Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 17:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them - Instead of this sentence, the most correct MSS. and versions read simply, προσλαβομενοι δε οἱ Ιουδαιοι . But the Jews taking, etc., leaving out the words, ζηλωσαντες, απειθουντες, which believed not, moved with envy: these words do not appear to be genuine; there is the strongest evidence against them, and they should be omitted.

Certain lewd fellows of the baser sort - This is not a very intelligible translation. The original is, των αγοραιων τινας ανδοας πονηρους . The word αγοραιοι, which we translate the baser sort, is by Hesychius explained, οἱ εν αγορᾳ αναϚρεφομενοι, those who transact business in courts of justice. The same word is used by the Jews in Hebrew letters to signify judges; and גוים של אגוריאות agorioth shel goyim, signifies judges of the Gentiles. These were probably a low kind of lawyers, what we would call pettifoggers, or attorneys without principle, who gave advice for a trifle, and fomented disputes and litigations among the people. The Itala version of the Codex Bezae calls them quosdam forenses, certain lawyers. As the Jews, from their small number, could not easily raise up a mob, they cunningly employed those unprincipled men, who probably had a certain degree of juridical credit and authority, to denounce the apostles as seditious men; and this was, very likely, the reason why they employed those in preference to any others. They were such as always attended forensic litigations, waiting for a job, and willing to defend any side of a question for money. They were wicked men of the forensic tribe.

Gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar - And, after having made this sedition and disturbance, charged the whole on the peaceable and innocent apostles! This is precisely the same way that persecution against the truth and followers of Christ is still carried on. Some wicked man in the parish gets a wicked attorney and a constable to head a mob, which they themselves have raised; and, having committed a number of outrages, abusing men and women, haul the minister of Christ to some magistrate who knows as little of his office as he cares for the Gospel; they there charge the outrages which themselves have committed on the preacher and his peaceable hearers; and the peacemaker, appointed by a good king, according to the wise and excellent regulations of a sound constitution, forgetting whose minister he is, neither administers justice nor maintains truth; but, espousing the part of the mob, assumes, ex officio, the character of a persecutor. The preacher is imprisoned, his hearers fined for listening to that Gospel which has not only made them wise unto salvation, but also peaceable and orderly citizens, and which would have had the same effect on the unprincipled magistrate, the parish squire, and the mob, had they heard it with the same reverence and respect. Had I not witnessed such scenes, and such prostitution of justice, I could not have described them.

Assaulted the house of Jason - This was the place where the apostles lodged; and therefore his goods were clear spoil, and his person fair game. This is a case which frequently occurs where the Gospel is preached in its spirit and power. And, even in this moat favored kingdom, the most scandalous excesses of this kind have been committed, and a justice of the peace has been found to sanction the proceedings; and, when an appeal has been made to the laws, a grand jury has been found capable of throwing out the true bill!

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 695-6


I have been shown the case of Brother P. He had been standing for some time resisting the truth. His sin was not that he did not receive that which he sincerely believed to be error, but that he did not investigate diligently and gain a knowledge of what he was opposing. He took it for granted that Sabbathkeeping Adventists, as a body, were in error. This view was in harmony with his feelings, and he did not see the necessity of finding out for himself by diligently searching the Scriptures with earnest prayer. Had he pursued this course he might now have been far in advance of his present position. He has been too slow to receive evidence and too neglectful in searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so. Paul did not consider those worthy of commendation who resisted his teachings as long as they could until compelled by overwhelming evidence to decide in favor of the doctrine which he taught and which he had received of God. 2T 695.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 221-30

This chapter is based on Acts 17:1-10.

After leaving Philippi, Paul and Silas made their way to Thessalonica. Here they were given the privilege of addressing large congregations in the Jewish synagogue. Their appearance bore evidence of the shameful treatment they had recently received, and necessitated an explanation of what had taken place. This they made without exalting themselves, but magnified the One who had wrought their deliverance. AA 221.1

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