20. DAMARIS - a woman of
"A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was
Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman name Damaris, and a
number of others" (Acts 17:34).
Damaris was an Athenian. As a member of the Areopagus (Mars Hill) she
was a woman of distinction. The importance of her conversion is to be
seen in the context of the Athenian story (Acts 17:16-34).
Consider the person
Athens was the cultural centre of the West since the fourth century
B.C. This was the city of great philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato
and Aristotle. In Paul's time thinkers used to meet in the market place
(agora) or Stoa (a portico) to debate points of philosophy. Luke
mentions two philosophical schools with whom Paul shared the gospel –
the Epicureans and Stoics (Acts 17:18). The Athenian court tried any
new religion before it was adopted by the city. Paul was called to
account for what they thought were two new gods – Jesus and
Anastasis. They mistook what the apostle meant by the
resurrection (Gk. anastasis). A number of men believed the gospel.
Damaris, a female member of the council, also believed. Dionysius may
have been her husband. A tradition holds that he later pastored the
church in Athens.
Study the Scriptures
Paul's witness illustrates the importance of his upbringing and
education. He was able, as Acts demonstrates, to converse with anyone
about the Lord. In Athens he reasoned with philosophers as he presented
the gospel to the city council. His approach in Acts 17:22-31 compares
with his teaching in Rom.1:18-23. Damaris represents the success of the
gospel. It reaches every class and kind of people. In Acts, Luke
selects examples of conversions from different classes, cultures and
1. Corinth was another cultured Greek city. Read 1
Cor.1:18-30. What does this passage suggest about the conversion of
2. Do educated people find it difficult to accept the gospel?
What kind of Christian is best equipped to share the gospel with them?
3. Damaris became 'a follower' (in a strong sense, a
disciple). What kind of opposition could she face as a new Christian in
a Greek city state?
Apply some thoughts
1. Consider Paul's witness to the Athenians in the light of 1
Cor.9:16-23. He related to their culture and religion, quoting their
philosopher poets, Aratus and Epimenides (Acts 17:28).
2. Pray for Christians and Christian Unions in Colleges and