7/2/16 Epicureans & Stoics Scoff At Paul’s Words

 

Two main groups are present in the marketplace, the Epicureans and the Stoics.  The Epicureans reject anything to do with idol worship, believing that the gods, if they are there at all, are too far away and too engrossed in their own lives to bother with either accepting sacrifices or answering prayers down here.  The Epicureans instead focus on how to make themselves happy.  Epicurus, the late founder of the philosophy, in whose garden his followers usually meet, had found that devoting himself to his own pleasures resulted in negative consequences, and so he ended up devoting himself to helping others, reveling in the pleasure this gave him.  But in this modern Greek age, most Epicureans have just given themselves over to carnal pleasures.  The other group is the Stoics.  They meet at a the Stoa poikile, the painted porch in the center of the city from which they get their name.  The porch is covered with paintings of the Battle of Marathon.  The founder of their philosophy was a Greek man from Cyprus named Zeno.  The Stoics believe that there is a supreme being of some kind, controlling the forces of the universe from on high and holding all the wisdom of the universe, and that there is nothing to be gained in trying to control things that are beyond our control.  We should just accept those things and concentrate instead on what we can control.  They are unmoved by any uncontrollable circumstances or their effects on anyone, and try to be perfect in their ethics.  Paul, in watching them, sees many similarities between the Stoics and the Pharisees – both groups are often hypocritical, both try for ethical perfection, both are often indifferent to the problems of others.  The Epicureans and Stoics, listening to Paul speak to anyone and everyone he encounters in the marketplace day after day, begin to get irritated with him.  “This man is like a little bird pecking at seeds on the ground, in the way he chatters all day here and there, with anyone who will hear him,” the Stoics complain to each other.  “And he seems to be trying to promote some new, strange gods,” complain the Epicureans.  “Who is this Anastasis, and why should we worship her?”  “Anastasis” is the Greek word for “resurrection.”  Because Paul is proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection, these people believe he is promoting Jesus and resurrection as gods to be worshipped.

 

Acts 17:18, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/acts/17.htm, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Marathon_battle_in_Stoa_Poikile,_Carl_Robert.jpg, https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Uy5Nd7gNtMM/UUtJXpFGTNI/AAAAAAAArco/LxzJKDmaDkY/s1600/Greece_Stoa_Poikile.jpg, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oNjwwmtVtbA/UI68VP0EhzI/AAAAAAAAU5w/o3k6UY2rbfE/s1600/epicurus-pergamon-berlin.jpg, http://www.willamette.edu/~sbasu/poli213/epicurus&ism_files/image018.jpg, https://i.ytimg.com/vi/A_jXgi_fuPo/hqdefault.jpg, http://zenogroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/zeno-of-citium.jpg

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