What happened at Mars Hill in the Bible?
Question: “What happened at Mars Hill in the Bible?”
Answer: Mars Hill is the Roman name for a hill in Athens, Greece, called the Hill of Ares or the Areopagus (Acts 17:19, 22). Ares was the Greek god of war and according to Greek mythology this hill was the place where Ares stood trial before the other gods for the murder of Poseidon’s son Alirrothios. Rising some 377 feet above the land below and not far from the Acropolis and Agora (marketplace), Mars Hill served as the meeting place for the Areopagus Court, the highest court in Greece for civil, criminal, and religious matters. Even under Roman rule in the time of the New Testament, Mars Hill remained an important meeting place where philosophy, religion, and law were discussed.
The biblical significance of Mars Hill is that it is the location of one of Paul’s most important gospel presentations at the time of his visit to Athens during his second missionary journey (Acts 17:16–34). It was where he addressed the religious idolatry of the Greeks who even had an altar to the “Unknown God.” It was this altar and their religious idolatry that Paul used as a starting point in proclaiming to them the one true God and how they
could be reconciled to Him. Paul’s sermon is a classic example of a gospel presentation that begins where the listeners are and then presents the gospel message in a logical and biblical fashion. In many ways it is a classic example of apologetics in action. Paul started his message by addressing the false beliefs of those gathered there that day and then used those beliefs as a way of presenting the gospel message to them.
We know that when Paul arrived in Athens he found a city “given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). In his usual manner, Paul began presenting the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. He started by “reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers” (Acts 17:17) and then also proclaimed the gospel “in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17). While at the marketplace he encountered some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (Acts 17:18) who, having heard Paul proclaim the resurrected Jesus Christ, wanted to learn about “this new doctrine” he was teaching…
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