Day 26

Paul Preaches at the Areopagus

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan

Acts 17:1-34, Zechariah 12:10, Romans 3:21-26

BY Ellie Holcomb

Text: Acts 17:1-34, Zechariah 12:10, Romans 3:21-26

I’ve read Acts many times before, but something changed for me as I was preparing to write this. The She Reads Team suggested that, in addition to reading through the whole book of Acts, we might want to listen through the whole book as well. (There are tons of free ways to do this online. Try it!) I’d never thought to do it before, but it was remarkable.

As I simply listened to the story Paul was so adamant in telling—of his conversion, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the crazy beautiful way God brought Jews and Gentiles together with the gospel of good news—I was transported from my own story and swept up into God’s. And like Paul, it made me want to share the gospel.

In Acts 17, we see that Paul continues to look for any opportunity to share the gospel of the resurrected Jesus. But while in Athens, he is greatly troubled to find that the city is full of idols.  

“…as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”
-Acts 17:23

I had to press pause on my phone. The phrase, “I looked carefully at your objects of worship” echoed in my heart.

I don’t have images in silver or gold placed throughout my house that I treat as idols, but I was so convicted as Paul spoke about worshiping an unknown god. I thought about how many things I’ve tried to replace the love of God with in my life, and I began to ask the Lord if there were currently any unknown gods I’ve been worshiping.

That’s where it began… a “re-ordering of the loves” in my heart, as Augustine called it. As of late, I’ve been searching for my worth in the way that I perform as a mom, as a daughter, and as a friend. I measure how much I matter by what other people think about me or by how they respond to me. And once again, I am so deeply convicted of ascribing more worth to what others think of me than to what God thinks of me—of what He has done for me.

I feel it deep in my bones, the discontent that comes when I look to anything other than Jesus for my identity and happiness. Tim Keller says it like this: “Disordered love always leads to misery and breakdown. The only way to reorder our loves is to love God supremely.” Loving Him first is the only way (John 14:6).

Paul goes on to proclaim to the Athenians the beautiful truth about our God:

He “made the world and everything in it” (v. 24).
He “gives everyone life and breath and all things” (v. 25).
“He is not far from each one of us,” for it’s in Him that we live (v. 27-28).
He counts us as His children (v. 29).

This is the God Paul points us to. May we learn to love Him supremely and find sweet satisfaction in His grace.

Father, forgive us for worshiping false, even unknown, gods. By Your grace, please reveal them to us. Help us to shift our gaze from all the lesser loves to You, the One true lover of our souls. By your mercy, re-order our hearts as You see fit, and teach us to worship You alone. Amen.





Post Comments (51)

51 thoughts on "Paul Preaches at the Areopagus"

  1. Terri Lodge says:

    I love the idea of listening to all of Acts!! Thank you for the suggestion.

    In addition, I pray that God will help me to identify any idols I may have. And to help me find my identity in Him alone!!

  2. Ermie says:

    I am guilty of putting what people think about me over what God thinks of me. My prayer is that The Lord my God would teach me how to put him first. That I would believe him over anyone or anything else.

  3. Tracy says:

    Thank you for the idea of listening to the Scripture! I’m going to try it.

  4. Mandy S says:

    I connected with this today. I need this reminder on a daily basis. I am a Stay-at-home mom of two amazing little boys and sometimes I miss certain things I have had to sacrifice to get here. But this reminded me of who I am and why I do what I do. My value isn’t in how I dress or what I have or if I have my hair done or nails painted. My value is found as a daughter of the King. I do what I do for my husband and for my kids and because God called me to it. He is taking care of me day by day. I don’t know the story behind that lady I see in target with the latest fashions and freshly painted nails or the man with the kids in the brand new suv parked in the front of Publix and how they got what they have. I can’t compare myself to them because I am not writing their story and I don’t know how they got what they have or how they got to where they are. God is writing my story and that’s what I need to focus on. Thank you for saying it so well!

  5. Melanie says:

    This! This is exactly where I’m at right now. I just finished reading Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods and recognised my own idol of approval. My desire for the approval of others is a huge stronghold in my life, and I can see it stretching back into my childhood. It’s my prayer and heart’s desire that God would take the place of this idol in my life. I already have his unconditional love and approval. Why should that of any other human matter more?

    Thank you for this timely word! And I highly recommend Keller’s book to you all! It’s a convicting read, but it left me feeling so loved by our God.

  6. Kay says:

    This is so where I am at. Praise you Father for your grace. Father please in my heart and my sisters’ heart we echo Ellie’s prayer. Please do that in our hearts for your dear Name’s sake

  7. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful! Lord, reorder my heart.

  8. Olivia says:

    Love love love Ellie and her words! So glad she wrote for SRT!

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