(For an explanation of the meaning of “Ordinary Time,” please see “Introducing Ordinary Time” under the tab “Ordinary Time, Year 1: The Gospels.”)
All God’s Children by Creation, But Not By Redemption
We continue with Paul’s sermon to the Athenians, those people who “would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (17:21). And Paul would be sure to tell them something new before he finished.
We saw yesterday that, unlike his approach to the Jews with whom he would open the Scriptures to persuade them that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies and so was the Christ, with these pagans he instead spoke of the greatness and goodness of the one true God using reason; after all, the Scriptures would mean nothing to them. He even went as far as to quote some of their own pagan poets, for even in pagan man, God has not left Himself without witness as they too are created in God’s image. Thus, even man without knowledge of the true God can arrive at some truth, just not THE truth without the salvific work of the Holy Spirit on his heart and mind. And I say this because Paul cites approvingly the pagan poet who said, “We are indeed [God’s] offspring,” which we all indeed are by creation. And Paul uses this quotation to further explain to his Athenian listeners that since we are all God’s children, well then how foolish it must be to think of God Himself as silver or stone or some other image formed by man! In other words, Paul quotes their poets to show the foolishness of their idolatry.
But then Paul hastens on to preach repentance, coming judgment, and Christ to them. It was God’s own magnanimity that suffered Him to overlook these gross sins, but now they must turn to the risen One. At this they mock. But before I move on to why they mocked (which had to do with the resurrection), I must confront a common misconception even among Christians. Yes, Paul quoted approvingly their pagan poet that we all are God’s offspring. And one will often hear that we are all God’s children. And we are all created in His image and worthy of respect and all that entails. But that is NOT the same as saying that we are all saved, which is why I said above that we are all God’s children by creation, but not by redemption. If we are, why then did Paul preach repentance to the Athenians right after he agreed that they were God’s children? Because being God’s child by creation and by redemption are two totally different matters. Though God’s children by creation, we rebelled and turned to the creature rather than the Creator, which is what Paul’s sermon to the Athenians so highlights. But now, we must become God’s children by redemption through the blood of His dear Son. And the world will never hear this; but praise God, some will.