Now I know tonight we’re going to be looking at 1 Corinthians 15 as we continue through this great resurrection chapter. But to begin with, I want you to turn in your Bible to the seventeenth chapter of Acts...the seventeenth chapter of Acts because I think it gives us a good setting for what we’re going to see in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
In the seventeenth chapter of Acts, the Apostle Paul comes to the religious focal point of the ancient world of his day. He comes to Athens. And it is in Athens that there are many philosophers and many religions, and many gods. In fact, in verse 16 of Acts 17 it says that, “He observed the city of Athens and that it was full of idols.” There were in Athens, along with all the idols, there were the priests and priestesses that were associated with those idols and their various religions. And on top of that, there were all kinds of philosophers, as verse 18 indicates. There were Epicurean and Stoic philosophers as well as many others.
Now Paul walks into this milieu of religions and what he says to them is very, very important. Verse 18, “And some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, ‘What would this idol babbler which to say?’ Others, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities.’ Why? ‘Because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.’ And they took him and brought him into the Areopagus saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?’” What he was proclaiming was resurrection. For them with all their myriad religions and philosophies, this was new teaching. In fact, they go on to say, “You’re bringing some strange things to our ears, so we want to know what these things mean.”
Down in verse 22, “Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.” Then in verse 23 he refers to the fact that they even have an altar identified as the altar TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, just in case in all of them they missed one. “He introduces them to the true and living God, the God who made the world and all things in it, the One who is the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is He served by human hands as though He needed anything since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and exist as even some of your own poets have said, for we also are His children. Being then the children of God, says Paul, we ought not to think of the divine nature, like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man, therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men to all people everywhere that they should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”...