|Dr. Couch, I have a question on Acts 17: 16-34 and Paul's sermon to the Epicureans and Stoics. Why did he not mention the fact of Christ dying on the cross? (However, he did mention the resurrection.) I thought Acts 17 was a model message as to how we are to witness? |
ANSWER: I do not believe there is one model message for witnessing. Paul adjusted his message to those he was speaking with. He considered their understanding, the context of what he was saying, the argument he was having with the audience, etc.
You said Paul did not mention the crucifixion of Christ, but I believe he did. Note verse 18. Paul was "preaching Jesus and the resurrection." More than likely "preaching Jesus" would be a reference to His death on the cross, followed by the resurrection. Paul probably had limited time in his speech and that is why he focused on the resurrection. This is the greatest of all miracles—that one would come back from the dead! This really got their attention, and I believe Paul knew that it would! "When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, 'We shall hear you again concerning this'" (v. 32). Some got the message and "joined with him and believed" (v. 34).
By the way, you can't have the doctrine of Christ's resurrection without the teaching about His death, i.e., the death on the cross. It also must be remembered that Paul used the doctrine of the resurrection in order to capture their attention. There is no more powerful argument than that one came back from the dead! He then continued teaching the full account of Christ, "preaching Jesus" and all that He came to do.
You referred to 1 Corinthians 2:2 where Paul said that he "determined to know nothing among you [Corinthians] except Jesus, and Him crucified." Notice, that this was his message when he went to Corinth! I am sure he adjusted his messages to the audience, the time of his message, with an understanding of what they could absorb! It is wrong to assume that he left the crucifixion out of his sermons. I'm sure Paul knew what he was doing!
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch