“And they took him and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new doctrine, whereof you speak, is? For you bring certain strange things to our ears; we would know, therefore, what these things mean’—(for all the Athenians and strangers, which were there, spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing).”
A person’s “treasure” is soon revealed by what he spends most time talking about.
During His “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt. 5:1-7:27), Jesus said “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (6:21). Interestingly, the Greek word “thesauros” is used there for “treasure,” from which we get the word “thesaurus,” which gives us synonyms and anonyms for various words.
Thus, it’s clear the Athenians’ “thesauros” rested in their “enlightened” interest in the latest philosophies, religious beliefs, doctrines, etc. We must remember Plato, the famed Greek philosopher, established a School of Philosophy there in 388 B.C. So, for hundreds of years open forums for discussions and debates had likely occurred in this place known as the “Areopagus” or “Mars Hill” (v.19).
We’re also told “certain philosophers of the Epicureans and Stoics” were the ones who first heard Paul’s preaching in the agora or marketplace (v.16). The Epicureans belonged to a school of philosophy founded by Epicurus in 306 B.C. and were concerned with the practical results of philosophy in everyday life. They believed they could find happiness by seeking those things which brought physical and mental pleasure while also avoiding those things which brought pain. So, they basically were “pragmatic hedonists.”
The Stoics, on the other hand, believed that humans should be free from any type of passion and unmoved by anything, whether it be joy or sorrow. They believed that one should calmly accept everything that happened as a result of divine will—which basically is a form of Calvinism and fatalism. They also believed that man is part of a universe that is dominated by reason. Thus, he is to live with a type of emotional detachment and self-sufficiency.
That’s why Paul told them “that they should seek after the Lord—for it’s in Him we live and move and have our being” (vv.27-28a). He was trying to help them understand that man’s “greatest good” is not found within us; it’s found in our relationship with the One Who made us. And, that “Someone” is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was “raised from the dead by God, the Father” (v.31). Hallelujah!!
Dear Pilgrim, do not become frustrated when you want to talk about God’s wondrous truths and others around you don’t want to listen. Their “treasures” are different than yours. They much prefer “coffee shop chit-chat”. . .the latest gossip. . .today’s headlines. . .who’s leading the league in a particular sport, etc. to hearing what the Lord’s doing in the world.
But, that’s okay. There are still those who’ve not “bowed their knees to Baal” (I Kings 19:18) and love to talk about “Heavenly Treasure” (Mt. 6:19-21). So, keep on keepin’ on in your Pilgrimage of Faith, faithfully telling others about Jesus and His great Love.
August 28, 2011