Mars Hill and the Areopagus


Acts 17:16-34 contains an account of Paul spending time in Athens. The text notes that he observed the “city full of idols.” In the midst of this environment, Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. The location of Paul’s sermon was Mars Hill in the Areopagus.

My wife and I were able to visit Mars Hill, and I pictured Paul speaking this message, greeted by curious philosophers. The geography is such that Mars Hill fits in between the Acropolis, the city’s high point, and the main level of the city. On one side you are looking up, and on the other side you are looking down. Both sides would have been filled with temples and shrines to idols, making Mars Hill the perfect location for his message.

Here’s the main text of his sermon with pictures to follow.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.  23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.  24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,  27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘ For we are indeed his offspring.’  29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.  30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 7:22-31).

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