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Mars Hill Sermon

Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Scripture

Acts 17:16–34 NASB95
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
Acts 17:

Background

EPICUREANS [ĕpˊə kyŏo rēˊənz] (Gk. Epikoureioi).† Members of a philosophical school founded by Epicurus (341–270 B.C.). Epicurus taught that all reality is made up of indestructible and undifferentiated “atoms,” whose integration produces life and whose separation produces death. He acknowledged the existence of deities and held that they were composed of atoms like all other beings and were, therefore, corporeal; they did not, however, play a role in human life. This materialistic view of existence was intended, negatively, to free people from anxiety regarding death and the gods; death is the end of everything and, therefore, is nothing to be feared.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary Development of Stoic Thought

Zeno adapted and softened Cynic teaching, creating “a socially respectable revision of Cynic morality” (Sedley, “The School,” 12). He borrowed heavily from Plato and Heraclitus for Stoic physics, especially their concept of a physical world that was a single, unified entity governed by an active, guiding principle that could be considered the logos/god of the world. For Zeno, the physical world was the only thing people could truly understand, and they must assent to or challenge impressions from the world until they attain true understanding.

Stoicism

STOICS [stōˊĭks] (Gk. Stōikoi). The members of a philosophical school founded by Zeno of Citium (ca. 335–263 B.C.) who taught in the Stoa Poikilē (“Painted Porch”), a colonnaded building in the Agora at Athens, hence the name. In Stoicism the primary focus is on how life is to be lived, with the attainment of virtue stressed above all. For the Stoics, virtuous living is living in accordance with nature.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary Development of Stoic Thought

Zeno adapted and softened Cynic teaching, creating “a socially respectable revision of Cynic morality” (Sedley, “The School,” 12). He borrowed heavily from Plato and Heraclitus for Stoic physics, especially their concept of a physical world that was a single, unified entity governed by an active, guiding principle that could be considered the logos/god of the world. For Zeno, the physical world was the only thing people could truly understand, and they must assent to or challenge impressions from the world until they attain true understanding.

Stoics were in Paul’s audience when he spoke at Athens (Acts 17:18), and some scholars contend that the apostle himself was influenced by Stoicism. Indeed, a keynote of Stoicism reflected in Paul’s letters is the stress on self-sufficiency, contentment in all circumstances that nature or destiny brings to an individual, and indifference to whether one is poor or wealthy, suffering or not suffering

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