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Acts 17:16-34: Exegesis

Not only had Paul been raised among Stoic philosophers, he had studied their poets, their teachings and lived out their principles for many years prior to his conversion. Ironically, Paul was in Athens to speak to his own intellectual "kind" in a sense and present a very different theological premise, one that went beyond the walls of philosophy. For the Stoics, nature is God. But to the Christians, God is more than tangible materials. According to the Paul's gospel, God is personal, i.e. in significant respects like a human person. The Epicureans had taught that the gods do not care, but human beings should be friends; according to the Christians God does care, and human beings can live in friendship with one another and with God (American Journal, 211). But according to the Paul, the worthwhile life will also lead to happiness, if not in this world then in the next, in the life after death (Stedman, 45). Whereas, the Stoics' conception of fulfillment resides solely in virtue's ability to provide contentment, the Epicurean notion of happiness is rooted in the obtainment of external goods, which vanquish hunger and bring the satisfaction of food, shelter and companionship (Hamilton, 65-70).

From a theological standpoint, the common bridge between the two philosophies is the pursuit of true, divine wisdom. Stated by an Epicurean poet,

"Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom and exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it." Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus (Hamilton, 203-204).

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Acts 17:16-34: Exegesis. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:12, November 29, 2015, from
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