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Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Acts 17:22-23a

Read: Acts 17:16-34

Listen: Acts 17


After leaving Berea in the middle of the night and traveling for weeks, Paul and his escorts land in Athens. It’s the center of philosophy with a long history of famous thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The city was also renowned for worshipping idols or counterfeit gods. They worshipped any and every god possible in hopes they wouldn’t miss any. Imagine what Paul must have seen and experienced. Everywhere he looked were altars, temples, and images of every imaginable god except the one true God.

Idol worship like this is foreign to us today and may be hard to imagine. Although it looks different, we also have an idol problem today in our culture. What’s more—we even participate.

An idol is anything that is more important to us than God himself. Pastor Tim Keller says that an idol is something that makes us think, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” Today we worship things like money, power, sex, knowledge, intellect and group identity. Sometimes it is cultivating the perfect family, new experiences or social media perception. We are all drawn to something.


Find a quiet place with your journal. Start writing down the common idols you see people around you worshipping. These may come from the list above, but try and think of others as well. Then spend the remainder of your time listing the idols which tempt you. Ask God for his strength to overcome the allure of your idols.

Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.

What Paul Saw