Multiplication Center

Can you craft a whole book from one small sermon of Paul?

August 21, 2014

Gospel in the marketplaceThe Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World proves you can. Not only that, it proves that it can be a profitable read for pastors who compare their context to Athens in the first century.

Authors Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak are a professor of philosophy and a professor of New Testament, respectively. This brief (196 pages with all the footnotes) combines various the best of both their academic disciplines with a great understanding of the historical/sociological context of Athens in the days of the Apostle Paul with the understandings and applications for believers today.

The sermon or speech found in Acts 17 is one of the most quoted and cited passages by many of today’s pastors attempting to speak in new ways to our culture. I have found this true not only in America but across the world. Indeed it is one of those template-setting passages for current ministry practices.

The authors set the sermon in its proper historical context and make a careful analysis on how the sermon was received in Paul’s day by the hearers. It gets below many of the surface understandings I hear cited at pastor’s conferences. It gets to the cultural issues Paul was driving toward in his day.

Then they make the same careful applications to today’s context showing where Paul’s context was similar and dissimilar to our own day.

Most amazingly the book combines the careful scholarship and readability. It is not overly technical like a good commentary but highly approachable for the average pastor and reader. The book would be a great read for church planting residency programs considering how this text and its application fits into the launch of churches for the younger generations.

There are helpful discussion questions as well. I highly recommend.

(Disclosure: I paid for this book myself and read it for my own enjoyment. Occasionally Intervarsity Press (IVP) sends me books to read and review but this was not one. The link to the book does go to an affiliate site where Leadership Network earns a small portion of the sales.)

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