Ellen White writing


The Ellen White Research Project: Exposing the Subtle Attack on the Bible's Authority
Home | Life Sketch | Beliefs | Insights | Predictions | Criticisms | Visions | Books

Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 9: Paul at Berea and Athens.

< Prev  Contents  ...  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  ...  Next >

Part:  A  B  C

Paul's work was to bear the tidings of salvation to a people who had no intelligent understanding of God and his plans. He was not traveling for the purpose of sight-seeing, nor to gratify a morbid desire for new and strange scenes. His dejection of mind was caused by the apparently insurmountable obstacles which presented themselves against his reaching the minds of the people of Athens. Grieved at the idolatry everywhere visible about him, he felt a holy zeal for his Master's cause. He [p. 91] sought out his Jewish brethren, and, in their synagogue at Athens, proclaimed the doctrine of Christ. But the principal work of Paul in that city was to deal with paganism.

The religion of the Athenians, of which they made great boast, was of no value, for it was destitute of the knowledge of the true God. It consisted, in great part, of art worship, and a round of dissipating amusement and festivities. It wanted the virtue of true goodness. Genuine religion gives men the victory over themselves; but a religion of mere intellect and taste is wanting in the qualities essential to raise its possessor above the evils of his nature, and to connect him with God. On the very stones of the altar in Athens this great want was expressed by the inscription, "To the Unknown God." Yes; though boasting of their wisdom, wealth, and skill in art and science, the learned Athenians could but acknowledge that the great Ruler of the universe was unknown to them.

The great men of the city seemed hungering for subjects of discussion, in which they would have opportunity to display their wisdom and oratory. While waiting for Silas and Timothy to meet him, Paul was not idle. "He disputed in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him." The great men of Athens were not long in finding out this singular teacher, who presented to the people doctrines so new and strange.

Some who prided themselves upon the extent of their intellectual culture entered into conversation with him. This soon drew a crowd of listeners about them. Some were prepared to ridicule the apostle as one far beneath them, socially and [p. 92] intellectually, and said jeeringly among themselves, "What will this babbler say? Other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection."

The Stoics and the Epicureans encountered him; but they, and all others who came in contact with him, soon saw that he had a store of knowledge even greater than their own. His intellectual power commanded the respect and attention of the more intellectual and learned; while his earnest, logical reasoning, and his power of oratory, held the promiscuous audience. Thus the apostle stood undaunted, meeting his opposers on their own ground, matching logic with logic, and philosophy with philosophy.

They reminded him of Socrates, a great philosopher, who was condemned to death because he was a setter forth of strange gods. Paul was counseled not to endanger his life in the same way. But the apostle's discourse riveted the attention of the people; and his unaffected wisdom commanded their respect and admiration. He was not silenced by the science or irony of the philosophers; and, after exchanging many words with him, and satisfying themselves that he was determined to accomplish his errand among them, and tell his story at all hazards, they decided to give him a fair opportunity to speak to the people.

They accordingly conducted him to Mars' Hill. This was the most sacred spot in all Athens, and its recollections and associations were such as to cause it to be regarded with superstitious awe and reverence, that with some amounted to dread. Here, the most solemn court of justice had long been held to determine upon criminal cases, [p. 93] and to decide difficult religious questions. The judges sat in the open air, upon seats hewn out in the rock, on a platform which was ascended by a flight of stone steps from the valley below. At a little distance was a temple of the gods; and the sanctuaries, statues, and altars of the city were in full view.

Here, away from the noise and bustle of crowded thoroughfares, and the tumult of promiscuous discussion, the apostle could be heard without interruption; for the frivolous, thoughtless class of society did not care to follow him to this place of highest reverence. Around him here were gathered poets, artists, and philosophers,—the scholars and sages of Athens,—who thus addressed him: "May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? for thou bringest certain strange things to our ears; we would know, therefore, what these things mean."

The apostle stood calm and self-possessed in that hour of solemn responsibility, relying upon the divine assurance, designed for such a time as this, "It shall be given you what ye ought to say." His heart was burdened with his important message, and the words that fell from his lips convinced his hearers that he was no idle babbler: "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." With all their intelligence and general knowledge, they were ignorant of the true God. The inscription upon their altar showed the strong cravings of the soul for greater light. They were reaching out for Infinity. [p. 94]

With earnest and fervid eloquence, the apostle continued: "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us."

Part:  A  B  C

< Prev  Contents  ...  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  ...  Next >

Home | Life Sketch | Beliefs | Insights | Predictions | Criticisms | Visions | Books

Send in comments and questions to:

© 2005