Epictetus
Epictetus


CHAPTER 9: Our Relationship with God Has Consequences

If what the Philosophers say about the kinship between God and man are true, what else remains for men to do than what Socrates did? Never in reply to the question of what country you are from say that you are an Athenian or a Corinthian. Say instead that you are a citizen of the world. Why even say that you are an Athenian? You might as well say that you belong to the small hut into which your poor body was cast at birth? Is it not plain that you call yourself an Athenian or Corinthian from the place which has a greater authority and comprises not only that small hut and all your family, but even the whole country from which the stock of your progenitors is derived down to you? He then who has observed with intelligence the administration of the world has learned that the greatest and supreme and the most comprehensive community is that which is composed of men and God. From God have descended the seeds not only to my father and grandfather, but to all beings which are generated on the earth and are produced, and particularly to rational beings (for these only are by their nature formed to have communion with God, being by means of reason conjoined with Him). Why shouldn't a man who understands these things call himself a citizen of the world? Why shouldn't he call himself a son of God.

The first paragraph of Chapter 9 eloquently tells us that we are all children of God. No matter our nationality, city, or house-number, we can claim a kind of universal citizenship. Indeed, Christians around the world are united in at least one thing, a belief in the teachings of Jesus.

In the confession of faith in many churches there is a statement that "we believe in one catholic or universal church". This belief has its roots in the Bible. In Ephesians (4:3) Paul writes, "There is ONE body". In other letters he constantly writes of the importance of the unity of the church. We all belong to the "brotherhood of man". In this sense we have bonds of a kind of familial kinship. Ultimately, we are all ruled by God.

Even so, neither Paul nor Epictetus advocate the idea of universal government. In the time of both of these great men, the Roman Empire was the world government - at least what they knew of the world. Both did, however, understand that there is a common spark of life in every being that transcends borders. Is it wrong that there are so many different denominations within Christianity? Perhaps. Yet it may be better to see the commonality among Christian sects and understand that many do work together in mission and evangelism in an effort to make the world a better place.

Chapter 9:

  1. Our Relationship with God Has Consequences
  2. The Power of God Protects (9a)
  3. Sustenance (9b)
  4. The Philosopher's Job (9c)
  5. Our Mission (9d)
  6. Death Not Desired or Feared (9e)
  7. The Worthless Life (9f)
Stoicism and Christianity Index

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This is a translation and explanation of the first book of the Discourses of Epictetus. His words are in regular text, comments are in bold.

Biographical Information on Epictetus


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