Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: Uncertainty
Strong's Concordance #G116

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, and made a part of the province of Achaia, Athenian culture and learning spread throughout the Roman world. One of the characteristics that made the inhabitants of Athens 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!

Location of Athens Map
Location of Athens Near Aegean Sea

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

Paul evangelized Athens, during his second missionary journey, while waiting for his fellow evangelists Timothy and Silas to arrive. A man named Dionysius (a prominent citizen and member of the Athenian Supreme Court), a woman named Damaris, and others became believers in Christ (Acts 17:34).

Important Verses

Acts 17:14 - 16, 19, 22
And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry . . . And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Acts 18:1 - 2
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

1Thessalonians 3:1 - 3
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

2Thessalonians 3:17 - 18
The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).