The Areopagus is a location and was an administrative body of people. This council of elders in Athens probably got started in the 7th century BC. Over the centuries its composition, function, and authority changed and fluctuated. By the time Paul arrived in Athens the Areopagus had become identified with the place that it met, on a lower rocky hill just northwest of the Athens Acropolis. During Roman times the Areopagus had administrative, religious, and educational functions.
Paul was brought before the council: was he being put on trial or were they just curious about what Paul had been saying? If Paul was being charged with a crime it would have probably been that he was promoting a foreign god. If that was the case, then his opening statement is brilliant: I am not introducing a foreign god. I am introducing you to the God you have already been worshiping as an “Unknown God.” If Paul was not on trial this is still a great opening because he makes a connection from their own culture.
This is still a basic tenet of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The first thing that has to happen for us to effectively witness to someone else is that we must personally connect with them somehow. The old saying is, “They have to know that you care before they care what you know.” This cannot be artificial: we know how to spot a phony. And most people are not impressed that you care about their eternal soul. “If you don’t care about who I am right here and right now, then you don’t care about me.”
Read Paul’s speech: verses 22-31. This is the longest evangelical speech by Paul that we have recorded. There is a plague with this speech engraved on it at Ares’ Hill (Areopagus) in Athens. There were some who responded in faith to Paul’s speech including Dionysius and Damaris.
The first step to faithful witnessing is caring. If you don’t care enough to witness, then ask God to help you care.