Sometimes we take exception. Sometimes we make one.

Did Paul Make a Mistake at Athens?

Terry Ivy

I get many questions via email and personal conversations. One common one is, “Did Paul make a preaching mistake at Athens when he quoted Greek philosophers?” This question arises because many have heard preachers, some with strong personal conviction, share how the Apostle Paul made a mistake in his Mar’s Hill address to the Athenians. (Acts 17:22-34) This position was made prominent by William Ramsay. (1851-1939) It was also presented by F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) years ago when he said in his book, “Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free,” that Paul’s ministry in Athens was a failure because he failed to preach the “word of the cross.” (p.246) But is this correct?

We need a little background before answering this question. Paul visited Corinth immediately after leaving Athens. (Acts 18:1) While reminding the Corinthians of his visit to them, he wrote and reminded them how he came preaching “Christ crucified”…

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