The Gospel to the Gentiles/Paul
IV. The Gospel to the Gentiles/Paul
Paul was a chosen vessel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). His ministry was to bear the Name of the Lord before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
A. Paul on Mar's Hill
Paul was not like the candle upon a table that gives light to one room, but he was like the sun that goes in its circuit to give light to many. In chapter seventeen of the Book of Acts, Paul was on another of his missionary journeys. He preached at Thessalonica and Berea and then at Athens. He was appalled at the idolatry he found in the latter city. Athens was full of temples, idols, statues, and pagan altars. Discussions with the philosophers of Athens led to Paul's being taken to the Areopagus (Mar's Hill), a court that Dake's Annotated Reference Bible says was the most sacred and reputable in the Gentile world. Four centuries earlier, this same court had condemned Socrates.
Paul preached to the Athenians about their altar with the dedication to the unknown god. He proclaimed the message of one God who is self-existing; the giver and supporter of life (Isaiah 46:9-10; Mark 12:32). He stated that all men could find the Lord (Acts 17:27; Jeremiah 29:13). Paul declared that God had tolerated the foolishness of man for awhile but judgment would come. Judgment would come in the form of Jesus Christ who is deemed worthy by His resurrection from the dead. At this saying, some mocked, but others believed. One of those who believed was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, the court of Mar's Hill. Later a fruitful church was established at Athens.
B. Paul in Prison Writing Epistles
J. Sidlow Baxter stated, "Acts is not one of the epistles, yet it introduces them. Acts is a liaison between the Gospels and the Epistles." Paul wrote most of his Epistles while he was in prison awaiting trial. The letters were written to different churches established in the world by Paul and other followers of Christ. While he was imprisoned, Paul witnessed to and won many of his guards and visitors. Onesimus (Philemon) was one of the converts from his prison ministry. Some scholars think that he was released for awhile but when a renewed persecution began and he was taken captive again. Finally, after many years of frustration in prison, Paul was tried, condemned, and put to death. His last words were, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faithÉ" (II Timothy 4:7). What an accomplishment, to die full of faith, hope and victory as Paul did.