In the Athenian address, as we have previously noticed, two great schools of philosophy are particularly noted, the Stoic and the Epicurean. Now the Stoics were fatalists, and also pantheists; they believed that all the troubles in life came from the body, and that the chief end of life was to subdue every bodily appetite and desire, to live as reasonably and sanely as possible, until the hour of death should arrive, when the troubles of this life would be over, because the body had been left behind Some of the Stoics even went so far as to recommend suicide, so that the soul might escape the body. The Epicureans, on the other hand, “with their thorough-going atomistic materialism would not allow that the soul had any existence apart from the body; on the contrary, they held that the soul came into being at the moment of conception, grew with the body, and at the body’s death was once more dissolved into the atoms from which it first was formed.”
All the best thought of the Greeks and Romans then, agreed in this, that a resurrection of the body was never to be expected and not to be desired. Recognizing then that the resurrection of men would be ridiculous, illogical, and unbelievable to the Greeks of Athens, one might well ask, “Why then should Paul refer to it as he addressed these philosophers concerning the Lord Jesus Christ?” I think that Canon Sparrow-Simpson has given the one true, acceptable answer: “The introduction of such a doctrine into circumstances eminently unfavourable, might seem to be a failure of that insight and versatility with which we know the apostle was usually endowed to a most exceptional degree. His deliberate selection in this instance of a theme unfavourable to his design surely illustrates remarkably his sense of its fundamental character. It could not, consistently with faithfulness to his message, be possibly left out. Bearing in mind what he said about the Resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor. 15, we can well understand why he taught it even in Athens. The fact was that S. Paul had no message without it. He had nothing else to teach. He founded Christianity upon it.”
Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 417, 418.