The Unknown God

May 10, 2023

Acts 17 – The Unknown God

What do you believe about God?  Do you have any preconceived ideas you grew up with to define who God is and what He is like? 

  • God is light.
  • God is love.
  • God is a gray-haired old man.
  • God is spirit and without form.
  • God is mean and overpowers everyone.
  • God is unfair and needs to be more like us.
  • God lets terrible things happen and does not care.
  • God is somewhere far away, and no one can reach Him.
  • God is good and cares about me and everyone else.
  • God is powerful and has vast angel armies.
  • God created the earth and made us in his image.
  • God is only what I think he is and nothing more.
  • God is not physical nor represented in any physical form.


What image comes to mind when you think about God?  How well do you know God?


A long time ago (well over 4000 years), people on Earth started thinking about their version of god and created multiple gods with the specific reason for being.  Mars was the God of war; Aphrodite was the goddess of love; Zeus was the leader of all the other gods, and so on. 


But the concept of a single all-powerful, all-loving, living God was difficult to grasp.  All these other gods were made from people’s imagination and represented by statues of stone, gold, or bronze—the people-built temples for each god who served a defined geographic area of the world. 


Roman Gods were different from Greek Gods and Asian gods.  So many gods to worship and so little time.  Building all the temples close to each other made worship more efficient.  However, in light of the one true God, all these other gods were false gods and just musings in the people’s minds. 


So, imagine the scene recorded in Acts chapter 17 when Paul hits town in the big bustling city of Athens, Greece.  Paul only knew and proclaimed one God who happened to be the REAL God, not something anyone dreamed up. 


Paul could not keep his mouth shut and proclaimed the one true God to everyone in the street and market square.  He argued and ensured everyone knew these false gods did not hold a candle to the God who sent Jesus to rise from the dead and conquer death. 


From all the commotion Paul created, several philosophers invited (more like forcefully brought) him to the Areopagus (also called Mars Hill). Paul was asked to answer questions about what he taught.  (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there used to spend their time in nothing else than telling or listening to something new.)


So Paul spoke, and here is what he said:


“People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in every way.

As I was walking through town and carefully observing your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown God.’

What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you.

God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples made with human hands. Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something since he is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else.

From one person, God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands.

God made the nations so they would seek Him, perhaps even reach out to Him and find Him.

 In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us.

In God, we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore, as God’s offspring, we have no need to imagine that the divine being is like a gold, silver, or stone image made by human skill and thought. God overlooks ignorance of these things in times past but now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives.

This is because God has set a day when he intends to judge the world justly by a man he has appointed. God has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”


At this point, several laughed and jeered about Jesus being raised from the dead.  Resurrection was not something their gods could do, and they never imagined someone walking out of a tomb. However, several others believed in the Lord and joined Paul in teaching about God, who became known to them. 


Do you believe in God, or is God still unknown to you?  Our God is awesome, and I am glad he created both us and this world we live in.  The next world will be even better. 


Want to find out more?  Look for my “Finding God” series at 

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