22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.” 29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’
Notes on Acts 17:22-31.
Paul took every opportunity presented to him, every way in which he could preach the good news, often beginning with what he saw immediately in front of him. That was how Jesus had spoken and acted as well. The parable of the sower could well have been inspired by the sight of a farmer sowing a field, visible to Jesus and the disciples as they walked along. This speech at the Areopagus, the debating place, in Athens was not random or off the cuff though. Paul was carefully prepared. He was a Jew who had grown up in tarsus, a city well within the influence of Greek culture. He knew the context and the philosophers and the ways in which the Greek debates were undertaken. He took that existing learning and wanted to build on it. He was not trying just to break down what people held already but to assist them to make connections. He sought to build rapport, to build relationship, and then to speak into that relationship. As a strategy for sharing good news this is not only wise but it is also respectful, and a lesson worth learning.