Home » Sunday: A Hebrew in Athens    


Sunday: A Hebrew in Athens — 13 Comments

  1. I asked Google's Bard to provide me a summary of the religious landscape for Athens in the first century:

    The religious landscape of Athens in the 1st century CE was a complex and diverse one, reflecting the city's long history and its position as a major intellectual and cultural center. While traditional Greek polytheism remained the dominant form of worship, a variety of other religious traditions were also present in the city.
    Traditional Greek Polytheism
    Traditional Greek polytheism was based on the belief in a pantheon of twelve gods and goddesses, each with their own domain and sphere of influence. These gods were worshipped in temples and shrines throughout the city, and their worship was an integral part of Athenian life. The most important gods in the Athenian pantheon were Zeus, the king of the gods; Athena, the city's patron goddess; and Apollo, the god of music, poetry, and prophecy.
    Philosophical Schools
    In addition to traditional polytheism, Athens was also home to a number of philosophical schools that had a significant impact on the city's religious life. These schools included Platonism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism. These schools offered different perspectives on the nature of the gods, the afterlife, and the meaning of life.
    Mystery Religions
    Mystery religions were also popular in Athens during the 1st century CE. These religions were based on the belief in a secret knowledge that could only be obtained through initiation into a secret society. The most popular mystery religions in Athens were the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were посвящені Demeter and Persephone, and the Dionysian Mysteries, which were посвящені Dionysus.
    There was also a small Jewish community in Athens in the 1st century CE. The Jews had their own synagogue in the city, and they worshipped according to the traditions of Judaism.
    Christianity was first introduced to Athens in the 1st century CE by the Apostle Paul. However, it took several centuries for Christianity to become the dominant religion in the city.
    The religious scene of Athens in the 1st century CE was a complex and ever-changing one. Traditional Greek polytheism remained the dominant form of worship, but a variety of other religious traditions were also present in the city. The presence of these different religious traditions helped to make Athens a vibrant and cosmopolitan city.

    It is interesting to compare this with our own society today.

  2. To be simple to the point...
    I will start by defining an idol in the context of the current world;
    a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.
    From the above definition, there are so many thing that people in the current eorld admire and take greater adpect of their time....e.g
    Love of money, sports, entertainment, social media, some media personalities etc.

  3. "Paul, though, was tuned in to the Holy Spirit enough to respond." This is the key to recognizing what we place as gods in our lives - to be tuned in to the Holy Spirit. Anything we do or have that we give more importance to than the worship of the true God in our daily routine can take His place and become a "god" for us.

    Look at these definitions of GOD:
    - one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality;
    - a person or thing of supreme value.

    Whatever controls me is what I value the most - without the conscience (tuning to the Holy Spirit) that this is part of my mission in life, this can become a god for me.

  4. I concur with the author's perspective that Paul demonstrated exceptional discernment in recognizing that the audience he addressed lacked a biblical foundation. Our contemporary society has similarly evolved, no longer rooted in a biblical framework that we can draw upon when sharing the message of Christ. As we engage in evangelism, it becomes crucial to introspect and consider the worldview of those we encounter. What exactly is a worldview? It encompasses an individual's set of presuppositions, convictions, and values, forming the lens through which they seek to comprehend and interpret the world and life. In echoing Jesus' words, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Me," it prompts us to reflect on how this directive applies to our approach in reaching out to a secular world.

    • Jessica's answer is succinct and on point.

      But here's another definition of what constitutes an idol in our lives:
      "anything more important to you than God,
      anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and
      anything that you seek to give you what only God can give."

      So can that apply to work?

  5. Athens was described as having more gods than men. People outwardly worshipped idols. Today the idols are more subtle and not easily identifiable. The Athenians were intelligent, cultural, and were advanced where they invented Democracy as a form of government. Paul in recognizing this had to approach them differently. This is a major lesson for us in outreach that we need to teach from a place of known to the unknown, from the familiar to the unfamiliar. God will guide us on our approach to others.

  6. The third Commandment in Exodus 20:4,5 has very clearly defined guidelines for what "Idolatry" is: 1. to not make anything of worship that is visible but not "Alive", 2. To not "Serve them" or worship them. The Apostle Paul saw very clearly "A Massive amount" of very clearly visible statues of humans, and animals, and probably also human and animal combinations of "Visible Idols," in the Athenian Market Place.

  7. Hi Brothers and Sisters,

    To answer the Thought Question for Today: What kind of idols are people worshiping in your society, and how can you open their eyes to how worthless it all is?

    I think that we, most of us, have made these "SMART-PHONES" our idols. The cell phone started out as a "useful" tool to communicate with others while away from home. But now, it has mothed into an idol, because most of us "act like" we cannot be without our smart-phones for any period of time, because it does so much for us.

    Personally, I want to go back to the flip phone, that was just a tool of communication, not a "system" to help you organize our life. If you need some help organizing your life, Jesus is always present to help you with that.

    It's always amazes me how such a small object, like the smart-phone, has become something that most of the world depend on.

    I challenge all of us to do this test for one day: Leave your cell phone at home for the entire day, and then you will be able to see if you are really dependent on it. There may come a time when we may have to give up our cell phones and go into hidden because of the word of God and live off the grid. Will you be able to do that?

    These are just my thoughts, they are not written in the Bible, which is God's inspired Word. Let us purpose to read the God's Word more in 2024.

    Have a Safe and Wonderful Holiday season. Share, give, and Love.

    • My mum spent a lot of time on the phone when we were kids. At least we thought she did. Most of her phone time was to her mother, who lived nect door, or her sister, who lived just down the road. That was in the days (1950s) when there were party lines and crank-handles on the side of the phone to make other phones ring. And if you wanted to talk to someone on another line, you first of all had to have a conversation with a real person in the exchange, who in all probablity knew who you were and wanted to know how the kids were doing at school.

      The really annoying thing about phones these days is they work in cars. I can drive all the way from Sydney to home and hear a telephone conversation between (name withheld to protect myself) and her sister on loud speaker. As soon as someone gets in the car her first comment is, "I have to ring so-and-so!" I have hearing aids with an off switch!

      I would go without my phone when I am birding but the trouble is, I record my bird sightings on the eBird phone app. Its also my drivers licence, my credit card, my reminder list, and appointments calendar. It does allow me to connect to Sabbath School Net though and sometimes I have composed comments sitting on a log in the bush surrounded by birdsong. Now that takes a lot of beating!

  8. I also liked what the author(s) said in the last paragraph on today's lesson:
    "Today, we often seek to reach people whose background has nothing in common with what has been called “the Judeo-Christian” heritage. Hence, like Paul, we need to adapt."

    Do we really want to adapt? The answer seems to be NO. We need to think more about this.

    God's Blessings to you All!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>