Loving the Lord with Our Minds — The Apostle Paul in Acts 17 (Part 4)

25 Jan

We are continuing to prepare as the plenary speaker for Emmaus Bible College’s “Christian MInistry screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-5-57-12-amSeminars” on February 6-7. Our theme will be “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality.” Here in Acts 17 we see Paul using his mind to reach a diverse audience with the gospel.  Our text, Acts 17:19-34, first shows us that Paul was “greatly distressed” to see the city “full of idols.”

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-5-43-06-amWe then noticed that Paul used reasoning to engage the groups that were there.  He shows his skill at reasoning with five groups:  (1) the Jews; (2) the God-fearing Greeks; (3) the intellectual loiterers of the day; (4) the Epicurean philosophers; and (5) the Stoic philosophers.

Who were the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers?  Epicureanism‘s founder was Epicurus (272 BC) who said that pleasure is the sole good: “Whatever feels good is desirable; pain is undesirable.”  All reality is material; no spiritual or immaterial; screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-6-00-05-amall is in motion and everything happens by chance; there are gods but they don’t care about human affairs; no afterlife or judgment.  Truth is established by the senses; the goal of life is pleasure!  Here’s a photograph of Epicurus:

Know anyone who holds that kind of philosophy?

Stoicism’s founder was Zeno (263 BC) who said that knowledge is attained through logic; we are to be indifferent to outward emotions; live in harmony with nature, happy & free from emotion; universe is eternal; everything is God (pantheism); screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-6-06-12-amGod is the soul of the universe; the universe is the body of God; all life is predetermined by fate; no immortality of the soul; absorbed into the divine essence; no final judgment.  So, truth is established by one’s reason and the goal of life is virtue!  This is a selfie of Zeno:

Know anyone who holds that kind of philosophy?

Paul debates with these philosophers. And he gets criticized for his view.  He is called a “babbler” (a word which literally means “seed-picker”).  Apparently they were scoffing at Paul for his not being identified with one philosophical group, but assumed he got his ideas from a variety of sources (which he “picked” over).

Don’t let criticism silent you!  The movie director Mel Brooks was once asked what he thought of critics.  He said, “They are noisy at night when you are in the woods camping.”  “No, Mr. Brooks,” said the interviewer.  “Not crickets.  Critics!”  Brooks said, “They are even worse!  They can’t even rub their back legs together to make music!”  Speak the truth about Jesus today — and don’t listen to the critics!

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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Acts 17


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