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Bible Gemz 1768 - The Lecture Hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10)

February 11, 2018

Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.

But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord. (Acts 19:8-10)



What things surprised you? 


That Paul would go back to the synagogue after he had been told by the Spirit to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.


Although Paul has been given an assignment by the Holy Spirit to be the Apostle to the Gentiles he couldn’t shed the burden he felt for his own Jewish people which he describes in the opening portion of Romans chapter eleven.  Thus he goes back to the synagogue in Ephesus and “argues persuasively about the Kingdom of God”. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul would have explained how Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the One who brought them the Life of the Age to Come. That was the way in which they understood it as Jews and so Paul would have explained to them that the Life of the Age to Come had come now. It was all about living under the reign and rule of Jesus as Lord (King). It was possible now but would have its consummation when all learned to live under His reign and bow their knee to Him.  


That he would have done that for three months, which is the probably the most concentrated time he spent in any synagogue.


What was remarkable was that Paul did that for three months. Clearly he was having good success finally among his own people and not being thrown out of synagogue at the beginning. There were many converts and an undetermined number of them became believers.  Thus Paul continued the practice for three months. But after the three months there were those who rejected his message and began “speaking publicly against the Way”. That was clearly the time that Paul took his disciples and moved venue to the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 


That he would then hold daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus and that those daily discussions would last for two years. 


It is clear that this was a public hall where both Jew and Greek (Gentiles) went to hear philosophers and speakers debating. Greek loved to debate religion and other matters similar to what I outlined when I covered the Agora in Athens (Gemz 1716 and following). Greeks were always open to discuss the latest religious ideas or thoughts. There is division among the commentators as to who or what the lecture hall of Tyrannus was. Some believe Tyrannus was a Jew but the form of his name counts against that – the name is Greek. What was happening at the hall of Tyrannus? The word used is [schole] or the school where pupils and lecturers met. The term schole was first introduced by Plato and meant “leisure”. It was the place where at their leisure they debated and learned. The place where public lectures and discussion took place. The Western text adds “from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm” It is not likely to be authentic but it gives us an idea of the daily practice. Such a school was also likely to contain a gymnasium – the term is Greek from Latin. Ephesus is said to have contained five gymnasia. Public life ended regularly at the fifth hour (11.00 am) following which the citizens of Ephesus spent their leisure time in [schole], taking care of their bodies and their minds. Five hours for hard physical labour and then five hours for leisure – in the gym and debating and discussing. 


Clearly Paul took advantage of this cultural tendency and the fact that the lecture hall or schole of Tyrannus was there. No doubt one of five such scholes. As to who this Tyrannus was we don't know for sure. Some think he was simply the Greek owner of the schole, others think he was the principle philosopher at that particular schole. The Syriac version renders it, "whose name was Tyrannus", though by others it is taken to be a name referring  to some great person who patronized the apostle, and in whose house he taught. The word "tyrant" was used for a king, a prince, or nobleman.  The Arabic version renders it, "in the dwelling house of one of the great men of Asia”, who were (Paul’s) friends.  The Ethiopic version reads "and he taught daily before the court and the governors". Some copies read "Tyrannius". Mention is made of a philosopher whose name was "Tyrannion", who was so called, because he disturbed and challenged those that were brought up in the same school with him.  This man it seems was a schoolmaster. One by that name was a bishop of Tyre, a martyr under Dioclesian.  Another whose name was Tyrannus was bishop of Antioch. 


There you have all the known possibilities as to who or what this public lecture hall of Tyrannus was.    


And that he would take the believers from the synagogue with him. 


When Paul left the synagogue he took with him all the Jews who now believed in the Way. It is clear that his preaching in the synagogue was effect and numbers of Jews became followers of the Way. At that point Paul took advantage of Greek culture and their practice of spending five hours a day in physical pursuits and pursuits of the mind. He used the lecture hall or gymnasia and lecture hall of Tyrannus to spread the message to all the citizens of Ephesus. 


I will pick this up again when we look more broadly at the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. However in the next Gemz we will dissect Acts 19:11-20.


God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles.

When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.

A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!”

Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this.

But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?”

Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored.

Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices.

A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars.

So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect. (Acts 19:11-20)



We are allowed to make mistakes but we aren’t allowed to make excuses! Lisa Bevere


No one knows whether death, which people fear to be the greatest evil, may not indeed be the greatest good.  Plato


The ability to keep going when the times get difficult shows the warrior in you! Rick Godwin


I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him. C S Lewis 


If you give God your attention, He'll always exceed your expectation. Steve Furtive


Stop making decisions based on what you think you lack. Base your decisions on what you believe God can do! Rick Godwin 





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