Almost everyone has read a book or seen a movie where the hero must take a stand against the villain. These battles try the hero’s courage, resolve, and strength. The apostle Paul was faced with one such moment in the city of Athens (Acts 17). As Paul was walking through the city, he noticed many shrines and altars to pagan gods (Acts 17:22-23). This deeply troubled Paul, and he began to teach about the one true God. This, of course, caused quite the stir in Athens. The men of the Areopagus (Mar’s Hill) asked Paul to come and discuss this new doctrine with them. This was Paul’s stand. He was asked to stand on Mar’s Hill and face the philosophers and leaders of the city and proclaim a doctrine that defies what these people believe to be true. Paul began by telling the men that they are very superstitious (Acts 17:22). He then told them that he has walked through their city and he noticed an altar to the “unknown god” (Acts 17:23). The people of Athens had built this altar for any gods that they may have forgotten to worship. Paul tells these people that the god they had forgotten to worship was the one true God. Paul’s courage was unwavering, and he proudly proclaimed that God had made the world, not any of their gods.
I was privileged to be able to stand on this hill and see the Acropolis, the Temple of Nike, and the Parthenon standing tall and dominating the scenery. Paul was challenging the power and authority of the Greek gods, and he was not about to back down. He said that the one true God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24). The people of Athens were always ready to discuss new ideas, but this was different then anything they would have heard. Paul proclaimed that God had once looked beyond man’s ignorance, but now we all must repent (Acts 17:30).
We can’t imagine what it took for Paul to stand before these people. They had the ability to take his life, but Paul stood firm and stood with God. Many have a tendency to deify men like Paul who stood for God, but we must remember that these men were just like us. These men faced the same struggles that we face, but they overcame through faith (1 John 5:4). We have that same power today. There is no challenge too hard for God. I know that many of us have heard that repeatedly, but it is true. God’s word does have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:8). We are in a war for our souls, and there are battles we will have to fight. We must always remember that God is for us and that makes all the difference (Romans 8:31).
Paul knew where he stood. Where do we stand today?