‘God Does Not Dwell in Handmade Temples’
THE apostle Paul undoubtedly was familiar with temples of Athena, for these could be found in many of the cities he visited during his missionary journeys. According to The Encyclopædia Britannica, Athena was renowned as goddess not only of war and wisdom but also “of crafts and skilled peacetime pursuits in general.”
The most famous temple of Athena was the Parthenon, erected in Athens, the city named after the goddess. Considered one of the greatest temples of the ancient world, the Parthenon housed a 40-foot [12 m] gold-and-ivory statue of Athena. When Paul visited Athens, this white marble temple had already dominated the city for some 500 years.
With the Parthenon in view, Paul preached to a group of Athenians about the ‘God who does not dwell in handmade temples.’ (Acts 17:23, 24) Perhaps the majesty of Athena’s temples or the grandeur of her idols made her seem more impressive to some of Paul’s listeners than an invisible God they did not know. As Paul pointed out, however, it should not be imagined that the Creator of humankind “is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by . . . man.”—Acts 17:29.
Gods and goddesses like Athena—whose glory depended on temples and statues—have come and gone. The statue of Athena disappeared from the Parthenon in the fifth century C.E., and only the remains of a few of her temples still exist. Who today look to Athena for wisdom and guidance?
How different it is with Jehovah, “the everlasting God” whom no man has ever seen. (Romans 16:26; 1 John 4:12) The sons of Korah wrote: “This God is our God to time indefinite, even forever. He himself will guide us.” (Psalm 48:14) One way to enjoy Jehovah God’s guidance is by studying his Word, the Bible, and applying its counsel in our life.