Lessons From A Pagan Prophet

Several times, inspired Apostles of Go quote from pagan prophets in order to make some important point. For example:

Titus 1:12-13-One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

Paul here quotes from a pagan source, and points out that this “prophet” had some of his facts straight!

“This phrase is found in the Minos of the Cretan poet Epimenides, a sixth-century B.C. poet of Knossos, Crete, quoted by Callimachus (ca. 300-240 B.C.). Epimenides joked of his own people that the absence of wild beasts on the island was supplied by its’ human inhabitants…Paul occasionally quoted Ancient Greek poets (Acts 17:28).” (Thomas C. Oden, First And Second Timothy And Titus: INTERPRETATION: A Bible Commentary For Teaching And Preaching, 65-66 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

Several things are worthy of notice e here.

First, it is a fact that the Prophets and Apostles of God often quote from and allude to non-inspired sources. There are constant references to non-inspired works throughout the inspired Scriptures.

Second, referencing non-inspired works did not mean that the Prophets and Apostles agreed with everything that the non-inspired work taught. Instead, the Word of God shows us that there can be true statements found in non-inspired works.

Third, the Prophets and Apostles clearly expected their readers to have at least a passing familiarity with the sources that they quoted. This implies that their readers did not necessarily confine themselves only to studying the Scriptures ONLY.

Fourth, by referencing non-inspired works, the Prophets and Apostles teach us an important lesson in evangelism: finding common ground with our religious friends and neighbors that we are trying to reach with the Gospel is essential to soul-winning. This was a common tactic of the early Christians: they would work to teach people the Gospel by first finding common ground with people they were trying to teach. They would commend the good elements which they saw in a person or group. Once that basic foundation had been laid, they then would move on to other areas of importance.

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