Does the World Provoke You, and What Do you Do?

March 31, 2015

All around us in our society are things that should be stirring us up to a response…provoking us in a proper way. The Apostle Paul, as always, is a marvelous help to us in how to deal with the ideas and idols swirling around our society.

 Acts 17

16 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.

 17 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.

 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 


“…his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols."" vs. 16

We are no longer disturbed. Like the frog in the kettle, we are comfortable with demons and idols all around us. They do not provoke us anymore. In fact, they are our entertainment. But that does not mean they are not present.

Serious-minded believers stay in such union with the Father that things provoke them...not in a harsh, condemning way, but in a broken-hearted way.

“Provoked” is the Greek word from which we derive the word “paroxysm” which means a sudden rise, like the paroxysm of a cough. It comes upon us and we cannot help it. It means an irritation or disturbance in us that demands a response.

And this provocation drove Paul to action.


""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....he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.""  vs. 17-18

  • He reasoned – to put one thought with another in reasonable explanation
  • in the synagogue - place of worship
  • in the market place – right in the places where the majority of people were
  • every day- he did not let up
  • with those happened to be present--he was not particular nor did he feel like he had to have some strategic plan related to a group of people. Everyone needed Jesus and whoever was present were the recipients of his message.
  • Jesus and the resurrection- Christ is our message. Nothing more is needed, nothing less is adequate.


“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this.’ So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed.” Vs. 32-34

Some will laugh…some will procrastinate…but those appointed to eternal life will BELIEVE and be changed forever!

Our end goal is not to win an argument, but to appeal to those in whom God is working, calling them to salvation and life. We are content to be laughed at as we see God is accomplishing His work in those who believe. We must let our provocation, and faithful response of the gospel, lead to the life-change of believing men and women.

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