Acts 17:30-31 says, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He appointed”. The times of ignorance Paul’s referring to is from the fall until the cross. And it wasn’t that God “overlooked” it in the sense that He was neutral or in the sense that they weren’t guilty. But now that He has revealed His plan of redemption through Christ, all are called to repent of their sin and turn to Him. And when His risen Son comes, He will judge the world.
He goes on, “’and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.’ Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked” (v31-32). These were probably the Epicureans who were naturalists, and so the thought of supernatural resurrection was foolishness to them.
Verse 32, “But others [probably the Stoics] said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’” This is probably not genuine, because they don’t tell the mockers to pipe down so that Paul can continue. Also, there’s no record of Paul going back to speak with them. What we really have here is two different kinds of rejection of the gospel. One is hostile, mocking. The other is polite, but dismissive.
What are some ways that people negatively respond to the gospel today? Some also react with hostility and mockery. They say that Christianity is a myth, and people are foolishly clinging onto it because they’re desperate. Others politely listen, but in the end, can’t wait for the conversation to be over, and they say they’ll think about it. Of these things, we really have no control. If their eyes are veiled, only the Holy Spirit can unveil them. And so we lovingly continue to labor until it’s time to move on, and we pray that God will do a work in them.