Acts 17:18
Parallel Verses
New International Version
A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

New Living Translation
He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, "What's this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he's picked up?" Others said, "He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods."

English Standard Version
Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

New American Standard Bible
And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

King James Bible
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then also, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some said, "What is this pseudo-intellectual trying to say?" Others replied, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities"--because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the Resurrection.

International Standard Version
Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some asked, "What is this blabbermouth trying to say?" while others said, "He seems to be preaching about foreign gods." This was because Paul was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

NET Bible
Also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him, and some were asking, "What does this foolish babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods." (They said this because he was proclaiming the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.)

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Also philosophers from the school of Epicurus and others who are called Stoics were debating with him and some of them were saying, “What does this collector of words want?” And others were saying, “He is proclaiming foreign gods”, because he was proclaiming Yeshua and his resurrection to them.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers had discussions with him. Some asked, "What is this babbling fool trying to say?" Others said, "He seems to be speaking about foreign gods." The philosophers said these things because Paul was telling the Good News about Jesus and saying that people would come back to life.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? others, He seems to be a setter forth of new gods, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.

King James 2000 Bible
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Others, He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

American King James Version
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection.

American Standard Version
And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, What would this babbler say? others, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics disputed with him; and some said: What is it, that this word sower would say? But others: He seemeth to be a setter forth of new gods; because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

Darby Bible Translation
But some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers attacked him. And some said, What would this chatterer say? and some, He seems to be an announcer of foreign demons, because he announced the glad tidings of Jesus and the resurrection [to them].

English Revised Version
And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, What would this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.

Webster's Bible Translation
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? some others, He seemeth to be a setter-forth of strange gods: because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection.

Weymouth New Testament
A few of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also encountered him. Some of them asked, "What has this beggarly babbler to say?" "His business," said others, "seems to be to cry up some foreign gods." This was because he had been telling the Good News of Jesus and the Resurrection.

World English Bible
Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also were conversing with him. Some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be advocating foreign deities," because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.

Young's Literal Translation
And certain of the Epicurean and of the Stoic philosophers, were meeting together to see him, and some were saying, 'What would this seed picker wish to say?' and others, 'Of strange demons he doth seem to be an announcer;' because Jesus and the rising again he did proclaim to them as good news,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

17:16-21 Athens was then famed for polite learning, philosophy, and the fine arts; but none are more childish and superstitious, more impious, or more credulous, than some persons, deemed eminent for learning and ability. It was wholly given to idolatry. The zealous advocate for the cause of Christ will be ready to plead for it in all companies, as occasion offers. Most of these learned men took no notice of Paul; but some, whose principles were the most directly contrary to Christianity, made remarks upon him. The apostle ever dwelt upon two points, which are indeed the principal doctrines of Christianity, Christ and a future state; Christ our way, and heaven our end. They looked on this as very different from the knowledge for many ages taught and professed at Athens; they desire to know more of it, but only because it was new and strange. They led him to the place where judges sat who inquired into such matters. They asked about Paul's doctrine, not because it was good, but because it was new. Great talkers are always busy-bodies. They spend their time in nothing else, and a very uncomfortable account they have to give of their time who thus spend it. Time is precious, and we are concerned to employ it well, because eternity depends upon it, but much is wasted in unprofitable conversation.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 18. - And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers for then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, A.V.; would for will, A.V.; preached for preached unto them, A.V. and T.R. The Epicureans (so called from Epicurus, their founder) and the Stoics (so called from the στοά, the colonnade or piazza where Zeno their founder taught) were the most numerous sects at Athens at this time; and their respective tenets were the most opposite to the doctrines of the gospel. Encountered him; σύνεβαλλον. In Acts 4:15 it is followed by πρός, and is properly rendered "conferred;" here it is followed by the dative, and may be understood to mean "disputed" (συμβάλλειν λόγους). It may, however, not less properly be taken in the sense of a hostile encounter of words, as Luke 14:31, and frequently in classical Greek. This babbler (σπερμολόγος); literally, a picker-up of seeds, applied to a crow (Aristoph., 'Ayes,' 232, 579). Plutarch too ('Demet.,' 28) has σπερμολόγοι ὅρνιθες, birds picking up seeds. Hence it is used of idle hangers-on in the markets, who get a livelihood by what they can pick up, and so generally of empty, worthless fellows. Hence it is further applied to those who pick up scraps of knowledge from one or another and "babble them indifferently in all companies" (Johnson's 'Dictionary,' under "Babble"). A setter forth of strange gods. There does not seem to be the least ground for Chrysostom's suggestion that they took Anastasis (the Resurrection) for the name of a goddess. But the preaching of Jesus the Son of God, himself risen from the dead (ver. 31), and hereafter to be the Judge of quick and dead at the general resurrection, was naturally, to both Stoics and Epicureans, a setting forth of strange gods. Χένα δαιμόνια are "foreign deities," or "daemons," inferior gods. The word καταγγελεύς, a setter forth, does not occur elsewhere. But the nearly identical word κατάγγελος is used by Plutarch.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans,.... These were so called from Epicurus, the son of Neocles, who was born 342 years before Christ, and taught philosophy at Athens, in his garden; the principal tenets of which were, that the world was not made by any deity, or with any design, but came into its being and form, through a fortuitous concourse of atoms, of various sizes and magnitude, which met, and jumbled, and cemented together, and so formed the world; and that the world is not governed by the providence of God; for though he did not deny the being of God, yet he thought it below his notice, and beneath his majesty to concern himself with its affairs; and also, that the chief happiness of men lies in pleasure. His followers were called "Epicureans"; of which there have been two sorts; the one were called the strict or rigid "Epicureans", who placed all happiness in the pleasure of the mind, arising from the practice of moral virtue, and which is thought by some to be the true principle of "Epicureans"; the other were called the loose, or the remiss Epicureans, who understood their master in the gross sense, and placed all their happiness in the pleasure of the body, in brutal and sensual pleasure, in living a voluptuous life, in eating and drinking, &c. and this is the common notion imbibed of an Epicurean.

And of the Stoics: the author of this sect was Zeno, whose followers were so called from the Greek word "Stoa", which signifies a portico, or piazza, under which Zeno used to walk, and teach his philosophy, and where great numbers of disciples attended him, who from hence were called "Stoics": their chief tenets were, that there is but one God, and that the world was made by him, and is governed by fate; that happiness lies in virtue, and virtue has its own reward in itself; that all virtues are linked together, and all vices are equal; that a wise and good man is destitute of all passion, and uneasiness of mind, is always the same, and always joyful, and ever happy in the greatest torture, pain being no real evil; that the soul lives after the body, and that the world will be destroyed by fire. Now the philosophers of these two sects

encountered him; the Apostle Paul; they attacked him, and disputed with him upon some points, which were contrary to their philosophy:

and some said, what will this babbler say? this talking, prating fellow? though the word here used does not signify, as some have thought, a sower of words; as if they meant, that the apostle was a dealer is many words, a verbose man, and full of words, but not matter; but it properly signifies a gatherer of seeds; and the allusion is either to a set of idle people, that used to go to markets and fairs, and pick up seeds of corn, that were shook out of sacks, upon which they lived; and so the word came to be used for an idle good for nothing fellow, and for one that picked up tales and fables, and carried them about for a livelihood. So Demosthenes, in a way of reproach, called Aeschincs by this name; and such an one was the apostle reckoned: or the metaphor is taken from little birds, as the sparrow, &c. that pick up seeds, and live upon them, and are of no value and use. Harpocratian says (d), there is a certain little bird, of the jay or jackdaw kind, which is called "Spermologos" (the word here used), from its picking up of seeds, of which Aristophanes makes mention; and that from this a base and contemptible man, and one that lives by others, is called by this name: from whence we may learn in what a contemptuous manner the apostle was used in this polite city, by these men of learning.

Other some, he seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; other than those worshipped in the city of Athens: this was the charge which Melitus brought against Socrates;

"Socrates (says he (e)) has acted an unrighteous part; the gods, whom the city reckons such, he does not, introducing other and new gods.''

Aelianus (f) represents him as censured by Aristophanes, as one that introduced , "strange gods", though he neither knew them, nor honoured them. The reason why they thought the apostle was for bringing in other gods, than which nothing was more foreign from him, was,

because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection: the Syriac version reads, "and his resurrection"; that is, the resurrection of Christ; the Arabic version renders it, "the resurrection from the dead"; the general resurrection; both doubtless were preached by him, see Acts 17:32 Jesus they took for one strange and new God, they had never heard of before, and "Anastasis", or "the resurrection", for another; which need not be wondered at, when they had altars erected for Mercy, Fame, Shame, and Desire; see Gill on Acts 17:16.

(d) Lexicon, p. 271, 272. (e) Laertius in Vita Socratis. (f) Var. Hist. l. 2. c. 13.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

18-21. certain … of the Epicureans—a well-known school of atheistic materialists, who taught that pleasure was the chief end of human existence; a principle which the more rational interpreted in a refined sense, while the sensual explained it in its coarser meaning.

and of the Stoics—a celebrated school of severe and lofty pantheists, whose principle was that the universe was under the law of an iron necessity, the spirit of which was what is called the Deity: and that a passionless conformity of the human will to this law, unmoved by all external circumstances and changes, is the perfection of virtue. While therefore the Stoical was in itself superior to the Epicurean system, both were alike hostile to the Gospel. "The two enemies it has ever had to contend with are the two ruling principles of the Epicureans and Stoics—Pleasure and Pride" [Howson].

What will this babbler say?—The word, which means "a picker-up of seeds," bird-like, is applied to a gatherer and retailer of scraps of knowledge, a prater; a general term of contempt for any pretended teacher.

a setter forth of strange gods—"demons," but in the Greek (not Jewish) sense of "objects of worship."

because he preached Jesus and the resurrection—Not as if they thought he made these to be two divinities: the strange gods were Jehovah and the Risen Saviour, ordained to judge the world.

Acts 17:18 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul at Athens
17So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?…
Cross References
Acts 4:2
They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 17:31
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."

Acts 17:32
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject."

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1 Corinthians 4:10
We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
Treasury of Scripture

Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection.

philosophers.

Romans 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

1 Corinthians 1:20,21 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of …

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, …

encountered.

Acts 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue …

Mark 9:14 And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about …

Luke 11:53 And as he said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees …

babbler. or, base fellow.

Proverbs 23:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of your words.

Proverbs 26:12 See you a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise …

Jesus.

Acts 17:31 Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world …

Acts 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should …

Romans 14:9,10 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he …

1 Corinthians 15:3,4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how …

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