Acts 17:16-34

Talks for Growing Christians

Paul Visits Athens and Addresses The Areopagus

Acts 17:16-34

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Lesson Number 29

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. A good witness shares with everyone.
  2. A good witness looks for common ground.
  3. A good witness moves on to the gospel.

Practical Application

  1. Are you willing to be called a babbler?


  1. What were the different reactions to the gospel in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens?
  2. Where did Paul witness in Athens?
  3. Who were the Epicureans and Stoics?
  4. What was the Areopagus?
  5. What point of contact did Paul use to begin his witnessing to the Areopagus?


  1. Thessalonica – open hostility by the unbelieving Jews Berea – a more receptive attitude by the Jews Athens – indifference, skepticism, and ridicule
  2. He went first to the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue. He also shared in the agora or marketplace to anyone who was present and would listen.
  3. These were two groups of philosophers Paul encountered in Athens. The Epicureans taught that pleasure was the chief end of life. The Stoic philosophers were pantheistic and emphasized that one should have total control over the emotions- unmoved by pleasure or pain.
  4. The Areopagus was a government council in charge of religious and educational matters. They met at the Hill of Ares (or Mars Hill) near the Acropolis.
  5. He talked about an altar he had seen with the inscription “To the Unknown God.” From there he moved to the common ground of creation, then to the origin of different peoples and nations. He also used quotations from their own Greek poets.


  1. In Acts 17, Paul shared the gospel in three different cities with different reactions. We will find these same different reactions to the gospel today: hostility, indifference, skepticism, ridicule, as well as openness and reception. What should our response be to these reactions? How do we continue to share the gospel?
  2. Review the three ways in which Paul was a good witness in Athens. How could you use these steps to enhance the way you witness to others? It is too easy to stop before step #3. But don’t! This is the most important step!


  1. Paul was not ashamed to be ridiculed for his witness. He knew that he spoke the truth and so he preached the gospel boldly. Are you willing to stand up and preach the faith?

Key Verses

  • “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the one whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.” Acts 17:23
  • “…He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being…” Acts 17:27-28
  • “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30

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