In this Bible study, we compare and contrast Peter’s address in Acts 2 with St. Paul’s address in Acts 17.
The “sermon” in Acts 2 is made to Jews who already knew the Old Testament. By means of the revealed knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, they knew that the one true God was the Creator of all things. They knew about the fall into sin and the consequence of death. They knew that God had promised to send a Savior to redeem the world. Peter’s sermon simply identified Jesus as the Messiah and fulfillment of God’s promise.
The “sermon” in Acts was made in the Athenian marketplace to a gathering of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. These Gentiles knew that there was a god, but their attempt at identifying and worshiping Him, was a miserable failure. We looked at the basic teachings of Greek philosophy from the Epicureans and Stoics. At the beginning of his speech, St. Paul refers to their natural knowledge, but he also calls their religion ignorance. St. Paul needs to introduce to them the one true God as the Creator of heaven and earth. He needs to explain that the required worship for righteousness was not the service of men’s hands. Instead, the greatest worship is to receive the righteousness which comes by the man Jesus Christ through faith. St. Paul preached the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.