The Church in Athens

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Athens, capital of modern Greece, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It was also considered the most celebrated destination in the ancient world. It was the focal point of Greek art and writing during the golden age of Grecian history. Although eventually conquered by Rome, its culture and learning spread throughout the Roman world.

´╗┐One of the characteristics that made the inhabitants of the city unique was their obsession with worshipping deities. One Roman satirist is noted as stating it was "easier to find a god at Athens than a man." Their zealousness was so acute that the Bible states the city was "wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17:16) and that they had altars dedicated "to the unknown god" (verse 23) to appease those deities they were not aware of!

The Holman Bible Dictionary says no Biblical record exists of a church formed in Athens. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, however, states that a Christian community, albeit small, was formed in this Greek city soon after Paul visited and preached in it (article "Christian Athens").

Athens New Testament Churches Map

Wilmington's Guide to the Bible states it is not certain whether a local church sprang up after Paul's famous message on Mars Hill. If it did so, however, it may have been led by a man named Dionysius, one of the few converts mentioned in Scripture (Acts 17:34). Dionysius was likely a prominent citizen and a member of the Areopagus, the Athenian Supreme Court.

And after hearing about the resurrection of the dead (those in Athens), some mocked; but some said, "We will hear you again concerning this matter." And so Paul went out from among them.

But certain ones who believed joined themselves to him, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them (Acts 17:32- 34, HBFV).

Paul evangelized Athens, while waiting for his fellow evangelists Timothy and Silas to arrive, during his second missionary journey.

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