Paul's Essay: The True Image Of God

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The sermon begins with Paul’s attempt to sway the favor of his audience with a compliment: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.” (17:22b). His evidence for their religious integrity is taken from his tour of the city: “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD (17:23a). Paul uses the statue as a point of parting for the remainder of his speech; within the compliment is an implied criticism: “So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship – and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” (17:23b). The Athenians had been worshipping an object, not a personal god, a “what,” not a “whom.”
Paul then claims that this unknown
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Here then is the basis for Paul’s attack on idolatry which follows: “Therefore since we are God’s offspring”; thus, humans are the true image of God. So, no image made, “by human design or skill.” could possibly be anything other than a falsification of the image of God (17:29).
Paul ends his sermon by announcing that the time of ignorance is over and calling for eschatological repentance (17:30-31). Now Paul’s purpose is clear. He is not seeking to add a new god to the Athenian Pantheon; he is rather seeking the Athenians’ repentance. God will no longer “overlook” this ignorance (cf. 14:16; Romans 3:25); now is the time for repentance (17:30).
Just as God had made all the nations to inhabit the whole earth from one man (17:26), so God will judge the world through the one man whom God appointed (cf. Romans 5). That this man is Jesus is confirmed when Paul says that God raised Him from the dead (17:31). Paul has deferred the misunderstood subject of resurrection (17:18) until the end of his speech. The sermon ends with God as the main actor: God overlooks, commands, sets the day, judges the world, and provides proof through the
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