Paul Making the Most of Time While Waiting in Athens
14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
Acts 17:14–17 ESV Read More
Killing time in Athens
Paul is escorted out of the city by some Bereans to the city of Athens. By way of the sea it was 3 days travel, but by land it would take almost 2 weeks. His hosts would know their way around and out of hospitality and respect they got him settled in Athens before they left to go back to Berea. We don’t know how they travelled back or how Silas and Timothy came back ‘as soon as possible,’ but we can figure it was either 6 days at the least or as long as 4 weeks. (The Bereans go back 3 days by sea, Silas and Timothy leave immediately and come to Athens by sea in 3 days that is 6 days alone in Athens. If the Bereans travelled back by land for 2 weeks, then Paul’s co-workers spent 2 weeks to get there, Paul would be alone in Athens for 4 weeks!)
It doesn’t look like Paul took a break and spent his time surfing on the Agean sea. It says his spirit was provoked as he saw all of the idols around town. There was an old saying that there were more gods than men in Athens, because there were so many statues and temples. If you had the experience with Jesus that Paul had, you wouldn’t be able to keep quiet for long.
Everyday in the Marketplace and at the Synagogue
Paul spent his days waiting on his friends by doing exactly what they would do once they arrived. He preached the Gospel of the good news of Jesus. He reasoned with Jews and Greeks about Jesus rising from the dead. He made the most of every opportunity, not procrastinating or even waiting for his friends to come along for backup.
We are in this same spot every day, waiting for the next stage or the next people to lead us. The solution isn’t to automatically start preaching in the marketplace and synagogues, though. Notice what moved Paul: his spirit was provoked by the idols. Paul spent all kinds of time in the middle of Athens asking the Lord about this idolatrous city. He would speak in specific places later, but to start out he talked to whoever would listen, whether in the synagogue or at the bazaar.
May we too carry Jesus around when we walk around in the marketplace and at church. May we be provoked in our spirits to talk about Him and to tell people, no matter where we are, about the salvation and glory of Jesus.
Extra Credit Reading on Acts 17 and Athens
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