In this class, we will discuss Acts 17:26-34 and continue looking at Paul's interactions with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens and the discussion about the altar with the inscription "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD."
[Darris McNeely] We're still in Acts. I thought we might get through Chapter 17 in the last class, but as in years past, I don't. It takes a little bit more time to go through everything. And we'll finish this up here in this class and then get into Chapter 18. Probably won't even finish Chapter 18. But we dropped off the last class in Chapter 17. Paul is on Mars Hill, the Acropolis, the picture that you see on your screen as it is to this day before what is called the Areopagus, the ruling body of the Greeks who have called him there to hear more about what he is saying regarding the gospel, and this strange new thing, these ideas that he has brought into their world, most of them for the first time, certainly at this depth that they are experiencing this, and it is going to run completely counter to the philosophic schools that we talked about last time of Epicureanism and Stoicism, and the wealth of pagan gods and goddesses represented by the temples and altars of the city of Athens. And he's cutting right to the heart of it here with this.
One thing I did not mention as we got into this when we were talking about these philosophers that I wanted to bring out here at the beginning of the class is I did mention that Stoicism, you know, had certain teachings that we would find commendable and good, and that are in a sense compatible with biblical teaching and that is true. Some people, as they look at the Greek world, the Roman world, or the philosophers and the ideas of these two schools of thought plus others like even Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and others, and where they find among them ideas that, in a sense, prefigure Christian teachings and the gospel, there is the idea that... These are sometimes called proto-Christian or pre-Christian ideas or teachers.
And I don't subscribe to that. I don't recommend that we do. And many other commentators don't. They were pagans. They were very intelligent. They understood many things about their world, and they asked many of the right questions that needed to be asked about God and human beings. Who is God? What is God? What's this all about? What is the purpose of human life?
And as we're going to see, Paul will plunge deeper into that. They asked the right questions, but they had the wrong answers. And because of the confusion, the deception of the world in that age, and in those ages, which we understand from scripture as to how and why that got to that point, they do not understand. And so, I don't think it's correct to look at any of these as pre-Christian or anything like that. But they're asking the right questions. And Paul is able to kind of latch onto those things as he goes through this particular speech and brings out what he does. So, let's go back into it. We finished, I believe last time in verse 25.
Acts 17:25 “God is not worshiped with men's hands as though He needed anything since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”
And in this, you know, Paul's second point in his apologetic is that this God is a life-giver. Now, he moves on to verse 26.
Acts 17:26 “And he has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”
Now, I just love this verse for what it tells us, that number one, all humans, you know, literally do come from the same blood, which is why, you know, as human beings, as long as we're of the same blood type, regardless of race or ethnicity, we can share blood because that is the common bond of life, and life is in the blood, we're told in the scriptures. And that should tell us an awful lot, all by itself, about how we are to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and issue any type of racism, bigotry, hatred, no matter how it originates from whatever ethnicity, whatever race, toward any other person or group that is different than us because of skin color, creed, nationality, again, ethnicity, whatever. But we don't have that world yet, do we? And we know that. But this is the fundamental truth that Paul brings out, that human life is made from one blood in every nation of men who dwell in the face of the earth.
This is what can be called... His third point is apologetic about God. And, you know, we've kind of put up here that... This is all talking about God, that God is a god of history. He guides the affairs of mankind, always has. We understand that as we go back into the stories of Genesis, the early stories, especially the post-flood world where the allotments of the earth were made among the sons of Noah. And then we get into the promises of Abraham beginning in Chapter 12. But all of that is clear from those early chapters of Genesis, that not only is every human being of the same blood and what that tells us. And that's important to his Greek audience. The Greeks looked at themselves as kind of the best, and everybody else, well, they're barbarians, okay? They were the unwashed out there, if you will, barbarians. And the Greeks kind of had that view.
And remember, Alexander the Great wanted to spread Hellenism throughout the world of his day because it was the best. And, of course, he did convince others. They did a pretty good job because as I said, when the Romans came along and supplanted the Greeks, they still wanted to be like the Greeks. The Jews in Jerusalem wanted to be like the Greeks. But that gets into the prejudices and superior thinking based on nationality. And again, Paul is just saying that that is a wrong reality. And he makes the statement.
Acts 17:26-27 “He has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
And so, he has appointed the times and the places. When we look at history, we see that indeed that is the case. And the Bible tells us a great deal of that as we go through the story of... Well, first of all, you know, in Genesis, the greatest nation, it seems to be there in the Pentateuch obviously is Egypt, that rises and then enslaves the children of Israel. And is a great power in the Nile Delta for its time and its age. And we see the remnant of that with the pyramids that are still standing, and the remnants of that culture that are still studied. And people still try to figure out how did they do this? How did they build the Great Pyramids? And they're still finding things about the Great Pyramid that they didn't know yet. Recently I saw that they discovered a new secret chamber or passageway within the Great Pyramid.
So, Egypt was, you know, one of the first big kids on the blog. Egypt seemed to spring out of the past of the ancient world and run ahead of the pack of all the other nations in that early world, post-flood world, and shot to the top, and created the culture that they did, that we see the remnants of. And, of course, that figures into the biblical story. But we also know that Egypt then declined.
And then as we study the New Testament or the Old Testament story, we read about Assyria growing in power and what it does to Israel. And then we get into Babylon, and then Persia, and then Greece, and then Rome. And we see all of that. They come on the scene, they are great empires, and then they decline. They're taken over by someone else.
And as you come further through history, we see that, no matter what it would be. In Europe and into the modern world, we see the French Empire, the Dutch Empire, what else? The Germanic Empire, the Russian Empire that have come and gone in the modern times. The America's dominance has been called the American Empire, or that of the English-speaking peoples. And certainly, you know, it's been called the American Empire, though that wasn't what it was set out to become, but it certainly has had that breadth and that reach. And we see the world beginning to change even now.
As we understand history, and we understand, especially Bible prophecy, beginning with what God outlines with Daniel, we can understand this verse, that God has appointed the times and the boundaries of their dwellings. And in the broad sense, you know, in terms of the times, nations have risen and fallen according to God's prophetic timetable. That's what Daniel in Revelation show us. And when we read history from that point of view, then it takes on meaning. And when it takes on meaning, then it becomes interesting. And it should be interesting for us to because it is connected to scripture, number one, and it's connected to the plan and the purpose of God. And as I teach the World News and Prophecy class, the focus is that we want to understand not only the pre-appointed times of the past, but what that tells us about the times in which we live and where we are, and to understand that God is still guiding, and the affairs of the nations to this day.
“The boundaries of their dwellings” is an interesting phrase. Again, we see that in the allocations of lands in early pages of Genesis among the great groupings of humanity at that time. And in a broad sense, we can still see those contours throughout history. And migration has taken place. Immigration has taken place, especially in the modern world. We've had this great mixing. We talk about American history being a great melting pot, and it certainly is, of various peoples that came to America, first from Europe, from the Americas, other parts of the world, and continue to do so, sometimes in ways that aren't healthy for our current situation, but that's another story in itself. But in spite of that, there are still these broad areas of Asia and of Africa and of Europe that define large general boundaries of groupings of people.
And when we look at this and we understand this, that it is by God's purpose and design, because He's the God of history, then it's a starting point to begin to understand the inequities of the world, both past and present. And that's important as well, because, you know, some of the ideas that have their ultimate end game in the prophetic teachings of Revelation 17 and 18 when we get to that, you will see that human desire is to break down these nationalities, to break down cultures in an effort to create one world that the Bible defines as Babylon, Babylon the Great, a mystery religion, and this mix of spiritual and physical that it talks about churning through history and having one final explosion upon the world scene at the end, creating this massive deception in these two beast figures of Revelation 13.
But at the heart of a lot of it is this idea of creating this one world and breaking down nationalisms, religion, even sexuality to create one. Make no mistake, the issues of transgender, the sexual revolution that has taken on new dimensions in recent years have at their heart ideas that are meant to counter what Paul is actually addressing here in verse 26, where God has determined the times and the boundaries. And the arguments of history and the arguments that cloud the view of God and what God is doing from scripture can always be traced back in one sense to what Paul brilliantly brings out in one verse.
And, you know, if you want to argue history, if you want to argue inequity, injustice, argue with God, ultimately. Now, yes, human beings are human beings and sin is sin, and people make mistakes, and prejudice is wrong, but if we're looking at the broad view of history, the source of evil, why there's injustice, why there are inequities, go to God, and then understand like Job did.
“I've heard of you with the hearing of the ear, and now I see you, and now I finally see you.” If you get nothing else from this particular speech and connect it to the World News and Prophecy approach, you get nothing else. Just anchor it in what Job said, "Well, I thought I knew you," but there's more to it. And that helps us to understand the great questions of why. And then we can go on and build a relationship with God. So, He is the God of history, and Paul brings that out here.
Acts 17:28 He says, “For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’”
That phrase “For we are also his offspring” is a quote, and it's a quote from an ancient poet that Paul had probably read. I like to think he probably read it in some of the school encounters that he had in his own hometown of Tarsus, which was a center of learning that was not quite like Athens, but some have called it the Athens of Asia. And he would've studied these particular poets. In fact, he goes on there in verse 29.
Acts 17:29 He says, “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God,” he repeats that, “we ought not to think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising.”
In these two verses, verses 28 and 29, as he kind of builds his argument about the nature of man and his relationship to God, he quotes two Greek poets here. The first quote comes from a poet from Crete named Epimenides, in the island of Crete, in the 7th century BC, so it's quite old at the time of poem of Paul here. But this Epimenides wrote a poem, and in the poem, he puts words on a son of Zeus, who in an attempt to honor his father, Zeus, says this, “That in him, Zeus, we live, move and have our being.” And so, Paul here, and get what he's doing, he's bringing in a pagan poet whose dialogue is actually praising Zeus. But that's not what Paul is using as his proof. He's making a connection to his audience who would've known the same poem, and who would've studied them. And I won't go through the whole quote here, but that's exactly what it is.
Now, the second quote there, that we are his offspring in verse 29, comes from a Cilician poet named Aratus. Aratus. And I think I've got a bust here. There he is. That's what Aratus looked like according to one representation of him. But Aratus was a 4th-century poet from Cilicia, which is in Asia Minor. And again, the quote is attributed in Aratus's poem to Zeus, the chief god, chief deity, that in every... From that poem, Aratus wrote, "It is with Zeus that every one of us in every way has to do. For we are his offspring." And that's the end of quote. And so, when Paul melds these two together in what he says in verse 28 and 29, he is going to verbatim these two pagan poets and used them.
Why does he use that? Because again, his audience is Epicureans and Stoics, and others in the Greek world. He's making a connection to them. And I think his primary purpose is to show that in these two poets, Epimenides and Aratus as they sought through their poetry and their plays to explain the human condition and how humans relate to God, these are universal questions. And that's the important takeaway, that poetry, literature from whatever epic you study, modern, ancient, medieval, ancient Roman, Greek, Persian, Hittite, Acadian, Egyptian, how far back you want to go, they all deal with these human aspirations. Who is God? What is God? How do we relate to Him? What are we as human beings? And that's, when you break it down, where it all begins and ends.
And Paul is showing that look, his message, the gospel has the answers. He's, remember, declaring to them the unknown God, the one they have no idea. But as they have, you know, the best of these pagans, the pagan world, as they have tried in their highest noble literary efforts to define life and to give meaning to people and to, you know, express some reason for this labor and toil on this world and this earth that man has to go through, Paul is saying that they were well-meaning, even though they were misguided and deceived, but I'm showing to you that one God that you call the unknown God, and I'm laying it out for you, and this is the answer. And that's what he's doing.
Now, the second point Paul is showing, he's showing them, he's saying, “You know what? I've studied the same stuff you studied. I've read your stuff. I'm not an ignorant person from the backwater regions of the world. I'm not this narrow bigoted Jew that you think I am.” You know, the Jewish world of Paul's time had a unique relationship within Rome. And this kind of ties into what you're learning with your study of early Church history right now. The Jews had developed their Judaism and their culture by this time of the 1st century. Paul goes to the synagogue, he goes to the Jewish world, he's a product of it as is the Church, but not Judaism necessarily, historically from scripture.
But Paul is taking advantage of the position that the Jews have in the Greco-Roman world. And it's a mixed bag in terms of opposition. But because the Jews were an insular people, by that I mean they kept to themselves, they maintained their identity, they maintained their faith, their belief in one God, they didn't eat pig, and they went into the synagogue every week, and they didn't go to the pagan temples. And in most of the places they were allowed to create their community and exist, and even in some cases be granted exemption from, let's say, military service by the Caesar, and lived peaceably. And life went on fine, okay?
Now, the Roman and the Greek world at the time, they were dominated by, again, these philosophical schools, by all the pagan deities and altars. And the life of the average stoic, let's say, or man on the street in Athens, was guided by religion, their religious belief in all the deities, and whoever they may have worshiped most of all, right? That was their everyday life. The man in the street selling meat, you know, selling onions on the counter, the lady who made the baklava there in Athens and took it out and sold it every morning, fresh, hot bread, whatever it was, you know, and then got a few dollars and then went home, and life started all over again the same thing the next day. This is the average man in the street. That's where the real history is really written in any period and any age.
But let's say in Greece, it was settled. You accepted Athena as the patron deity of your city. You did your customary homage to them every year to appease them. And if you had a favored other God, you'd do that in His temple or on His altar. But it guided and directed your daily life. Sometimes we don't realize how deeply ingrained paganism was in the daily life, but life went on, you know. There was the occasional famine, plague, and war that disrupted things.
And then comes the Church, right? Then comes Paul. And as we have been reading, Paul comes into town. Where does he go? To the synagogue, the settled synagogue. But does his message settle them? No. He's saying, “There's this crucified savior, the Messiah, and He's just been resurrected. Oh, and by the way, He's the messiah of your scriptures that we looked for, but you killed Him.” And some in the synagogue sit there and think, while others settle on the other side, and they're sitting there and they're fuming because they don't agree with this. And it creates this problem that we've been reading about in Philippi, in Thessalonica, and they booed him outta town like they did in Damascus and in Jerusalem because it upsets the order of even the Jews.
Now, Paul is upsetting the order of the Pagan world, at least for a moment and in a small way here in Athens. But here's what we learn from this. Why is the order of the Jews and the order of the pagan Greco-Roman world, why are they upset? Why are they agitated? Because the message is different, but also because Paul and Peter and the others, they're evangelizing. The Church has a mission. What did Jesus say? Acts 1:8, “You will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And they go out and they begin to do it. They evangelize, they don't sit still, and that creates churn.
The gospel should do that. The gospel should turn a world upside down. And that's what we're reading about in Acts. And that's what is unique about the message here that is being given with what Paul is doing, and, you know, Peter in the earlier chapters and all the other apostles whose records are not put into the story of Acts. That's the Church, and that's what the Church is to do. And if the Church is not creating a sense of disruption by its message, it's not doing its job. And that's a pretty important statement for every one of us to think about, because this is not just a history that we're reading, this is not just a good Bible story, as good as a story it is, and it's in the Bible. But we're reading something that tells us how we are to be and do as a Church. This is the doctrine of the Church right here in the Book of Acts. This is the story of what the Churches do.
And to be honest, this is just my personal statement on this for what it's worth, and I hope it's worth a lot, I think that the Church of God today needs to examine itself on that, and every one of us, because that's what we're supposed to do. And where we don't get it, who's wrong? And if that applies against anybody's idea of what the Church should be and what the Church should be doing, then I ask who's wrong? But that's the deeper message out of the Book of Acts that sometimes we miss in the Church as we look at it.
Paul has been brought before intellectual thinkers to defend himself. He's still safe. He's had a beat-up in Philippi and thrown in jail one night. He's going to get worse as it goes along, but he has to answer for what he says. I think about that at times when I write an article, when I do a “Beyond Today” television program. How would I answer this to a critic who might, you know, encounter me in the flesh? Not just the quiet, nice little email inquiry that I have hours and days and weeks to either answer or ignore, but to the person who might encounter me to explain what you're saying, defend it. Paul didn't have time to go to the internet and to get a defense all worked up. He got basically carried up on his mountain at one point, and he popped down, all right, we want to hear more. What about this? And he was on the spot. He had to show up and know his lines. And these are the lines that he knew. Well, let's go on to verse 29.
Acts 17:29 “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divine nature is like gold, silver, or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance, God overlooked.”
What's past is past. All of this and these times of Epimenides and Aratus and Xeno and Epicurus, God overlooked that. Plato, Socrates, Hammurabi, whoever you want to bring in, God overlooked it. It was a part of His plan, this is time.
Acts 17:30-31 “But He now commands all men everywhere to repent because He's appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
And so, I forgot to put up here as we were talking about the pagan poets that he was showing that God is a Father from whom we live and breathe and have our being. We are the offspring of God. He is talking about God as a Father. The last thing that he brings out about God is that He is the judge of the world. This God, this unknown God is a judge of the world, okay? Pardon my handwriting. We're getting to the bottom of the whiteboard here. He's the judge of the world. That looks pretty legible, doesn't it? Judge of the world.
And so, God's overlooked the past, but He now commands all men everywhere to repent. Paul's bringing the gospel to them as it comes, there is a time to repent, to change, a metanoia. “Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man that He has ordained,” and he's speaking there of Jesus. That is the man whom He has ordained, and He will judge the world. He will come in a time of judgment. Paul understood that His second appearance will judge the world. This first appearance had other reasons. The full judgment comes at His second appearance. And then he gets...this last sentence of verse 31 is the clincher.
Acts 17:31 “He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Now he speaks about the resurrection. And the assurance of this judgment, of this fact that He is the God of history, He is our Father, He gives life, He is the creator of all that we see, the assurance of all of that is locked into the resurrection. He raised Him from the dead. And it was at that point in verse 32.
Acts 17:32 “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’”
You can bet that the Epicureans mocked, the Stoics as well. Although among some of them, maybe they were a little bit more thoughtful, but they mocked him when they heard that. Obviously, the resurrection is so critical and key to the gospel. The life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is the fullness of it. By His death, He shed blood, we have forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to God, justification, and all that we understand that comes from the sacrifice of Christ, and the importance of His death. We commemorate that with the Passover every year. And it is, you know, by His blood that we are forgiven of our sins, and then can be reconciled to God. But it is through His life that we are saved. Paul says in Romans 6, “We are saved by His life.” And Paul says here that the assurance of all this, God gave by raising Him from the dead. What does Paul write in 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection? What is it?
[Man] “If Christ is not risen, then your faith is in vain.”
[Darris McNeely] “If Christ is not risen, then your faith is in vain.” And so, they all work together, which is one of the reasons I think that when we read some of the scriptures about the Passover or the unleavened bread, at times in the gospels, it's a package of the season. And we even continue that as we talk about DUB or, you know, Passover season. And in our minds we're thinking not only the Passover, but the seven days with unleavened bread. And they all work together. We keep the Passover service in a unique way once a year, then we keep the days of unleavened bread. We have a night to be observed as a traditional part of it as well. But it all works together. And it was this matter of the resurrection that turned these Greeks off at this particular point in mind.
Here's why. First of all, the idea that a man could be resurrected from the dead was alien to a pagan mind, and a Greek mind. They were steeped in the idea of the immortality of the soul. And at death, that soul is released from the soma, the body. And all the ideas were popularized by Plato, especially the idea of the immortal soul. And the Greeks wanted in a sense that any of those who really thought seriously about it, they did want that release to whatever of the soul post-body. They had no interest in coming back into a body. They wanted the soul to be released. And if they had a variant of reincarnation, okay, they would deal with that. Or if it went off to, you know, some other idea that they had beyond this life, that's what they wanted.
And that was so ingrained that they wanted to be free from the body, that the idea of coming back into a bodily resurrection was something totally incompatible to them, and again, the idea that a body could live again. What they didn't understand is that it is a transformed body, which is why Paul goes into it in great detail in 1 Corinthians 15 to explain that it is a change to immortality and that the body has to die so that the new one can come forth and all that that means. And he explains that.
But wrapped in all of this message of Paul that God is a creator, a giver of life, that he's a Father in whom we live and move and have our being, and that we live a life to a time of judgment in a positive way was showing something that quite frankly, we are still grappling with today. Paul is saying that this life that God has given us, this physical mortal body, male and female created He them, is valuable, has a purpose. It's from God, the creator of all things. They're with him here. They're with him here. They're with him even to a degree there. They're with him here. And they can go along with a judgment up to a point. And then when they hear of the resurrection, they're out of there.
We're dealing with a mindset then that can teach us something about now. and it all comes down to the purpose of human bodily, physical life. Why are we created male and female, both in the image of God? We come together to form one flesh, male and female in a married union. Not two females, not two males, right? Male and female created He them. God said it's all good back in Genesis. “Behold, it's all good.” The Greeks were already corrupting the idea that I don't like my body, I want to change my body. My body is decaying, it's corruptible. And I've got this soul inside that we need to, in a sense, release into this world's soul that the Stoics believed in. And the idea that they would go back into that isn't something that they wanted to think about. And it's all rooted in their pagan religion.
When we come over later to Ephesus and we start talking about Artemis and the history of Artemis, we'll talk a bit more about what predated the cult of Artemis in Ephesus. And Paul, I think, was itching to get to Ephesus to deal with that cult of Artemis.
Because in Asia Minor, through the hundreds of years of the worship of a female fertility goddess, the temples had grown. She'd kind of evolved from this big fertility goddess called Cybele to this rather grotesque-looking Artemis with lots of things hanging off of her. They still argue what exactly that might be. We'll talk about that when we come to Artemis. But you know what was also going on with the Temple of Artemis and the cult of Artemis? The male priests, when they devoted themselves to Artemis, would not only castrate themselves, but they would go as far as they could at the time with the science into a trans body, transsexual. All connected with the cult of the female fertility goddesses. And it's all documented that that's what was going on because they didn't like their body. And through their religious worship, they wanted to transform their body now from male to female. And it was all wrapped up in the religious worship of Artemis.
And this is what is happening here in this Greek rejection of Paul at this moment, and the idea of a resurrection, a bodily resurrection as a result of a transformed life according to the laws of God, and the purpose of God, the creator, the life-giver, the Father who through a relationship that people can live a transformed life of the spirits created in the image of God. And you like your body. What we're dealing with today in this age of transsexual operations and people coming at age 10, 11, and 12 not liking the body that they're born into and wanting to transition out of it and now being accepted, accelerated, financed, and paid for by adults who should know better, goes back to a misguided idea of what we are as human beings, created in the image of God, male and female. I think the way to help people dealing with that today is to begin to at least help them to appreciate and to like their body.
And all of us should run as far away from any idea that even begins to make us think that somehow we're not perfect or we're not...you know, that we need to change physically our body. And these ideas have taken root in recent times to create unimaginable scenarios in the lives of young people. But it's nothing new. And what we're reading right here, where they rejected the idea of the resurrection, a bodily resurrection, an ancient Greece through a sermon that Paul gave, is a symptom that is still with us to this day. And that's part of the reason why the Greeks rejected him on that day on Mars Hill, because of their false ideas about God, human life, and the purpose of that life, and the relationship that can be given. The key is, again, brought back into the truth of who God is, what man is, and what his purpose is. And so, at this point, it's all over when they said, “We'll hear you again on this matter.” And so verse 33, Luke kind of wraps it up real quick.
Acts 17:33 “So Paul departed from among them.”
It was over, you know. Again, those that think this was a trial, well, he's exonerated. But I think it was just over. And they kind of, “Oh, it's dinner. Oh, wow. Got to go check my social media account.” And so they were gone. They were off. Dinnertime, gymnasium. And that was interesting. And let's turn the channel, and let's go to something else.
Acts 17:34 Tells us, “However, some men joined him and believed.” Some, how many? Two, three? We have two names, “Among them Dionysius the Areopagite,” who seems to be a... The Areopagus is this assembly of the leaders of the city, a magistrate. And so, Dionysius seems to be someone from that category. “And then a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”
A handful of people, two by name. Some of the commentators think that this Damaris... What's a woman doing here? In the Greek culture, a woman would not have been listening to Paul on Mars Hill that afternoon. She would not have been allowed. The culture wouldn't have allowed it. It may be that she'd heard him in the synagogue. She probably was a foreigner, some think. Maybe even a God-fearer who'd heard him in the synagogue, kind of listened to him and then heard he was going up there and just went, not knowing that she wasn't supposed to, but then she becomes a follower, and Dionysius, and others with him. And that's it. That's it.
And from this point, Paul then goes over to Corinth. And as I've said, we don't have a letter to a Church in Athens. We don't know what happens. We have no record of Paul going back there, and what happens with the Church in this early period. It was a rather small turnout, and not even enough to create a riot, it seems, around him at this moment. And he goes on to Corinth.
Paul's had a run of interesting stories, beaten, jailed in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica at night. And then the same thing happening eventually in Berea. And he comes down here and he works his heart out, and a handful of people respond, and the others that he might... Maybe he was thinking, "Maybe some of these intelligent people will hear it." They are not. And so, Paul's maybe a little bit discouraged, and we'll read in Chapter 18 how God encourages him. But we'll pick that story up in the next class and get into Chapter 18. And you understand now why it takes so long to get through Chapter 17 is because there's a lot there.