A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Thoughts for Today:Paul gave an exceptionally scholarly presentation of his faith before the Areopagus. But how successful was it? It would seem not a huge success -- only a few believed, not even enough to begin a new church. Virtually everywhere Paul went, new churches were the result, but not in Athens. Why?
There are many possible reasons for this mild impact. Perhaps the community was not ready. Perhaps not enough Christians were praying. Perhaps there was great spiritual oppression that is not evident in the text.
There is another possibility for Paul's lack of success: perhaps he didn't have the same impact as elsewhere because he spoke in his own name and power rather than relying solely upon the Name of our Lord and the Power of the Holy Spirit.
We should not second-guess the work of Paul and the other apostles, yet this is something to be aware of in all ministry work. Pastors and evangelists around the world can fall into the trap of applying their own skills and knowledge instead of relying entirely on the Holy Spirit. It's a good point to consider for anyone in ministry.
We have to be really careful of how we serve when we attempt to serve the Lord. The question we need to be truthful about is -- Are we serving ourselves or Him? Now that might seem to be a rather easy answer for some of you, "Of course I'm serving the Lord, look how hard I'm working and how much I've sacrificed for Him." But is that really true? Jesus warns us in Luke 20:46-47, "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
I declined a speaking opportunity recently, because I didn't want the recognition for myself that would be attached to the engagement. It was likely in this case for my humble service in the Name of the Lord to become too prominent. Sometimes it's important (as my pastor encouraged me) to tell others and let our individual example be a witness to others. But not this time; I heeded the Spirit's warning to me and declined to speak.
In our passage today, only a few became followers and believed. Paul then left Athens to go on to Corinth. Paul later records in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God." This appears a big change from Athens. He goes on, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." I think Paul may have learned a lesson and one of the greatest churches of all time