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:
From verses 22 to 34, Paul addressed philosophers in the Areopagus. This major speech was the second of three in Acts (Acts 13:16-41; 17:22-31; 40:8-35).
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said,
The philosophers took Paul from the agora or marketplace to the formal place of debate called “the Areopagus.”
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very [hard, firm] religious;
Paul acknowledged the Athenians were “religious” about “all things.” He had toured Athens, taking note of their images of idols. He concluded that Athenians were hard or firm in their convictions about idols and rigid in their beliefs.
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
Paul now gave an example from their religion. While touring the city, he came across an altar with the inscription TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. The apostle was about to explain who this unknown god was. The Athenians had worshiped a thing but not a personal being.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim [announce] to you:
The apostle would identify THE UNKNOWN GOD as the God he preached. He claimed he would clarify the mysteries of Athenian philosophy. The word “proclaim” means to announce, as with authority. Paul spoke with authority about the “unknown God.” He would unveil who the unknown God was.
The proper approach to evangelism in each context changes.
Adapting our method in presenting our message to each audience is crucial. We cannot change our message, but we can alter how we communicate it (1 Co 9:19-23). Paul did not quote from the Bible when speaking to non-theists. It would have been useless to reach pagans through the Scriptures because they knew nothing of them. Paul approached Jews with Scripture but communicated to pagans with pure reason concerning the doctrine of God. The God he presented was utterly unknown to them. In both cases, Paul adapted to the context in which he found himself. In no way did he adapt his content to what others believed; that would have been syncretism.