Acts 17:5
But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took to them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
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(5) The Jews which believed not.—The latter words are wanting in many MSS., as “filled with envy” are in others.

Certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.—The word “lewd” is used in its older sense, as meaning vile, worthless. At a still earlier stage of its history, as in Chaucer and the Vision of Piers Plowman,

[“How thou lernest the people,

The lered and the lewed, “] i. 2100.

it meant simply the layman, or untaught person, as distinct from the scholar. The “baser sort” answers to a Greek word describing the loungers in the agora, or market-place, ever ready for the excitement of a tumult—the sub-rostrani or turba forensis of Latin writers. Men of such a class, retaining its old habits, are found even among the Christian converts in 2Thessalonians 3:11, “working not at all, but busybodies.”

Assaulted the house of Jason.—The ground of the attack was that he had received the preachers as his guests. The name was locally conspicuous as having belonged to the old hero of the Argonautic expedition, and to the tyrant of Pheræ. It is probable, however, that St. Paul would, in the first instance, take up his abode with a Jew, and that Jason, as in the case of the apostate high priest of 2 Maccabees 4:7, was the Greek equivalent for Joshua or Jesus.

To bring them out to the people.—Thessalonica was a free Greek city, and the Jews accordingly in the first instance intended to bring the matter before the popular ecclesia or assembly.

Acts 17:5-7. But the Jews which believed not, &c. — Although many Jews at Thessalonica received and heartily embraced the truth, there were many who rejected it, and that, as it afterward appeared, with much malignity of heart. For the great success which Paul had in converting the idolatrous Gentiles, raised the envy and indignation of the unbelieving Jews to such a pitch, that, transported with a blind and furious zeal, they hired (των αγοραιων τινας ανδρας πονηρους) certain dissolute fellows who frequented the market-place, and were prepared to do any thing, however bad, for a small reward. These gathered a company — Collected a mob; and soon set all the city in an uproar — Threw it into the greatest confusion; and assaulted the house of Jason — Where Paul and his assistants lodged; and sought to bring them out to the people — Whom they had incensed and enraged against them, and by whom they hoped to see them pulled in pieces. And when they found them not — As they expected, in the house; (the apostles, it seems, having been advised to withdraw, as being most obnoxious;) they drew Jason — A converted Jew; and certain brethren — Who were with him; unto the rulers — To whom they represented them as very criminal, in having received and harboured dangerous persons, not fit to be tolerated, enemies to the public peace, who threw every thing into disorder wherever they came: crying, These that have turned the world upside down — With their new doctrine; are come hither also — To create the same disturbance among us; whom Jason hath received — Hath sheltered under his roof, and so hath made himself responsible for all the mischief they may do here; and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar — Not to any particular decree, for there was as yet no law of the empire against Christianity; but contrary to Cesar’s power in general to make decrees; saying, that there is another king — Not only a king of the Jews, as Christ was himself charged before Pilate with saying; but a universal Monarch, a Lord of all, as Peter called him in the first sermon he preached to the Gentiles, Acts 10:36; for doubtless they alluded to the Christian doctrine concerning the Lordship, or universal dominion of Jesus, which they pretended was inconsistent with the universal lordship of Cesar. It is true, the Roman government, both while it was a commonwealth, and after it came into the hands of the Cesars, was very jealous of any governor under their dominion taking upon him the title of king, and there was an express law against it; but Christ’s kingdom was not of this world. His followers said, indeed, that Jesus was a king, but not an earthly king: not a rival with Cesar, nor one whose ordinances interfered with the decrees of Cesar; but who made it a law of his kingdom, to render unto Cesar the things that were Cesar’s. There was nothing in the doctrine of Christ that tended to the dethroning of princes, or the depriving of them of any of their prerogatives, as they knew very well; and it was against their consciences that they laid any thing of this kind to the charge of Christ’s disciples. And of all people, it ill became the Jews to do it, who hated Cesar and his government, and sought the ruin both of him and it; and who expected a Messiah that should be a temporal prince, and overturn the thrones of kingdoms; and were therefore opposing our Lord Jesus because he did not appear under that character. 17:1-9 The drift and scope of Paul's preaching and arguing, was to prove that Jesus is the Christ. He must needs suffer for us, because he could not otherwise purchase our redemption for us; and he must needs have risen again, because he could not otherwise apply the redemption to us. We are to preach concerning Jesus that he is Christ; therefore we may hope to be saved by him, and are bound to be ruled by him. The unbelieving Jews were angry, because the apostles preached to the Gentiles, that they might be saved. How strange it is, that men should grudge others the privileges they will not themselves accept! Neither rulers nor people need be troubled at the increase of real Christians, even though turbulent spirits should make religion the pretext for evil designs. Of such let us beware, from such let us withdraw, that we may show a desire to act aright in society, while we claim our right to worship God according to our consciences.Moved with envy - That they made so many converts, and met with such success.

Certain lewd fellows of the baser sort - This is an unhappy translation. The word "lewd" is not in the original. The Greek is, "And having taken certain wicked people of those who were about the forum," or market-place. The forum, or market-place, was the place where the idle assembled, and where those were gathered together that wished to be employed, Matthew 20:3. Many of these would be of abandoned character, the idle, the dissipated, and the worthless, and, therefore, just the materials for a mob. It does not appear that they felt any particular interest in the subject; but they were, like other mobs, easily excited, and urged on to any acts of violence. The pretence on which the mob was excited was, that they had everywhere produced disturbance, and that they violated the laws of the Roman emperor, Acts 17:6-7. It may be observed, however, that a mob usually regards very little the cause in which they are engaged. They may be roused either for or against religion, and become as full of zeal for the insulted honor of religion as against it. The profane, the worthless, and the abandoned thus often become violently enraged for the honor of religion, and full of indignation and tumult against those who are accused of violating public peace and order.

The house of Jason - Where Paul and Silas were, Acts 17:7. Jason appears to have been a relative of Paul, and for this reason it was probable that he lodged with him, Romans 16:21.

5-9. the Jews … moved with envy—seeing their influence undermined by this stranger.

lewd fellows of the baser sort—better, perhaps, "worthless market people," that is, idle loungers about the market-place, of indifferent character.

gathered a company—rather, "having raised a mob."

assaulted the house of Jason—with whom Paul and Silas abode (Ac 17:7), one of Paul's kinsmen, apparently (Ro 16:21), and from his name, which was sometimes used as a Greek form of the word Joshua [Grotius], probably a Hellenistic Jew.

sought to bring them—Jason's lodgers.

Believed not; or were not convinced, or persuaded by St. Paul’s sermons and arguments.

Moved with envy, or zeal; which, as fire in the chimney, its due place, is useful and necessary; but when scattered abroad, and out of its place, is most dangerous and destructive.

Lewd fellows; such as stand in markets and public places, gazing, and having nothing to do.

Of the baser sort: to what meat and base acts do not blind zeal and the rage of persecutors descend!

Jason; some think this to be the Greek name which the Hellenists did use for Joshua, or Jesus. This man was one of the dispersion, who came from Judea into Syria, and from thence into Macedonia; and is famous, so far as the word of God is preached, for being the host to Paul and Silas; and is mentioned, Romans 16:21.

To bring them out to the people, for to slay them. Nothing but their blood could quench the thirst of their persecutors; but having no just cause for the spilling of it, they are willing to have others to bear the odium of it. But the Jews which believed not,.... The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions leave out the words, "which believed not"; but whether this character is expressed or not, it is certain that the unbelieving Jews are here intended:

moved with envy; at the success of the apostles, many of their own people and of their proselytes, and some of the better sort being converted by them: or "with zeal"; for what they called the glory of God, but it was not according to knowledge; it was a blind and ignorant zeal, a zeal for the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses, and for the traditions of the elders:

took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort; or of the market folks, who sat and sold things in the market, and were generally of the meaner and vulgar sort, as the word may signify; or who stood idle in the market place, squandering away their time in an idle manner, not caring to work, and so were fit persons, and who could easily be gathered together, for such service as the unbelieving Jews employed them in; or they were a sort of officers and servants, that attended courts of judicature, and cited persons thither, and assisted in the business done there, and who were commonly men of profligate and abandoned lives:

and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar; they raised a mob, and made a clamour, which brought people out of their houses to inquire what was the matter, and so gave great disturbance and uneasiness to the inhabitants:

and assaulted the house of Jason: who by what follows appears to have been a disciple of Christ, a believer in him, and the host of the apostle and his companions, who being an inhabitant of Thessalonica, at least having a dwelling house there, received them into it. This Jason is said to be one of the seventy disciples, and afterwards bishop of Tarsus, but this is not certain; nor whether he was a Jew or a Greek, very probably the former: we read of Jason the brother of Onias the high priest, a Jew,

"But after the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus, called Epiphanes, took the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias laboured underhand to be high priest,'' (2 Maccabees 4:7)

whose name was Jesus, the same with Joshua, but as Josephus (i) says, he called himself Jason; and so this man's Hebrew name might be Jesus or Joshua, and his Greek name Jason; and very likely he was a believer in Christ before the apostle came to Thessalonica, and it may be is the same who is spoken of in Romans 16:21. See Gill on Romans 16:21. Some of the ancients (k) make mention of a disputation between Jason, a Christian Hebrew, and Papiscus, an Alexandrian Jew, but there is no reason to believe that he is the Jason here spoken of:

and sought to bring them out to the people; they expected to have found Paul and Silas in Jason's house, where they lodged, and their intention was to have dragged them out and exposed them to popular fury, to be beaten or stoned by the people; and so the Arabic version reads, "requiring those two apostles, that they might set them before the people"; or put them into the hands of the mob, which they had gathered, to do as they would with them.

(i) Antiqu. l. 12. c. 5. sect. 1.((k) Origen. contr. celsum, 1. 4. p. 199. Cyprian. opera, p. 562. & Hieron. Quaest. in Gen. fol. 65. E. Tom. III.

{3} But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain {a} lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

(3) Although the zeal of the unfaithful seems ever so virtuous, yet at length it is found to have neither truth nor fairness. Yet the wicked cannot do what they wish, for even among themselves God stirs up some, whose help he uses for the deliverance of his own.

(a) Certain companions which do nothing but walk the streets, wicked men, to be hired for every man's money to do any mischief, such as we commonly call the rabble and very cesspools and dunghill knaves of all towns and cities.

Acts 17:5-6. Ζηλώσαντες (see the critical remarks): filled with zeal, and having taken to themselves, namely, as abettors towards producing the intended rising of the people.

ἀγοραῖοι] are market-loungers, idlers, a rabble which, without regular business-avocations, frequents the public places, subrostrani, subbasilicani. See Herod. ii. 141; Plat. Prot. 347 C, and Ast in loc. The distinction which old grammarians make between ἀγοραῖος and ἀγόραιος appears to be groundless from the conflicting character of their statements themselves (Suidas: the former is ὁ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀναστρεφόμενος ἄνθρωπος, the latter ἡ ἡμέρα ἐν ᾗ ἡ ἀγορὰ τελεῖται, whereas Ammonius says: the former denotes τὸν ἐν ἀγορᾷ τιμώμενον, the latter τὸν πονηρὸν τὸν ἐν ἀγορᾷ τεθραμμένον); see Göttling, Accentl. p. 297. Comp. Stephanus, Thes. I. p. 430, ed. Paris.

Whether Jason is an originally Hellenic name, or only a Hellenic transformation of the Jewish Jesus, as according to Joseph. Antt. xii. 5. 1 was certainly the case with the high priest in 2Ma 1:7; 2Ma 4:7 ff., remains entirely undecided from our want of knowledge as to the man himself. It was his house before which they suddenly appeared (ἐπιστάντες, comp. on Luke 2:9), because this was known to them as the place where Paul and Silas were lodged. These two, however, were absent, either accidentally, or designedly after receiving information.

τὸν Ἰάσονα κ. τινας ἀδελφ.] as accomplices, and Jason also as such, and at the same time as the responsible host of the insurgents.

πολιτάρχας] like τοὺς ἄρχοντας, Acts 16:19. Designation of the judicial personages acting as magistrates of the city. Boeckh. Inscript. II. p. 53, No. 1967. πολίταρχος is found in Aeneas Tacticus 26; elsewhere in classic Greek, πολίαρχος. Pind. Nem. vii. 123; Eur. Rhes. 381; Dio Cass. xl. 46.

οἱ τὴν οἰκουμ. ἀναστατ.] who have made the world rebellious! The exaggerative character of the passionate accusation, especially after what had already taken place amidst public excitement at Philippi, is a sufficient reason to set aside the opinion that the accusation bears the colouring of a later time (Baur, Zeller); comp. Acts 24:5.

ἀναστατόω, excito (Acts 21:38; Galatians 5:12), belongs to Alexandrian Greek. Sturz, de Dial. Al. p. 146. Comp. ἀναστάτωσις, Poll. iii. 91.Acts 17:5. ἀπειθ., see critical note.—ζηλώσαντες: the jealousv is apparent, whether the word is read or not (cf. [305]), a jealousy aroused not only by the preaching of a Messiah, but also by the success of such preaching.—προσλαβ., cf. Acts 18:26 for similar sense of the verb, cf. 2Ma 8:1; 2Ma 10:15.—τῶν ἀγοραίωνπον.: “certain vile fellows of the rabble,” R.V.; πον. translated in A.V. “lewd” (A.-. loewede) means simply “people,” hence (1) the common people and (2) the ignorant and rude among the people, cf. Spenser, Shep. Kal. Feb., 245: “But little ease of thy lewd tale I tasted” (Skeat); and in the sense of vicious, Ezekiel 16:27, A. and R.V. (see Lumby’s note in loco—the German Leute is the word nearest akin to it.)—ἀγορ.: hangers-on in the market-place; Blass renders “tabernarii aliique in foro versantes,” see instances in Wetstein (Aristophanes, Xen., Plut.), who compares “canalicolæ” hodie canaille. In Latin, subrostrani, subbasilicani; Germ. Pflastertreter, our Loafer, Grimm-Thayer, Farrar, St. Paul, i., 513, and Nösgen, in loco. On the distinction sometimes but probably fancifully maintained between ἀγοραῖος and ἀγόραιος, see Alford on Acts 19:38; Wendt (1888), in loco; Winer-Schmiedel, p. 69; Grimm-Thayer, sub v. For the accent of πονηρός see also Winer-Schmiedel, u. s.τῇ οἰκίᾳ Ἰ.: in which the Apostles were lodging, or in which the Christian assemblies were held. We know nothing further for certain of this Jason, cf. Romans 16:21 where a Jason is mentioned as a companion of Paul, and amongst his συγγενεῖς. If he was a Jew, as is most probable, we may infer that his Jewish name was Joshua or Jesus, but that he used the name Jason, the nearest Greek equivalent, in his intercourse with Greeks and Hellenists; cf. for a similar change of the two names 2Ma 1:7; 2Ma 4:7, and cf. Jos., Ant., xii., 5, 1, where we read that Jason’s real name was Joshua, but that he changed it into the former, owing no doubt to his Hellenising; see Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 184, note; Wendt and Zöckler express themselves doubtfully, and hold that the name may be here a Greek name, and its bearer not a Jew at all.—ἐπιστάντες, cf. Acts 4:1, Acts 6:12, Friedrich, p. 87.—δῆμον: to a public meeting, or to the crowd who shall inflict vengeance on them, there and then (so Weiss, Lumby); C. and H. take it of the free assembly of the people, so Ramsay. A true cause does not need such methods or supporters, “non tali auxilio nee defensoribus istis”.

[305] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.5. But the Jews which believed not] In the oldest MSS. the last three words are unrepresented in the Greek. These are very likely a gloss which has crept into the later texts, the reader who made it on his margin wishing to note that not all the Jews were adverse to the Apostle.

moved with envy (jealousy)] They did not like to see numbers of men and women drawn away from their party.

certain lewd fellows of the baser sort] The Greek is more nearly represented in modern English by “vile fellows of the rabble.” ἀγοραῖος, “of the rabble,” is properly the man who having no calling lounges about the ἀγορὰ, the market-place, in the hope of picking up a chance living, and who is ready for anything bad or good that may present itself. We have no English word sufficiently dignified to use for such a term in translation. “Loafer” comes nearest, but of course is too colloquial. The word “lewd” meant in old English “people,” but afterwards came to signify (1) “the common people” and (2) “the ignorant and rude among the people,” which is the sense intended by the A. V. The word nearest akin to “lewd” is the Germ. leute = people.

set all the city on an uproar] There is no word in the Greek for “all.” The Jews in Thessalonica must have been numerous and influential to bring about such a tumult, but they preferred to raise (see Acts 17:7) the cry that the new teachers were enemies of the Roman power. This would gain them a larger following.

the house of Jason] Manifestly the host of Paul and Silas. Beyond what is said of him in the following verses (6–9) we know nothing. The name is found, Romans 16:21, in a list of those whom St Paul speaks of as his “kinsmen,” but this may be quite a different person. He is most likely to have been a Jew, whose proper name perhaps was Joseph, and Jason, which is Greek, may be only that which he used in his intercourse with Gentiles.

bring them out to the people] So that the excited mob might inflict summary vengeance on them.Acts 17:5. Ἰουδαῖοι, the Jews) when so great progress was made. “Common-place (practical observation): those who are foremost in persecuting the followers of the Gospel, are those who alone boast themselves as holy and masters of religion.”—Jonas.—ἀγοραίων) those who used to stand in the ἀγορά, or market-place, ready to undertake any work for pay.—[τονηροὺς, wicked) Truth does not use the help of such men.—V. g.]—ὀχλοποιήσαντες) ὄχλος, a band, a number of men.—ἐθορύβουν) θορυβέω used actively, as in Wis 18:19.Verse 5. - Jews for Jews which believed not, A.V. and T.R.; being moved for moved, A.V.; jealousy for envy, A.V. (see Acts 13:45, note); vile fellows of the rabble for lewd fellows of the baser sort, A.V.; gathering a crowd, set for gathered a company and set, A.V.; the city for all the city, A.V.; assaulting... they for assaulted... and, A.V.; forth for out, A.V. The house of Jason; where it appears from ver. 7, as well as from this verse, Paul and Silas were lodging. If, as is very probable, the Jason here mentioned is the same person as the Jason of Romans 16:21, it would seem that he joined the apostle, either at this time or on his visit to Macedonia mentioned in Acts 20:3, and went with him to Corinth, where the Epistle to the Romans was written. He was a relation, συγγενής, of St. Paul's, and doubtless a Jew. Jason was a Romanized form of the name Jesus, or Joshua, as we see in the case of the high priest, the brother of Chins (Josephus, ' Ant. Jud.,' 12. 5:1). It was borne also by Jason of Cyrene, the Jewish historian (2 Macc. 2:23), and by another mentioned in 1 Macc. 7. 1:17, etc. St. Luke seems to introduce Jason as a well-known person. Of the baser sort (ἀγοραίων)

From ἀγορά, the market-place; hence loungers in the market-place; the rabble. Cicero calls them subrostrani, those who hung round the rostra, or platform for speakers in the forum; and Plautus, subbasilicani, the loungers round the court-house or exchange. The word occurs only here and Acts 19:38, on which see note.

Gathered a company (ὀχλοποιήσαντες)

Rev., better, a crowd. Only here in New Testament.

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