This week we explored the origins of one of the most well-known phrases in Scripture: “In him we live and move and have our being.” Many in the class were interested to learn that the above phrase is a direct quote from a sixth century poem about Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Not only that, but the following quote “for we are indeed his offspring” was from another Greek poem about… Yep, you guessed it: Zeus. ?
We spent our entire class time discussing Paul’s approach to evangelism with a thoroughly Gentile audience. Paul connected with his audience in three ways: (1) acknowledging their renowned religiosity; (2) using their altar “to an unknown god” as proof he knew a God they didn’t; and (3) quoting from two well-known and centuries-old poems about Zeus.
Paul capitalized on their own reputation, props, and poems to express a truth about a God they did not know, and though some mocked, some believed. We spent the remainder of class fleshing out what the implications are for modern-day people of faith.
>> Click to read this week’s passages in KJV, CSB, ESV, NIV: Acts 17:27-28 <<
Acts 17:27-28 ~ Perceiving Truth in Pagan Poems
Paul uses cultural icons to preach to the Athenians.
* Recorded: LIVE. This audio has been HEAVILY REDACTED for class member privacy, time, and content
Articles & Books:
Links to resources about topics discussed during the lesson:
- Barr, James. “Paul on the Areopagus.” Biblical Faith and Natural Theology. Clarendon Press: 1994.
- Faber, R. “The Apostle and the Poet: Paul and Aratus.” Clarion. Vol. 2, No. 13, 1993, pp. 291-293.
Photo credit: “Columns in detail on the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens,” by User: Greenshed [Public domain]