WHILE PAUL WAITED
Acts 17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. 15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. 16 ¶ Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, 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. 19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
Providential Movings: Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. This passage of scripture is stamped by the Holy Spirit with several phrases that plainly indicate the workings of God in providence in bringing the Apostle Paul to Athens. For he was not making effort to go TO Athens. He was just trying to go FROM Berea! Notice these phrases:
V.14 sent Paul away; v.15 they that conducted Paul; brought him to Athens; v.17 in the market daily – just getting his daily, necessary rations; v.18 encountered him; and v. 19 they took him. Paul was acted upon, rather than acting from a proposed and pre-planned agenda. And then our title phrase added to these – And Paul Waited – gives you the understanding that he was guided along by the secret purpose of God, using human instruments and necessities to accomplish His eternally predestined designs!
Spiritual Movings: Paul’s waiting for the arrival of Silas and Timothy is interrupted by the inner working of the Holy Spirit. For in verse sixteen we read that his spirit was (provoked) in him. And that is the cause of our “Therefore” of verse seventeen. This stirring of his spirit was the direct cause of his going into the Jewish synagogue at Athens. The scriptures do not state that he went there, as it usually does due to that having always been “his manner,” or custom! It says that he went there to “dispute” with them concerning their city’s idolatry! And because the iniquity so abounded in this city, the love of those professing to identify with the true and only God, had no recorded argument; not even a recorded assault against him, as his preaching didn’t even excite their religious anger. In fact, they had no further dealings with the Apostle!
This was primarily the result of the entire population of Athens! These being philosophers, were puffed up with their knowledge. (1 Corin. 8:1). And such self exalting knowledge, roots out faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:6). And it is only love that edifies and matures the soul! Just read the result of this visit by Paul, directed there by the sovereign hand of God. Acts 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
And did you notice the old, worn out ploy used by these brilliant men to stop the gospel from being preached among them? It has been used on God’s ministers for centuries, and will be again. It was used later on Paul by a Roman magistrate. Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. The Athenians should have included the words, “God willing” in their statement that, We will hear thee again of this matter. For they little knew that this was the only day of their visitation by God! Therefore the saying was certainly true of them, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools! (Romans 1:22).
“Almost persuaded” now to believe; “Almost persuaded” Christ to receive; Seems now some soul to say, “Go, Spirit, go Thy way, Some more convenient day On Thee I’ll call.”
The point this writer is trying to make in seeing the “Providential movings” which directed this great minister of Christ’s gospel to Athens, is that this event was not just a denominationally planned, or well laid out mission trip set up by some church group! Dear Reader, this was God moving his servant to go into a city where he would confront their idolatry by presenting them with His truth! Therefore they shall, one future day hear him say exactly what he stated to Jerusalem: Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
Listen to the Lord tell of the judgment of God that falls on those who had a day of visitation, but did not seek it’s benefit. And notice that Paul was stirred in his spirit over Athens, but the Lord actually wept over Jerusalem! Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
The gospel shall not continually be made available for souls to wipe their feet on! Remember, he that believeth not is condemned already! And consider these verses: John 8:21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
Hosea 5:6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.
It is sad to see humans make so much time for the providing for their physical needs, which shall shortly die, but none for their souls, which shall exist eternally! Luke 14:18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past! “Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last! “Almost” cannot avail; “Almost” is but to fail! Sad, sad, that bitter wail— “Almost,” but lost!
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 27 ..send him (Lazarus), to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Pastor Gene Breed