It is reported that the audience was made up of the intelligentsia of Greece (minds of the Golden Age) who had set up a government and such perfect living conditions that it is almost impossible to imagine. And so they stood waiting for the “Babbler” to tell them something.
Paul was the “Babbler” and he straightway addressed them in no uncertain terms. There must have been a tense silence when he uttered his famous words:
“Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious”
and then continued — you are worshiping at the Altar of the Unknown God: “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” Imagine what a statement like that would do today if some voice would tell all the space hunters and men of like ilk that it was all going to be revealed to them — that the principle they worshiped and worked so hard to discover and develop was at last going to be explained and shown to them, and that the end of speculation and guessing was at hand.
I can well imagine the Athenians were all ears and filled with surprise when he told them that the GOD of which he spoke was not worshiped in temples made by hands — “as though He needed any thing, seeing he Giveth to all LIFE, and breath, and all things.”
With one powerful stroke of oratory, he neatly gathered the rapt attention of the whole crowd with his “Him declare I unto you.” Can you imagine what the truth of his statement “as though he (this God you ignorantly worship) needed any thing” — seeing he is the giver of all, and is not worshiped in temples made by hands. What a statement and interesting, too, that he was standing in the midst of Mars’ hill in front of a group of buildings and temples that have not yet been surpassed in their purity of design and beauty. This very statement might do something today if it were heard again. Worship, in the minds of many has much to do with buildings and pageantry and men.
If he had said nothing further about this Unknown God than “seeing he giveth to all LIFE, and breath, and all things,” he would have overturned a world of superstition and beliefs and opened doors to the literal and actual Kingdom of Heaven here and now.
The temple not made with hands is the temple of the body — is that upon which has been hung all the evil history and belief of the old Adam man with his distorted idea that he could create in a universe already created and done, and you and I come under the stupid superstition and hypnotism that he was right. But a Babbler has to set right, and, of course, we have to hear the Babbler, and having heard we obey and begin to experience some of the new dimensions of LIFE. It is wonderful !
The Babbler is here again, for you are beginning to hear and he may meet you almost anywhere but in the temple made by hands, though he is there too. He is the unannounced Voice of one crying in the wilderness of belief, and he passes you on the highways of Life and speaks to you “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.”
Yes, the Babbler is here again — listen and you will hear him, and put the coal of fire on your lips. It is wonderful-filled with wonder.
Is it any wonder then that the Athenians suddenly declared with one accord: “The gods are come dawn to us” from Mount Olympus.
But the Babbler was not through with his revelation; he had something greater to tell them. This time it was a question which you, too, have to answer. Know ye not that, “ye are gods”? What an explosive statement made at any time, nothing but dead letters until it is heard, and it is not heard by the one who imagines that he is “God” or that swells his ego into personal power. He may flourish as a green bay tree, or like a toy balloon that gets larger and larger until it bursts of its own accord, or runs into the sharp point of the sword.
And so the voice is speaking again and saying:
“Ye men of Athens,” you are worshiping an Unknown God, a man-God. You are worshiping him in temples made with hands, and are offering him all sorts of things if in turn he will prosper you — but he is worshiped in temples not made by hands eternal in the heavens — Temples not made by hands. Temples wherein there are no arguing voices professing a dozen different kinds of theology. When you enter the first law is “Lay your gift on the altar” — and that gift is the surrender of all desire and preconceived notions. The sudden silence will eventually become filled with the VOICE of Spirit, and you will hear the inaudible definition of the words you have tried for so long to demonstrate. “Be still.”
Walter C. Lanyon