Citizens of Athens & many foreigners who lived there always loved to debate the newest philosophical ideas. Throughout the city there were various intellectual groups (281).
One group was the Epicureans – who resisted God, believing that pleasure in life comes simply from enduring it as peacefully & as painlessly as possible.
Another group was the Stoics – who also resisted God, believing that calm cooperation with nature (as opposed to destructive emotionalism) was the key to happiness.
Sometimes, Epicurean & Stoic teachers debated with Paul. These people were perplexed by Paul’s teaching about Jesus & the resurrection. So they asked Paul, “What is this philosophy that you’re teaching? Your ideas sound strange to us, and we would like to know more about them.”
Subsequently, Paul was given an audience before the city council of Athens. In his address, the Holy Spirit prompted Paul to say, “I see that you Athenians are very religious. In fact, as I walked through your city & observed the places where you worship, I even found an altar dedicated ‘To An Unknown God.’
“I can tell you about this God whom you do not know. God made the world & everything in it. He is master of heaven & earth, and he doesn’t live in man-made temples. He doesn’t need anything that we can offer him. On the contrary, God is the one who gives, to all of us, life & breath & everything else we need.
“From one man he created all races of mankind; he determined beforehand exactly when & where each of us would live on this earth. He has created us to look for him & to find him.
“And, in fact, God is actually not far from any one of us. It has been said that, ‘In him we live & move & have our being.’ Some of your own poets have said, ‘We too are God’s children.’
“So if we are God’s children, we definitely should not suppose that his nature is anything like an image of gold or silver or stone, shaped by the art & skill of man.
“God has previously overlooked the times when people didn’t know him. But now God commands all people everywhere to turn to him. He has fixed a day when he will judge the whole world with justice. This will be accomplished by means of a man whom he has chosen, his son Jesus. God has given all of us proof of his choice & plan, by raising that man, Jesus, from death.”
(281) Acts 17:18-31