The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

Acts 17: 18 Eventually he got into a debate with some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Some were dismissive from the start.

The philosophers asked, “What’s this fast-talker trying to pitch?”

Others answered, “He seems to be advocating the gods of distant lands.”

They said this because of what Paul had been preaching about Jesus and the resurrection.

19-21 This stirred their curiosity, because the favorite pastime of Athenians (including foreigners who had settled there) was conversation about new and unusual ideas. So, they brought him to the rock outcropping known as the Areopagus, where Athens’ intellectuals regularly gathered for debate, and they invited him to speak.[1]

Paul had been sharing the Gospel in the marketplace and some of Athenians, who loved to discuss philosophy, were up for a debate. As a 21st century person reading this text, you may wonder why this detail would matter. What are Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, anyway?

Epicureans thought the “gods” were a long way off and didn’t pay any attention to life on earth. Thus, it was best to seek maximum pleasure in food, drink, and sexuality. It was best to enjoy all the materialistic things you could. Sound like anyone you know today?

The Stoics thought the divine existed within each of us and could be discovered and harnessed. One should live within the divine rationality and be free from emotions of passion and joy. One should just accept reality as it comes and live according to virtues of wisdom, morality, courage, and moderation. This sounds very similar to the “New” Age philosophy.

Remember that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same?” I think that is the case here. Even though Paul knew these lifestyles by different names than we do, things are still very much the same. 

And the fact that only some would bother to listen is still the same. In Paul’s time, some were dismissive from the start. They wouldn’t even give Paul the time of day. But some were curious, and at least gave Paul a chance to explain himself. The same is true for us today. As we live out our faith, there will be those who refuse to listen to why we live as we do. But there will be those who are curious. It is to those that we have a chance to explain who Jesus is and why we follow Him. 

The apostle Peter explains it this way: “14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So, don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3.[2] If you don’t consider yourself a follower of Jesus, I urge you to be curious. Find a Bible believing church and start asking questions. If you are a follower of Jesus, can you explain why? If you’re not sure, ask your pastor or other Christian mentor for help.

To hear how there is a battle for souls, listen here:

[1] The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

[2] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188

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