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Title: Tertullus  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nazarene (title), Nazarene (sect), Nazareth, List of Christian synonyms, Christian
Collection: People in Acts of the Apostles
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Tertullus before Felix

In the Bible, Tertullus (a modification of "Tertius") was a lawyer, who was employed by the Jews to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix (Acts 24:1-9).

The charges he raised against the apostle were "First, that he created disturbances among the Romans throughout the empire, an offence against the Roman government (crimen majestatis). Secondly, that he was a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; disturbed the Jews in the exercise of their religion, guaranteed by the state; introduced new gods, a thing prohibited by the Romans. And thirdly, that he attempted to profane the temple, a crime which the Jews were permitted to punish."

It is generally assumed that Tertullus was himself a Hellenistic Jew,[1] though he could have been a Gentile.[2] It is not certain whether the trial would have taken place in Latin or Greek.[3]

Tertullus before Antonius Felix makes the first recorded use of the plural "Nazarenes" (the plural form of the Iesous ho Nazoraios "Jesus of Nazareth") to refer to Christians, though the use of the term "Christians" is already used at Antioch, and, somewhat ironically, by Herod Agrippa II in the next trial of Paul before Porcius Festus.[4] Tertullus' use of the Greek term Nazoraioi has continuity with the Hebrew term Notzrim found in later rabbinical literature.[5] Tertullus presumably could not use the Antioch term Christianoi (Hebrew Meshiykhiyyim משיחיים) since Christianoi from Greek Christos (literally "Anointed One", "Messiah") might imply Tertullus' recognition of Jesus of Nazareth as a Davidic "Anointed One," or "Messiah."[6]


  1. ^ The MacArthur Bible Commentary John F. MacArthur, Jr., John MacArthur - 2005 "Tertullus. Possibly a Roman, but more likely a Hellenistic Jew (cf. v. 6)."
  2. ^ Acts p213 Paul W. Walaskay - 1998 "Not only that, they have hired an attorney, Tertullus, well-versed in Jewish and Roman law, to present their case against Paul. Tertullus appears to have been either a Hellenistic Jew (his Greek is impeccable) or a Gentile; "
  3. ^ Ben Witherington The Acts of the Apostles: a socio-rhetorical commentary 1998 p704 "Normally one would expect the trial to be undertaken in Latin, which might militate against Tertullus being a Jew, unless he was from the Diaspora. It is not impossible, however, that the trial, or at least the speeches, was in Greek"
  4. ^ The Routledge companion to the Christian church p13 ed. Gerard Mannion, Lewis Seymour Mudge - 2008 "Acts is also one of the two books in the New Testament that call the early community 'Christians' (Christianoi). ... is used once in Acts in the mouth of Tertullus, the advocate who accused Paul before Felix in Acts 24."
  5. ^ Martinus de Boer p252 in Tolerance and intolerance in early Judaism and Christianity ed. Graham Stanton, Guy G. Stroumsa
  6. ^ Arthur Powell Davies The meaning of the Dead Sea scrolls 1956 "The second mention of Christianoi in the New Testament is also in the book of Acts (xxvi, 28). King Herod Agrippa says to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christianos." Agrippa probably meant it in derision. .. He was himself a king in Israel, an "Anointed One," and therefore quite literally a "Christos" of the existing order."
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