An ideology or system of values which seeks to understand and, through rational argument, to investigate the nature and meaning of reality. Scripture exposes the emptiness of philosophy based purely upon human wisdom, while affirming that, at its best, human wisdom points towards God, and can serve as a preparation for the gospel.
Paul meets some Epicureans in AthensAc 17:16-18Followers of the Greek philosophy founded by Epicurus (341-270 B.C.). In strong contrast to the Stoics, they taught that pleasure, and the avoidance of all disturbance, pain and fear, was the chief goal of life.
Epicureans’assessment of Paul and his messageAc 17:18,18Paul’s listeners mistook the Greek word for “resurrection” (“anastasis”) for the name of a strange god. While Epicureans did not deny the existence of gods, they believed they had no interest in the lives of human beings, and that therefore everything in life was the result of mere chance.
Epicurean and Stoic philosophers bring Paul to the AreopagusAc 17:19-20
The response of Epicureans and others to Paul’s preachingAc 17:32
Docetism questions the reality of the incarnation2Jn 7Docetism is a denial of the physical reality of Jesus Christ’s incarnation that may have been prompted by the typically Greek perception of physical matter as evil. See also1Jn 2:22-23Scripture affirms the physical incarnation of Jesus Christ:Jn 1:14; 1Ti 3:16; Heb 2:14Scripture emphasises the physical death of the Son of God:Ro 8:3; Php 2:6-8; 1Jn 4:10
Contrary to the teaching of Gnosticism, the world is not inherently evil1Ti 4:4Gnosticism was a religious philosophy whose fundamental belief in the inherent evil of the created realm led to a number of heretical teachings about creation, human nature, the person of Jesus Christ, salvation and ethics. Creation is God’s work and is therefore good:Ge 1:31; Ne 9:6; Ps 19:1; Ac 17:24; Col 1:15-17; Rev 4:11Creation, though fallen, will be redeemed and reconciled to God through Jesus Christ:Ro 8:20-21; Eph 1:9-10; Col 1:19-20
Paul encounters the Stoics in AthensAc 17:16-18The Stoics were a leading philosophical group based, like their rivals the Epicureans, in Athens. Stoics held that God was the inner reason of the universe and that salvation lay in accepting one’s place in the established order.
Dictionary of Bible Themes Scripture index copyright Martin H. Manser, 2009. As Editor, Martin Manser wishes to thank all those who compiled or edited the NIV Thematic Study Bible, on which this work is based.