The Holy Spirit’s Discerning Ministry

Some time later, Paul and Silas carried on their journey. One of the places they visited was Athens. While walking through the city, Paul was greatly disturbed by the many temples, as we can read in Acts 17:16

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.

How did Paul deal with these idols? Did he go into the temples and physically try to destroy them? No, for that would have been of no use. Paul knew that in order for people to give up their idols, they would need a change of heart, and that could only happen if they heard the gospel, so Paul went among the people and preached the good news of Jesus Christ to them, as we can read in Acts 17:17

So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks as well as in the market-place day by day with those who happened to be there.

And Acts 17:22-31

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown God. Now, what you worship as something unknown, I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the Divine Being is like silver or gold or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

And some people did accept his gospel message, as we can read in Acts 17:34 

A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.