith and doing so. That I think is in line with the true spirit of a Berean. Well, that's a lot for just one verse, but let's go on now to verse 12.

Acts 17:12 “Therefore, many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.”

Success. People were called, a few Greeks, some prominent women, a few men. So again, a mixture, kind of like we had in Thessalonica. And they began to come and explore. We don't have a timeframe here, probably more than three weeks. It would be plausible to assume.

Acts 17:13 Says, “When the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.”

Again, if you look at the map, this road between actually Phillipi all the way down through Thessalonica to Berea was a well-traveled road. I'm going to put another term up here that at some point I want to expand on. But it was a Roman road called the Via Egnatia. And as you know, if I write something on the board, you might want to write it down and know it. The Roman road system, they had different names. And I've talked already about another Roman road by which Paul traveled in Asia Minor.

But this particular road was the Via Egnatia that was traveling through this part of Greece, and it had its terminus and all the way over to here at the city of at the time Byzas, which later became Constantinople, and is today known as Istanbul. And that was the eastern terminus of the Via Egnatia. And actually, those of us that will be leaving in just a few weeks for our Turkey tour, we will see the actual place where the Via Egnatia ended. That road ran all the way from, let's say, Constantinople through Philippi, along this area of Macedonia down through Thessalonica here in Berea, and then on up into the Balkan area. It was a major Roman highway of the 1st century. And so the point in bringing this up is that, as it says here in verse 13.

Acts 17:13 “When Jews from Thessalonica learned the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea.”

How'd they learn that? Well, the interstate highway, you know, the carts and the traffic was carrying news back and forth. And, you know, over a period of days and weeks, word came from Berea up to Thessalonica, hey, there's this guy, there's this Jewish rabbi, or this, you know, former Pharisee, and he's got these differing ideas, and he's drawing people away. He's got a following out of the synagogue there.

And so the Jews out of the synagogue in Thessalonica, now they know where he is and what's happening, they come down there. They learned the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, and they came there and they did the same thing. They stirred up the crowds. Same thing that happened earlier. But in this case, immediately, and I would say, I guess within 24 hours, the brethren sent Paul away to go to the sea. It did get to the point where Paul and Silas would be hauled before the court, the magistrates, the Paul attacks. They sent them away.

So again, this is where it ends. We don't read a 1 Berean, 2 Berean, 3 Berean epistle in the New Testament. Did Paul write letters back to them? Possibly he did. We just don't have a record of them. And I don't know of any record from any extra-biblical source of a letter to the Bereans, or maybe, I just haven't run across it. So if somebody finds that, let me know. But we don't hear any more about the Church, at least in the Book of Acts here. Paul has to leave them.

Acts 17:14-15 “And they send him away to go by the sea.” Now, where is he going? Well, we read on, “Silas and Timothy remained in Berea.” And so in verse 15, “Those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens.”

They bring him all the way down, and he gets on a boat at some point here and comes down and sails around into the port of Athens. Athens itself did not actually sit on the water then, nor today. Probably the port of Athens that he came in on was a place called Piraeus, P-I-R-A-E-U-S. And it's still a port there today, an active port. And that's where he comes into...very likely there comes into Athens. They brought him to Athens. And then verse 15 concludes.

Acts 17:15 “And receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.”

They being the disciples from Berea. They go back to Berea, but they have brought Paul out. So for some reason, Silas and Timothy are deemed okay to stay there, which again shows the prominence of Paul and the role that he had as the leading spokesman, teacher, the lightning rod for all the problems and trials that come up. And with him gone, everything settles down. The Church can be at peace. And that's where we leave it.

And so verse 16, we now move into another episode here in this story. And this is a dramatic one. This is an impressive one. This one here, as Paul comes into the city of Athens, is a very important one in the whole story of Acts and what takes place. Paul is going to give a sermon here that we will read about and we will study. He's going to encounter philosophic schools in the city. And he is not going to have much success. We don't find a Church here in Athens. We don't read about a Church. There's no 1 Athenians, there's no 2 Athenians in here. But he does have an important encounter.

And Luke has gathered the source material, put it all together. And let's begin to read about it here in verse 16. Paul's by himself. He waits for them at Athens. Who's he waiting for? Timothy and Silas. They, no doubt, probably got instructions, “stay with the brethren for a while,” a few days, maybe a few weeks. We don't know. Stay with them. Take care of them. Continue to, you know, settle down and just establish the Church. Maybe do some training, maybe appoint an elder. We can assume that. But Paul now is by himself and he's in Athens.

Any of you've been to Athens here in the room? Nobody's been to Athens? Okay. I was there once many, many years ago. I'd love to go again. But it's an interesting city. The Parthenon still stands as it did when Paul sailed in and got his first view of the city. The Parthenon was the temple to Athena. Athens is named for the goddess Athena, and won't go into all the story, you know, necessarily surrounding her. But the ruins of that still stand. My son was there after the Feast this year, and he and his family took a few days. They were in Athens, and I was talking to him a few days ago, and I said, “Were you able to go through the Parthenon, walk into the Parthenon?” And he said, “No, fenced around.” I said, “Well, that's the way it was for me in 1971.” They're still working on it. They're still trying to restore it.

We didn't get to go into the Parthenon. You could go right up to it in 1971, and that seems to be the case right now. And there's just an ongoing restoration effort. I think it may have been during World War I or a subsequent battle after that, at some point in the past, the Parthenon became an armory, and they stored munitions there, and they exploded in one time and just kind of blew the place up. So it's had a rough go through the ages of neglect and everything else, and then, you know, being turned into an armory, and yet it's still...the pillars are there, and the shape of the building is still there. And restoration goes on.

And as with Athens and Greece, which is an interesting nation, modern nation today...but my impression of Athens back in '71 probably would still hold today that they're still banking on the glory of the Ancient Greece. And they haven't done much since then except make a lot of baklava and souvlaki and good Greek food. And unfortunately, Greece as a nation today is kind of what they might call the sick man of Europe. The high inflation. They are part of the EU, but they are a high debtor nation, even within the EU, and in a sense, kind of dragging the whole EU project down as they look at it. So they struggle, is probably one way to just put it. And even in Paul's day, the golden age of Greece was far in the past. And yet it was a city, as Paul looks at it, that was full of altars, pagan temples. Let's look at what it says here in verse 16.

Acts 17:16 “While Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.”

A city given over to idols. Now, what does that mean? Well, it means... There was a Greek writer named Xenophon, who wrote about Athens in his day. And this was a few hundred years before Paul was there. And he said that Athens... He called Athens, “One great altar, one great sacrifice.” One great altar, one great sacrifice, a city wholly given to idols. In other words, temples to idols, alters to idols. A city, one great altar, one great sacrifice. There's another statement from another ancient writer this time. “In Athens, there were more temples and altars to pagan deities than there were men.” More temples and altars to pagan deities than there were men. In other words, not just on every street corner, but in between the street corners, it would seem. A city given completely over to idols.

Now, here's the thing about Paul. He's by himself. He's had a lot of work. He's been pretty busy, right? Berea, Thessalonica, got beat up in Phillipi. What would you do if you came to Athens today? You're by yourself. Got some time on your hands, right? What would you do? You know what I might be tempted to do? Check and see how many points I've got on my credit card, and maybe I could check into a Hilton or a Hyatt and get an upgrade to the concierge level. Big free buffet, breakfast every day, access to the spa. Yeah, all the baklava I could eat, and some good Greek food, and just sit for a while. Wouldn't that be tempting? Sure, it would be, especially if you want to nurse the wounds from the beating that probably is still there from up in Philippi, and just kind of recharge the batteries, right? Don't we like to do that? Get a three-day weekend, what do we want to do? I haven't had a three-day week in a long time, but, you know, typically, you know, day off, you kind of relax a bit. I mean, I have a three-day weekend, but I still have things to do that take up my weekend time.

Paul's by himself. He's got a few days, and yet, what does he do?

Acts 17:16 It says “He is moved. His spirit is provoked within him when he sees the city given to idols.”

Now, that word provoked bears a little bit of examination. It is a verb, “paroxyno”. Let me put that one on there. Anybody have any idea what we might get from this word paroxyno?


No. You ever heard of somebody going into a paroxysm? It's kind of like they go into a fit. It's not quite an epileptic fit, but they get worked up, or they get paroxysms. They get so angry, so upset. They turn red, they flush, they shake. You ever see anybody like that? Get so angry like that? You get into what is called “paroxysm”. And this is what the word is when it says that Paul was stirred up. Paul was literally physically moved by the total paganism of the city. That's what the word means. His spirit was provoked within him. He was so irritated by this and he was roused to anger. You know, we use the term they did a slow burn. You've heard that? Yeah.

You know, you've never seen anybody do a slow burn, have you? No. Never have. Yes, you have. It happens. And you just kind of worked up. You know, maybe your parents do a slow burn because you're not listening to them. You didn't pick up your room when they said to, you know, and that goes on all morning and all day. And they say, you know, “Tommy, Susie, I've told you do it and you don't do it,” And then, “Are you going to do it?” And then finally, there's an eruption. And you know what happens when there's an eruption? There's maybe a spanking, maybe there's penalties, and maybe some words that go along with that. But, you know, we do a slow burn. And that's kind of what Paul is doing here as he approaches the city. The word is used again in 1 Corinthians 13:5. I'm talking about love. 1 Corinthians 13, Paul has this whole chapter about love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Says, “Love suffers long, is kind, does not envy. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked.”

Same word there. Love has not yet moved to a physical paroxysm against somebody. So it's the same idea there. But Paul did here against evil, sin, paganism. And so he didn't have a three-day weekend trip to the spa at the Hilton Highrise in downtown Athens. What does he do?

Acts 17:17 “He reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the gentile worshipers.”

He keeps working. He's by himself now, nothing to hold him back. He goes to the synagogue, but he doesn't stop there. Look at the next phrase, "And in the marketplace." That's the agora. I'm going to put that word up here as well. You need to know what an agora is, A-G-O-R-A. The marketplace, the shopping mall, the place where all the...you know, the outdoor, indoor shopping area, the agora. He goes there and he engages people there, which is what they did in that world. We don't go to our, you know, Keystone Mall or whatever your mall is in your town, we don't go there in the Whole Foods or in and out of T.J. Maxx, and, you know, as we're checking out at the cashier, we don't talk about God, do we?

There was a time when people did that in the ancient world. In Byzantium, they did that. In Constantinople, they did that. Instead of saying, “Who's going to win the Super Bowl tonight?” As they were getting change or checking out at the agora and getting change for their bag of plums or whatever they were buying, as the change would be given, they would engage them in a question about the nature of God. Do you believe the son existed before? Is he the true Theotokos, son of God? That's what they talked about. It was done. We don't do that today. But Paul goes into the marketplace. What's the modern analogy for us today? Well, maybe it is, you know, we go into a marketplace of social media, media through magazine, television, radio, internet. And that's a marketplace for us to freely engage with the ideas of the gospel. But we're not going to do that at the Kroger, Jungle Jim's, Costco, or T.J. Maxx, are we? And I'm not saying we should, you know. We're in a different world, different time. But Paul did that.

So he goes to the marketplace and he does this on a daily basis with those who happen to be there. He doesn't take a vacation, no downtime. And over a period of days, he gets around, word spreads about him, people gather and come and go. At the agora, he probably finds a spot, an open public spot, where he will maybe give a lecture for two or three hours. He will talk about Jesus of Nazareth, he will talk about the gospel.

Acts 17:18 It tells us that as a result, “Certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ And others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.’”

And so here in one long verse we have an interesting description of two Greek philosophical schools, the Epicurean and the Stoic who encountered him. And from them, they said about him, “What does this babbler want to say?”

I'm going to focus on the word babbler for a moment, and then probably in the next class, I'll just save a discussion for the Epicurean and the Stoics for the next class because I do want to develop them a little bit more so that you understand something about the background here as we go into the sermon. But let's focus on this phrase, “What does this babbler want to say?” As he's proclaiming foreign gods, as he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. That word babbler is an interesting word. Again, I won't give you another Greek word here, but here's what it means in the vernacular, it was a slang word in the Greek of the time, it was a slang word, and it meant literally a seed picker. A seed picker. And it also was used kind of a vagrant. Today we would call that a homeless person, right? But a vagrant was not considered to be... You know, they were kind of a worthless person to the Greeks. And today, the equivalent, let's say, would be a homeless person.

Have you ever seen a homeless person? Is there anyone in this room who's never seen a homeless person? What do you associate with them? They're living in, you know, a makeshift tent. Maybe it's cardboard in some places. Maybe an actual Coleman-type tent that they've somehow picked up. And you might see them pushing a cart around or pulling a cart. And in that cart is everything they've got. Where do they get those things in that cart? They've picked them up out of garbage heaps, out of the backs of various, you know, grocery stores. They rummage the bins behind a grocery store looking for food that is thrown away in some cases, right?

I don't know how much that is still done, but just as recently as a few years ago, where I lived in near Indianapolis, huge major supermarkets, when the lettuce turned a little green, when the cauliflower got a little brown went to the bin out back. I actually had a member in my Indianapolis Church years ago who would go to those dumpsters. He was a dumpster diver, is what we would call them. And he would pull out produce, bread that was thrown out, and he would bring them to Bible study. True story, and put it out on the table. Members would take it home with him. I took some of it home at the time. It was still good. It just was, you know, sitting there maybe an hour or two. And we fed people that way.

This gentleman was a very fine Church member, one of the finest men I've ever met in my life. He was very frugal. He was a Scotsman, and he was just a fine, fine man. But, you know, he squirreled away his money. They gave a lot to his kids. They all learned to be frugal as well, but he would do that. He wasn't homeless. But you see that among the homeless. You'll see a homeless person pushing a cart and everything they've got is there because they picked it up out of somebody else's cast off. And this is what is the word babbler as it refers to Paul is being talked about here and has also meant a seed picker. Now, think about this. We've all seen seed pickers. Think about what is a seed picker today. Anybody know? Everybody turn to your right. Look out the window. Do you see any birds out there right now? Sometimes we do. You see them hopping around out there, what are they doing?

[Woman] Picking seeds.

[Darris] Picking up seeds. Scraps from under your table out there that have fallen from your lunch. They'll be out there, you know, like today. And they're hopping around. Worms, seeds, scraps, seed pickers. A scrap here, a scrap there. That's what they called Paul. But they didn't call him that because he was dumpster diving or going around, you know, just picking up food off the ground. They called him that because they heard what he said and what he taught, and they said, “He's got all these differing ideas and he's picked up one here, and he's hopped over here and he's picked up another idea and he's hopped over here and he's picked up another idea and he's put it all together and he is calling it truth. And it's a little different than what we Epicureans and what we stoics believe.”

Do you know that that's what they accuse us in the Church of God today of being? Seed pickers. Oh, well, they've got a little bit from the Jehovah's Witness, prophecy maybe. They've got an idea from the Seventh Day Adventists, the Sabbath. Holy Days, well, they've adapted that from Judaism. Sharing the glory of God, well, that smacks of Mormonism. Look at the books that have been written about Armstrongism, Worldwide Church of God, on in its beliefs. Those are the things you will hear and see, that what we believe and we have in our fundamentals of belief, they will say we've picked up like seed pickers from various groups and have put together our own unique idea.

Is that true? Is that what we have done? Well, as you have gone through the classes here, and as our members have studied and looked at literature, we've backed up what we believe from scripture. I don't think we've been seed pickers, but that's how people look at us today. And it's exactly how they looked at Paul here in Athens on this occasion, and they called him a babbler. “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

Now, when we come back in our next class, we're going to dive deeper, not into a dumpster, but into this matter of the Epicureans and the Stoics, their philosophy, and the philosophers that Paul encounters in his famous sermon on Mars Hill that is going to take up the remainder of the chapter and show how in that are a different set of seeds for some of the same cultural issues that we face and see today, roiling and racking and dividing and taking apart our culture today in the trans movement, the transgenderism, and all of that.

Remember, as we started out in these classes with Paul here, he's doing a deep travel and a deep dive into the Greco-Roman world. And as we pull this out, we're going to see just how connected those events, those teachings are to events that are in our headlines and the issues impacting us here today. All of that, we'll get into in the next class.