Acts 17:16-31 provides ten principles on defending our faith in an idolatrous culture:
1. Paul was provoked by the idolatry in Athens and all of us should also be immediately distressed when in the presence of paganism (verse 16).
2. Paul engaged the idolaters by reasoning with them and we should also be ready always to offer a defense for our faith (verse 17).
3. Paul was insulted, arrested, and interrogated by the philosophers and we should also expect similar opposition if we are faithful (verses 18-21).
4. Paul presupposed that man is, by nature, a religious being and we too should always begin here (verse 22).
5. Paul demonstrated the ignorance of their worship by using their own words against them and we too should expose the culpable ignorance and intellectual inconsistency unbelievers (verse 23).
6. Paul declared the truth of God with uncompromising authority and we too should stress the antithesis which exists between us and our opponent (verses 24-25).
7. Paul charged them with suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and we too should point to how unbelievers conveniently ignore the general revelation and God’s providence (verse 26-27).
8. Paul indicted them for ignorance-without-excuse (since their own philosophers could not even escape God’s self-revelation) and we too should expose intellectual inconsistency (verse 28).
9. Paul demonstrated their intellectual folly with an “If…then” argument (showing where their assumptions would eventually lead) and we too need to help unbelievers see the logical end of their godless thoughts (verse 29).
10. Paul used Scripture from beginning to end; calling them to repentance and we cannot improve upon this approach (verse 30-31).
Written by Pastor McShaffrey