the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”
Was it not well that the troublesome Jews drove the apostle to Athens before his companions, that he might, by surveying that idolatrous city alone, find a fresh stimulus for his zeal?
In the market he met with idle loungers ready to listen to anything and everything new; and even upon such soil, like the sower in the parable, he scattered his seed.
Nothing could have pleased Paul better than to address so large and important an assembly as that which gathered on Mars Hill. With a considerable amount of courtesy the philosophers invited him to speak, curiosity to hear his novel teaching being their leading motive. The doctrine of the resurrection seemed most to startle them. The immortality of the soul they had already known, but the resurrection of the body was a new idea. Paul addressed them both faithfully and prudently. Few could have coped with these educated men as he did. His beautiful address is somewhat spoiled in our version, and therefore we will a little revise it.
What could be more courteous, more cogent, more adroit? He points to their own altars, he quotes their own poets, he appeals to their common sense. He knew the way of putting the truth so as to attract and not repel; and though but few of the Areopagites were saved, yet a noble testimony was borne among men of intelligence, who would talk of what they heard in many a company where else the gospel would have been unknown.
Not many wise men after the flesh are called, but a few are, and if only one be saved the preacher is well rewarded for his pains. Paul spake not in vain in Athens, a church was formed and flourished even in that ungenial soil.
“I have much people in this city.”
Probably at first they accepted Paul as a companion because of their common trade, and through his instrumentality were led to receive the common faith. It is well to turn association in business into a means for winning souls.
Acts 18:4 , Acts 18:5
He felt more earnest than ever, and with greater vehemence pressed upon the Jews the duty of believing in Jesus.
If he could not go inside the synagogue, he yet remained as near to it as possible, that those who wished to hear might know where to find him.
Acts 18:9 , Acts 18:10
Good news for the apostle. He was to preach fearlessly because the Lord intended to bless abundantly. Some have said, “If the Lord has an elect people, why need we preach to them?” but the answer is, if the Lord had not determined to save some, preaching would certainly be in vain.
This was quite a long stay for him. During this time he probably wrote both the first and second epistles to the Thessalonians. His time was also well occupied in building up the Corinthian church, which became large and important. As the Christians worshipped next door to the Jewish synagogue, their growing numbers soon aroused the Jews, and they proceeded to prosecute Paul before the Roman proconsul.
He would not interfere in religious matters, but kept to his proper sphere, therein proving himself to be a far more enlightened ruler than many in modern times.
The Jews gained nothing by their attempt, but drew down upon themselves the indignation of the Gentiles. Gallio failed in his duty in not protecting Sosthenes from violence; though he was right in refusing to oppress the conscience of Paul, he was wrong in not securing the civil rights of his opponent. Happy will that day be when civil rulers neither overstep their sphere nor neglect their office. May God bless the Queen and all in authority over us.
What though earth and hell united
Should oppose the Saviour’s plan?
Plead his cause, nor be affrighted,
Fear ye not the face of man;
Vain their tumult,
Hurt his work they never can.