When Paul found himself alone at Athens he planned on waiting quietly for the rest of his entourage to come down and join him so they could continue to Corinth. However, as he walked around the pagan city his heart was heavy for the people living in such darkness. He soon found himself on Mars Hill preaching the gospel which led to debates with some of the greatest philosophical thinkers in the world. These people were professional debaters who spent their time debating deep philosophical concepts. They worshiped many gods. They were well educated. They had no patience for someone from the outside coming and telling them they were wrong. They had no patience for someone proclaiming something as absurd as God becoming man, dying for the sin of the world and being resurrected from the dead. Resurrection was viewed as foolishness. Yet, Paul found himself alone, defending his beliefs.
Paul’s time in Athens is one of the least fruitful times of his ministry. It was a hard few weeks trying to do ministry alone amid a very difficult culture. America today is more like Athens than Antioch where the church flourished and sent out missionaries. We live in a culture that denies God and worships science. We are an educated nation that loves to debate. Many times, believers find themselves in situations in the work place where they are isolated and alone without the support of the church. Like Paul we all have a decision to make. Do we buy our time and wait for better circumstances or do we open our mouth and preach the gospel? I believe that Jesus desires for us to go alone with boldness amid a difficult culture.
Paul understood this truth that he wrote years later to the church in Rome, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)