Apologetics, Paul, and the Areopagus
by Forest Antemesaris
There’s a lot that Christians can learn from the apostle Paul. Not only was Paul an apostle, but he was also an extremely successful evangelist (1 Cor. 9:19-23) and a prime example of how to keep the faith in the face of suffering (2 Cor. 11:23-28). Christians should imitate Paul as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) and put into practice what we see in his faithful life (Phil. 4:9).
One of the areas in which Paul excels as a Christian example is in the realm of apologetics. Almost immediately after his conversion, Paul (Saul) preached to the Jews in Damascus “proving that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 9:22 ESV). It is likewise recorded that Paul spent three sabbath days in Thessalonica reasoning, explaining, and proving, that Jesus was the awaited Messiah (Acts 17:1-3).
Though Paul’s ability to reason with and persuade his Jewish kinsman was admirable, his interaction with the Greek philosophers of his day is what we will be spending our time dissecting in this series of posts. Paul’s discourse on Mars Hill in Acts 17:22-34 parallels our modern-day apologetics setting in a number of ways. Like many with whom we engage in apologetic discourse today, the philosophers of the Areopagus did not believe in the monotheistic God of Judaism nor the Scriptures. From Paul’s approach in Athens, we can learn how to approach the skeptics and non-believers in our modern-day context better.
The first apologetics lesson we can gather from Paul’s discourse at the Areopagus is that…