Posted by: SandreS | January 29, 2010

The Unknown God – The Message of Mars’ Hill (Acts 17), Part 3

Paul begins to talk to the pagans on Mars’ Hill regarding something about which they evidently had an extreme interest: idols. The interesting thing is what he said to them. He said that they worshipped God – the true and living God – but that they just did so ignorantly.

Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.

Ignorant Worship

He wanted to talk to them about the God Whom they worshipped, although ignorantly. The word “ignorantly” is an adverb that tells us how they worshipped God. They worshipped Him for sure – it was simply done in ignorance! So said Paul.

Think of that. If we had been there with Paul, would we have accused the Athenians of not worshipping God at all, because they did so before idols?

Let’s bring this into our own culture. Would we accuse Catholics (or those of various Protestant denominations) of not worshipping God, just because they might do so ignorantly? Do they not indeed worship, just like those on Mars’ Hill, even if it is in ignorance?

What about Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons? What about Jews? Or, dare we say Muslims? Could these be any “worse” worshippers than the idol worshipping men of Athens? Is it not true that they worship God, just ignorantly?

What a different perspective this puts on things! Paul said “let me tell you about Him!” This would surely seem like high-heresy to one raised in Christian fundamentalism. I know. I would never have thought I would see things this way; but here we have the very words and example of Paul himself.

Those who “worship in ignorance nonetheless worship the true and living God. Thankfully, ignorance is curable – and sooner or later “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11).

The truth of this would do away with denominational and religious division and hostility in the heart of the believer. I do not speak here of ecumenicalism, but of being outside of all religious barriers and bondage, and being free to love, accept and minister to others, exactly where they are.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2009, 2010


  1. I appreciate your approach to this topic. Later this morning I will be preaching at our church, comparing Paul’s message to the Jews at Thessalonica to the message to the Greeks at Athens. We as Christians need to be engaged with the people in our culture so that we can communicate with them in ways that are meaningful to them.

    As you know, it will do no good for us to regurgitate our Bible lingo at people who either don’t know the Bible or don’t trust the Bible. It is in the context of building relationships and learning how to engage individuals that we can make significant inroads into sharing Christ with them.

    Thanks for your work. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts as I have time!!!

    Robert Weston


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