Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 24:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For we have found this man, etc. - Here the proposition of the orator commences. He accuses Paul, ant his accusation includes four particulars: -

  1. He is a pest, λοιμος ; an exceedingly bad and wicked man.
  • He excites disturbances and seditions against the Jews.
  • He is the chief of the sect of the Nazarenes, who are a very bad people, and should not be tolerated.
  • He has endeavored to pollute and profane the temple, and we took him in the fact.
  • A pestilent fellow -

    The word λοιμος, pestis - the plague or pestilence, is used by both Greek and Roman authors to signify a very bad and profligate man; we have weakened the force of the word by translating the substantive adjectively. Tertullus did not say that Paul was a pestilent fellow, but he said that he was the very pestilence itself. As in that of Martial, xi. 92: -

    Non vitiosus homo es, Zoile, sed vitium.

    "Thou art not a vicious man, O Zoilus, but thou art vice itself."

    The words λοιμος, and pestis, are thus frequently used. - See Wetstein, Bp. Pearce, and Kypke.

    A mover of sedition - Instead of Ϛασιν, sedition, ABE, several others, with the Coptic, Vulgate, Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Oecumenius, read Ϛασεις, commotions, which is probably the true reading.

    Among all the Jews - Bp. Pearce contends that the words should be understood thus - one that stirreth up tumults Against all the Jews; for, if they be understood otherwise, Tertullus may be considered as accusing his countrymen, as if they, at Paul's instigation, were forward to make insurrections every where. On the contrary, he wishes to represent them as a persecuted and distressed people, by means of Paul and his Nazarenes.

    A ringleader - Πρωτοστατην . This is a military phrase, and signifies the officer who stands on the right of the first rank; the captain of the front rank of the sect of the Nazarenes; της των ναζωραιων αἱρεσεως, of the heresy of the Nazarenes. This word is used six times by St. Luke; viz. in this verse, and in Acts 24:14, and in Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22; but in none of them does it appear necessarily to include that bad sense which we generally assign to the word heresy. - See the note on Acts 5:17, where the subject is largely considered; and see farther on Acts 24:14; (note).

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    We have found this man a pestilent fellow - λοιμὸν loimonThis 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 prōtostatēnThis 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 haireseōsis 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.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    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.
    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 419-22

    This chapter is based on Acts 24.

    Five days after Paul's arrival at Caesarea his accusers came from Jerusalem, accompanied by Tertullus, an orator whom they had engaged as their counsel. The case was granted a speedy hearing. Paul was brought before the assembly, and Tertullus “began to accuse him.” Judging that flattery would have more influence upon the Roman governor than the simple statements of truth and justice, the wily orator began his speech by praising Felix: “Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.” AA 419.1

    Read in context »
    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 3, 421.1

    Persecution cannot do more than cause death, but the life is preserved to eternal life and glory. The persecuting power may take its stand, and command the disciples of Christ to deny the faith, to give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, by making void the law of God. But the disciples may ask, “Why should I do this? I love Jesus, and I will never deny His name.” When the power says, “I will call you a disturber of the peace,” they may answer, “Thus they called Jesus, who was truth, and grace and peace.”—Letter 116, 1896. 3SM 421.1

    Read in context »