Acts 24:5
For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
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(5) We have found this man a pestilent fellow.—The Greek gives the more emphatic substantive, a pestilence, a plague. The advocate passes from flattering the judge to invective against the defendant, and lays stress on the fact that he is charged with the very crimes which Felix prided himself on repressing. St. Paul, we may well believe, did not look like a sicarius, or brigand, but Tertullus could not have used stronger language had he been caught red-handed in the fact.

A mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world.—The “world” is, of course, here, as elsewhere, the Roman empire. (See Note on Luke 2:1.) The language may simply be that of vague invective, but we may perhaps read between the lines some statements gathered, in preparing the case, from the Jews of Thessalonica (Acts 17:6) and Ephesus (Acts 21:28) who had come to keep the Feast of Pentecost at Jerusalem.

A ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.—This is the first appearance of the term of reproach as transferred from the Master to the disciples. (Comp. Note on John 1:46.) It has continued to be used by both Jews and Mahometans; and it has been stated (Smith’s Dict. of Bible, Art. “Nazarene”), that during the Indian Mutiny of 1855 the Mahometan rebels relied on a supposed ancient prophecy that the Nazarenes would be expelled from the country after ruling for a hundred years.

24:1-9 See here the unhappiness of great men, and a great unhappiness it is, to have their services praised beyond measure, and never to be faithfully told of their faults; hereby they are hardened and encouraged in evil, like Felix. God's prophets were charged with being troublers of the land, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that he perverted the nation; the very same charges were brought against Paul. The selfish and evil passions of men urge them forward, and the graces and power of speech, too often have been used to mislead and prejudice men against the truth. How different will the characters of Paul and Felix appear at the day of judgement, from what they are represented in the speech of Tertullus! Let not Christians value the applause, or be troubled at the revilings of ungodly men, who represent the vilest of the human race almost as gods, and the excellent of the earth as pestilences and movers of sedition.We have found this man a pestilent fellow - λοιμὸν loimon This word is commonly applied to a plague or pestilence, and then to a man who corrupts the morals of others, or who is turbulent, and an exciter of sedition. Our translation somewhat weakens the force of the original expression. Tertullus did not say that he was a pestilent fellow, but that he was the very pestilence itself. In this he referred to their belief that he had been the cause of extensive disturbances everywhere among the Jews.

And a mover of sedition - An exciter of tumult. This they pretended he did by preaching doctrines contrary to the laws and customs of Moses, and exciting the Jews to tumult and disorder.

Throughout the world - Throughout the Roman empire, and thus leading the Jews to violate the laws, and to produce tumults, riots, and disorder.

And a ringleader - πρωτοστάτην prōtostatēn. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is properly a military word, and denotes "one who stands first in an army, a standard-bearer, a leader, a commander." The meaning is, that Paul had been so active, and so prominent in preaching the gospel, that he had been a leader, or the principal person in extending the sect of the Nazarenes.

Of the sect - The original word here αἱρέσεως haireseōs is the word from which we have derived the term "heresy." It is, however, properly translated "sect, or party," and should have been so translated in Acts 24:14. See the notes on Acts 5:17.

Of the Nazarenes - This was the name usually given to Christians by way of contempt. They were so called because Jesus was of Nazareth.

5-8. a pestilent fellow—a plague, or pest.

and a mover of sedition among all the Jews—by exciting disturbances among them.

throughout the world—(See on [2104]Lu 2:1). This was the first charge; and true only in the sense explained on Ac 16:20.

a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes—the second charge; and true enough.

A pestilent fellow; a pest, or plague, the abstract being put for the concrete, as implying, that no word he could use could properly signify the mischievousness of that man, whom he falsely charges with

sedition (not that the Jews would have disliked him for that, had it been true, but) to make St. Paul the more odious, and in danger of his life.

The sect, or heresy, which in common use was then taken more favourably, for any doctrine.

Of the Nazarenes; of the Christians; for they who out of Judea were called Christians, in Judea were called Nazarenes. The Jews did call our Saviour and his followers thus, it being accounted an ignominious term; and they who were born at Nazareth disgraced by it, as appears by Nathanael’s question, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? John 1:46. Yet this name is most glorious, as imposed upon our Saviour by God himself, Matthew 2:23.

For we have found this man a pestilent fellow,.... Pointing to Paul, the prisoner at the bar; the word here used signifies the "pest" or "plague" itself; and it was usual with orators among the Romans, when they would represent a man as a very wicked man, as dangerous to the state, and unworthy to live in it, to call him the pest of the city, or of the country, or of the empire, as may be observed in several places in Cicero's Orations.

And a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world: sedition was severely punished by the Romans, being what they carefully watched and guarded against, and was what the Jews were supposed to be very prone unto; and Tertullus would suggest, that the several riots, and tumults, and seditions, fomented by the Jews, in the several parts of the Roman empire, here called the world, were occasioned by the apostle: the crime charged upon him is greatly aggravated, as that not only he was guilty of sedition, but that he was the mover of it, and that he stirred up all the Jews to it, and that in every part of the world, or empire, than which nothing was more false; the Jews often raised up a mob against him, but he never rioted them, and much less moved them against the Roman government: and to this charge he adds,

and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; not Nazarites, as Calvin seems to understand the passage; for these were men of great repute among the Jews, and for Paul to be at the head of them would never be brought against him as a charge: but Nazarenes, that is, Christians, so called by way of contempt and reproach, from Jesus of Nazareth; which name and sect being contemptible among the Romans, as well as Jews, are here mentioned to make the apostle more odious.

For we have found this man a {c} pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a {d} ringleader of the sect of the {e} Nazarenes:

(c) Literally, a plague.

(d) As one would say, a ringleader, or a flag bearer.

(e) So they scoffingly called the Christians, taking the name from the towns where they thought that Christ was born, whereupon it happened that Julian the apostate called Christ a Galilean.

Acts 24:5-8. Καὶ κατὰἐπὶ σέ is to be deleted. See the critical remarks.

εὑρόντες γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] The structure of the sentence is anacoluthic, as Grotius already saw. Luke has departed from the construction; instead of continuing, Acts 24:6, with ἐκρατήσαμεν αὐτόν, he, led astray by the preceding relative construction, brings the principal verb also into connection with the relative. Comp. Winer, pp. 330, 528 [E. T. 442, 710]; Buttmann, p. 252 [E. T. 293]. Comp. on Romans 16:27. The γάρ is namely; see on Matthew 1:18.

Examples of λοιμός and pestis, as designating men bringing destruction, may be seen in Grotius and Wetstein. Grimm on 1Ma 10:61.

τὴν οἰκουμ.] is here, in the mouth of a Roman, before a Roman tribunal, to be understood of the Roman orbis terrarum. See on Luke 2:1.

πρωτοστάτην] front-rank man, file-leader. Thuc. v. 71. 2, and Krüger in loc.

τῶν Ναζωραίων] a contemptuous appellation of Christians as the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, whose presumed descent from Nazareth stamped Him as a false Messiah (John 7:42).

ὃς καὶ τ. ἱερὸν κ.τ.λ.] who even the temple, etc. Comp. ἔτι τε καί, Acts 21:28.

Acts 24:8. παρʼ οὗ] refers, as the preceding mention of Lysias is spurious, to Paul, to whom, however, it could not have been referred, were the preceding portion genuine, in opposition to Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Limborch, Rosenmüller, who have, moreover, arbitrarily understood ἀνακρίνας of a quaestio per tormenta; it denotes judicial examination generally.

ὧν] = a by attraction.

That we have not before us the speech of Tertullus in a quite exact reproduction is obvious of itself, as the source of the narrative could only be the communication of Paul. The beginning, so much in contrast with the rest, is doubtless most faithfully reproduced, impressing itself, as it naturally did, alike as the commencement of the imposing trial and by reason of the singularly pompous flattery, with the most literal precision on the recollection of the apostle and, through his communication, on the memory of Luke.

Acts 24:5. εὑρόντες γὰρ τὸν ἄνδραὂς καὶὅν καὶ ἐκρατ.: on the anacolouthon, Blass, Gram. des N.G., p. 277, Winer-Moulton, xlv., 6 b. Blass remarks that Luke gives no address so carelessly as that of Tertullus, but may not the anacolouthon here be the exact expression of the orator’s invective? see critical note.—λοιμόν: 1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Samuel 25:17; 1 Samuel 25:25, Psalm 1:1 (plural), 1Ma 15:21; 1Ma 10:61; 1Ma 15:3 R, ἄνδρες λοιμοί (cf. Proverbs 24:9; Proverbs 29:8 A). So in classical Greek Dem., and in Latin pestis, Ter., Cic., Sallust. In 1Ma 10:6 A, ἄνδρες παράνομοι is a further description of “the pestilent fellows” (so 1 Samuel 2:12, υἱοὶ λοιμοί = ἀνὴρ ὁ παράνομος, 2 Samuel 16:7).—κινοῦντα στασιν, cf. Jos., B.J., ii., 9, 4. κιν. ταραχήν.: not against the Romans but amongst the Jews themselves—such a charge would be specially obnoxious to Felix, who prided himself on keeping order.—τὴν οἰκ.: the Roman empire, see on p. 270, cf. Acts 17:6, and Acts 21:28; see addition in [378] text.—πρωτοστάτης: the τε closely connecting the thought that the prisoner does all this as the leader, etc., literally one who stands in the front rank, so often in classical Greek, in LXX, Job 15:24, AB.—τῶν Ναζ.: “the disciple is not above his Master,” and the term is applied as a term of contempt to the followers of Jesus, as it had been to Jesus Himself, Who was stamped in the eyes of the Jews as a false Messiah by His reputed origin from Nazareth, John 1:46; John 7:41-42; see for the modern employment of the name amongst Jews and Mohammedans Plumptre, in loco, and further, Harnack, History of Dogma, i., 301, E.T. Blass compares the contemptuous term used by the Greeks, Χρηστιανοί, Acts 11:26.—αἱρέσεως, see above on Acts 5:17, all references to the question of law, Acts 23:6; Acts 23:29, were purposely kept in the background, and stress laid upon all which threatened to destroy the boasted “peace” (Weiss).

[378] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

5. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow] The Greek literally says “a pestilence.” The same word in the plural is translated “pestilent fellows” in 1Ma 10:61, and it is further explained there by “men of a wicked life.” When they say “we have found” it is implied that they have already spent some pains in detecting the evil ways of the prisoner.

and a mover of sedition] (insurrections, with oldest MSS. and Rev. Ver.). The first charge had been one of general depravity. On coming to particulars Tertullus puts that first which would most touch the Roman power, and against which Felix had already shewn himself to be severe. Insurrections were of such common occurrence that one man might at this time be readily the prime mover in many.

among all the Jews throughout the world] We must bear in mind that Paul had been assailed at a time when Jerusalem was full of strangers come to the feast. It is not improbable that from some of the Jewish visitors particulars had been gathered about the Apostle’s troubles at Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus and elsewhere, which in the minds and on the lips of his accusers would be held for seditious conduct, conduct which had brought him at times under the notice of the tribunals. This Tertullus would put forward in its darkest colours. “The world” at this time meant “the whole Roman Empire.” Cp. Cæsar’s decree (Luke 2:1) that “all the world” should be taxed.

a ringleader] The word is used in classical Greek of the front-rank men in an army.

of the sect of the Nazarenes] The adjective is used as a term of reproach equivalent to “the followers of him of Nazareth,” which origin was to the mind of the Jews enough to stamp Jesus as one of the many false Messiahs. Cp. on the despised character of Nazareth, John 1:46.

Acts 24:5. Εὑρόντες) for εὕρομεν.—ἄνδρα λοιμὸν) So 1Ma 15:3, ἄνδρες λοιμοί.—στάσεις) So the best MSS.[136] Others read ΣΤΆΣΙΝ. Sedition was an invidious term among the Romans and Jews.—πρωτοστάτην) a ringleader.—Ναζωραίων, of the Nazarenes) A name (nickname) of Christians, taken from the surname applied to our Lord, which Paul does not refuse: Acts 24:14.

[136] Therefore in this passage both the margin of Ed. 2 withdraws from the larger Ed., and the Germ. Vers. agrees with the more recent decision.—E. B.

Στάσεις is the reading of ABEe Vulg. Memph. None of the oldest authorities, except both Syr. Versions and Theb., support the στάσιν of Rec. Text and Tisck.—E. and T.

Verse 5. - Insurrection for sedition, A.V. and T.R. We have found (εὑρόντες). The construction of the sentence is an anacoluthon. The participle is not followed, as it should be, by a finite verb, ἐκρατήσαμεν (in ver. 6), but the construction is changed by the influence of the interposed sentence, "who moreover assayed to profane the temple," and so, instead of ἐκρατήσαμεν αὐτόν, we have ὅν καὶ ἐκρατήσαμεν. A pestilent fellow (λοιμόν); literally, a pestilence; as we say, "a pest," "a plague," or "a nuisance," like the Latin pestis. It only occurs here in the New Testament, but is of frequent use in the LXX., as e.g. 1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 10:27, and 1 Sam 25:25, υἱοὶ λοιμοὶ, "sons of Belial;" 1 Macc. 10:61 1 Macc. 15:3 ἄνδρες λοιμοί: and 15:21, simply λοιμοὶ (rendered "pestilent fellows" in the A.V.), and elsewhere as the rendering of other Hebrew words. It is occasionally used also in this sense by classical writers. A mover of insurrections (στάσεις, R.T.). This was the charge most likely to weigh with a Roman procurator in the then disturbed and turbulent state of the Jewish mind (camp. Luke 23:2; John 19:12). Felix himself had had large experience of Jewish insurrections. The Jewish riots at Philippi (Acts 16:20), at Thessalonica (Acts 17:6), at Corinth (Acts 18:12), at Ephesus (Acts 19:29), and at Jerusalem (Acts 21:30), would give color to the accusation. The world (ἥ οἰκουμένη). The Roman, or civilized, world (Luke it. l; Luke 4:5, etc.). Ringleader; πρωτοστάτης, only here in the New Testament, but used by the LXX. in Job 15:24, and not uncommon in classical Greek, as a military term, equivalent to the first, i.e. the right-hand man in the line. Also, in the plural, the soldiers in the front rank. The sect of the Nazarenes. As our Lord was contemptuously called "The Nazarene "(Matthew 26:71), so the Jews designated his disciples" Nazarenes." They would not admit that they were Christians, i.e. disciples of the Messiah. Acts 24:5Pestilent fellow (λοιμὸν)

Lit., a plague or pest.

Ringleader (πρωτοστάτην)

Originally, one who stands first on the right of a line; a file-leader. Thus Thucydides says that all armies when engaging are apt to thrust outward their right wing; and adds, "The first man in the front rank (ὁ πρωτοστάτης) of the right wing is originally responsible for the deflection" (v., 71). Here, of course, metaphorically, as A. V. and Rev. Only here in New Testament.

Sect (εἱρέσεως)

See on heresies, 2 Peter 2:1.


The only passage in scripture where this term is used to denote the Christians. See on Matthew 2:23.

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