Acts 17:6
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
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(6) Unto the rulers of the city.—The Greek term here, politarchæ, is a very peculiar one, and occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, nor, indeed, in any classical writer. Aristotle, whose Politics well-nigh exhausts the list of all known official titles in Greek cities, does not mention it, although he gives an analogous title (Politophylakes) as found at Larissa and elsewhere (Pol. v. 6). An inscription on an arch that still spans (or did so till quite lately) one of the streets of the modern city Saloniki, shows it to have been a special official title of that city, and St. Luke’s use of it may, therefore, be noted as an instance of his accuracy in such matters. The inscription is probably of the date of Vespasian, but it contains some names that are identical with those of the converts in the apostolic history, Sosipater (“Sopater,” Acts 20:4), Gaius (Acts 19:29), and Secundus (Acts 20:4). It would seem from the inscription that, as with the Archons of Athens, there were seven magistrates who bore the title.

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.These that have turned the world upside down - That have excited commotion and disturbance in other places. The charge has been often brought against the gospel that it has been the occasion of confusion and disorder. 6. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers—literally, "the politarchs"; the very name given to the magistrates of Thessalonica in an inscription on a still remaining arch of the city—so minute is the accuracy of this history.

crying, These that have turned the world upside down—(See on [2039]Ac 16:20).

Being withdrawn, to avoid the popular rage against them, they charge innovation upon them, as knowing how jealous rulers are of any alteration. Thus whatsoever mischief befell the state, or whatsoever was odious and abominable, was in the primitive times still charged upon the Christians. The enemies of God’s church clothe his servants in beasts’ skins, (painting and representing them in what forms they please), that every one may hunt and worry them.

And when they found them not,.... In Jason's house, as they expected:

they drew Jason, and certain brethren: the Syriac version adds, "who were there": in Jason's house, who either came along with the apostle, and lodged with him there; or they were some of the inhabitants of Thessalonica, who were lately converted, and were come thither in order to have some Christian conversation; these with Jason the rabble seized on, and in a rude and violent manner dragged them out of the house, and had them,

unto the rulers of the city: the civil magistrates, the judges in courts of judicature, to which some of these belonged;

crying in a very noisy and clamorous way;

these that have turned the world upside down: the Syriac version reads, "the whole earth": the apostles, according to the cry of these men, had thrown the whole world into disorder, and had made disturbances in kingdoms and cities, wherever they came; and had made innovations in religion, and turned men from their old way of worship to another; these; say they,

are come hither also; to make the like disorders and disturbances, as elsewhere.

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the {b} world upside down are come hither also;

(b) Into whatever country and place they come, they cause sedition and tumult.

Acts 17:6. ἔσυρον: the word indicates the violence of the mob.—πολιτάρχας: the word is an excellent instance of the accuracy of St. Luke; it is not used by any classical author of the magistrates of any city (in classical Greek we have only the form πολίαρχος and πολίταρχος), but an inscription on an arch spanning a street of the modern city has been preserved containing the title (and also containing the names which occur among the names of St. Paul’s converts, Sosipater, Gaius, Secundus), see Bœckh, C. I. Gr[306], 1967. The arch is assigned to the time of Vespasian, and the entablature preserved by the British consul at the instance of Dean Stanley in 1876 is in the British Museum, see Blass, in loco, Speaker’s Commentary, C. and H. (small edition), p. 258, Knabenbauer in loco, and for other inscription evidence, Zahn, Einleitung, i., 151. But more recently Burton (Amer. Jour. of Theol., July, 1898, pp. 598–632) has collected no less than seventeen inscriptions on which the word πολιτάρχαι or πολιταρχοῦντες (πολειταρχ-), the latter more frequently, occurs: of these thirteen are referred to Macedonia, and of these again five to Thessalonica, extending from the beginning of the first to the middle of the second century, A.D. The number of the politarchs in Thessalonica varies from five to six (see Theol. Literaturzeitung, 1899, 2, for notice of Burton’s article by Schürer), and on spelling, Winer-Schmiedel, p. 82 note.—τὴν οἰκουμένην: no doubt in the political sense “the Roman Empire” since the charge was a political one, and was naturally exaggerated through jealousy and excitement. There is therefore no need for the hypercritical remarks of Baur, Zeller, Overbeck, against the truthfulness or accuracy of the expression.—ἀναστατώσαντες: only in Luke and Paul, Acts 21:38, Galatians 5:12, see LXX, Daniel 7:23 (in a different sense), Deuteronomy 29:27, Græc. Venet. (Grimm-Thayer, sub v.), and several times in the O.T., fragments of Aquila, Symmachus, and in Eustathius, see also Hatch and Redpath, sub v.). οὗτοι, contemptuous.

[306] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

6. they drew Jason] The word is expressive of considerable violence. Better, “dragged.” It is used of Saul (Acts 8:3) “haling” men and women, and committing them to prison.

certain brethren] We see therefore that in these three weeks a congregation or church had been formed.

the rulers of the city] The title πολιτάρχης is found nowhere in literature but in this chapter. But an inscription connected with this very city of Thessalonica has been preserved on an arch which spans a street of the modern city. It contains some names which occur as the names of St Paul’s converts, Sosipater, Gaius, Secundus, but the inscription is probably not earlier than the time of Vespasian (see Boeckh, Inscr. 2, p. 52, n. 1967). There the title of the magistrates is given in this precise form; a striking confirmation of the truthfulness of the account before us.

the world] Lit. “the inhabited earth.” A phrase used in later Greek to signify the whole Roman Empire, which then embraced a very large portion of the known world (cp. Luke 2:1). It speaks much for the spread of Christianity and its powerful influence, that words like these should come from the lips of enemies.

Acts 17:6. Μὴ εὑρόντες, when they found them not) Acts 17:10.—τὸν Ἰάσονα, Jason) Zeal breaking out into a flame, when it does not find those whom it seeks, lays hold of whatever persons are nearest.—βοῶντως, crying) with vehemence.—οἱ) They speak as of men very well known, and yet in a vague and confused manner. Comp. ch. Acts 21:28 : In Jerusalem, the Jews “crying out, Men of Israel, help, This is the man” (Paul), etc.—ἀναστατώσαντες, who turn upside down) A calumny.

Verse 6. - Dragged for drew, A.V.; before for unto, A.V. Certain brethren; some of the Thessalonian Christians who happened to be in the house of Jason. The rulers of the city (τοὺς πολιτάρχας, and ver. 8). This is a remarkable instance of St. Luke's accuracy. The word is unknown in Greek literature. But an inscription on an ancient marble arch, still standing in Thessalonica, or Saloniki, records that Thessalonica was governed by seven politarchs (see the inscription in Conybeare and Howson, col. 1. p. 360). Thessalonica was a Greek city, governed by its own laws. Hence the mention of the δῆμος in ver. 5. The polit-archs also were Greek, not Roman, magistrates. Crying; βοῶντες, often followed by μεγάλῃ φωνῇ (Acts 8:7; Mark 15:34, etc.), but whether so followed or not, always meaning "a loud cry" or "shout" (Acts 21:34; Luke 3:4, etc.). Turned the world upside down; ἀναστατόω is used in the New Testament only by St. Luke and St. Paul (Acts 21:38; Galatians 5:12); to unsettle or disturb; i.e. to make people literally ἀναστάτους homeless, outcasts, from their former settlements, or, metaphorically, unsettled in their allegiance to their civil or spiritual rulers, is the meaning of the word. In the mouth of St. Paul's accusers it contains a distinct charge of sedition and disobedience to the Roman law. The world (τὴν οἰκουμένην the Roman empire (Luke 2:1), viewed as coextensive with the habitable globe (see ver. 31; Acts 19:20; Acts 11:28, note). Acts 17:6Rulers of the city (πολιτάρχας)

Another illustration of Luke's accuracy. Note that the magistrates are called by a different name from those at Philippi. Thessalonica was not a colony, but a free city (see on colony, Acts 16:12), and was governed by its own rulers, whose titles accordingly did not follow those of Roman magistrates. The word occurs only here and Acts 17:8, and has been found in an inscription on an arch at Thessalonica, where the names of the seven politarchs are mentioned. The arch is thought by antiquarians to have been standing in Paul's time.

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