Paul sent word for his traveling companions Silas and Timothy at Beroea to join him “as soon as possible” at Athens (Acts 17:15). Meanwhile, as Paul waited for them, he made effective use of the time. Acts 17:16,17 states,
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.
Note that Paul reasoned in the market place those who happened to be present. The market place, or agora, was the civil center of Athens. This would have included the Stoa (porch), a colonnaded structure on the east side of the market place. Social, political, legal meetings and religious and philosophical discussions took place there. Paul made use of this setting as an opportunity to teach and reason about the true God, and His will for all men.
In our photo, taken from the Areopagos (Mars Hill) you can see the Stoa of Attalos at right center. The ancient agora sprawled to your left. This gives the geographical context to Paul’s discussions in the Athenian marketplace, with “those who happened to be present.”
Attalos II was king of Pergamum 159-138 BC. It was he who first built the Stoa.
The Stoa was 385 feet in length and consisted of two stories. It housed 21 shops on each floor. Again, this would have been the site for Athenians to meet, walk, and to do business.
Here is a view of the Stoa showing first floor level. Restoration of the Stoa was carried out in 1953-1956 by the American school of Classical Studies with the financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Click on images for higher resolution.
Great article bro. Mauldin. I hope to be able to go on one of these tours in the next couple of years if the Lord wills. The article did remind me of an exchange I was a part of in one of our Bible classes about the exchange between Paul and the Athenians. There is a member of the church here who thinks the best interpretation of Acts 17:22 as “I perceive that you are worshippers of many demons” rather than “very religious” or “too superstitious”. What would be your answer to this interpretation?
David, Thanks for writing. You’ve raised a good question re: Acts 17:22. See my Jan. 22 post for my response.