Before I left for Israel, I heard many times that after seeing the Holy Land, I would be able to read the Bible in color instead of in black and white. In a way that is definitely true. It is a different experience to be able to picture the Valley of Elah when reading about David attacking Goliath. The story of Jesus calming the storm and walking on the Sea of Galilee is so much more vivid now that I have a picture of the Sea in my mind.
The same thing happened in Greece when we stood on the traditional site of Mars hill, where Paul addressed a group of Athenians in the famous “unknown God” sermon. In his sermon, Paul references how God does not live in a man-made temple. (Acts 17:24) When we read this Scripture passage on the top of Mars hill, I suddenly gained a different perspective.
(Mars Hill in the foreground with the Acropolis in the background.)
Paul preached this sermon within site of the Acropolis in sight of the Parthenon, the great temple to Diana, as well as other smaller temples to other Greek deities. Paul was drawing a sharp distinction between the many deities of the Greek people and the one true God.
I guess I had previously read Acts 17 as though Paul was preaching to a congregation in a church building…even though Scripture indicates he preached outside! However, after seeing Mars Hill it made me realize Paul preached in a real place. It made me see how Paul used the culture he was visiting as an illustration to point people to the true God.
~ Melinda ~