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Freedom of Speech & the Gospel

Photo by  Miguel Henriques  on  Unsplash

Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

Intro.

When Christ arrived it was at a time of post Greek influence of the known world.  How did God use this to spread the Gospel?  I have heard many Bible teachers state the benefit of the commonality of the Greek language that allowed the Gospel to be spoken to a multitude of cultures along with the roads of the Roman Empire that allowed ease of travel to those cultures.  But consider how the Greek culture belief in free speech  made way for the Gospel to be shared, listen to, engaged with and be accepted. 

Paul in Athens 

Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 “for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

This open venue of sharing thought and giving your personal belief of truth was not a common freedom in all societies of the world.  It was a characteristic of the Greek world.

The ancient Greek word “parrhesia” means “free speech,” or “to speak candidly.” The term first appeared in Greek literature around the end of the fifth century B.C. During the classical period, parrhesia became a fundamental part of the democracy of Athens. Leaders, philosophers, playwrights and everyday Athenians were free to openly discuss politics and religion and to criticize the government in some settings.

With the expansion of the Greek culture and language by Alexander the Great so came parrhesia to the people and was carried over to the Roman Empire.  So when the Gospel was introduced by the apostle Paul at the Greek Areopagus he was welcome to share openly his message and the people were willing to hear and reason if it was true, even make their comments.  Even when his message was opposed violently in others parts of the Roman Empire, Paul was threatened not by government but by groups who’s religious beliefs were offended and threatened.  

Since the influence of the western world with its English language the world was again opened to the Gospel.  It was delivered also with the philosophy of parrhesia.  Missionaries went forth to share their beliefs opening, publicly and to bring the truth of Christ to the hearts of mankind.  It was well as offended those who hold to a particular religious belief.  

The Gospel encourages a freedom of speech to share and reason together with any that disagreement.  The Gospel never seeks to quench the unbelieving thoughts and philosophies but to respond in answer.  Jesus didn’t ban his accusers from his meetings and gatherings.  All were welcome to come and engage.  So lets exercise our parrhesia to share our faith while allowing others the same privilege.  

Blessings

pBob