elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25; Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. Here it refers to the leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes. The Sanhedrin was made up of men from these three groups.—Mt 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 41; 28:12; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man.”
elders: Here referring to leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes.—See study note on Mt 16:21.
a public speaker: Or “a lawyer; an attorney.” The Greek word rheʹtor originally had the meaning “public speaker; orator” but also came to refer to “a speaker in court; an advocate; an attorney.” Tertullus presented the Jews’ case against Paul before Governor Felix in Caesarea.
the inhabited earth: In a broad sense, the Greek word for “inhabited earth” (oi·kou·meʹne) refers to the earth as the dwelling place of mankind. (Lu 4:5; Ac 17:31; Ro 10:18; Re 12:9; 16:14) In the first century, this term was also used in reference to the vast Roman Empire, where the Jews had been dispersed.—Ac 24:5.
the Nazarene: A descriptive epithet applied to Jesus and later to his followers. (Ac 24:5) Since many Jews had the name Jesus, it was common to add a further identification; the practice of associating people with the places from which they came was customary in Bible times. (2Sa 3:2, 3; 17:27; 23:25-39; Na 1:1; Ac 13:1; 21:29) Jesus lived most of his early life in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, so it was natural to use this term regarding him. Jesus was often referred to as “the Nazarene,” in different situations and by various individuals. (Mr 1:23, 24; 10:46, 47; 14:66-69; 16:5, 6; Lu 24:13-19; Joh 18:1-7) Jesus himself accepted the name and used it. (Joh 18:5-8; Ac 22:6-8) On the sign that Pilate placed on the torture stake, he wrote in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek: “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.” (Joh 19:19, 20) From Pentecost 33 C.E. onward, the apostles as well as others often spoke of Jesus as the Nazarene or as being from Nazareth.—Ac 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 10:38; 26:9; see also study note on Mt 2:23.
a pest: Or “a troublemaker.” Lit., “a pestilence.” The only other occurrence of this Greek word in the Christian Greek Scriptures is at Lu 21:11, where it is used about literal pestilences, or widespread diseases. Here at Ac 24:5, it is used figuratively about a person perceived to be “a pest,” one who causes problems, a troublemaker or public menace.
the inhabited earth: See study note on Lu 2:1.
sect: The Greek word here rendered “sect,” haiʹre·sis (from which the English word “heresy” is derived), apparently had the original meaning “a choice.” That is how the word is used at Le 22:18 in the Septuagint, which speaks about Israelites offering gifts “according to all their choice.” As used in the Christian Greek Scriptures, this term refers to a group of people holding to distinctive views or doctrines. It is used to describe the two prominent branches of Judaism—the Pharisees and the Sadducees. (Ac 5:17; 15:5; 26:5) Non-Christians called Christianity “a sect” or “the sect of the Nazarenes,” possibly viewing it as a breakaway group from Judaism. (Ac 24:5, 14; 28:22) The Greek word haiʹre·sis was also applied to groups that developed within the Christian congregation. Jesus emphasized and prayed that unity would prevail among his followers (Joh 17:21), and the apostles sought to preserve the oneness of the Christian congregation (1Co 1:10; Jude 17-19). If the members of the congregation separated into groups or factions, this would disrupt the unity. Therefore, in describing such groups, the Greek word haiʹre·sis came to be used in the negative sense of a faction or a divisive group, a sect. Disunity in belief could give rise to fierce disputing, dissension, and even enmity. (Compare Ac 23:7-10.) So sects were to be avoided and were considered a manifestation of “the works of the flesh.”—Ga 5:19-21; 1Co 11:19; 2Pe 2:1.
the Nazarenes: See study note on Mr 10:47.
A few later Greek manuscripts and some ancient translations into other languages, with slight variations in wording, add the following as parts of verses 6-8: “and wanted to judge according to our Law. (7) But Lysias the military commander came up and with great force took him out of our hands, (8) commanding his accusers to come to you.” However, these words do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and are apparently not part of the original text of Acts.—See App. A3.
I am rendering sacred service to: Or “I am worshipping.” The Greek verb la·treuʹo basically denotes serving but may be rendered “to worship” in some contexts. In Scriptural usage, the Greek word la·treuʹo generally refers to serving God or to service connected with worship of him (Mt 4:10; Lu 1:74; 2:37; 4:8; Ro 1:9; Php 3:3; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14; 12:28; Re 7:15; 22:3), including service at the sanctuary or temple (Heb 8:5; 9:9; 10:2; 13:10). In a few cases, it refers to false worship—rendering service to, or worshipping, created things.—Ac 7:42; Ro 1:25.
resurrection: The Greek word a·naʹsta·sis literally means “raising up; standing up.” It is used about 40 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures with reference to the resurrection of the dead. (Some examples are found at Mt 22:31; Ac 2:31; 4:2; 17:18, 32; 23:6; 1Co 15:12, 13.) In the Septuagint at Isa 26:19, the verb form of a·naʹsta·sis is used to render the Hebrew verb “to live” in the expression “your dead will live.”—See Glossary.
the army officer: Or “the centurion.” A centurion was in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army.
Bernice: The sister of Herod Agrippa II. It was widely rumored that Agrippa carried on an incestuous relationship with her. She later became the mistress of Titus before he became Roman emperor.
Drusilla: The third and youngest daughter of the Herod mentioned at Ac 12:1, that is, Herod Agrippa I. She was born about 38 C.E. and was a sister of Agrippa II, Bernice, and Mariamne III. (See study note on Ac 25:13 and Glossary, “Herod.”) Governor Felix was her second husband. She was first married to Syrian King Azizus of Emesa but divorced him and married Felix about the year 54 C.E., or when she was about 16 years old. It is possible that she was present when Paul spoke before Felix “about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come.” (Ac 24:25) When Felix turned the governorship over to Festus, he left Paul in custody “to gain favor with the Jews,” which some think was done to please his youthful wife, who was Jewish.—Ac 24:27.
Seventy-one members constituted the Jewish high court called the Great Sanhedrin. It was located in Jerusalem. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”) According to the Mishnah, the seating was arranged in a semicircle three rows deep, and two scribes were present to record the court’s rulings. Some of the architectural features shown here are based on a structure discovered in Jerusalem that is considered by some to be the Council Chamber from the first century.—See Appendix B12, map “Jerusalem and Surrounding Area.”
1. High priest
2. Members of the Sanhedrin
3. A defendant