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Acts 17:18

Context
17:18 Also some of the Epicurean 1  and Stoic 2  philosophers were conversing 3  with him, and some were asking, 4  “What does this foolish babbler 5  want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods.” 6  (They said this because he was proclaiming the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 7 

Acts 17:32

Context

17:32 Now when they heard about 8  the resurrection from the dead, some began to scoff, 9  but others said, “We will hear you again about this.”

1 sn An Epicurean was a follower of the philosophy of Epicurus, who founded a school in Athens about 300 b.c. Although the Epicureans saw the aim of life as pleasure, they were not strictly hedonists, because they defined pleasure as the absence of pain. Along with this, they desired the avoidance of trouble and freedom from annoyances. They saw organized religion as evil, especially the belief that the gods punished evildoers in an afterlife. In keeping with this, they were unable to accept Paul’s teaching about the resurrection.

2 sn A Stoic was a follower of the philosophy founded by Zeno (342-270 b.c.), a Phoenician who came to Athens and modified the philosophical system of the Cynics he found there. The Stoics rejected the Epicurean ideal of pleasure, stressing virtue instead. The Stoics emphasized responsibility for voluntary actions and believed risks were worth taking, but thought the actual attainment of virtue was difficult. They also believed in providence.

3 tn BDAG 956 s.v. συμβάλλω 1 has “converse, confer” here.

4 tn Grk “saying.”

5 tn Or “ignorant show-off.” The traditional English translation of σπερμολόγος (spermologo") is given in L&N 33.381 as “foolish babbler.” However, an alternate view is presented in L&N 27.19, “(a figurative extension of meaning of a term based on the practice of birds in picking up seeds) one who acquires bits and pieces of relatively extraneous information and proceeds to pass them off with pretense and show – ‘ignorant show-off, charlatan.’” A similar view is given in BDAG 937 s.v. σπερμολόγος: “in pejorative imagery of persons whose communication lacks sophistication and seems to pick up scraps of information here and there scrapmonger, scavenger…Engl. synonyms include ‘gossip’, ‘babbler’, chatterer’; but these terms miss the imagery of unsystematic gathering.”

6 tn The meaning of this phrase is not clear. Literally it reads “strange deities” (see BDAG 210 s.v. δαιμόνιον 1). The note of not being customary is important. In the ancient world what was new was suspicious. The plural δαιμονίων (daimoniwn, “deities”) shows the audience grappling with Paul’s teaching that God was working through Jesus.

7 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

8 tn The participle ἀκούσαντες (akousante") has been taken temporally.

9 tn L&N 33.408 has “some scoffed (at him) Ac 17:32” for ἐχλεύαζον (ecleuazon) here; the imperfect verb has been translated as an ingressive imperfect (“began to scoff”).



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