You’ve probably heard the story. It’s sort of a go-to passage to exemplify how to evangelize like a boss. Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus at Athens, is surrounded by altars to pagan gods. Among them, he notices an altar with an inscription: “to an unknown god.”
Bingo. He’s found his angle; the way to appeal to this audience.
“Men of Athens,” he says:
“…What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it…he made from one every nation of men…that [men] should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:27-28).
This is a fantastic story and, like I said, a great example to us as we seek to bring Christ to those we meet. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it. You have to meet whoever it is you happen to be talking to right where they are, just like Paul did.
But that’s not why I wrote this post. I wanted to write this post for the sake of the words I put in bold.
“In him we live and move and have our being.”
This was always one of those lines that stuck with me, and until recently I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that Paul here is quoting from “some of your [the Athenians’] poets,” as he says in the next line. This quote is attributed to the Greek poet, Epimenedes.
Why is this cool? Because it’s in Scripture: the inspired and inerrant Word of God.
Paul doesn’t just quote this line of poetry as an example of something someone once said. He uses it because he finds truth in it. Today, we are guaranteed of its truth because it’s in the Bible. How cool is it that an ancient artist from the 6th century BC created something that would eventually be included in God’s own word!
Who says God doesn’t use artists to proclaim truth? Not the Church, and definitely not the Bible.