Read Along: Chapter One—Welcome to Athens

Today we begin our with Chapter One in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak. (Hear the introductory interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter One, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact on the Christian Apologetics Alliance Facebook page here.

[Audio Intro] – Paul Copan introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 1 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter One: Welcome to Athens
[pages 11-18]

Chapter 1 explores the similarities between the Athens of Paul’s day with our present culture and time. The authors lay out some of the ground work for how the book will address the problem of translating the Gospel into a message that can be understood by today’s listener. The chapter includes an excerpt from Acts 17:16-34, which should be studied before reading further.

Notable quotes:

If you walk up to someone randomly on a university campus or at the local coffee bar and attempt to reach that person by quoting Bible verses, and the person you are addressing neither knows what’s in the Bible nor really cares, or has a faulty image— a caricature —of God that is unpalatable, you will not get any further than someone who speaks only German talking to someone who speaks only Chinese. (p.14; Kindle 120-123)

We can no longer rely (if we ever could rely) upon other people understanding our “Christianese,” or believing anything other than caricatures of what committed, orthodox Christians believe. We cannot expect unbelievers to learn our ideas first so that they can understand us. We need to go to them, learn what they think and find ways to present them with the truths of the gospel in ways that will be meaningful to them. (p. 16; Kindle 154-157).


  1. What are some of the similarities between Paul’s Athens and our world today?
  2. In what ways does Paul’s speech at Athens connect with your present situation?
  3. What do you hope to gain from reading this book?
Next Week: Chapter 2—Was Paul’s Speech at Athens a Mistake?
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

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