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From Trials to Triumph

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    The Great City of Paganism

    Athens was the metropolis of heathendom. Here Paul met with a people famous for their intelligence and culture. Everywhere statues of gods and deified heroes met the eye, while magnificent architecture and paintings represented national glory and the worship of heathen deities. The senses of the people were entranced by the splendor of art. On every hand sanctuaries and temples involving untold expense reared their massive forms. Victories of arms and deeds of celebrated men were commemorated by sculpture and shrines.TT 124.2

    As Paul looked upon the beauty and saw the city wholly given to idolatry, his spirit was stirred, and his heart was drawn out in pity for the people who, notwithstanding their culture, were ignorant of the true God. His spiritual nature was so alive to the attraction of heavenly things that the glory of the riches which will never perish made valueless in his eyes the splendor with which he was surrounded. As he saw the magnificence of Athens, he was deeply impressed with the importance of the work before him.TT 124.3

    While waiting for Silas and Timothy, Paul was not idle. He disputed “in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there.” But the apostle was soon to meet paganism in its most subtle, alluring form.TT 124.4

    A singular teacher was setting before the people doctrines new and strange. Some of the great men of Athens sought Paul out and entered into conversation with him. Soon a crowd gathered. Some ridiculed the apostle as one far beneath them socially and intellectually, and jeered, “‘What would this babbler say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities.’”TT 124.5

    The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and others who came in contact with him soon saw that he had a store of knowledge greater than their own. His intellectual power commanded the respect of the learned, while his earnest, logical reasoning held the attention of all in the audience. He was able to meet all classes with convincing arguments. Thus the apostle stood undaunted, matching logic with logic, philosophy with philosophy.TT 125.1

    His heathen opponents called his attention to the fate of Socrates, a setter forth of strange gods, who had been condemned to death. They counseled Paul not to endanger his life in the same way. But, satisfying themselves that he was determined to accomplish his errand among them and at all hazards to tell his story, they decided to give him a fair hearing on Mars’ Hill.TT 125.2

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