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
It is generally assumed that
Tertullus was himself a Hellenistic
Jew, though he could have been a Gentile. It is not certain
whether the trial would have taken place in Latin or Greek.
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
Herod Agrippa II in the next trial of Paul before Porcius Festus.
Tertullus' use of the Greek term Nazoraioi has continuity with the
Hebrew term Notzrim found in later rabbinical literature. 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
^ The MacArthur
Bible Commentary John F. MacArthur, Jr., John
MacArthur - 2005 "Tertullus. Possibly a Roman, but more likely a
Hellenistic Jew (cf. v. 6)."
^ 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; "
^ 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"
^ 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."
^ Martinus de Boer p252 in Tolerance and intolerance in early Judaism
Christianity ed. Graham Stanton, Guy G. Stroumsa
^ 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."
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Easton, Matthew George (1897). "article name
Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nels