Slides: Acts 17

Slide 1


Via Egnatia (17:1) continued W.

But road S., to Greece, led through Berea

60 miles W. of Thessalonica and the Via Egnatia


Judaism regarded nobly those who checked everything against the Scriptures and diligently listened to teachers

Greek philosophers likewise praised those who listened attentively

Slide 2

17:12. Special mention of women: see of 17:4


Thessalonians had no legal jurisdiction in Berea

But mobs don’t function legally


Messengers rarely travelled alone; travelers safer with others

Cf. 1 Thess. 3:1

Slide 3



Slide 4


In Roman times: more ethics than philosophy

-       Religions: not much ethics

Philosophers: often thought unreligious

-       Many discarded gods as superstitious but allowed it for the masses,

-       Often attacked religion as superstitious;

-       Plato: religion is necessary for proper functioning of state

. but would’ve liked to have eradicated private worship

Romans didn’t always trust philosophers (esp. earlier)

Earlier war between rhetoric and philosophy

Slide 5


Famous from an ancient period

-       Still subject of lectures on great cities;

-       But its glory had faded

-       Reputation for great philosophers

-       But now behind Alexandria and Tarsus, also university centers

“Free city” (not Achaia; 1 Cor 16:15)

-       Rabbinic debates with philosophers reported: literary function to show Rabbinic wisdom greater

-       Speeches may up c. ¼ of Acts; apologetic function, defending the faith

Slide 6

Apologetics and Philosophy

Jewish apologists in the Greco- Roman world

-       Had plundered the most useful contributions f Greek kphilosophy for centuries

-       Claimed that philosophers plagiarized Moses

-       Christians apologists like Justin followed

-       Some Greeks also thought Pythagoras drew from Judaism;

-       Hellenistic Jews depicted Abraham as a philosopher (Philo, 4 Macc. Aristeas)

Slide 7


. Danger of initiating worship of foreign gods:

. 5th cent. BCE, priestess in Athens stoned to death (Jos.)

. esp. allusion to Socrates, as also v. 19

. Lk’s joke in v. 18, making fun of the philosophers’ intelligence?

. birds pick up grain

-       Men who pick up odds and ends in the marketplace

-       Finally, worthless people (lake and Cadbury)

 . Paul’s audience includes (cf. Acts 23:6: divide & conquer)

Slide 8

Epicureans (17:18)

-       No gods, or only those known through sensation

. opposed the myths

. similar to Deism on Deity

-       Aim of life is pleasure

. not of sensuality

. but absence of pain in body and trouble in soul (as in death)

Only influential in educated upper classes

-       Declined some in 1st cent CE

Slide 9

Stoics (17:18)


-       Criticized Epicureans, though differences not as great as they had once been

-       Seneca praises Epicurus, but invites Lucilius to leave Epicureanism

Stoics more popular with the people

-       Some like Cynics (DL 7.1.121; Juv.; etc.)

-       Pleasure is a vice

-       Cosmology: two forces, Logos (Reason) and Phusis (Nature)

-       Ethics of equality similar to Christianity

. but subverted once became pat of establishment

. strict on household codes from Aristotle

Slide 10

Bringing Paul to the Areopagus

-       High court of Athens (c. 100 members)

-       Maybe in the Stoa Basilicos, in the Agora

-       Possibly tested lecturers

-       Socrates allusion

Slide 11

17:22-23 (Exordium)

Start out by praising audience

-       “religious,” not “superstitious”

-       finds points in common with audience first

Unknown god

-       plague some years before, no altars worked

-       finally offered to an unknown god

-       altars still standing

-       theme in ancient speeches to praise public works

Slide 12

17:24-25: God’s Self- Sufficiency

Philos. tend toward blending deities toward Diety

-       Diaspora Jews sometimes called God “Zeus,” etc.


-       God permeates (or is) all the universe

-       Not localized in temples at all (also Isa 66:1, in Ac 7:48)

Greek philosophy + Diaspora Judaism:

-       God- needing nothing (Aristeas, 3 Macc, Philo, etc.)

Slide 13

17:26-29: Humanity’s Need for God

Both Jews and Greeks:

-       God as Creator

-       Divider of nations’ boundaries (Gen 10) and history’s epochs

-       Stoics: cyclical universe, resolving itself back into the primeval fire, dissolving everything back into the One periodically

Slide 14

17:28: God as “father”

Jewish and Greek

Judeans normally limited to God’s people

Greek and Diaspora Jewish: father of world by creation

Slide 15

17:28: Quotations

. Homer and other poets cited as proof-texts in manner similar to Jewish citation of Scripture

. in thee we live

-       Epimenides

-       Also Epimenides in Tit 1:12- from Crete

-       Ac 17:23: Epimenides and unknown God

. We are his offspring:

-       Aratus from Cilicia

-       Paul from Cilicia

. Use of poets

-       Also appears in Disaspora Jewish genealogies of useful proof-texts for apologetics

-       Some criticized poets as too mythological

-       Others used their wording freely to prove their own case

. What are Paul’s contact points? Does he offend at all?

Slide 16


Philosophers thought status not deities themselves

But some defended as memory aids

Slide 17



-       Reduces culpability

-       17:23: “unknown” God

-       BUT: they wouldn’t want to be thought ignorant

-       (though cf. Socrates)

Slide 18


Repentance: mostly Jewish (though conversion to philosophy)

Bodily resurrection: wholly Jewish

Why does Paul save these for the end? (cf. Ac 7; Ac 22)

Why can’t Paul just leave these out entirely?

Slide 19


What are Paul’s results in Athens?

-       Areopagite- city council member!

.Dionysios: tradition: bishop

Is this seen as good or bad?

Cf. similarly some with positive and some with negative response elsewhere in Acts

Slide 20

Corinth (Acts 18)

Near Athens

Capital of Achaia

Last modified: Sunday, April 14, 2019, 10:07 PM